CWG: Corporal John Welch

Corporal John Welch

John Milton Welch was born in Yeovil on 19th February 1866, one of five children to William and Anne Welch. William was a chemist by trade, but John’s calling was elsewhere. He became a clerk, initially for a brewery, but by the time of the 1911 census, he was working for a political agency.

In that census, John can be found living with his parents – who were in their 80s by this point – and his two sisters, both school governesses. He is listed as single; although an earlier census suggests he had married a lady from the Isle of Wight called Sarah, I have found nothing to corroborate this, beyond the fact that she had wed a John M Welch, a brewery clerk from Yeovil.

War beckoned and even though he was 48 when the conflict broke out, John enlisted. Private Welch joined the Somerset Light Infantry; his service record no longer exists, but his medal record show that he arrived in France in May 1915, and was subsequently awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1915 Star. His service obviously warranted promotion, and he was elevated to Corporal.

His troop – the 6th (Service) Battalion – was involved in several of the skirmishes of the Battle of Somme, and it is likely that Corporal Welch was injured during one of these – probably either the Battle of Delville Wood or the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. Wherever it happened, he was shipped back to England, and was treated for his injuries at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, Hampshire

Sadly, Corporal Welch was not to recover; he passed away on 13th September 1916, at the age of 50.

John Milton Welch lies at rest in the graveyard of St James’ Church, in the quiet Somerset village of Milton Clevedon.

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