- 1911 Occupation Agricultural Labourer ?
- Domicile 8, Gripps Cottages, Cotgrave
- Date of Birth 1886 c, Registered in Bingham
- Kin William and Sarah Hayes
- Regiment 1st and 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters
- Division 6th Division
- Brigade 71 Brigade
- Enlistment Date
- Service Number 9983
- Rank Lance Sgt
- Date of Death 16 Sept 1916. Killed in Action
- Age at Death 30
- CWGC Detail Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 10C, 10D and 1A
The name John William Hayes appears on the Cotgrave War Memorial and on the Memorial Board in All Saints Church Cotgrave.
John was the eldest child of Derbyshire born William, a none domestic gardener, and Sarah a Cotgrave girl. In 1901 he was living with his 6 siblings in 8 Gripps Cottages in Cotgrave and was employed as an agricultural labourer.
By 1911 John had joined the Regular Army in the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters and was serving with them in India as an Assistant Armourer. In November 1914 the Battalion was sent to France without any chance to adjust to European conditions. As a result the men suffered badly in the first 4 winter months of ‘Trench Warfare’.
In 1915 the Battalion took part in 2 major battles– Neuve Chappelle and Loos. Sometime later John moved to the 2nd Battalion and on 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure.
In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained.
On 16 September 1916, 5 years after joining the Army, John was killed while fighting with his battalion and is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 10C, 10D and 1A.
John’s younger brother Ernest joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1916 and like his brother fought on the Western Front. Ernest was awarded the Military Medal in 1918 and later 2 bars to the medal. He survived the war and died in Nottingham in 1938. He is buried in Beeston.
The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.