Lance Corporal
John Jack Bonshor


About John Jack

  • Name
    John Jack
  • Initials
    J J
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
  • Birth town
    Grantham, Lincolnshire
  • Resided town
    Grantham, Lincolnshire
  • Commemorated
    Buried, Berlin South West Cemetery I.H.9. Commemorated in Peterborough Cathedral, St John the Evangelist, Spittlegate, Grantham.
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
    Stendal Prisoner of War Camp, Germany
  • Date of death
  • Married
  • Occupation

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
    Lance Corporal
  • Battalion
    Hunts Cyclist


John Bonshor was born on 18 September 1894 in Grantham, the fourth child of William and Lucy (née Bird). The family originated from Peterborough, where John’s three elder brothers had been born.

In 1901, John, aged six, is living with his family at 7 Railway Terrace, Spittlegate, Grantham, with William (38), locomotive engine fireman, Lucy (39), George W (13), errand boy, Harry (12) and Jabez (10).

The family are living at the same address in 1911, and John (16) is at school.  His father, William is working as a loco engine fitter with the Great Northern Railway (GNR), Harry, a GNR loco clerk and Jabez, a grocer’s assistant at the Co-op.

John was a scholar at the Weslyan School before progressing to The King’s School, Grantham (where Isaac Newton, the famous physicist, attended from 1655–60).  He spent two years in teacher training at St Peter’s Training College in Peterborough, where students did some of their teacher training at the Peterborough Practising School next door.  On completion of his studies he was appointed assistant master at St John’s School, West Ealing.

In 1915, John joined the Hunts Cycling Battalion and after completing training he was on coast duty for two years.  It was while he was with this battalion that he passed through Peterborough East Station on 3 July 1917 and signed the visitors’ book writing “Kind hearts are more than coronets”.

In January 1918, he received a commission in the South Staffordshire Regiment and proceeded to France. Neither his service record nor pension record have been traced, but his regiment’s Roll of Honour records that he was taken a prisoner of war.

Second Lieutenant Bonshor was caputured by the Germans on 21 March 1918, the first day of the German Spring Offence. Below is an extract from the Regimental War Diary for that day.

“Heavy enemy shelling of back areas commenced between 2 & 3a.m. also heavy bombardment by enemy of Front & Support Line with H.E. and Gas Shells from 4a.m. – 8a.m.  Enemy attacked in massed formation at 9a.m. and succeeded in capturing the Front Line and also effected a flank move and got through to Railway Reserve and Battalion Headquarters.  23 Officers & about 600 O.R. are “Missing” including Lt.Col.J. Stuart Wortley, Capt.O.E.L. Whitehouse (Adjutant), Capt.W.A. Adams, Capt.W.A. Jordan, Capt.T.L. Astbury & Capt.W.S. Lynes (Company Commanders).  The following Officers are missing:- Lieut.W.T. Butler, Lieut.R.G. Boycott, Lieut.L.J. Shelton, 2/Lieut.H.P. Bunn, 2/Lt.H.E. Shipton, 2/Lt.H.W. Gregory, 2/Lt.J.A. Geyton, 2/Lt.R. Baxter, 2/lt.R.W. Spibey, 2/Lt.C.Haworth, 2/Lt.J.H.Hickman, 2/Lt.T.A.Gough, 2/Lt.G.A.Yates, 2/Lt.J.Bonshor, 2/Lt.J.Rigby, 2/Lt.H.R.Jones & Capt.W.M.Christie, R.A.M.C.  The Q.M.Stores and Transport moved from Dysart Camp at 5.p.m. by march route via Coucelles-les-Compte to DOUCHY where they bivouaced.”

On 31 March, John’s parents received a letter from their son which said “I am a prisoner of war in German hands, and at present in hospital, shot through the left arm and right shoulder, but not severely.  I am unable to write.  This is being done by a brother officer.  Don’t worry; I am comfortable under the circumstances and am being treated kindly.  Please inform all my friends.  As soon as I can use my right arm I will write and let you know my address.”  Grantham Journal 11 May 1918.

A Prisoner of War death record dated 13 August 1918, records he had been a prisoner at Stendal POW Camp in Germany, where he died on 26 July 1918 from tuberculosis. He was interred in Stendal Cemetery on 29 July 1918 with full military honours.  He was 23 years old.  John was awarded the British War and Allied Victory Medals.

John Bonshor is commemorated on a WW1 memorial to the Old Boys of St Peter’s College, Peterborough. The memorial, sited within St Sprite’s Chapel, Peterborough Cathedral, takes the form of a stone tablet with a curved top. The arms of the city are carved, above which the inscriptions are painted in red. An inverted gold sword is carved between the two columns of names and dates indicate when each individual attended the college. John was there from 1914–15.

The Northamptonshire Roll of Honour reads: “Second Lieutenant 2nd/6th Bn South Staffordshire Regiment. Died of wounds (POW) 26th July 1918. Age 23. Son of William and Lucy Bonshor, of 169, Harlaxton Rd., Grantham, Lincs. Formerly 2nd/1st Hunts Cyclists Bn. Buried BERLIN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY Grave I.H.9. 1914–1915”

He is also commemorated at the parish church of St John the Evangelist, Spittlegate, Grantham.

John also had two other brothers serving, one with the Civil Service Rifles and one with the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Images of plaques courtesy of Hannah Saunders. Additional information about John Bonshor from the Grantham Journals dated 11 May 1918 and 14 September 1918.



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