Mudd J W

Private 201822 John Waller Mudd, 5th Yorkshire Regiment, formerly No 5261 Yorkshire Regiment


Killed in action 27th December 1917

John Waller Mudd was born in Stokesley in 1896, the son of Michael Mudd and Anne Elizabeth Waller, who were married in Stokesley in 1891. John’s father, Michael, was a gamekeeper born 1855 in Thoralby, Yorkshire. Michael is first mentioned in Stokesley in the 1891 census, when he was boarding with Eleanor Johnson in Back Lane. Anne Elizabeth was born in Seamer in 1866. Her father and grandfather had both been blacksmiths and innkeepers at the King’s Head, Seamer.

John was the third child and only son of the marriage. He had two older sisters called Lily and Elizabeth and one younger sister, Gertrude.

John’s mother tragically died in 1899 at the early age of 33 years, and the 1901 census shows that John was living with his father and 3 sisters in West Row, Stokesley. Ten years later in 1911 the family was still living at the same address but Lily and Elizabeth were no longer there. (Lily was then working as a housemaid to Martin Edwin Barty at the Vicarage in Thornaby and Elizabeth was with her aunt, also called Elizabeth, who was the keeper of the George Inn, in her father's home town of Thoralby).

According to the Book of Remembrance John was a farm man before enlisting at Stokesley, joining the 5th Yorkshire Regiment (1st/5th) which was a Territorial Battalion. At this point John Waller Mudd was given the regimental number 5261. The Book of Remembrance tells us that he went abroad in 1915, but this may not be so as according to the index to his awards he did not receive the 1915 Star.

In the general re-allocation of regimental numbers early in 1917 John became Private 201822. The 5th Yorkshire Regiment was linked with the 4th Yorkshire Regiment and they jointly became part of the 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.

This division was tasked with “Defending the Ypres Salient”. Up to November 1917 the British had been attacking around Passchendaele at great cost and with little real gain , but the offensive ground to a halt with the onset of winter. Throughout December although there was no set battle, the regimental war diary shows that men were still dying on an almost daily basis in the attritional ordinary business of trench warfare..

The following account (drawn from that at shows the kind of life to which the men were subjected:

5th Yorkshire Diary, December 1917

1st December – On divisional rest
2nd – 10th December – Moved to Zudrove and on a train to Watten to Erie camp. Enemy planes bombed the route. 1 man killed, 5 wounded
11th December – moved up to support area.
13th – 15th December – In Brigade support, supplying and carrying parties to Battalion front line. 1 man killed, 1 died of wounds, 5 wounded. On 15th - 1 man killed, 1 died of wounds, 9 wounded.
16th December – in divisional reserve
17th – 18th December – at “Toronto” camp, resting, bathing, refitting etc
19th – 21st December – moved forward again to camp on Menin Road supplying working parties for Royal Engineers
22nd December – Moved to rear support and relieved 4th Battalion E Yorks. 1 man killed, 3 wounded
23rd December – supplying work parties for Royal Engineers and wiring
24th December – moved to front line and relieved 6th DLI. 3 wounded (gassed)
26th December – heavy enemy barrage at 8pm. 2 men killed, 2 wounded
27th December – C Company HQ hit by a shell – direct hit. 1 killed and 1 wounded.
28th December – relieved by 4th Northumberland fusiliers
29th – 31st December at “Toronto” camp -resting, bathing etc.

Private John Waller Mudd was an only son. He was 21 years old when he fell, dying a month after the end of the 2nd Battle of Passchendale. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, he is buried in plot II F 5 of the Tyne Cot Cemetery. (This plot number indicates that Private Mudd lies in a section which contains the randomly placed first burials in the cemetery, made in the weeks after October 1917, in an area close to which the Great Cross was later erected). However, the Book of Remembrance he was buried at Potijze near Ypres. We cannot be certain that this is incorrect, but the inscription on his gravestone bears the words:

“Though gone from sight, to memory ever dear”

The Book of Remembrance quotes from a letter sent to John’s father by his commanding officer, in which John Waller Mudd is described as a “good and gallant soldier” whose “burial is to be in a British cemetery in the battlefield where he so nobly died”

Go to next soldier: Paylor J.W.

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