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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Lance Serjeant 10010 John Davis Saunders

  • Age: 36
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: Machine Gun Corps
  • Died on Monday 12th February 1917
  • Commemorated at: Loos Memorial
    Panel Ref: Panel 136

John Davis Saunders was  born in the final quarter of 1882 at Toxteth Park the son of Alexander Saunders and his wife Rhoda (nee Dart). They were both born in Devon and married in Exeter in 1878 before moving to Liverpool in 1880. John was the third of eight children born to the couple. His siblings were; James, Catherine (died aged 3), Rhoda (died aged 6) Ann, Sarah (died in infancy), Samuel and  William (died in infancy). Three of the children died in one year from 1899-1900) 

The Census of 1891 shows the family living at the Alexander Hotel, Victoria Road, Birkenhead. John is aged 9 and a scholar.  His father is 43 year old licensed victualler born in Plymouth, whilst his mother is 38 years of age. John's siblings are listed as; James aged 11, Samuel 6 and Ann 3. Also present is a servant described as a barman.

John's mother Rhoda died in 1893 when he was just 10 years old.

His father remarried Birkenhead in 1895 to Louisa Porter .

The Census of 1901 shows the family are now living at 1 Canning Street, Birkenhead (Pier Hotel). John is 18 years of age and an apprentice housebuilder. His father is now 53 years of age and shows as a retired licensed victuallat, his step mother Louisa is 53 and was born in Atherstone, Warwickshire, she too is recorded as a retired victualler. John's siblings are recorded as;  James a 22 year old accountant for a chemical company, Sameul 16 a clerk in a tobacco brokers. Their step sister Emily F. Porter is 22 years of age. The family have six servants who all appear to be linked to the public house.     

The family are also here in 1911 where the Census shows John as a single 28 year old who is described as a licensed victualler manager. His father and step mother are still at the property as is his 23 year old sister Ann and one servant.

His father died later in 1911.

John enlisted in Liverpool and joined the 20th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment as Private 22245.

Formed in November 1914 the 20th Battalion were originally billeted at Tournament Hall, Knotty Ash before on 29th January 1915 they moved to the hutted accommodation purposely built at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 20th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. He arrived in France on 7th November 1915.

At some point he transferred to No. 13 Coy.Machine Gun Corps as Corporal 10010.

He was killed in action on the 12th Febuary 1917, aged 36.

John's body was not recovered from the battlefield or was subsequently lost as his name is commemorated on the Loos Memorial in France. 

Dud Corner Cemetery stands almost on the site of a German strong point, the Lens Road Redoubt, captured by the 15th (Scottish) Division on the first day of the battle.

The name "Dud Corner" is believed to be due to the large number of unexploded enemy shells found in the neighbourhood after the Armistice.

The Loos Memorial commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave, who fell in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay, from the first day of the Battle of Loos to the end of the war. On either side of the cemetery is a wall 15 feet high, to which are fixed tablets on which are carved the names of those commemorated. At the back are four small circular courts, open to the sky, in which the lines of tablets are continued, and between these courts are three semicircular walls or apses, two of which carry tablets, while on the centre apse is erected the Cross of Sacrifice.

The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Charles Wheeler. It was unveiled by Sir Nevil Macready on 4 August 1930.

He was a member of the Freemasons at Mersey Lodge, Birkenhead, his death recorded in the register as 11th February 1917

His death was reported in the Birkenhead News on 7th March 1917 under the heading:

“Sergt. “Jack” Saunders - Former Birkenhead Licensee Killed in Action”

“Many friends in Birkenhead will learn with deep regret that Sergeant J.W. [sic] Saunders (“Jack”) of the King’s Liverpool Regt. was killed in action on Feb. 11th.  Details are not yet to hand.  Sergt. Saunders was the son of the late Alexander Saunders, of the Pier Hotel, Birkenhead, and stepson of Mrs. Saunders, now of the Heswall Hotel, Heswall.  After his father’s death he became licensee of the Pier Hotel, and conducted it for two or three years.  He was well known in local swimming circles and, like his father before him, was greatly interested in Freemasonry.  He was a member of the Mersey Lodge, a founder and officer of the James Thompson Lodge, and was also connected with the Mark and Royal Arch Chapter.  He was at one time an ardent volunteer, and attained the rank of sergeant in the 4th Cheshires.  On the outbreak of war he joined the Liverpool Pals, and was very quickly made a corporal.  He attained his sergeant’s stripes in France.”

Soldiers Effects to brother Samuel (payable through Pensions Ottowa, Canada) and sister Ann Owen, no Pension record found

[brother married 1915 to Mary Forrest in Duncan,BC, attested 12th Jan 1916 with the Canadian EF, formerly RNR, 3/W.Riding Yorkshire and 88th Victoria Fusiliers. Arrived England 28th April 1918 Discharged 29th May 1919, died 1970

Jack is also commemorated on the Birkenhead Civic Memorial.


We currently have no further information on John Davis Saunders, If you have or know someone who may be able to add to the history of this soldier, please contact us.

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