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Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - John James Collington

Died 28th January 1915, aged 28
Estaires, Northern France

Pre-war days

John Collington was born in Beeston in Nottinghamshire, the eldest son of John and Rebecca Collington. He was brought up in Wymeswold, near Loughborough and in February 1904, when he was 18 years old, he joined the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment), 1st Battalion, B Company, and became a regular soldier. At that time he was a small lad, just 5ft 4 inches tall and weighing 9 stones.

In 1913, aged 26, John married 24 year old Julia Ann Turlington from Quorn, and they started their married life in a house on Ratcliffe Road in Loughborough. Julia came from an old Quorn family, who were long-time members of the Baptist Church. On 10th May 1914 their daughter Rebecca Grace (always known as Grace) was born, but she would be less than a year old when her father died.

Killed in action
John was shot through the head during a battle in France on 26th January 1915. He died a short while afterwards without regaining consciousness. At this time in the war soldiers were not wearing steel helmets, and it wasn’t until the summer of 1916 that there were enough steel ‘Brodie helmets’ for all British troops. John wouldn’t have stood a chance with a well-aimed sniper’s bullet.

According to official records, he died on 28th January, although from a letter written to Julia from the Rev Conran, he would seem to have died on 27th January. The letter is transcribed below:
“Dear Mrs Collington,
I am truly sorry to have to write and tell you that your husband Pte Collington, no 9190 of the Sherwood Foresters died in our hospital yesterday and that I conducted his funeral today in the Cemetery here.
He was shot in the head. He had died for his country and we trust is well in God’s hands. May we meet again in a happier world and may this awful war shortly come to a close
Yours sincerely
Revd M W T Conran

He was unconscious the whole time here.”

Life after John Collington’s death
After his death, John’s effects were sent to Julia, c/o of her mother, Mrs Clara Grace Turlington, Mountsorrel Road (Leicester Road), Quorn. Julia was awarded a pension of 15/- (75p) a week. She never remarried and after John’s death lived with her mother, daughter and three unmarried sisters, Minnie, Edie (Emmeline) and Lucy, at 40 Leicester Road. Initially their mother Clara had to look after baby Grace, as all her daughters, including Julia, were needed to work at Wright’s factory, which was producing huge amounts of military webbing for the war effort.

After the war Julia made enquiries about John’s grave, and was eventually sent a reply with the location, together with a photograph (see below). This was before the grave markers were replaced with Commonwealth War Graves Commission Portland stone memorials. It isn’t entirely clear which cross belongs to John, but it seems likely that it is one of the plainer wooden crosses.

It is hard to imagine the grief that Julia felt, but there is a small insight from an ‘in memoriam’ entry she placed in the Loughborough Echo on 1st February 1918, three years after her husband’s death:
“COLLINGTON – In loving memory of Pte J J Collington, 1st Battalion Sherwood foresters, who died of wounds January 27th 1915.
Three years have passed away
Since that sad and mournful day,
But memories, they do oft recall,
To us the one who gave his all,
From his loving wife and child.”

In 1938, Julia’s father Thomas died. He also worked for Wright’s factory and the house came with the job, so the family had to move. They bought a property on Farnham Street, which was then called ‘The Limes’ and is now number 1.

John’s daughter Grace grew up with her mother, grandmother and aunts, until in 1950 she married Lawrence (Laurie) Lakin. They lived around the corner at 12 Barrow Road, and were still no further away when in about 1967 they moved to 56 Loughborough Road. Julia and her sisters lived at 1 Farnham Street for the rest of their lives.

Julia died in 1978, aged 89. She had been a widow for over 63 years. Just two years later in 1980 Grace’s husband Laurie also passed away. Grace inherited the house on Farnham Street from the last of her aunts and returned there to live in 1984. This was where she remained until shortly before her death in 2010, aged 96.

1) John Collington.
2) The card informing Julia which cemetery John was buried in. The writing will be clearer if you click ‘Enlarge’, below the image.
3) The photograph she was sent from the authorities, which is supposed to include John’s grave.

 view larger image
 Submitted on: 2020-01-13
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman with many thanks to Maurice Turlington and the Carillon Museum in Loughborough.
 Artefact ID: 2322
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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