War Memorials in Sowerby, North Yorkshire

John Weston Warner DFC

1899 - 4th October 1918 (age 19)

85th Squadron, Royal Air Force

Christopher Warner, born in Manchester, appears to have been a wealthy man, already able to live on his own means at the age of 39. His wife Annie Henrietta was from Sunderland, which was where their three children were born. Two daughters, Dorothy and Marjory, followed by a son, John Weston Warner. The family moved to Sowerby, and by 1911 they were living at Holmfield House, while John aged 11 was living away as a pupil at school at Oatlands, Harrogate.

John joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and eventually became what was termed an "ace" having been credited with shooting down more than 5 enemy aircraft. He was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) the citation for which was published in the London Gazette and read as follows:

Lieut. John Weston Warner (France)
This officer has carried out numerous offensive patrols and low flying attacks on enemy ground targets displaying on all occasions the real offensive spirit and, when acting as flight commander, he has proved himself to be an excellent leader, full of initiative and courage. He has accounted for six enemy aeroplanes.

John's success continued and he was eventually credited with eight victories in total. His victories are summarised below:







29 Jun 1918



S.E.5a (C1678)

Pfalz D.111 (ooc)


07 Jul 1918



S.E.5a (C1922)

Fokker D.V11 (occ)


22 Aug 1918



S.E.5a (E3922)

Fokker D.V11 (des)

Clery sur Somme

23 Aug 1918



S.E.5a (E3922)

Fokker D.V11 (occ

Suzanne / Peronne

15 Sep 1918



S.E.5a (E3922)

Fokker D.V11 (des)

Bourlon Wood

20 Sep 1918



S.E.5a (E3922)

Fokker D.V11 (des)

E of Bourlon Wood

25 Sep 1918



S.E.5a (E3922)

Fokker D.V11 (des)


02 Oct 1918



S.E.5a (E3922)

Fokker D.V11 (des)

SE of Bohain

Note: ooc = observed out of control, des = destroyed.

An S.E.5a, the type flown by John Western Warner

John had scored six of his successes while flying S.E. 5a (E3922) and it was to be in this plane that he met his death while out on patrol on 4th October 1918. He was last seen in combat with enemy aircraft over Busigny in France at 12:00. A victory was credited to Ltn. Paul Baumer of Jasta 2; it was the 40th of his eventual 43 victories.

It appears that John was originally reported missing in action, there being no witnesses to what had happened to him after he was last seen in combat. The following message appeared in the Flight Magazine on 17th October 1918:

Miss Warner, of Thorpe Arch, Boston Spa, Yorks., would be glad if those writing to prisoners of war or hospitals in Germany would make enquiries for Lieut. John Weston Warner, RAF., who is reported missing on the Western Front.

After the War, his remains were removed from the original grave which was close to the old German front line near the village of Sequehart, several miles from where he was last seen over Busigny. The most likely scenario is that after the combat, his plane continued for some distance before crash landing close to the German lines and that he was buried there by German soldiers.

John's remains were found in front of the wood in the distance

In the probate in 1920, of John's will gives his address as The Dooklands, Thorp Arch. His effects totalling £8,510 1s 6d were left to his father, Christopher Warner, gentleman.

John's remains now lie at Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery, Aisne, France, plot VI.E.12. The gravestone bears the additional inscription:

A Brave Life
Given For Others
Are The Everlasting Arms

John Weston Warner is also remembered on the village memorial at Thorp Arch.

The memorial at Thorp Arch

The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.

Information about John Weston Warner on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Information about John Weston Warner on the War Graves Photographic Project website

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