John Gare

1891 - 1917

The Battle of Marcoing in which John Gare died, by John Nash
Imperial War Museum: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20015

Local man who studied at St Edmund Hall

John Henry Gare was born in Oxford in February 1891. The family were farming, and in the early 1900s they moved to Gosford Hill Farm, Water Eaton. John studied at Oxford Boys’ High School and then St Edmund Hall, where he was considered one of its best oarsmen. He graduated in history in 1913, and became a geography teacher in Hertfordshire.

A teacher when war broke out

Unlike his older brother George, John did not enlist as soon as war broke out. It was not until December 1915 that he signed up with the Artists’ Rifles, and even then he was kept in reserve and continued teaching. In September 1916 he was sent to France for training, and rapidly progressed to Lance Sergeant.

Died at Marcoing

In May 1917 George (also on the war memorial) was killed. It must have been particularly hard for John and his family when his battalion went into active service the following month. In November John was at Passchendaele. Then he was at Marcoing on 30 December when the Germans counter-attacked: within minutes 68 of his company of 80 men were killed or wounded. John is assumed to have died that day at the age of 26, although his body was not found.

‘A genial and kindly disposition’

John is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, and on the memorial at Bushey: the school has remembered him as ‘a splendid type of real strong British manhood ……. [with a] genial and kindly disposition’.

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