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  • Christina Drummond

Quartermaster Serjeant John Satterthwaite, 1st Battalion, The Hertfordshire Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Quartermaster Serjeant* John Satterthwaite (pictured on the right), 1st Battalion, the Hertfordshire Regiment, died from wounds sustained five days earlier during the fighting at Festubert on the Western Front. He had received grievous abdominal wounds in a shell attack, but despite being operated on he could not be saved.

He had joined the Territorials before the outbreak of the Great War and worked for W.H. Smith and as a bookbinder at a local firm. Once war broke out it did not take long for him to be promoted to Serjeant (*correct spelling at the time). One of his duties was to regularly write letters home to thank the residents of his battalion’s home town for sending gifts to his men. He had two older brothers, one died as a child and the other, Walter (pictured on the left), arrived on the Western Front in November of 1915 and literally fought alongside him at times.

(Corporal Walter Satterthwaite at the time of his death was referred to as the Great War’s last victim, as he died from his wounds in 1963; he had been severely wounded in his right leg in 1917, and was invalided out of the army, but not before winning the Military Medal for bravery. On returning home he was given a specially-adapted bicycle, as his leg had been rendered immobile; he lived with increasing pain and in 1963 underwent surgery to amputate his leg, but he died from severe blood loss.)

Serjeant Satterthwaite was remembered as bright, genial with a sunny disposition and fine physique, and a popular billiards player at his local pub, the Skittles Inn.

John, from Letchworth in Hertfordshire, was 25 years old.

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