1876 - March 1920 (age 43)
1st Bn. Royal West Kents, and later Royal Engineers Inland Water Transport Section
John William Hardy was born in Middlesbrough the son of William a steam engine maker - fitter from Durham. His mother, Mary, had originated from Cold Kirby. In 1891, the family lived at Linthorpe in Middlesbrough and John at the age of 14 was a grocer errand boy.
John soon left Middlesbrough and he gained ten years experience as a sea faring man. This included five years as a boatswain on deep-water sail and steam ships and 18 months as 2nd mate on a coasting steamer. He was also accredited with war service in South Africa for two years and nine months and the Zulu rebellion at Natal for 95 days.
After the outbreak of the Great War, in February 1915, John enlisted into the 1st Bn. Royal West Kent Regiment for a period of one year or the duration of the war. In September 1915, he transferred to the Royal Engineers Inland Water Transport Section where it appeared his sea faring experience would be put to use. We assume John would have spent his time on barges involved in the transport of men or equipment to and from the front lines. Records indicate that he was stationed in Italy for at least part of his service.
There are no further records until 8th May 1917 when a letter was received from the Grantham Borough Surveyor writing on behalf of his wife Isabella Drew asking for information about her brother C.S.M. J.W.Hardy who was located in convalescence at British Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital, Heaton Mersey, Nr. Manchester. We do not know the nature of the injury or illness that John was convalescing from.
He next appears in Sowerby on 16th October 1917 when he married Emily Hodgson Smith (widow), at St. Oswald's. Emily Hodgson had married Thomas Sansom Smith in Hartlepool in 1906 and they had five children born from 1907 to 1916 after which Thomas had died, possibly in the Great War.
The War at last came to an end and John left the Army on 12th December 1918 only to rejoin on 8th August 1919 enlisting into the Labour Corps as a Rigger. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall and deemed "fit for the Army service in Labour Corps". This period of service lasted only three months before he was discharged on 23rd December 1919 with gall stones with a 30% degree of disablement.
John died the next year and was buried at St.Oswald's on 11th March 1920.
The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.
Part of the St Oswald's Church website