Barrett J

Corporal John Barrett (according to the Book of Remembrance) or Private J Barritt (according to the West Green memorial) is a most difficult subject to track down. The West Green memorial identifies his regiment as the East Yorkshires, but the Memorial Plaque in the Parish Church lists neither a Barrett nor a Barritt, despite commemorating more men than does the Cross on West Green. The East Yorkshire Regiment has compiled a list of all the soldiers who ever served in its ranks - the Dinsdale List. It contains several J Barretts, but none who died in 1914.

To add to the mystery, the information given in the Book of Remembrance is sketchy to say the least; it says his first name was John, that he was a Corporal and the first Stokesley man to fall in the Great War, and that he was then 'no more than a youth'. It gives no family details and does not provide his regiment or a date of death. Searching further afield, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records no J. Barritt or J. Barratt as dying in 1914, and only six J Barretts: one of these was a naval surgeon, another was a 33 year old in the navy and yet another was 29 years old when he fell. No suggestion is made that John Barrett was a surgeon and the other two are surely too old to be the Stokesley 'youth'!

The remaining three men are ascribed no age or birthdate in the War Graves records. They are:

Private 4020 J Barrett of the 2nd Battalion of the Connaught Rangers, who fell on 19th October 1914 and lies in Plot C 14 of Soupir Churchyard, Aisne. The website 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' records this man as Joseph Barrett.

Private SS/2945 J Barrett of the 1st Labour Company of the Army Service Corps, who fell on 30th November, 1914 and lies in Plot Div 14 F 4 of the Ste Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, Seine Maritime

Lance Corporal 3004 John Barrett of the Coldstream Guards, who fell on 29th October, 1914, has no known grave. He is commemorated on Panel 11 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. This soldier has been identified as 'our' John Barrett by another researcher.1 However, this Barrett's rank and date of death do not correspond with Frank's identification - see footnote. The website 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' states that this man was born in St Thomas' Parish Derby, where the census still places him, aged 16, in 1911. While it is quite possible that Charles Hall and his friends, compiling their Remembrance Book more than ten years after the Great War began, were mistaken in some of their recollections of John Barrett, so little is said of him that it is not easy to believe that almost every single detail that has been given in tribute to him is incorrect.

The comments about John Barrett's extreme youth suggest that he was being recalled as a small boy in the town, but the name Barrett, Barritt or Barratt hardly appears in any census of the town. One exception is that Jack Barritt, aged 5 years and born in Stockton, was an inmate in Stokesley Workhouse in 1901. He had no family with him, and he does not reappear in the 1911 census. The photograph in the Book (reproduced right) certainly shows a very young boy, and underlines the notion of his youth. But even if this angelic face is behind the descriptions of the young Corporal referred to in the Book of Remembrance, there appears to be no record of him amongst the Fallen of 1914.

There is also amongst the Fallen a J H Barrett who is listed as born in Stokesley and living at North Ormesby. This man died 20th July, 1915, fighting with the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. Apart from his birthplace, there is nothing to identify this soldier with either the Corporal in the Book of Remembrance or the Private on the West Green Memorial

Research continues on J Barrett. Watch this space!! Suggestions and information about this case, and all the others on this website are in the meantime very welcome. Contact us by email at moc.loa|gatirehyelsekots#moc.loa|gatirehyelsekots

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