24781 Private John Henry Raine, 13th battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 24 May 1916 and is buried at Bois-de-Noulette British Cemetery, Aix Noulette, France.[1]  He was 28 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial, the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church and the Memorial Plaque in Evenwood WMC.

Family Details

 John Henry was born 8 February 1888[2] at Evenwood the son of Francis and Margaret Raine.  There were 7 children:[3]

  • Joseph William bc. 1877 at Evenwood
  • Thomas bc. 1880 at Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire
  • Francis bc. 1882 at Ramshaw
  • Mary Ann bc.1884 at Evenwood
  • Isabella bc.1886 at Evenwood
  • John Henry born 1888 at Evenwood
  • Siddle bc.1894 at Evenwood

In 1901 they family lived at the Oaks, Evenwood where 48 year old Francis worked as a colliery screenman, 24 year old Joseph was a colliery banksman, 21 year old Thomas was a coal miner (putter), 19 year old Francis was a colliery screenman and 15 year old Isabella was a dressmaker.

By 1911, the family lived at 6 Osborne Terrace, Evenwood.  Francis and Margaret had 3 sons, 1 daughter, 1 grand daughter and a visitor with them at the time of the census.  Francis was the caretaker of the Institute, 34 year old Joseph William worked on the colliery screens, Isabella was 25 and single, John Henry was 23, single and a coal hewer and Siddle was 18 and a coal miner (putter).  Doris Raine was the 1 month old grand-daughter.  Reuben Siddle aged 40 was the visitor.  [4]

3 August 1911, John H. Raine married Sarah Jane “Sally” Dunn at the Wesleyan Church, West Auckland.  By 1914, they lived at Osborne Terrace, Evenwood and had 2 children:[5]

  • Rachel Annie born 1911
  • Rhoda born 1913.

Service Details

 4 September 1914, John Henry Raine, aged 26 years enlisted at Darlington into the Durham Light Infantry being given the regimental number 24781.[6]

The Evenwood Church Magazine reported that about 50 men from the locality had joined the colours including John H. Raine.[7] Subsequently, William Gray of Evenwood Gate, the Hon. Secretary of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Fund provided Rev. G. J. Collis, vicar of St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood with a complete classified list of those who had enlisted in His Majesty’s Forces.  The following entry is contained within the list:[8]

“John Henry Raine, Centre, 13th Batt. D.L.I.”

 At the outbreak of war, the British regular army numbered only 720,000 so Parliament sanctioned an increase of some ½ million men of all ranks:

  • 11 August 1914: “Your King and Country need you.  A call to arms” called for 100,000 men to enlist.  This figure was achieved within 2 weeks and these volunteers formed 6 new Divisions of Kitchener’s Army or K1.
  • 28 August 1914: Kitchener asked for another 100,000 men to volunteer and they formed an additional 6 Divisions known as K2.
  • A third 100,000 men were placed into another 6 Divisions, called K3 – the 21st to 26th Divisions.

“No less than 2,180 recruits were despatched from Newcastle on September 16th (1914) to Bullswater Camp near Pirbright in Surrey.  These men were divided into the 12th and 13th Battalions.” [9]

The 13th (Service) Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was formed at Newcastle, September 1914 as part of K3 and came under the orders of the 68th Brigade of the 23rd Division the same month.[10] The 68th Brigade comprised the following units:

  • 12th Bn., DLI
  • 13th Bn., DLI
  • 10th Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 11th Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers  [11]

Following training at home, the Division landed in Boulogne, France between 21 and 26 August 1915, 13/DLI landed at Boulogne 26 August 1915.  13/DLI was billeted at Moulle on the Calais to St. Omer road.  Training continued until 6 September when the Brigade marched to Steenwerck via Hazelbrouck then south to join the 20th Division for trench duties.  There were a few casualties in the line.  13/DLI then went to Petit Moulin, near the river Lys and provided working parties for the construction of strong points and the improvement of trenches for the Flanders winter.

26 September, some men of C Company were wounded by a German anti-aircraft shell.  When the Loos Offensive commenced 25 September 1915, 12/DLI and 13/DLI stood to arms expecting a counter attack on the front held by the Meerut Division in the area around Pietre.  Large working parties provided assistance to the tunnellers.  October saw 13/DLI at Estaires and Erquinghem.

