BORN – Oswestry
HOMEFRONT – Place / Occupation / St Oswald’s Church WM&Choir / School – Morda, Oswestry CofE. Saltley Training College
EDUCATION – Saltley Teacher Training College, Birmingham
JOB – Teacher
UNIT – 1/15 Bn London Regiment Civil Service Rifles
RANK – Private 3813
THEATRE – Arras / Vimy Ridge. 1/15 Bn London Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Civil Service Rifles). 22 May 1916.
DIED – KIA 22 May 1916. Aged 30.
BURIED – Arras Memorial (grave unknown). (CWGC)
BORN – Oswestry
John Andrew Wynne was born in Oswestry in 1886 to John and Ann Wynne of 59, Park Avenue. He had three elder sisters and there was a lodger living at the same address. His father, a Deputy Parish Clerk, was a schoolmaster who taught at the same address. John followed his father into teaching and between 1906 and 1908 he studied at Saltley Teacher Training (C. of E.) College in Birmingham and, as a Certificated Teacher, found employment with the London County Council at Haverstock Hill Council School in Hampstead. The 1911 Census records him as living as a boarder at 4, Heriot Road, Hendon.
John enlisted at Somerset House into the 1/15 Bn. County of London (Prince of Wales’s Own) Civil Service Rifles, a Territorial unit which arrived in France during March 1915 and joined the 140 Brigade of the 47 Division. By mid May 1916 the Battalion was at Camblain l’Abbe, as the Brigade Reserve. The Bn. War Diary describes the place as “the most delightful village we have visited” and that the men were enjoying the fine and sunny weather. The Brigade was holding trenches around Berthonel south of Souchez. The enemy were active and their bombardment-thought to be the prelude to an attack-intensified on the 21st May (70,000 shells in four hours) and at 7.45pm a mine was exploded under the British forward position and a trench-mortar barrage was laid down on the front line trenches accompanied by high explosive and tear-gas shells. The Infantry assault and the front line was quickly overrun.
The 1/15 Bn was called forward to the front from the reserve. In the dark and through continuous bombardment, they reached H.Q. a little after 10.15pm and were ordered to counter-attack and to take and hold a certain ‘Erzatz trench’ without really knowing where it was or anything about the enemy strength and dispositions.
Despite everything the Battalion was organised into Battle Order and the attack went ahead on time. They advanced up the hill towards Vimy Ridge in the dark and without any artillery or machine gun support. From the former British front line they were met with murderous machine gun fire and an artillery barrage. The attack failed. Survivors took cover in shell-holes and waited, eventually trickling back to British lines the following night. John Wynne’s body was never found. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He is also commemorated at St Oswald’s Church, Oswestry.