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This data is related to World War 1

John Savage

Service Number 8584
Military Unit 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Date of birth Unknown
Date of Death 16 May 1915 (32 Years Old)
Place of Birth Mansfield Nottinghamshire
Employment, Education or Hobbies In 1901 he was a coal ganger below ground. He joined the Sherwood Foresters in 1903 and transferred to the Reserve in 1911.
Family History

John Savage, known as Jack, was born in Mansfield in 1883 (O/N/D Mansfield) the son of Vina (also Sewena) Savage. John has been traced on the 1891 and 1901 Census and then joined the army in January 1903. He served overseas from 1904 until he returned to England in 1911 and transferred to the Army Reserve on 29 January. He has not yet been traced on the 1911 Census. John was unmarried but the report of his death refers to a widow and four children. He had nominated Mrs Sarah Jane Pegg as his legatee and she received John's medals and possessions after his death. They lived at 13 Fletcher Street, Mansfield Woodhouse, but in 1919 Sarah notified the army of her change of address to 14 Dewsbury Terrace, Priory Street, York. In 1920 she completed a form for the army which asked for the names of a casualty's surviving blood relatives including their wife. In the section for wife Sarah gave her name (no age) and her address as 14 Dewsbury Terrace, but described herself as 'dependant'. The name of John's father was 'not known' and his mother, not named, was 'deceased'. He had no children and no brothers or sisters. However, the census of 1891 and 1901 provide the names of one sister and five siblings who were probably his half brothers and sisters: Ada Louisa b. Mansfield 1886 (J/A/S Mansfield), Bertha b. Sutton in Ashfield abt. 1889, Lizzie A b. Kirkby in Ashfield abt. 1891, George b. Mansfield birth registered 1894 (J/F/M Mansfield), Rebecca Maud b. Sutton in Ashfield 1897 (O/N/D Mansfield) and John (sic) b. Sutton in Ashfield abt. 1900. All the records gave the children's surnames as Savage and the registrations of the births of George and Rebecca also gave the mother's maiden name as Savage. In 1891 his mother Sewana (sic) Savage (34), single, was living at Todds Row, Kirkby in Ashfield, with George Wilbraham (44 b. Shirland Derbyshire) a coal miner who was head of household. Her occupation was given as housekeeper. Also in the household were John (9), Ada (5) and Lizzie (under 1 year); the relationship of John and Ada to George Wilbraham was given as 'adopted' while Lizzie was described as his daughter. By 1901 Vina (sic) Savage was living at Spring Hill, Sutton in Ashfield; she was head of household, her marital status was widow and she had no occupation. Six children were in the home on the night of the census: John (18) a coal ganger below ground, Ada (14), Bertha (12), George (8), Rebecca (5) and John (1). Lizzie, who was an infant at the time of the 1891 census, has not yet been traced on the 1901 Census, nor has her father, George Wilbraham. John joined the army in January 1903 and named his mother (Vinar), sister Ada and brother George as his next of kin; they all lived at 9 Spring Street, Sutton in Ashfield. Neither his mother nor his siblings have yet been traced on the 1911 Census or in subsequent records.

Military History

John enlisted in the 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters on a 12 year engagement (3 years with the Colours, 9 years in the Reserve) on 12 January 1903. He was 20 years and 3 months of age and working as a collier. On 14 September 1905 he extended his service with the Colours to 8 years. John served at home from 12 January 1903 to 5 March 1904, overseas (country illegible ?China) 6 March to 6 December 1904, Singapore 7 December 1904-11 December 1906 and then in India from 12 December 1906 to 26 January 1911. He was in the UK from 27 January and transferred to the Army Reserve two days later on 29 January. He was mobilized on 5 August 1914 and served with the BEF France from 10 October 1914 until his death the following year. He served in the army for a total of 12 years 125 days. His service record shows several periods of ill health with two short periods in hospital in Singapore, 10-26 January 1905 and 27-31 March 1905, and two days in hospital in Bangalore 23-24 September 1909 for an abscess on his leg. In November 1908 while serving in India he was charged for 'striking his superior officer being in the execution of his office' and was sentenced to 56 days detention and also forfeited one good conduct badge. When with the BEF in France in January 1915 he was awarded 14 days Field Punishment No. 1 for '(1) breaking out of his billet and (2) drunk.' John died from gas poisoning on 16 May 1915 while rescuing men from a trench which had collapsed after mining by the Germans. He was awarded the DCM for his action. His service record shows that he was buried in Le Bizet (Belgium) two days later on 18 May 1915. His grave is now in the Strand Military Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium (grave ref: X.G.1). He qualified for the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Extra Information