13/DLI was at the front over Christmas and into February 1916.

17 March:  13/DLI moved to trenches at Calonne when the Germans bombarded the lines.  There were some casualties but overall, they were relatively light.  In 7 months since their arrival in France, only 132 casualties.  Few battalions serving on the Western Front had such light casualty figures.  The month of April saw the enemy increase shelling of the British trenches.

6 April the occupants of a C company dug-out were all killed.  A spell for training at Reclinghem  followed.

20 May: another return to the line – this time in the Souchez sector.

“Ceaseless war was raged in these trenches with rifle grenades and trench mortars, the artillery of both sides joining in as occasion seemed to demand.”

24 May 1916: Private John Henry Raine was killed in action.

 4 June:  12/DLI took over the trenches and 13/DLI was in support on the Notre Dame de Lorette spur then moved back to Delette 15 June.

The Battalion War Diary has not been examined and the service details of 24781 Private John H. Raine have not been researched so the exact circumstances of his death are not known. Two Other Ranks serving with 13/DLI were killed in action 24 May 1916:

  • 19697 Private J.E. Lee
  • 16704 Private F.G. Murray

Both of whom are buried at Bois-de-Noulette British Cemetery, Aix-Noulette along with Private John H. Raine.  All victims “as ceaseless war raged in these trenches.” Private J.H. Raine was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[12]

 Report of his Death

The Church Magazine reported as follows: [13]

“Then, just previously, intimation had come to Evenwood to the effect that one of our young men, John Henry Raine of 13th D.L.I., had been killed in action in France.  Added to this was the awful uncertainty as to the fate of three of our Navy boys who were known to have been on ships that were officially reported to have gone down…Our hearts and sympathies are with the friends and relatives of those who were undoubtedly so much beloved amongst us as these young heroes were.  John Henry Raine, in addition to a mother and father, brothers and sisters has a young wife and two small children to mourn his loss.”   

Memorial Service: 11 June 1916

Our Memorial Service for them (J.H. Raine, A. Lynas, W. Carrick & J.W. Wren) and Lord Kitchener for great as he was, I am sure he would be proud to have his name commemorated in such company was one which was greatly appreciated.  It was a wonderful service.  We held it on Whit Sunday afternoon (June 11th).  Every inch of room in the church was occupied.  People came from far and near to do honour to the lads………very many who could not get into the building took what part they could in the enclosure outside…….We shall never forget the service nor the brave gallant ones whom we commemorated in it.  I doubt if our dear Church will ever see a nobler day or a greater occasion.”


Private J. H. Raine is at grave reference I.B.7, Bois-de-Noulette British Cemetery, Aix-Noulette.  Aix-Noulette is a large village to the south of Bethune in the region of Pas-de-Calais, France.  The cemetery is some way out of the village in a remote location.  It was formed by the Field Ambulance between April 1916 and May 1917.

There are 130 burials and there are 6 other DLI infantrymen buried at or about the same date:

  • 24/05/1916 – Lee & Murray
  • 27/05/1916 – Smeaton
  • 28/05/1916 – McKenzie
  • 31/05/1916 – Adams & Fawcett [14]

The French National Cemetery of the Battles of Artois, Notre Dame de Lorette with the graves of 20,000 soldiers is located to the south and is visible from the approach road to the Bois-de-Noulette cemetery.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Family details provided by John Henry Caine, 4 Barnard Close, Woodham, Newton Aycliffe, Co. Durham DL5 4SP

[3] 1901 census

[4] 1911 census

[5] Family details

[6] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[7] Evenwood Church Magazine February 1915

[8] Evenwood Church Magazine April 1915

[9] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18: The Service Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry” 1920 Capt. W. Miles

[10] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[11] http://www.1914-1918.net/23div.htm

[12] Medal Roll

[13] Evenwood Church Magazine July 1916

[14] CWGC


RAINE J.H. photo


RAINE J.H John's wife & children

John’s wife
& children

RAINE J.H. Grave notification

Grave notification

RAINE J.H.  Headstone


RAINE J.H.  Headstone & family

Headstone & family

Note: The above photograph shows my good friend John Caine, grandson of J.H. Raine and his son paying a visit to his grave