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  • Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 11 December 1914. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
Person Details
John George was the son of John Clay and Ann Townroe née Levy. His father was born in Mansfield and his mother in Macclesfield, Lancashire. John Clay and Ann were married at Mansfield United Free Methodist Chapel in 1883 (O/N/D Mansfield). By 1911 they had had eight children of whom one had not survived. Seven children were named on the census returns between 1891 and 1911: Ada Clay b. 1884 (A/M/J Mansfield), John George b. 1885 (O/N/D Mansfield), Bertie Levy b. 26 May 1888 (A/M/J Mansfield) bap. Mansfield SS Peter & Paul 31 July 1889, Nellie birth registered 1890 (J/F/M Mansfield), Maggie b. 1892 (J/A/S Mansfield) bap. SS Peter & Paul 30 November 1892, Harold b. 1896 A/M/J Mansfield) bap. SS Peter & Paul 29 September 1896 and Doris AL b. 1900 (A/J/S Mansfield). All the children were born in Mansfield. John and Annie were living at Lime Tree Place, Bridge Street, Mansfield, when their son Bertie was baptised in 1889 and were still at the same address in 1891. John (38), a forman gas stoker, and Annie (33) had four children, Ada (7), John (5), Bertie (2) and Nellie (1). By 1901 the family was living at 37 Bowling Street, Mansfield. In the home on the night of the census were John, who was still working as a gas stoker, his wife Annie and children Ada (17) a boot machinist, John (15) a gas fitter at a gas works, Bertie (12), Nellie (11), Harold (4) and Doris (2). The family was still living at 37 Bowling Street in 1911. Only Nellie (21) a tin cutter, Maggie (19) a boot machinist, Harold (14) a pony driver/coal miner and Doris (12), were in the household with their parents on the night of the census. John George had enlisted in the Queen's Own Hussars on 25 February 1895 and in 1911 was a corporal in the 8th Hussars, serving in India. His brother Bertie was a private soldier and recorded in barracks at Butt Road, Colchester, on the night of the census. His eldest sister, Ada, had probably married Philip Hacking in 1903 and has not yet been traced after this date. John was in England in 1914 and on Easter Monday of that year (13 April) married Eva Mary Holland (A/M/J Hemsworth Yorkshire). Eva was the daughter of John and Alice Mary Holland and on the 1901 and 1911 census was recorded living with her parents and then her widowed mother at South Lodge, Kirk Smeaton nr. Pontefract. There were no children of the marriage. Eva married Ferrand Harrison in 1918 (A/M/J Hemsworth, Yorkshire) and lived in Kirk Smeaton. Eva and Ferrand had at least three children: John b. 24 February 1922, Joan b. 27 March 1925 and Betty b. 16 September 1927 and possibly Jessie b. abt. 1931 and Sylvia b. 1933. Eva died on 15 December 1938; her home was at South Lodge, Kirk Smeaton. Her husband survived her. John's brothers Bertie and Harold also served in the war. No details have yet been found for Bertie's earlier military career but in the war he served with the Hussars, 2nd Cavalry Depot, (H/546 L/Cpl) and was discharged (disability) on 29 May 1918, Silver Badge No. 410232. Bertie later joined the civil service; on 3 August 1933 the London Gazette listed his appointment to the Ministry of Health as a clerk (special class). In 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled he was recorded at 14 New Street, Paignton, a boarding house: Bertram (sic) L Townroe (b. 26 May 1888) a clerk in the Civil Service. He was registered as married but there is also a record of a marriage (Bertie L Townroe) in 1951 (A/M/J Dover Kent) to Hilda E Lawrence. Bertie died on 15 June 1952; his home address on the probate record was The Caravan, Whitehall Inn, Shepherdswell, near Dover. Harold served with the Leicestershire Regiment (11301) and was in France from 29 July 1915. He was discharged (Class 2 Reserve) on 26 March 1919. However, Harold then enlisted in the Royal Tank Corps on 15 January 1925 (Territorial) and was discharged in the rank of lance-serjeant on 13 January 1934. Harold had married Nellie Coupe in 1919 (J/A/S Mansfield) and they had at least three children: Kenneth b. 25 January 1920, John Henry Clay b. 27 March 1922 and Audrey Betty b. 20 June 1923. Harold probably died in 1958 (J/A/S Nottingham) John's three youngest sisters all married: Nellie to John Caudwell in 1913 (J/F/M Mansfield), Maggie to James Revill in 1913 (J/A/S Mansfield) and Doris to Conyers Kirkby in 1918 (J/A/S Mansfield).
In 1901 he was a gas fitter (gas works). He joined the 4th (Queen's Own Hussars) on 25 February 1905 and later transferred to the Army Reserve.
05 Nov 1914
1626792 - CWGC Website
Enlisted in Cork, Ireland, residence Mansfield
4th Bn The Queen's Own Hussars
John George enlisted in the Queen's Own Hussars in Cork, Ireland, on 25 February 1905 and at the time of the 1911 census was serving in India ias a corporal with the King's Royal Imperial Hussars. He joined the army on a Short Service Engagement and transferred to the Army Reserve on completion of his time with the Colours. John was mobilised on 4 August on the outbreak of war. On 15 August 1914 went to France with the 3rd Cavalry Brigade which the following month came under command of General Gough as the 2nd Cavalry Division. John was killed in action on 5 November 1914 at Wulverghem. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Mansfield Reporter, 4 December 1914: ‘Private JG Townroe of Mansfield, Killed. Private John George Townroe, reservist, eldest son of ex-Private JC Townroe, Bowling-street (late of 9th Lancers), was killed in action on November 5th, at Wulverghem. He was in the 4th Hussars, was married on Easter Monday last [13 April], and has two brothers in the Army [Bertie & Harold]. As nothing had been heard of Townroe for some time, his parents communicated with the War Office, who at once telegraphed that he had been killed.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Mansfield Reporter, 11 December 1914. Photograph with caption: ‘Private John George Townroe, reservist, 4th Hussars, eldest son of Mr and Mrs JC Townroe, Bowling Street, Mansfield, killed in action on November 5th, at Wulverghen. He was married on Easter Monday last.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Registers of Soldiers' Effects: Will in favour of his widow Eva Mary who was his sole legatee.
Remembered on


  • Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 11 December 1914. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
    John George Townroe - Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 11 December 1914. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)