John was born in Askern, in January 1894.
in 1901 John was living at 197 Thurnscoe Road, Bolton-Upon-Dearne with his father James Edward, who was a Policeman, mother Elizabeth, brothers Evan James, Gordon Cecil, James Edward and sister Jane Emma.
In the next census 1911 the family had moved to 135 Doncaster Road, Goldthorpe and a further sister Elizabeth Gwendoline was listed. John was a Engine Driver.
On the 17th November, 1911 John emigrated to Australia on board the ship “Ballarat” from London to Melbourne. D.O.A. being 30th December 1911.
John enlisted on 6th September 1915 aged 20 years and 9 months he had taken the oath on 6th September, 1914 at Roseberry Park, New South Wales, Australia. His occupation was that of a miner.
He boarded H.M.A.T. “Ulysses” on the 22nd December, 1914 and headed for the action at Gallipoli. John was promoted to Corporal on 3rd March, 1915., but in August (23rd) he was wounded in action with bullet wound to the chest (left side) and a slight wound on the right side. John was transferred to London (Bermondsey) for recovery and returned to duty (Egypt) on the 2nd February 1916. On the 10th March, 1916 John was transferred to the 45th.Battalion, three days later on the 13th, John was sent to fight in France (Zetioun) and was promoted to Sargeant.
John was again was wounded in action at Marseilles (left leg) on 7th August, 1916, embarked on H.S. “St. George” and yet again transferred back to the UK and the 3rd.General London Hospital. He was discharged on 13th September, 1916. On the 7th Novemfber, 1916 John was awarded the Military Medal. Citation is a follows..
“On the nights of the 19 and 20th.August 1916 Sgt.Blenkinsop (*then a Corporal of “D” Company 13th.Battalion A.I.F.*(there is a discrepancy about the dates of John becoming a Corporal one says 5/03/1916 the other says 03/05/1915.)) was sent out gain information as to the nature of the country in front, in view of an attack by the 13th.Battalion on the 21st.August. This work was carried out by him very skilfully in the face of considerable danger and the considerable use in the attack that followed”.
However, on the 14th November, 1916 John was “absent” from his unit for a period of three months . He reported back 30th December, 1916. On 23rd March 1917 he was Taken On Strength to the 61st.Battalion from the 45th. at Tidworth, then proceeded overseas to France via Folkstone to reinforce 45th Battalion. However John was back in Tidworth on 15th April on command at School of Instruction. Then once again proceeded overseas to France, Taken On Strength C.O.45th Battalion. John sadly was killed in action on the 8th June 1917.
23/8/15: Wounded in action, Gallipoli. The date correlates with the 13th Battalion being stationed at Gallipoli and establishing and defending the front line.
7/8/16: Wounded in action. The date correlates with the 45th Battalion being present at the Western Front.
8/6/17: Killed in action “in the field”. The date correlates with 45th Battalion fighting in the battle of Messines 7th-14th August. John Cemetery or memorial details: Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium. Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army
Johns awards are as follows.. 1914/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Memorial Scroll, Memorial Plaque, Military Medal, 3rd.Echelon and The Military Medal for Bravery.
I am in receipt of letter and Communication dated July 19th 1917 – informing me of the Distinction won by my Son 710 Sergeant, John David Blenkinsop 45th Battalion A.I.F.
I thank you for your kindness in writing me. I am grieved to say he was killed in action in France 8th June 1917.
I have much pleasure in forwarding hereunder copy of extract from Supplement No. 29805 to the London Gazette of 27th October 1916, relating to the conspicuous services rendered by your Son, no, 710, Sergeant. J. D. Blenkinsop, 45th Battalion.
Awarded the Military Medal
“HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to award the military medal for bravery in the Field to the undermentioned non-commissioned officer:
No. 710, Sergeant John David Blenkinsop.
The above has been promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. 62 of 19th April 1917.
Legatee: Wife. 18/9/17
Mrs. L. Blenkinsop.
28, Armstrong Place.
Ex 3rd Echelon. No. 3522: Diary, Cards, Letters, Photos, 2 Wallets.
Ex Kit Store: Curios, Photos, Religious Book.
Letter from John to the Red Cross as to the whereabouts of his brother and The Red Cross was involved in determining what happened to John David Blenkinsop as he was reported missing, and there are various witnesses reporting his last moments. The reports have various information and some are a bit conflicting. Some state they saw his grave after being buried in the front lines at Messines Ridge, some not. The description of his death is also conflicting but all agree it was a shell that caused it, some say it was immediate and some not, others say it hit him in the face and some say in the stomach. There are various correspondences to his wife stating what happened.
He came from England and joined in Australia. I had known him for about 18 months. He was the Bombing Sergeant. In the battalion when I was in the Bombers. His Christian name is Jack. The number given is his. I was told by Sergeant Hansen of D.C.o, 45th Battalion who is now at No.2 Convalescent Depot ??? that he had seen Blenkinsop’s grave.
Private J. Mcinnes 1381, 45th Battalion A.Coy. 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital.
I saw him dead at Messines having been killed by shell, death instantaneous. We held the ground, but cannot say if he was buried. Refer to Sergeant Major Crooks, D.Coy who can give full particulars. I knew him well, there being no other man of that name in the Battalion.
In the advance at Messines Ridge when we got far as the place where we took over the advance from the New Zealanders I saw a shell break 20 yards in front of him and a piece carried half of his face away killing him instantly. He was buried in the vicinity.
