23816 PTE. J. WATERHOUSE. L.N.LAN.R.
John Waterhouse was born in the first quarter of 1889 at Dewhurst Row in Cuerden. His father was also John Waterhouse (b. 1847 in Cuerden), a cotton spinner. His mother was Catherine Glover (b. 1851 in Lostock Hall). John and Catherine were married at Brownedge St Mary’s in 1869 and they had 8 children, 5 of whom survived infancy: Mary Jane (B. 1869), William (b. 1873), Jeremiah (b. 1875), Peter (b. 1877) and John, their youngest. John (jnr) married in 1910 to Mary Ellen Dodgson (b. 1889 in Dalton in Furness) and in 1911 they newlyweds were living with John’s parents at 23 Dewhurst Row and John was working as a spinner, like his father who had by now retired.
John enlisted in the Loyals, probably in 1915, and was assigned service number 23816 and posted to 6th Battalion. 6Bn served at Gallipoli but John’s Medal Index Card does not give a date for landing (in 1915) so we must assume he was sent out to join them in Egypt in early 1916.
In November 1915, British and Indian forces under General Townshend had attempted to take Baghdad, in Mesopotamia, but had failed and retreated to Kut-al-Amara, where they became besieged by the opposing Ottoman forces. The decision was taken that the 13th Division (of which 6Bn formed a part) should move to Mesopotamia to join the attempt to relieve Kut. The Division left Port Said on 14 February 1916 and arrived via Basra at Sheik Saad (on the River Tigris 20 miles east of Kut) on 11 March, where they immediately went into training, with the emphasis on preparation for long marches. By the beginning of April, the Battalion was now approaching full strength, with 32 officers and 949 other ranks. On 5-8 April, they attempted an attack on the village of Sannaiyat, midway between Sheik Saad and Kut, but after initial success, the attack failed and the battalion suffered heavy losses. Further attempts to progress towards Kut also failed and by the end of April, the strength of the battalion was down to 10 officers and 508 other ranks. On 28 April, Kut surrendered, the most abject defeat of British and Indian forces in the whole War. In the 5-month long defence of Kut, 24,000 men had been killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
From April to September, in the torrid heat, it proved impossible to renew hostilities and both sides suffered enormously from heat, exhaustion and sickness. Significant military reorganisation was now taking place. Townshend had surrendered at Kut and the man who had been sent to relieve the garrison, Gorringe, was also replaced. The new man in charge was Sir Frederick Maude, who would eventually be recognised as the most effective military leader in the region. Maude was appointed to command the Tigris Corps in July 1916 and immediately set about reorganising and resupplying the British and Indian troops in Mesopotamia. The campaign to retake Kut began in December 1916 but progress was painfully slow and it wasn’t until February that a final push managed to dislodge the Turkish forces. Some manoeuvring took place along the river in the first few days of February but a more concerted attempt to advance was made from 15-18 February. It was on the first day of this operation that John Waterhouse was killed. He was 28 years old. 36 other men from 6Bn were also killed that day.
Kut was eventually taken at the end of February and the following month, General Maude advanced to take Baghdad.
Service Number: 23816
Date of Death: 15/02/1917
Service/Regiment: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6Bn
Cemetery/memorial reference: XXIX. A. 1/25.
Cemetery/Memorial: AMARA WAR CEMETERY
John had a cousin, James Waterhouse, who served with the Royal Field Artillery and died of flu at Étaples just a few days before the end of the War.