680888 BDR. J. BLANCHFLOWER, M.M., R.F.A.

 

John Blanchflower was born in Walton Le Dale on 9 December 1884 and baptised at St Leonard’s on 4 January 1885.  His father was Elijah Blanchflower (b. 1859 in North Creake, Norfolk), a blacksmith by trade.  Elijah’s family moved to Walton Le Dale in the 1870s and there in 1882 he married Sarah Jane Booth (b. 1863 in Walton Le Dale).  The couple had three children: Mary Ann (b. 1883), John, and Clara (b. 1886).  I haven’t found Elijah in the 1891 Census, but he was not living with his wife and children, and Sarah Jane died in 1894 after which the children lived with their grandmother, Mary Booth.  In 1901 Elijah was living in Marton, near Blackpool, and in 1911 he was in St Anne’s.  Meanwhile, John was living with his sister and grandmother at 89 Victoria Road, Walton Le Dale.  He was a cotton spinner.

 

I think John may have served with the Territorials before the War.  When he enlisted he was given service number 680888.  He did not go to France before the end of 1915, so he must have been in 286 Brigade, who went to France in February 1917.  They spent the first part of that year in the defence of Armentières, before moving north in October to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres.  John was awarded the Military Medal and the award was announced in the London Gazette in September 1917, so his award must have been for bravery at Armentières.  The newspaper article gives more specific information about the circumstances. He was a Gunner at the time of his award and later promoted to Bombardier (equivalent of Corporal), not Sergeant as the second article says.  I don’t know what happened to John Blanchflower after the War, except that he died in 1974, aged 89.

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