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Pte. John Thomas Plant
British Army 8th Btn. South Lancashire Regiment
from:40, Anchor Road, Longton, Staffordshire
(d.3rd Jul 1916)
John Plant in abt. 1909.My half sister and I have just returned from a long planned pilgrimage to the grave of our paternal great uncle. It was a wonderful experience to see the now tranquil place in which he lies and very difficult to imagine the horrors of the battlefield that it once was.
Private John Thomas Plant was a coal miner before he enlisted during the first war. John was the son of Job and Sarah Ann Plant(nee Salt) and was born in Cheadle Staffordshire. His older sister was our paternal grandmother. John came from a poor family and, in those days, TB was very common amongst the poorer folk. The irony of John`s early death at just 24 is that, from the very start of his life he was doomed to an early death. His sister, my grandmother, died at just 21 leaving behind her only child, my dad who was only 18 months old at that time. In later years, my Dad often told the tale of how his grandfather talked about his only surviving daughter, Harriet being on her death bed and saying "Our John is hurt, he is on the ground and won`t get up" soon after this Job had the telegram to say that John had been killed in action near Thiepval. My point is, that being a miner John could easily now lie at the bottom of a coal mine or have fallen victim of TB instead of now resting within view of the Thiepval Memorial and the Ulster tower from his grave in the Connaught Cemetery. John, being from a poor family, would never have had a headstone to his grave or lie in such peaceful surroundings and, having no wife or children to carry on his memory, he would now have been forgotten. Thanks to the CWGC his grave will always be tended and now bears a poppy wreath telling all who care to pause there that even though we, his great nieces, never actually knew him his memory will be loved and honoured down through the family. All we had is one single photo of a handsome young man, not in Army uniform but clad in his Sunday best. Now, we have memories of a beautiful sunny day and the photos we took of his family paying their respects, not just for themselves, but on behalf of our own father as well as those of his own father and mother who would never have been able to make that pilgrimage themselves.
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