John was born in Whitchurch in 1889, the eldest of seven children born to John Sumner, and his wife Hannah, (nee Evanson) of Sherry Mill Hill, Whitchurch. His sibling’s included sisters, Ada and Annie, brothers, Samuel, and Joseph
John enlisted on the 5th September 1914 joining the 7th (Service) Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. On December 5th, 1914, John was discharged reason given, “not being likely to become an efficient soldier”
By 11a.m., on March 25th, following persistent enemy attacks the right flank became practically enveloped, casualties were heavy, and another withdrawal became essential if annihilation was to be avoided. This was affected by 3 p.m. through the 62nd Division, and a new line was occupied west of Miraumont, the battalion being the last unit of the British Army in Bapaume for many months. Orders were received late at night from G.O.C. 56th Brigade to withdraw further and rendezvous at Hebuterne This was affected and in the early hours of the morning of the 26th, officers and men of the now greatly reduced battalion were looking for billets in the hope of, at any rate a short period of rest. At about 6 30 a.m. the enemy were seen entering the town from the east, the remains of the Brigade, about 250 strong, fell in, fixed bayonets and double in fours down the main street in the direction of the enemy. Covered by fire from the North Stafford and Cheshire Regiment the battalion, now reduced to under 50 men, charged with bayonet headed by Colonel Brown, whereupon the enemy took flight without awaiting an actual collision
History of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in the Great War 1914-1918
Major W. de B. Wood
Mrs Sumner, 52 Naylor Street, Crewe, Cheshire, has received the following news of her son
Pte; John Sumner, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry has been presumed dead after being missing for about 14 months; He enlisted in September 1914 and after seeing active service was discharged, however, he was called up again and from Ireland he went to France. The deceased soldier is a native of Whitchurch, and was 35 years old. He had two brothers who also served in the Army, both of them have been discharged, one has lost the use of one of his arms. Before enlisting Private Sumner was employed by Messrs Brunner Mond & Co. Middlewich, Cheshire.
Whitchurch Herald, 14th June 1919.
Researched by Terry Evanson