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The story of Newmarket's Jack Glyde, who died in Beirut 14 days after the Armistice was signed




Jack in 1916 by then serving in the Middle East. This was probably the last photograph his parents had of their son, and above, the teenage soldier... Jacksent the photograph as a postcard to one of his sisters
Jack in 1916 by then serving in the Middle East. This was probably the last photograph his parents had of their son, and above, the teenage soldier... Jacksent the photograph as a postcard to one of his sisters

In common with so many of the young men caught up in a war that was to decimate a generation, Jack Glyde was just an ordinary boy from an ordinary family who had never ventured very far out of his home town.

Jack, or John Lawrence , as he was baptised, was the son of John, a gas meter fitter and Priscilla Glyde, and lived with his parents and three sisters Ella, Bertha andCissieat 7 Bakers' Row in Newmarket. By the time he was 13 Jack looked to be following his father and was an apprentice gas fitter but three years later, just 12 months before the war started, he had volunteered for army service.

The rather quizzical little boy starring out from the family photograph taken in 1904, who joined the Suffolk Regiment and became Private 240264 Glyde could never have imagined that he would become a grim statistic of the conflict being the last Newmarket man to died as a result in 1918.

Eighty three men from Newmarket and 25 from Mildenhall made up H Company of the regiment's 5th Battalion and it is likely Pte Glyde would have been with three other young Newmarket recruits. Frank Stacey who was just 19, of Bath Terrace in Newmarket, 20-year-old Walter Argent of 3 Fern Cottages, Exning Road, and Fred Challice of All Saints' Terrace.

The Newmarket Journal of April 1915 reported that Fred had been sent home after his first attempt to enlist. He tried again and was accepted for service in April 1915. Despite being too young to have officially been sent overseas, he sailed to the Dardenelles in Turkey on September 21, 1915, where his fellow Newmarket recruits had already been sent to participate in the military disaster that was Gallipoli.

Family memories... Young Jack, aged six in his Sunday best with his parents John and Priscilla and sisters Ella and Bertha outside their Bakers Row cottage and right, the photograph of the cross initially placed on Jack’s grave, the only evidence his parents had of their son’s final resting place
Family memories... Young Jack, aged six in his Sunday best with his parents John and Priscilla and sisters Ella and Bertha outside their Bakers Row cottage and right, the photograph of the cross initially placed on Jack’s grave, the only evidence his parents had of their son’s final resting place

Within three months two of the four were dead. The Journal reported former errand boy Frank Stacey, "a gallant lad" had died of his wounds at the Dardenelles on September 3, while Fred Challice, who had been promoted to corporal having impressed his seniors with the drills he had learned at All Saints School, had died of dysentry on the hospital ship Soudan on October 23.

He was one of 145,000 young men who died of dystentry, diarrhoea and enteric fever, the silent killers of the Gallipoli campaign, and is buried in the Pieta Military Cemtery in Malta. Frank Stacey has no known grave but is remembered on the on the memorial at the Embarkation Pier Cemetery in Turkey.

Walter Argent, a warehouse porter who had been living with his parents before he joined up. The Journal of September 4 reported Walter's parents had received a letter from their son. His unit he said had been in action the night before he wrote and what they had experienced was too dreadful to be explained. "They were cut up," he said.

"About two officers were left and about 100men returned to base.I went up in the first line and got shot through the leg. I am now waiting on the shore base for the hospital ship. This is where some of the shirkers should be, to have a pop at the Turks. It is such as these we are fighting for and giving our lives." Walter said his wound was "not very dangerous" but added: "No-one could dodge the flying hell for it absolutely poured down lead."

The teenage soldier....Jack who sent his photograph as a postcard to one of his sisters
The teenage soldier....Jack who sent his photograph as a postcard to one of his sisters

After recovering Walter returned to the front and was transferred in January 1918 suffered a head wound and was eventually invalided home in October. He survived the war but died just eight months after the Armistice was signed and lies in Newmarket Cemetery. He was just 24.

As for Jack Glyde, he wasinjuredin October 1915 and invalided back to England from Mudros, a small port on the Greek island of Lemos on the hospital ship Formosa.

It is not known when he recovered from his wounds but he did rejoin his regiment which continued service in Egypt and the Middle East. And it was that foreign field thousands of miles from the Exning Road cottage where he had grown up that was to be his final resting place.

As the people of Newmarket celebrated the end of the war and those who had survived the carnagebegan to return home. John and Priscilla must have prayed that soon their son would be among them but they were never to see him again. Jack lay gravely ill in a hospital bed in Beirut in Lebanon and it was there hedied of pneumonia on November 25, 1918, just 14 days after the Armistice was signed and hostilities ceased.

The photograph of the cross initially placed on Jack’s grave, the only evidence his parents had of their son’s final resting place
The photograph of the cross initially placed on Jack’s grave, the only evidence his parents had of their son’s final resting place

Jack's death wasn't officially recorded in the Journal until January 11, 1919. His parents were never able to grieve at the graveside of their only son, all they had was a photograph of the temporary cross which initially marked his grave, their memories, and the dashed hopes of the life he might have had.

Today Jack's grave is marked with a white headstone, standing amongst rows of others, in a pristine cemetery in the centre of bustling Beirut. The headstone bears the inscription,On that Happy Easter Morning, written by his mother.