HOPEWELL, John Henry [of Southwell]

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'HOPEWELL, John Henry [of Southwell]' page

By Mike Kirton

John Henry Hopewell

8th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, (Territorial Unit).  Service No. 741


Born 1891- Killed in action 30th July 1915

Name recorded on a memorial plaque at the former works of Messrs. Carey & Sons (lace-makers) on the Burgage, Southwell, Notts.

John Hopewell was born in Kimberley in 1891, the son of Henry and Alice Hopewell.  He was educated in Bulwell, but at the turn of the century the family moved to Chatham Street, Southwell as his father went to work for E. Carey & Sons Ltd, lace makers in Southwell.  Albert followed his father into Carey’s and trained as a lace maker.  In 1908 he joined ‘H’ Company, 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Territorial unit), which was something of a tradition amongst the employees of the company.  He served alongside his brothers Albert and William.  Albert and John went to France in February/March 1915 (William had joined the Royal Marines in 1913 – see his entry).

John Hopewell’s experiences mirrored his brother Albert’s up to his death in April 1915.  Following Albert’s death John entered an even more difficult period with the battalion. At the end of their stint at Kemmel on 20th June 1915, the 8th Battalion left Locre and took up positions in the ‘Salient’, recently christened by the Canadians as ‘Bloody Ypres’. This part of the battalion’s war included them taking up a position at Sanctuary Wood. The trenches were not comfortable and were badly affected by wet weather. On 29/30th July they relieved the 7th Battalion in trenches B3, 4, 7 and 8, and it was recorded that they didn’t get out for a rest for 19 days. This period was described as the worst they had suffered. At this time Major John Becher of Southwell was in command of the Battalion. July 30th was recorded as a perfect summer’s morning and at 3.30 a.m. the battalion had been stood down. However, suddenly the wood was surrounded by a wall of fire and a heavy bombardment opened up. Under cover of the bombardment and behind ‘flammenwerfer’ (liquid fire) the Germans attacked. ‘B’ Company acquitted themselves very well in holding their trenches, but unfortunately John Hopewell was killed in the attack. His official date of death is recorded as 30th July, although the battalion record states 1st August – in the heat of battle it would have been difficult to be certain.  The 8th Battalion were finally relieved on 30th September. During this period they had suffered 61 fatalities, of which 22 had been between 30th July and 1st August.

The Newark Advertiser for 18th August 1915 published the following report:

Mr. and Mrs. H. Hopewell, of 8 Chatham Street, lost their second son Pte. A.E. Hopewell, last April when he was killed in action and now they have received the sad intelligence that their third son, Pte. John Henry Hopewell has also made the supreme sacrifice. He was 25 years of age on the very day that he was shot. A native of Kimberley, he went to school at Bulwell, afterwards coming with his parents to Southwell, where he entered Messrs Carey and Sons’ Lace Factory, and was also a member of the Boys’ Brigade, being in the bugle band. Some seven years ago he joined the bugle band of the 8th Sherwood Foresters. A letter to his parents states that, “he always did his duty without grumbling and consequently was appreciated by his officers”. Much sympathy is felt for the parents in their double loss.

John Hopewell was awarded the Victory, British and 1914-15 Star medals.

Extracted from Southwell at War 1914-1919.

This page was added by Mike Kirton on 24/07/2014.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.