CWGC headstone personal inscription: 'In loving memory of dear Jack. Jenny' John's personal possessions were returned to Sarah Jane Pegg in October 1915. They comprised: bible, 1 tobacco pouch, Army Form D426, 1 razor, 1 pocket book containing letters & photos and 1 mirror (broken). Registers of Soldiers' Effects: Sarah Jane Pegg was his sole legatee WW1 Pension Ledgers: John Savage unmarried, Sarah Jane Pegg wife DCM citation: 'For conspicuous gallantry on 13 May 1915, and on many previous occasions, he voluntarily went down a mine which was full of gas, several times, and rescued men suffering from gas poisoning. Finally he was himself overpowered by fumes and lost his life.' Mansfield Reporter, 23 June 1915: ‘He deserved the VC. How a Woodhouse Private Died. The name of Private J Savage (8585) 2nd Sherwood Foresters, is on the list of those who have given their life for their country. He resided at 13, Fletcher-street, Mansfield Woodhouse, where he leaves a widow and four children. The Rev MM Vischer, army chaplain, has written the widow stating that Private Savage was killed in action on May 16th while trying to rescue a comrade. Some time ago Private G Simpson, writing to his parents in Carter-lane, described how the Germans blew up some trenches by mining, and how Jack Savage volunteered to fetch the man out of the ‘afterdamp.’ He got two of them out, when, in trying to rescue a third, he was overcome. If ever a man deserved the VC, Savage did, says Simpson.’ ( Mansfield Reporter, 13 August 1915: ‘Notes and Comments. ‘He deserved the VC’ That was the heading we gave to a paragraph in our issue of June 25th. It was over a brief account of a gallant action by a Mansfield Woodhouse man that cost him his life. Private Jack Savage of the 2nd Sherwood Foresters, on the 16th of May, attempted to rescue three comrades out of a gassed trench broken by the German shells. It was an exceedingly risky thing to attempt, but Savage undertook it. Entering the ‘afterdamp’; as one who witnessed the feat, described it, he actually succeeded in getting out two men alive. Not satisfied with that, he again entered the poisoned atmosphere in the hope of saving the life of the third, but he was overcome by the fumes, and sacrificed his own life. He was a married man, and leaves a widow and four children. This makes the sixth man honoured from this district, one, Corporal Fuller, being a VC here.’ ( Mansfield Reporter, 13 August 1915: ‘Mansfield Woodhouse Man’s Bravery. Posthumous DCM Award. Gave His Life For His Comrades. 'One of the bravest acts that has come to our notice during the progress of the terrible conflict in which we are engaged is that performed by Private J Savage who resided at 13, Fletcher-street, Mansfield Woodhouse. At the time we heard of his bravery, which cost him his life, we wrote that such self-sacrifice - for he gave his life to save his comrades – deserved the highest honours that could be given. Private G Simpson, of Carter-lane, Mansfield, in a letter to his parents, commented upon Savage’s death. He described how the Germans blew up some trenches by mining, and said Jack Savage volunteered to fetch the men out of the afterdamp. He got to of them out, but in trying to rescue a third he was overcome and lost his life. The deceased man leaves a widow and four children. Mrs Savage received a letter from the Rev. MM Vischer, army chaplain, stating that her husband died in action May 16th whilst trying to rescue a comrade. 'A Brave Sherwood. From these brief details it will be gathered that Savage, like the brave Sherwood Forester that he was, though only of rescuing the unfortunate men who were in the trench smashed by German shells. The memory of his wife and four little ones did not prevent him doing his duty – the duty of a brave British soldier. If ever a man gave his life for a comrade Savage did, and the only way the Powers that be could show their appreciation of his gallantry was by a posthumous decoration. In all probability he would not only have earned, but received the DCM, after having rescued two men from the poisonous gas fumes, which were slowly, but surely, suffocating them, but knowing there was a third man in the trench he again came forward in the hope of bringing him to safety, but unfortunately, as already stated, he was overcome by the fumes and perished before assistance could be given. It is a simple story of the gallantry of a true soldier. Its brevity rather adds to than detracts from its merit. 'Sympathy To Widow And Children. Whilst Woodhouse people will naturally extend the most sincere sympathy to the widow and the children who mourn the loss of a husband and father, they will feel that the qualities exhibited by Savage on the battlefield have brought this parish into prominence, has added one more name to the list of fame, and set an example to other local lads to follow. A special supplement to the ‘London Gazette; issued on Thursday night of last week, contained a list of 406 awards of the Distinguished Conduct Medal and six awards of a clasp to the medal to warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders, the Dardanelles, and Turkey-in-Asia. It was in this list that the name of Private Savage appeared.’ (