Private J. Dabenett?, 2815
Please refer to Sergeant Major Crooks, D.Coy 45th Battalion, who is now in France and who saw him killed and can give particulars.
Private Williams 1763
I saw him killed at Messines Ridge. We had taken the ridge and were mustering when a shell came. He was in a shell hole just behind the communication trench and he was hit in the chest and died a few minutes after. I was in the trench ??? 10yards away and I saw it, and a man was wounded alongside me by the same shell. We were called to go up to the frontline immediately after and I left. He was a fine fellow, and the man would do anything ??? his/m? He was recommended for the D.C.H and got the M.M. He was an Englishman and just married.
Ger. P. Park. 45th Battalion
Sergeant John David Blenkinsop of the 45th Battalion was killed on 8th June at Messines and was buried in the vicinity of the town, but I have not yet been able to ascertain the exact spot. Your enquiry was addressed to Sergeant Major Crooks, but as that officer was not with us during the Messines engagement he has handed you letter to me for reply. If I can get further particulars relating to the burial place of Sergeant Blenkinsop I will advise you as soon as possible. The late sergeant had only returned from England about a month before his wife who resides at 28 Armstrong Place, Woolwich London. Sergeant Blenkinsop’s personal effects have already been sent out through Headquarters. Some letters I have not been able to transcribe, sorry.
Corporal H.P.Williams 3549
Our Battalion was in Messines from the 7th to the 11th August. A couple days after we went over, I saw Sergeant Blenkinsop lying back in a shell hole the other side of the Messines about a quarter mile from the village. He had been hit over the eye by a bit of shell, I should say. He was still breathing but quite unconscious. That was the last I saw of him and I unable to say whether his body was buried. Sergeant Blenkinsop came from New South Wales and formerly belonged to 13th Battalion.
N.J. Hansen, D.Coy 45th Battalion
Re Sergeant Blenkinsop. I suppose I know just as much as anybody about him. He was killed outright with a piece of High Explosive hitting him in the stomach. I saw the last of him, poor chap. As to whether he was buried or not. I could not say because I got blown out myself about an hour later and as you know we are not allowed to leave our posts in such times as it were. If you would let me have the inquirers address I would let them know everything in detail. If he was buried it would be on Messines Ridge.
Sneesby. W.R 3215 45th Battalion
Sergeant Blenkinsop was killed by a shell at Messines, on June 7th. He went through the charge, came back, and was killed later on. He is buried on the Warneton side of the road of Messines ridge, near “Unbearable Trench”. A party from gxxx Coy, buried him, but were unable to mark the grave in any way at the time. He joined up the Battalion when they left Braille for the North.
John’s letter to the Red Cross in regards to the whereabouts of his brother Gordon Lionel
Would you please try and fix this up for me. A few days ago a friend of mine was working at ??? up in ??? and heard? The name of Sergent Blenkinsop reported prisoner of war in Germany. On making inquiries he was informed the man belonged to a British regiment. Well I have a brother who is a Sergeant in the British Army the 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire and he has being missing since November 19th 1916, and has not being heard of since. My friend telling me this I thought perhaps it may be my brother, hoping you will oblige. I am yours Sergeant J Blenkinsop 45th Battalion A.I.F
Some of the letters to Mrs Lorenzia Blenkinsop from The Red Cross
July 19th 1917
In reference to your enquiry about your husband : – No.710 Sergeant J.D Blenkinsop, 45th Battalion A.I.F
We beg to inform you that we have had a letter from Rouen 11/7/17 and regret to say that it confirms the report that your husband was killed in action. 9/6/17. We have added his name to our? List, and shall make every possible enquiry to obtain further details of his death, wh oh we shall communicate to you at once. With sincere sympathy, yours faithfully Secretary.
August 29th, 1917
We are in receipt of further unofficial details of the death of your husband no.710 Sergeant J.D Blenkinsop, 45th Battalion A.I.F
and we hope that will you will derive some consolation from the fact that his death was instantaneous.
No 2014 Cpl W.R.Tockler, who was in No 1 Canadian General Hospital, B.E.F. reported that he saw your husband killed instantly by a piece of shell which burst about 20yards in front of him during the advance at Messines Ridge on June 9th and he was buried in the immediate vicinity.
No 1763 Private Williams who was interviewed on an ambulance train at Calais stated that he saw your husband killed instantly by a shell while waiting in a shell hole during the advance on Messines Ridge, informant being only about ten yards distant in the communication trench. He adds that Sergeant who was an Englishman and just married “was a fine fellow and the men would do anything for him” he was recommended for the D.C.M and got M.M.
We are sure that it will be great comfort to you to have these few words of appreciation from one of his men and we greatly sympathise with you on your loss. Further inquiries are being made and you may rest assured that we shall forward any information we obtain as we fully realise your great anxiety. With our sincere sympathy, yours faithfully, Secretary
September 13th, 1917.
We regret to inform you of an unofficial report received from Corporal. P. Park in France about your husband No.710 J.D. Blenkinsop, 45th Battalion A.I.F
And we have also made on your behalf an application to the Graves Registration Bureau for a photograph of his grave. If the letter is registered by that society it will be forwarded direct to you as soon as circumstances will permit. Corporal. Park writes that your husband is buried in the vicinity of Messines but he has as yet been unable to ascertain its exact location. He is making further inquiries however, and will send us any information that he obtains and adds that your husband’s personal effects have already been sent to A.I.F Headquarters. Should further information be obtained we shall advise your immediately as we realise how anxious you must be.
Assuring you of our sincere sympathy, Secretary.
BLENKINSOP, JOHN DAVID