John (Jack) Basil CALLIER
Private 104989 Royal Army Medical Corps.
20 October 1894 - 23 June 1926
Researched and written by Barbara WILLIAMS and John CATLIFF
John was born on the 20th October 1894 and he was baptized on the 27th February 1894 at the ‘Trinity Methodist Chapel’, Chasetown which stood at the very bottom of the High Street and is now an Indian Restaurant.
When John was 7 years of age, he was living in High Street Chasetown with his parents Isaiah CALLIER aged 39 years, who was born in Dawley, Shropshire and who worked as a bread maker, and Charlotte aged 33 years, and his siblings; Walter aged 14, Albert aged 12, Frances aged 5 and Irene aged 1. More siblings born after 1901 were Leonard, Norman, Leslie and Dorothy. John’s elder siblings Walter and Albert were children from his father’s previous marriage to Maria RICHARDS, daughter of Thomas RICHARDS, a miner and a son of the “RICHARDS” family who later had a hardware shop in Chasetown.
Charlotte’s maiden name was STANTON. She was the daughter of Samuel and Ann STANTON, confectioners, who later founded the well-known company “Stantons Bakery”.
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In 1881 John’s father Isaiah was living with his parents John and Jane CALLIER in High Street Chasetown. Both were born in Dawley Shropshire. Isaiah was 19 years of age and working as a coalminer.
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Ten years later in 1891, John and Jane CALLIER were still residing in High Street, Chasetown, but are now caring for Isaiah’s two children Walter and Albert following the death of their mother Maria in 1890.
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Isaiah was a resourceful man. He went from working in a local coal mine to having his own hardware shop in High St, Chasetown, and working as a ‘Baker Breadman’, both occupations obviously influenced by his marriages to the daughters of local businessmen.
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At the time of the 1911 census, when John was 17 years of age he was living and working in High Street Chasetown as a drapers assistant for a Mr. William WEBB.
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At about the same time while he was still 17 years of age, John was presented with a bible. Inside the bible, the inscription reads: ‘Presented to John Callier by the Officers and Teachers of the Sunday School on the occasion of his leaving the district. With very good wishes for your future success. T Richards, Superintendent, Nov 5th 1911. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy path’.
It’s not known whether John did move away from the area for a while, but in the mid 1900’s, he was employed by Messers. Belliss’s, Drapers in New Street, Birmingham.
In 1914 the First World War broke out. In December 1916 aged 22, John enlisted in the Army (possibly at Licfield), and due to his strong religious beliefs, he joined the RAMC. The embroidered RAMC Insignia below, owned by John was possibly embroidered by him or someone in his family.
The RAMC operated the army’s medical units and provided medical detachments for the units of infantry, artillery and other arms, The Corps was assisted in its work by voluntary help from the British Red Cross. St. John’s Ambulance, the Friends Ambulance Unit, the Voluntary Aid Detachments and hundreds of private and charitable ventures. The units of the RAMC were –
1 The Casualty evacuation chain
2 RAMC Field Ambulances
3 Casualty Clearing Stations
4 Hospitals in France and Flanders
5 Hospitals at Home
6 The Command Depots
In May 1918, aged 23, John was sent to France, where he fought. After 12 months of fighting, John was given home leave. Following his period of home leave, he returned to fight in France. He had only been back two weeks, when he was gassed, the result of which, he was blinded. Fortunately, the blindness was only temporary and he regained his sight. On the 14th May 1918, John wrote a letter to his mother informing her that he had regained his sight. On the 18th June 1918, an entry appeared in the Walsall Pioneer Newspaper, giving details of John and his gassing experience.
The Medal Index Card shows, apart from John’s name and service number, that he was awarded the ‘Victory Medal’ and the ‘British War Medal’. The Reference ‘101B846375’ shows where John is entered on the Medal Rolls and can be seen at the National Archives at Kew. John did not qualify for a 1914 or l914-15 ‘Star’ as he did not see service in France before 1916.
When John returned home from the war his parents set him up in a poultry farm business located at ‘Hicks Corner’ identified as the cross roads at Cannock Rd, New Rd, and Boney Hay Rd.
John never married and 8 years after the First World War finished, he died on the 23rd June 1926 aged 32 yaers. His death certificate shows he suffered gas poisoning in 1918 just eight months before the end of the war which, sadly, was to lead to his premature death.
John’s name is not to be seen on the local war memorial, however it cannot be denied that this well respected local young man gave his life for his country.
The research into John Basil CARRIER’s life was carried out on behalf of Mrs. Betty FEARNS of Norton Canes who is John CALLIER’s niece, and the daughter of John’s brother Leslie Goodall CALLIER.
Item, Source and Credit
1. Photograph of John Basil CALLIER © Mrs. Betty FEARNS
2. Sketch Trinity Chapel, Chasetown (An extract from “Our Local Churches”) © Mrs. Noreen HANDY and Paul LATHAM
3. Photograph Richards Hardware Shop © Mrs. Noreen HANDY
4. Marriage entry for Isaiah CALLIER and Maria RICHARDS at St Anne’s Church, Chasetown from BFHG CD No. 5. © BFHG
5. 1881 Census entry for Samuel and Ann STANTON © Ancestry.co.uk
6. 1881 Census entry for John and Jane CALLIER © Ancestry.co.uk
7. 1891 Census entry for John and Jane CALLIER © Ancestry. co.uk
8. City and County Directories entry © Ancestry..co.uk
9. 1911 Census entry for John Basil CALLIER © Ancestry.co.uk
10. Bible Cover © Mrs. Betty FEARNS
11. Bible Inscription © Mrs. Betty FEARNS
12. Embroidered Insignia © Mrs. Betty FEARNS
13. Newspaper Entry © Walsall Pioneer
14. Medal Card © Ancestry.co.uk
15. Photograph Victory Medal © http://www.debenhamfamilyhistory.org.uk/victorymedal.htm
16. Photograph British War Medal © Wikipedia
17. John Basil CALLIER’s Death Certificate © General Register Office
18. John Basil CALLIER’s Family Tree © John CATLIFF