John Smallwood was born on 20 September and baptised with his twin brother Robert on 18 November 1894 at St Michael's Church, Macclesfield, the son of Frances Jane and James Smallwood, a Railway Stationmaster of Macclesfield.
In 1901, six year old John was living at 41 Newhall Street with his parents and siblings Clara (20), Edith (18), William (12), Mabel (10), Ethel (9) and his twin brother Robert. Ten years later the family had moved to 45 Station Street, and John was employed as a railway booking clerk at Hibel Road Station.
John was educated at Christ Church School and attended both Beech Lane Methodist Church Sunday School and St Michael's Church. In 1913, when aged 19, John enrolled at Macclesfield Technical School to study commercial law and speed shorthand.
John attested at Macclesfield during the first week of September 1914, joining the 7th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, and following a period of training in various locations in the south of England, the 7th Cheshires, as part of 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, received orders to equip for service in an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. In July 1915 they sailed from Devonport to Alexandria in Egypt, then on to the island of Lemnos on the 4th August.
On the evening of 8th August, the Battalion arrived off the coast of Gallipoli and the following day landed at “C” Beach, Suvla Bay. Having landed, they came under shell fire at about 8.30am and so moved north along the edge of the bay; they then received orders to attack in the direction of a dip in the hills behind Anafarta Saghir.
At 8am on 10th August the Battalion was ordered to attack Hill 70. This was unsuccessful and the Battalion suffered severe losses. A second unsuccesssful attack took place at 5pm.
The following day at 2.30pm the Brigade moved north, but the 7th Cheshires and 4th Welsh Regiments on the left were under attack so had to pull back. The 7th Cheshires remained in this position in trenches for several days, and John was shot by a sniper on 17th August 1915, aged 20.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 10th September 1915:
SHOT BY A SNIPER - MACCLESFIELD STATIONMASTER'S SON KILLED - Unofficial intimation has this week been received that Private John Smallwood, 1/7th Batt. Cheshire Regt., the twin son of Mr James Smallwood, Stationmaster at Hibel Road, Macclesfield, has been killed in action. The sad news was conveyed in letters from Company Quartermaster-Sergeant William Moores, son of Mr. Wm. Moores, Park Lane, water inspector in the employ of the Macclesfield Corporation, and Private George Williamson, son of Councillor W. S. Williamson, 41 Hurdsfield Road. Company Quartermaster-Sergeant Moores stated that Private Smallwood was shot by a sniper, and Private Williamson's letter confirms this.
The painful intelligence was received with much sorrow by the staff of the Hibel Road Station, among whom Private Smallwood was exceedingly popular. His father, who resides at 45 Station Street, has been in charge of the Hibel Road Station for considerably over twenty years, coming to Macclesfield from Batley (Yorks). Private Smallwood was born in Macclesfield, and would have attained his 21st birthday on Monday week. Educated at Christ Church School, he subsequently worked for a short period at the Hovis Flour Mills. Later he joined the station staff and at the time when war broke out was a booking clerk. Private Smallwood enlisted with the local Territorials just over twelve months ago. He was a regular attendant at the Beech lane Sunday School, and played cricket for the Oak Grove team.
Deep sympathy is felt for his parents, who were spending a holiday with their married daughter at Plymouth when the news was broken to them. They only left Macclesfield for Plymouth on Monday.
Private John Smallwood is buried in Grave Ref. II. G. 1. in Green Hill Cemetery in Turkey. His father asked for the inscription “YOUR MEMORY HALLOWED IN THE LAND YOU LOVED” to be added to his memorial.
In Macclesfield, Private John Smallwood is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael's Church and Christ Church School war memorials.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words
“To the glory of God and in memory of the members of the Parish Church Men’s Bible Class. Private J. Smallwood, Private B. Nunn, Private J. Hanna, Private S. Gibbon, Gunner C. H. Barratt, Private F. Wilson, Corporal F. J. Shaw, Private H. Bradbury, Private W. Savage, Private A. Simpson, Private A. Holt, Lance-Corporal H. J. Travis, Private C. Davenport, M.M., Private W. Webster, Private J. Downes, Private J. N. Dixon, Private C. Bailey, Private H. Bradley.”
Research by Rosie Rowley, Macclesfield.