MADDOX John Robert 1892 – 1917


Corporal 40353  John Robert Maddox, 16th Battalion, The Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action 13 February 1917, aged 24.  He is buried at Beaumont-Hamel British Cemetery, France[1] and is commemorated on the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

John Robert Maddox was born 26 September 1892,[2] the son of John and Isabel Maddox who were married in 1887. [3]  They had an older child Mary Jane, born in 1890.[4]

The 1891 census does not record John and Isabella living together.  In fact, there is no trace of John Maddox.  The census records 22 years old Isabella Maddox and her 7 months old child, Mary J., employed as a servant, and living with 73 years old widower John Foster at Thompson Street, Witton Park.[5]  In 1901, Isabella was recorded as living at Shildon and being married to Henry Drew with their 5 children:

  • Mary J. bc 1891 at Bishop Auckland
  • John R. bc.1893 at Witton Park
  • Henry bc.1896 at Witton Park
  • Margaret bc.1898 at Bishop Auckland
  • Elizabeth bc.1900 at Bishop Auckland

Henry Drew was recorded as the father of all 5 children.[6]  In 1911, Henry and Isabella lived at Albion Street, Witton Park with 21 years old John recorded as “John Robert Maddox Drew”.  His mother Isabella was recorded as “Isabella Maddox Drew”.   Henry and Isabella were recorded as being married and John was their son.  John worked as a general labourer.[7]  In 1912, Robert R. Maddox married Violet A. Carter.[8]  They had a son, John Robert born 31 October 1913.  It is recorded that they lived at various properties including Jackson’s Row and the Pump Yard, Woodside, Witton Park.[9]

Military Details [10]

John R. Maddox enlisted at Barnard Castle originally in the Durham Light Infantry, being given the service number 24501.[11] He was transferred to the 16th Battalion, The Northumberland Fusiliers.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal and Corporal. 

Northumberland Fusiliers Cap Badge

The 16th (Service) Battalion, The Northumberland Fusiliers was formed at Newcastle in September 1914 by the Newcastle & Gateshead Chamber of Commerce.  It came under the orders of the 96th Brigade, 32 Division and landed in France in June 1915. [12]  The 96th Brigade comprised the following units:[13]

  • 16th Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 15th Bn., the Lancashire Fusiliers (1st Salford Pals)
  • 16th Bn., the Lancashire Fusiliers (2nd Salford Pals)
  • 19th Bn., the Lancashire Fusiliers (3rd Salford Pals) left January 1916
  • 2nd Bn., the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joined January 1916
  • 96 Machine Gun Company March 1915 – February 1918
  • 96th Trench Mortar Battery joined March 1916

The Division served on the Western Front for the whole war.  Private John R. Maddox did not enter France until after 31 December 1915 and was probably a later reinforcement rather than an original Kitchener volunteer.  The 32 Division saw action at the Battle of the Somme, 1916:

  • 1 – 13 July, the Battle of Albert.  Between 1 and 15 July, 16/NF lost 6 officers and 143 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds. 
  • 14 – 17 July, the Battle of Bazentin.  Casualties were light.  Between 14 and 20 July, 16/NF lost 7 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds.
  • 13 – 18 November, the Battle of the Ancre where casualties were extremely light, only 2 other ranks died of wounds between these 2 dates. 

In 1917, the Division saw action at continuing operations on the Ancre.  Corporal John R. Maddox was killed in action 13 February 1917 when the battalion as posted to Mailly Maillet, a village to the north of the River Ancre. 

The War Diary informs that 16/NF was temporarily attached to the 97th Infantry Brigade in the Mailly Maillet R3 subsector.  Between 3 and 11 February there were many exchanges of artillery fire and although the diary contains no details of casualties, later research records that between 3 and 12 February the battalion lost 18 men, killed in action or died of wounds.[14] 

12 February was a quiet day but the 13th was not.  The War Diary records:

“In the morning the 17th Highland Light Infantry attacked the strong point in TEN TREE ALLEY, the attack was preceded by a trench mortar bombardment of the strong point.  The attacking party were unable to make headway.  Our own artillery then bombarded the point during the whole of the day, while the enemy put up a heavy barrage along our front. B Coy in front suffered heavily from shell fire, it is reported our own falling short.  About mid-day, Capt. SMITH having been wounded, 2nd Lt. KING arrived to take over command of the Coy, bringing with him reinforcements from A Coy.  C Coy at WALKER QUARRY reinforcing A in the HUB group.  Our posts kept up a heavy Lewis gun and rifle fire on the enemy reinforcements on their way to the strong points.  The attack was however unsuccessful.  In the evening the Bn. was relieved by the 2/6th W. YORKS. REGT. and returned to billets at MAILLY MAILLET and BERTRANCOURT.”

14 February, the battalion moved to Lealvillers. 

Later research records that on 13 and 14 February 1917, 16/NF lost 19 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds including Corporal John R. Maddox, killed in action 13 February 1917. [15]  His death was reported locally, as follows:

“Corpl. J.R. Maddox, N.F., of Woodside, Witton Park was killed in action by shell-fire on the 12th February.  He died instantaneously.  His superior officer says, “Everyone who knew him feels his loss very keenly as he was very popular and a valuable N.C.O.”

The action took place on the 13th and all the documentary evidence puts his death as the 13th.  The press report appears to be incorrect but it probably was written several days after the event.

Awards and Medals

Corporal John R. Maddox was awarded the Victory and British War medals.[16]

Medal Roll card index


Corporal John R. Maddox is buried at grave reference B.70, Beaumont-Hamel British Cemetery, Somme, France.


John R. Maddox’ widow  Violet Ann received his effects and pension.[17]


John Robert Maddox was born in September 1892 at Witton Park, the son of John and Isabella Maddox.  In 1901, John Robert was recorded living at New Shildon with his mother and sister.  Henry Drew was head of the family.  In 1911, they lived at 94 Albion Street, Witton Park.  Isabella and John Robert were registered as “Maddox Drew”.  John worked as a general labourer. In 1912, he married Violet Ann Carter.  John Maddox enlisted at Barnard Castle and originally served with the Durham Light Infantry and later was transferred to the 16th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers.  He was killed in action 13 February 1917, aged 24.  John left a widow and son, John Robert.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10 p.168 Auckland 1892 Q4 and England, Select Births and Christenings 1538-1975 FHL Film No.1894475a

[3] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.289 Auckland 1887 Q4 and England, Selected Births and Christenings 1538-1975 Note: Isabel and John Maddox are recorded as the parents of Mary Jane Maddox, the older sister of John Robert Maddox and it is presumed that since John Robert was given his surname, he was his father although no details of the Maddox family household have been traced.

[4] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.237 Auckland 1890 Q3

[5] 1891 census

[6] 1901 census

[7] 1911 census

[8] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.459 Auckland 1912Q4

[9] Pension Claimants’ card index

[10] The service details of Corporal J.R. Maddox have not been traced.  The details are sourced from a number of references.

[11] Soldiers Died in the Great War



[14] Officers Died in the Great War and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[15] ODGW & SDGW

[16] Medal Roll card index and Roll dated 18 June 1920

[17] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No.452 712