JOHN ARTHUR MEDHURST

Sapper, 146264, 91st Field Company, The Royal Engineers
Killed in Action, 9 April 1917, aged 25
Buried in Duisans British Cemetery, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Grave Reference: Plot I. L. 1
 

John Medhurst's gravestone in Hartfield churchyard

John Arthur Medhurst enlisted on 2 December 1915. He was the son of Arthur Bromley Medhurst, a builder, and Fannie Medhurst, the village post mistress, who lived at Vine House, Hartfield. John was a carpenter and joiner by trade, and had two siblings, elder sister Nellie, a post office clerk, and a younger brother, Frederick George, a motor engineer who also served in the First World War but survived and died in 1956. The Medhurst family are now funeral directors in Hartfield and still operate from Vine House, now a grade II listed building. John never married.

Hartfield High Street

John served with the 91st Field Company, The Royal Engineers. The latter joined the 15th (Scottish) Division in January 1915, which had been formed in September 1914 as part of Kitchener's Second New Army. They proceeded to France in the second week of July 1915 and saw action in the Battle of Loos (25 September-18 October 1915). In Spring 1916 they were subject to the German gas attacks near Hulluch and fought in the defence of the Kink position. They were in action during the battles of the Somme, including Pozières, Flers-Courcelette, and the capture of Martinpuich, the battle of Le Transloy and the attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt. In 1917 they were in action in the first and second battle of the Scarpe, including the capture of Guémappe during the Arras offensive.

John was killed in action on 9 April 1917, aged 25, and is buried in Duisans British Cemetery in Étrun. The area around Duisans was occupied by Commonwealth forces from March 1916, but it was not until February 1917 that the site of this cemetery was selected for the 8th Casualty Clearing Station. The first burials took place in March and from the beginning of April the cemetery grew very quickly. Most of the graves relate to the Battles of Arras in 1917 and the trench warfare that followed.

Duisans British Cemetery

John Medhurst is commemorated on Hartfield war memorial and in Hartfield churchyard.

Carol O'Driscoll