Research and text by Marigold Cleeve, Researcher at Carillon War Memorial Museum, Loughborough
Served under the alias of ‘John Arthur Jennings’.
John William Adcock was born in 1877 in Syston, Leicestershire. He was the elder son of Richard Adcock, a framework knitter, and his wife Ann Jane (née Cart) of Brookfield, Syston, who were married in 1876. Richard and Ann Jane Adcock had one other son, Joseph Richard, and a daughter, Florence Elizabeth Ann, before Richard died, aged 28, in 1887, in Loughborough. In 1891, John was living with his widowed mother, brother and sister at 6 Barrow Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, and his mother was supporting her family by working as a hosiery seamer. John, aged 14, was now an apprentice brick maker. Later that same year John’s mother remarried to Thomas Yeomans, a bricklayer.
On 29 August 1894, John, a labourer, attested at Leicester for the 3rd Leicestershire Regiment under the name of ‘William Adcock’. He was send to the Depot as Private 4179. On 5 October 1894 he was transferred to the 2nd Leicestershire Regiment. On 7 March 1896 he deserted from Aldershot.
By 1901 John’s mother Ann Jane and Thomas Yeomans were living at 14 Southfield Road, Loughborough, while his wife had moved to 58 Salop Street, Birmingham, to be a housekeeper for George Nicholls, a motor body finisher.
John, aged 38, and a rope maker, enlisted in London on 15 September 1915 using, as later testified by his brother, the alias ‘John Arthur Jennings’. John gave his home address as 9 Buckhorn Square, Loughborough, stated that he was married, and that Anna Caroline Jennings was his next-of-kin and dependant. Prior to 1915 John had met Anna Caroline Olsen, a Norwegian domestic cook who was working for Eric and Dorothy Burder of 129 Ashby Road and by 1915 John and Anna appear to have been living together at 9 Buckhorn Square. Anna Caroline Olsen was subsequently described by the military authorities as John’s unmarried wife and sole legatee.
John joined the East Surrey Regiment at Kingston-upon-Thames as Private 11870. Ten days after he enlisted he was punished for being absent from tattoo, being drunk in the barracks and being deficient of kit. One month later he was again punished, this time for ‘overstaying his pass’. Nevertheless, he successfully completed his training as a Bomber with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Dover.
He was sent to France on 17 March 1916 and joined the 7th (Service) Battalion of the East Surreys at Sailly Labourse on 19 March. The battalion then moved to billets in Bethune before going into the trenches at Vermelles. On 10 April the battalion moved into Brigade Reserve at Annequin before being sent to guard the Hohenzollern Redoubt. On 22 April 1916 John was killed in action, aged 40. He is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery Grave II.H.24. His gravestone is inscribed with the alias under which he served in the Great War.