No.25674, Private, John WELLS
Aged 29

8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Saturday, 11th August 1917

John Wells was born in Santon Downham (Thetford Q2-1888 4B:409) son of Edward and Amelia WELLS (née FIELD).

1891 census...Aged 2, he was at Farm House, Ratters Road, Santon Downham with his father Edward WELLS [51]

1901 census...Aged 12, he was at The Staunch House, Santon Downham with his father Edward WELLS [61] labourer born Whepstead; his mother Amelia [51] born Brandon; sister Rose [29] born Whepstead; brother Samuel [9] born Santon Downham; cousin Irene W A WELLS [2] born Thetford.

1911 census...Aged 22, single, a farm labourer, he was at Manor Farm House, Church End, Brandon with his widowed mother, sister Rose and cousin Alice (Irene). His father had died in 1910. Brother Samuel was with the Norfolk Regiment in India

He married Lily Emily DYER in Thetford Register Office on 7th January 1914, they had 2 children, Edward James [1914] and Joan Margaret [1916]

The living relatives form signed by his widow in 1921? gave herself and children Edward James [30-4-1914] and Joan Margaret [16-12-1916] living at Laundry Cottage, Santon Downham; his father dead, mother at 3 Church End, Brandon; brothers Walter [40] police constable Ambrosden House, Ashley Gardens, London and Arthur at Little Lodge, Santon Downham; sisters Mary BRAMFIELD [35] in Birmingham, Violet Wells [37] (address illegible), Alice BUTT [43] Trafalgar Road, Lowestoft, Nancy BASHAM [46] (address illegible) and Rose Wells [48] Church End, Brandon. Also niece Alice Irene WELLS [21] 3 Church End, Brandon and nephews (sons of Arthur) William Edward Wells [9] and Charles Victor Wells [4] at Little Lodge, Santon Downham.

His brother Samuel died on a hospital ship between Egypt and India in 1915 see here

click here to go to the Brandon at War website for more information

He attested in Brandon on 11th December 1915 and was placed on the Reserves.
He was married, living at Thetford Road, Santon Downham, an assistant gamekeeper. Serving in 4th TF Battalion Norfolk Regiment. He was 5 feet 9.5 inches (176.5 cm) tall, weighed 150 lbs (68.3 kg), chest 36.5" to 40 inches(92.7 to 101.6 cm),
Mobilised on 29th May 1916 he was posted to Felixstowe in the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment and left Folkestone for Boulogne on 1st December 1916. From the Depot at Etaples he was sent to join the battalion on 13th December. Off sick from 23rd December to 6th January 1917 and again from 21st February to 28th February with scabies. He received a gun shot wound to right shoulder and hand on 10th March 1917 and admitted to No.10 General Hospital, Rouen on 14th. He then appears to have been admitted to another hospital (Isolation) with Rose measles as well as his wounds, from 15th March to 22nd March when he was admitted to No. 9 General Hospital. Discharged to depot in Calais on 12th April he returned to duty on 21st April, being killed in action in the Ypres salient on the 11th August 1917.

His widow received a weekly pension for herself and 2 children of 23 shillings (£1.15).

The 8th Norfolks were in the line along the Ypres-Menin Road on 11th August. John being "C" Company was in Reserve in trenches around SURBITON VILLAS. At about 4:40 am the enemy attacked was driving back the right of "D" Company and "C" Company were ordered to counter-attack at once and retake the strong point. Finding the strong-point occupied by 4 machine guns the CI ordered "B" Company to join the attack. Under covering fire from 6th Berkshire and our Lewis guns the strong-point was re-taken and consolidated by 6 am. This had been accomplished across 6oo yards of open ground swept by machine gun fire from higher ground.
At about 8:30 am the CO decided to re-organise the Companies. A "A" took the portion of the line from strong-point to J.14.a.5.6, "C" Coy ( much weakened by casualties)the strong-point, "B" Coy the line from strong-point to J.13.d.9.6. and "D" withdrew into reserve at Surbiton Villas. The rest of the day was spent easily driving off enemy counter-attacks.

CWGC puts the number killed at 57, only 11 have known graves.

the line between 2 map references given above

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

John Wells is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres panel 4

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details