• Christina Drummond

Private John Elvin Collett, 23rd (4th Tyneside Scottish) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Private John Elvin Collett, 23rd (4th Tyneside Scottish) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action on the western front.

Before joining the army in the spring of 1916, he had been employed as a house painter. He served with the 2nd Battalion, the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding) before transferring to the Northumberland Fusiliers. Not long after he enlisted, his baby son died and his younger brother Harry was lost when H.M.S. Shark sank during the Battle of Jutland. He and his brother had taken an active part in the Primitive Methodist Chapel and were keen cricketers.

The battalion was raised at the end of November in 1914 with men primarily of Scottish descent living in the North East of England. They joined the 102nd Brigade, 34th Division at Ripon in Yorkshire in 1915, and went to France in January of 1916; Private Collett saw action with them during the Battle of the Somme, close to the village of La Boiselle, near Albert.

Private Collett has no known grave and is memorialised on the Ploegsteert Memorial at Hainault in Belgium. He is also remembered on a memorial stone in his local chapel along with six other soldiers who fell in the Great War, including his brother. Both brothers’ names are carved on the gravestone of their parents, as is that of his infant son.

John, from Gomersal in Yorkshire, was 25 years old and married with one surviving child.

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