Skeen J G

Private 1935 John George Skeen, 4th Yorkshire Regiment


Killed in action 17th September,1916

John George Skeen was born in Stokesley in 1894, the son of John Skeen (a tailor born in Easby near Stokesley) and Lillie Clark (who was born in Darlington). The couple had married in Stokesley early in 1892.

In 1901,when John was about 7, the family were living on High Green, Stokesley. Ten years later, John Skeen senior was a widower and his occupation was listed as 'tailor and cowman' - a strange combination! He was still living at High Green, Stokesley with 3 of his children, Lillie Agnes, (aged 14), Arthur Edward (11) and Robert Henry (9). John George Skeen (recorded in this census simply as George Skeen) had moved out of the family home and was living and working as a groom and gardener at Broughton House.

John George must have had other ambitions however as we learn from the Book of Remembrance that John was a poultry dealer before he enlisted. Yorkshire Regiment records tell us that John was a Stokesley resident, and that it was in the town that he enlisted as Private 1935 in the 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment.1

Private Skeen was sent to France in May 1916, and would have been in action in the catastrophic early stages of the Somme Offensive. Despite appalling losses in the initial attacks, the British Army persisted in the vain quest for the magical 'breakthrough'. Some gains were made but the casualty lists continued to grow, and in the autumn of 1916, Private Skeen was killed. According to the Book of Remembrance he was killed in action on 15th September, 1916 at High Wood near Martinpuich. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, however, records that he fell on 17th September 1916.

Private Skeen was 22 years old when he fell. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Pier and Face 3A and 3D of the Thiepval Memorial – the same as Arthur Shore.

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