5600 PTE. J. HARTLEY. A.I.F.
John Hartley was born in 1874 in the School Lane area of Bamber Bridge. His father was James Hartley (b. 1849 in Walton Le Dale), a cotton weaver. His mother was Mary Forrest (b. 1848 in Walton Le Dale). Mary married John Baron in 1870 but he died the following year, and in 1873 she married James Hartley. The couple had six children: Mary (b. 1873), then John, then Edward (b. 1879), James (b. 1882), Elizabeth (b. 1884) and Agnes (b. 1886).
In 1891 the Hartley family was living at Wards Row in Farington. They all worked as weavers in the mill. In 1897, John Hartley married Isabella Sumner (b. 1872 in Bamber Bridge). They had 2 children: Robert Aloysius (b. 1898) and Mary Monica (b. 1905). I don’t know exactly when, but after Mary was born, the family moved to Western Australia, and it was here on 5 March 1916 that John enlisted, despite declaring his age as 42 and therefore over the accepted age limit. He was given service number 5600 and posted to 28th Battalion of the Australian Infantry. He was passed fit for service on 4 April and after initial training he set sail from Freemantle on 22 September 1916 aboard the HMAT Surada, bound for England. The ship arrived in Plymouth on 20 November 1916 but John had become ill on the journey. He was suffering from colitis and he was taken to the Australian military hospital at Fovant in Wiltshire, where he died a fortnight later, on 2 December 1916.
John left a wife and two children in Australia. They were living at Wuraming, south-east of Perth. Isabella died a few months later, on 27 February 1917. Their son Robert was 18 and old enough to fend for himself, but their daughter Mary was only 11 and had no other family in Australia. She was taken into a Catholic orphanage at Subiaco, a suburb of Perth. It seems both children eventually thrived in Australia – Robert married in Perth in 1922. Mary, it seems, came back to England and in 1935 she married John Francis Downey (b. 1901 in Blackburn). But the couple moved back to Perth where they had two children. Mary named the boys John Hartley (b. 1927), after her father, and Robert (b. 1939), after her brother.
Service Number: 5600
Date of Death: 02/12/1916
Regiment/Service: Australian Infantry, A.I.F., 28th Bn.
Cemetery/memorial reference: II. A. 3.
Cemetery: FOVANT (ST. GEORGE) CHURCHYARD
Additional Information: Son of James and Mary Hartley. Born at Lostock Hall, Preston, Lancs, England. DEARLY BELOVED HUSBAND OF LATE ISABELLA AND FATHER OF ROBERT & MARY
There was a 600-bed, hutted military hospital at Fovant during the First World War, and the concentration of Australian depots and training camps in the area is reflected in the 63 First World War burials in this churchyard.