Sunday, February 22, 2015

Private John Henry Fitzsimmons, 2499

Private John Henry Fitzsimmons 2499


 The CWGC database has two John H Fitzsimmons but one was Canadian and UK Soldiers in the Great War showed that the other J H Fitzsimmons was from Liverpool.

Family Information

 John Henry Fitzsimmons was born on 9th August 1878 at 8 Sim Street, Liverpool to Henry (a carter) and Sarah Jane Fitzsimmons. John Henry was baptised on 1st September that year at St Mary Magdalene, Liverpool.

The 1891 census return shows that John Henry's father was working as a dock labourer and the family lived at number 28 Hampton St (this street was mostly court housing but they seem to be the only family listed at number 28) He had 2 sisters and one brother.

On 18th April 1897 John Henry Fitzsimmons married Mary Elizabeth Steele, witnesses were Frances and Emily Steele.

Their daughter, Mary Eilzabeth Fitzsimmons, was born on 8th November 1897 and christened on 19th December 1897 in St James’s Church.

A son, William John, was born on 31st March 1900 and christened on 15th April 1900 at St James’s Church.

Another daughter, Nancy Fitzsimmons, was born on 17th April 1902 and christened in St James’s Church on 30th April 1902. John Henry’s occupation at this time was recorded as dock labourer.

The baptism record 2 years later for their daughter Sarah Jane (born 15th November 1904, christened 27th Nov 1904 at St James’s Church) shows they were living in 10 court 4 house Hampton Street and John Henry was a labourer.

The 1911 census shows that John Henry and Mary were living in Newton St, the number isn't clear.  John was working as a labourer for a white smith ‘Wilson and Sons’.  William, Nancy and Sarah Jane are with them and Mary Elizabeth appears to have left home, they also had sadly had another child who died. 

Military information

 John Henry Fitzsimmons had pre-war military experience. He enlisted on 10th July 1895 as private 3353 4th Battalion the King’s Liverpool Regiment. His attestation papers show that he was aged 18 years and 10 months, he lived at 28 Hampton St and worked as a labourer for Mr J Ashton, Master Porter, Stanley Dock.
He was 5’6” tall and weighed 114lbs, his complexion was fresh, his eyes blue and his hair brown. He had various tattoos including crossed swords, flags and a half moon.  His religion is given as Roman Catholic. (It is interesting to note that, aged 18, he repeatedly spelled his name ‘Fitzsimons’ whereas later in life he spelled it Fitzsimmons)

His service record shows that he completed 76 days drill on enlistment in 1895 and was present for drill in 1896, 1897, 1898 and 1899.
He rejoined and was embodied on 3/5/1900 then disembodied on 1/11/1900 as a private.
His absence from drill in 1900 was ‘satisfactorily accounted for’ (perhaps the birth of his son?)  and he was given leave from voluntary training in 1901.
He was embodied on 6 Jan 1902 and embarked for South Africa 23 Jan 1902.
He was disembodied 10 July 1902 rank private.
He was paid a war gratuity in July 1902.
Discharged on termination of engagement 9 March 1907.
Private Joh Henry Fitzsimmons received the South Africa medal with Cape Colony and Transvaal clasps.

WW1 service papers show that John Henry Fitzsimmons enlisted for the duration of the war on 28th August 1914 aged 35. He was given the regimental number 2499 as a private with the South Lancashire Regiment. 
His medical report shows that he was 37 years of age, 5 feet 6 1/4 inches tall and weighed 136 lbs, his eyes were blue and his hair brown. He had tattoos of ‘crossed swords and other marks’ and his religion was C of E.

The papers shows that at the time of his attestation John Henry, his wife Mary and their children Nancy, Sarah Jane and William John lived at 4 Watson Street.
When Mary completed the next of kin papers after her husband's death, her address was 44 Solway Street, Lodge Lane.

Death and commemoration

John Henry Fitzsimmons was killed in action at Linden Hock on 7th January 1915 after serving 132 days, he survived just 46 days overseas as he was posted to the 2nd Battalion on 23rd November 1914.

The UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 gives the following information

John Henry Fitzsimmons
Birth Place:
Death Date
7 Jan 1915
Death Location
France & Flanders
Prince of Wales's Volunteers (South Lancashire
2nd Battalion
Type of
Killed in action
Theatre of War:
Western European Theatre

John Henry's medal  shows that he qualified for the 1915 star, the British War Medal and the Victory medal and he was Killed in Action on 7th Jan 1915.

He has no known grave, his name is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

The Liverpool Daily Post printed the following report of his death on 27th January 1915.
John Fitzsimmons of Hampton-street, Liverpool, who fell in action on Jan 7. He leaves a widow and 4 children. He went through the Boer War with the 4th Kings Liverpool. At the outbreak of this war he rejoined with the 3rd South Lancs and was only at the front 2 months when he was killed.

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