The WRIGHT family – Company Sergeant Major WRIGHT, John Thomas (1884-1917)

John Thomas Wright was born in Leicester on 5th May 1884.  His parents were John Wright (1855-1932) and Emma (c1850-1903).  He had three sisters – Mary Ann (c1887-), Margaret Ellen “Marjorie” (1886-1974) and Elizabeth (1894-1984) and a brother, George (1888-1891).  In 1890-1891 they lived at 5 Leopold Road in Clarendon Park.  John and Emma had all their children baptised at the still new church of St John the Baptist, Clarendon Park, on 2nd February 1891.  During April the family moved to Preston Street where younger brother George died, aged two.  He was buried at Welford Road Cemetery on 6th May.

By 1901 the Wright family had moved to 8 Ash Street.  John continued working as a bricklayer and John Thomas joined him in this trade.  Not much is known about him except that he was 5’11” tall, had brown hair and eyes and a dark complexion, and described his religion as “congregationalist.”

John Thomas’s mother Emma died around 1903.  Sometime between then and 1907, he emigrated to Canada.  In 1909 his father remarried, to Maria Nattrass, but John Thomas cannot have known her well if at all because he remained in Canada.  By 1907 he had joined the Canadian army.  He served in the 13th Royal Highlanders for 6 years and the 91st Canadian Highlanders for 18 months.  It is not clear whether he had a break in service, but John attested on 1st September 1915, joining the 15th Canadian Infantry.

The 15th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment)- took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, on 9th April 1917.  The Canadian assault on the German line began at 5.30am. The weather was cold with snow and sleet, but the attack went well from the Canadian perspective and after three days the battle was a success and the Canadian corps in control of Vimy Ridge.  However, 3,598 Canadian men died in those days.  John Thomas was one of these.  He died on 9th April 1917 and was buried with 22 of his comrades at Neuville St Vaast.  His body was moved after the armistice, to Nine Elms Military Cemetery, Thelus (Pas de Calais).

In 1911 John and Maria lived at 76 Great Holme Street.  From 1914 until at least 1928 John Wright’s address was 27 Welford Road, and then at 12 South Albion Street where Maria remained for several years after John’s death.  John was buried at Welford Road Cemetery, as was Maria, but none of the Wright family were buried together – nor are there any grave stones or memorials.  The Wright family were not sufficiently well off.

Welcome! And wait..

The life stories of the 98 men and women from the community of St Martin’s Church, Leicester, who ‘went to war’ between 1914 and 1918 will be published here on Tuesday, 9th October 2018.

The author will be telling these stories and the story of St Martin’s during this time, at Leicester Cathedral starting at 7pm on 9th October 2018. A mini exhibition will also tell the story, opening at 6.30pm.  Entry to both is free.