Private (Acting Corporal) John Henry Andrews, 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, died of wounds on 6th April 1916. He was born in West Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, Essex, on 13th September 1886 and was baptised there on 10th October 1886.
John was the third of eight children (seven sons, one daughter) born to parents, John Henry Andrews and Louisa (née Cardy) who had married in Runwell, Essex in 1880. In 1901, the eldest child, Clara Alice Andrews, married Harry Porter, a fitter, and they set up home in Smethwick.
In February 1905, John Henry Andrews, attested for the Militia, giving his occupation as general labourer, working for a farmer in Roxwell, Essex. He enlisted in Warley, Staffordshire – presumably whilst staying with his sister in Smethwick. Although he joined the Essex Regiment, he was transferred to the Rifle Brigade two days after enlisting.
By the time of the 1911 census, Clara & Harry Porter were still in Smethwick, and Clara’s brother, William John Andrews (1884-1964) was living with them. John was stationed in Egypt, serving as a Rifleman with the 4th Battalion, Rifle Brigade.
We don’t know anything of John Henry Andrews’ war service, other than first entered a theatre of war on 22nd September 1915 and that he died of wounds in France. He is buried at Calais Southern Cemetery and is also commemorated locally on Shirley War Memorial.
The local connection is presumed to be via his brother, William John Andrews, who was living in Clinton Road, Shirley by the time of the 1939 Register. If John was a regular soldier, it’s possible that his brother’s home was his usual residence when on leave from the Army.
Five of his brothers are known to have served in the First World War as the Chelmsford Chronicle of 20th December 1940, looking back 25 years to 1915, reported on the Keeper of the Privy Purse writing to Mr J. H. Andrews of West Hanningfield to say that the King had heard with much interest that he has at the present moment six sons serving with the Army. All of the boys apart from John Henry survived the war.
Two of the younger brothers – Herbert Lewis Andrews (1894-1964) and Charles Ernest Andrews (1896-1975) also moved up to the Midlands. Herbert married in Birmingham in 1922, but was recorded as an inmate at Hatton Asylum in 1939 and died there in 1964, aged 70. Charles was living in Small Heath by 1939 but was living at Cropthorne Road, Shirley by the time of his death.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian