CWG: Private John Stainton

Private John Stainton

John Stainton was born in the Cumbrian village of Ambleside in January 1871. He was one of seven children to George and Mary Stainton, a labourer and his wife. John followed in his father’s footsteps as a labourer, as they took him to where the work was – by the time John was ten, the family were living in Barrow-in-Furness.

The 1911 census found John married to a woman called Mary. The couple wed in 1909 and were boarding with Maybrooke Cole, a fellow labourer, and his family.

The next record for John comes in the form of his enlistment papers. He joined up on 31st August 1914, but the document throws up a couple of anomalies.

To the question “Are you married?” John marked “No”. The fact that he didn’t confirm he was a widower presents more questions than answers.

The document also confirms that he has previous military experience. He served with 2nd Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), which fought in the Second Boer War, and was involved in Battle of Spion Kop in January 1900.

John re-enlisted in the same battalion on 31st August 1914, and remained part of a territorial force for the best part of a year. It was during this time that he married Rhoda Selina Cooper. She was born and brought up in Clevedon, Somerset, and it can only be assumed that John was stationed in the county at this time.

Private Stainton seemed to have a bit of a rebellious streak, and his service records identify three times when he was pulled up for dereliction of duty. In December 1914, he was admonished for overstaying his leave pass; in June 1915 he was reported for being absent from the base; a year later, he was admonished again, this time for losing a pair of handcuffs.

The battalion were sent to France in July 1915, and, in the end, Private Stainton served on the Western Front for just over a year. On 27th July 1916, he was sounded by shrapnel in the right shoulder, face and thigh, and was evacuated back to England for treatment. Admitted to the English General Hospital in Cambridge, sadly his wounds proved too much for him. Private Stainton died on 11th August 1916, at the age of 45 years old.

John Stainton’s body was brought back to his widow; he lies at rest in the picturesque churchyard of St Andrew’s in Clevedon, Somerset.


The Commonwealth War Grave for John Stainton incorrectly gives his name as T Stainton.


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