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Gunner John Henry Underwood

86794 'C' Battery 63rd Brigade Royal Field Artillery

Son of Mr Thomas & Mrs Ellen Underwood

Aged 20 years

Died 9th August 1916

Commemorated at Ovillers Military Cemetery, Somme, France
Grave XV. G.3

Born at Rushden, enlisted at Northampton.
Risdene Echo Dec 2002, Janet Presland - Rushden Family History Society - MI recording group

John Underwood was born in 1896, son of Thomas & Ellen Underwood of 31 Roberts Street. He was the grandson of John & Ellen Sturgess of Courteenhall, and is also commemorated in a book at Courteenhall Church.
The Rushden Echo Friday 18 August 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Another Hero Lost - Young Rushden Gunner Killed By a Bursting Shell - Tributes from Captain and Corpl - 'Always Ready' and 'An Excellent Character' - Buried in Captured Ground

We regret to state that Mr and Mrs Underwood, 31 Roberts-street, Rushden, have this week received news of the death of their son, Gunner John Underwood, Royal Field Artillery. The news is contained in two letters which have been received, one form the gunner's corporal and another from his captain. The letter from the corporal was received on Tuesday morning, being dated August 9th, and it runs as follows:-

"Dear Mrs Underwood, - I am deeply grieved to inform you that your son John has just been killed. He was just preparing to go from the battery laying telephone wire, when three shells came over and one burst just where John was, killed him, and badly wounded another man who was going out with him.

"One consoling feature is that he suffered no pain. Death was instantaneous. He was greatly liked in the staff, all members of which send you their deepest sympathy for you and Mr Underwood and the rest of the family. I have destroyed all his correspondence, most of which appeared to be from home, and anything which I think you would like I will do my best to get for you - there are a number of photos for one thing.

"I have just returned from assisting at his burial. I am very pleased to be able to tell you that he received a Christian burial, the service being read by our Chaplain; the captain, the lieutenant, and several other members of the battery being mourners, and there will be a cross put up with his name on it. I am afraid I must not say where he is lying but he is in the ground which had recently been captured from the enemy, and turned into an English cemetery.

"As his corporal I should like to say how sorry I am to lose him. He was always so willing and cheerful, and always ready to do anything that was wanted. Trusting that the thought of John having given his life for his country may alleviate slightly the shock of his death, I remain, yours sincerely, Fred G Bromage."

The letter from the captain was received the next day (Wednesday) as follows:-

"Dear madam, - I deeply regret to inform you that your son, who was in my battery, was killed by shell yesterday afternoon. He was standing outside the dug-out, when a stray shell fell near him, killing him instantly. He suffered absolutely no pain whatever. You have my deepest sympathy in your loss, which I and all the rest of the battery also feel. He was a valuable man to me, being, as you, doubtless know, the telephonist on my staff. He was buried last night in the cemetery, close by the guns. The Chaplin came and read the service, and all of the officers and men who could be spared went to the funeral. Your son bore an excellent character. I have known him for months, and he always did his work honestly well. - G A Richards, Captain."

Gunner John Underwood was only 20 years old at the time of his death. He enlisted on Aug. 25th, 1915 [sic]- almost immediately after the war broke out - and went to the front in May 1915. He was formerly employed for some years by Mr David Nicholson, at his garage in Higham road, Rushden. He passed through the Sunday school of St Mary's Church, Rushden, and as a boy was a member of the Church Lads' Brigade. It might be mentioned that on Monday, the day before receiving the bad news, Mrs Underwood received a card from her son to the effect that he was quite well.

Mr and Mrs Underwood and family desire to express sincere thanks to all those kind friends who have offered expressions of sympathy to them in their great sorrow.

The Rushden Echo Friday 10 August 1917

In Memoriam

Underwood - In ever loving memory of our only son, gunner John Underwood, C Battery, RFA, who was killed in action Aug. 9th, 1916.

As we gaze on your picture that hangs on the wall,
Your smile and your welcome we often recall;
We miss you and mourn you in sorrow unseen
And dwell on the memory of days that have been.

We never thought, when we said good-bye,
We were to lose you and you were to die;
Too far away your grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee.

From his loving mother and father.

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