Molyneux – Sergeant John ‘Jack’

22 November 1890 – 25 March 1972:-

Jack was born in St Helens, Lancashire and worked as a miner at the Sutton Heath and Lea Green Colliery Company at Sherdley Colliery. He was a member of Peasley Cross Concertina Club and performed on the radio. He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers in September 1914.

On 9th October 1917 east of Langemarck, Belgium, during an attack which was held up by machine-gun fire and causing many casualties, Sergeant Molyneux organised a bombing party to clear the trench in front of a house. Many of the enemy were killed and a machine-gun captured. The sergeant then called for someone to follow him and rushed for the house. By the time the extra men arrived he was in the thick of a hand-to-hand fight which only lasted a short time and the enemy surrendered. In addition to the dead and wounded between 20 or 30 prisoners were taken.

Returning home, he was picked up by the Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens in an open carriage, and kept his head bowed in embarrassment until a neighbour shouted out: “Lift thee ‘ead up, Johnny!” He addressed the crowds saying: “the Victoria Cross has not made me a proud man, not at all. I have seen thousands of men earn it but they have not got it”. He received many letters but treasured one sent by a nurse who had tended his wounds during the war. Part of the letter said: “It is a grand thing you have done, sergeant. Deeds live on after we are gone, and inspire those who come after.” He was also awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre before being demobbed in January 1919.

He returned to the colliery, before working for a glassworks where he stayed until he retired.

During the Second World War he served as a warrant officer in the West Lancashire Home Guard.

His medals are held at The Fusilier Museum at the Tower of London.

Filed under: WW1