ROSS John 1877 – 1918

JOHN ROSS 1877 – 1918

24908 Private John Ross, 1st Garrison Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers died 3 January 1918, aged about 41.  He is commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton[1] and the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

John Ross was born 1877,[2] at Bishop Auckland, the son of William ad Isabella Ross.  There were at least 4 children, all born at Bishop Auckland:[3]

  • Margaret bc.1869
  • Mary bc.1875
  • John bc.1877
  • Jane bc.1880

In 1881, the family lived at Thornley Colliery, Kyo near Lanchester, County Durham where 37 years old William worked as a brickmaker.[4]  By 1891, the family lived at Newton Cap, Bishop Auckland where William was employed as a labourer at a sanitary pipe works. [5]

In 1896, John Ross and Jane Ann Garrity married.[6]  They had 7 children, all born at Bishop Auckland, except James: [7]

  • William born 1896 
  • Mary bc.1900
  • John bc.1902
  • Thomas born 9 November 1904
  • James born 29 July 1907 at Witton Park
  • Patrick born 25 April 1910
  • Isabella born 14 March 1913

In 1901, John and Jane lived at Town Head, Bishop Auckland with their 2 children, William and Mary.  John worked as a, “hawker” dealing in fruit.[8]  In 1911, they family still lived at Town Head, Bishop Auckland and 33 years old John was still employed as a, “hawker – fruit”.[9] 

Later, Jane lived at White Cottages, Newton Cap Bank, Bishop Auckland, Ross Yard, Town Head, Bishop Auckland and the Pump Yard, Woodside, Witton Park.[10]

John and Jane Ross’s son serving as Private 24483, William Ross, 15th Bn., the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 29 May 1918 and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France and the Witton Park war memorials.

Military Details

The service records of Private John Ross have not been researched.  He enlisted at Barnard Castle joining the Northumberland Fusiliers and was posted to the 1st Garrison Battalion and was allocated the service number 24908.[11]  The 1st Garrison Battalion was formed in May 1915 and went to Malta.[12]

Northumberland Fusiliers Cap Badge

25 other ranks died during the course of the war whilst serving with the battalion, 1 in 1915, 6 in 1916, 2 in 1917 and 16 in 1918, probably all due to natural causes.  Most of the 1918 deaths, were probably due to influenza.  Private John Ross contracted nephritis while on active service.[13] 

Private John Ross was aboard the HM Hospital Ship “Formosa” heading from Malta to the UK when he died 3 January 1918 and was buried at sea. HMHS “Formosa” left Malta 27 December 1917 with 409 patients on board, 16 officers, 1 lady civilian, 1 German Prisoner and 391 other ranks, in very rough weather.  It arrived at Gibraltar ay 10.00am, 31st December 1917 and left at 4pm. 

H.M. Ship “FORMOSA”

Burial

An entry in the ship’s war diary reads:[14]

“At Sea, in Bay of Biscay, 3rd January: 5.25am No24903 Pte. Ross J. 1/Garr. Btn. N’berland Fus. died, 2.30pm buried at sea.”

Awards and Medals

Private John Ross was entitled to the Victory and the British War medal but I can find no reference to him in the Medal Roll card index or the Roll for those entitled to the medals.

Effects

Private John Ross’s widow Jane received his effects [15] and pension.

Commemoration

Private John Ross is commemorated at panel 77, the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton.  The memorial commemorates almost 1000 servicemen of the army and air forces who died in seas around the UK during the First World War and have no known grave. [16]

Summary

John Ross was born at Bishop Auckland in 1877, a married man with 7 children, who was a hawker of fruit.  He served in Malta as part of the 1st Garrison Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers, probably since May 1915.  He contacted nephritis and was aboard the Hospital Ship, “Formosa” heading for the UK for treatment when he died, 3 January 1918, aged about 41.  He was buried at sea and is commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton.  He left a widow, Jane and 4 dependent children. 

John and Jane Ross’s son serving as Private 24483, William Ross, 15th Bn., the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 29 May 1918 and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France and the Witton Park war memorials.


REFERENCES

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.240 Auckland 1877 Q1

[3] 1881 & 1891 census

[4] 1881 census

[5] 1891 census

[6] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.240 Auckland 1896 Q1

[7] 1901, 1911 census & Pension Claimant card index

[8] 1901 census

[9] 1911 census

[10] Pension Claimant card index associated with her husband John Ross and her son William Ross

[11] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[12] https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/northumberland-fusiliers/

[13] CWGC & Pension Claimants card index

[14] National Archives Catalogue Reference WO 95/4144/6

[15] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No.767557

[16] CWGC