b. 04/03/1892 Blackburn, Lancashire. d. 09/04/1918 Givenchy, France.
John William Schofield (1892-1918) was the elder son of Mr John and Mrs Schofield, and was born in Blackburn, Lancashire on 4th March 1892. His parents lived at 16 Wycollar Road, Revidge. He began his education at Blackburn C.E. Higher Grade School, before he proceeded to Arnold House School, Blackpool. Later he joined his father, John Schofield, in business as a wholesale fish and game salesman at the Blackburn Fish Market. He was connected with St. Silas's Church, and attended the Gospel Hall Sunday School, Victoria Street. He was a keen member of the East Lancashire Tennis Club and formerly of the Golf Club, he was exceedingly well known as a sportsman.
He was one of the patriotic young men who early in the war offered his services to the country in its hour of need. Twice, he was rejected because of his eyesight, but eventually was accepted, and posted to the Army Service Corps for clerical work. In this capacity he served for about eighteen months in Salonika, but returned to this country to qualify for a commission, his opinion being that married men ought to have less dangerous berths. This was the spirit that animated him. He was anxious to take more than a passive part in the great fight for freedom and liberty. He was gazetted to the Lancashire Fusiliers, and went to France with that famous regiment in November 1917. He quickly gained a reputation as an intrepid soldier, and was particualrly daring on certain patrol work which he undertook.
At the time of his posthumous VC action on 9th April 1918, he was engaged to be married to Miss Ethel Hargreaves, "Alexandra", Dukes Brow, Blackburn. His only brother, Corporal Fred Schofield, R. F. A., was killed in action on the Somme in July, 1916. Their father passed away on May 24th 1917.
At Givenchy, France on the 9th April 1918, Second Lieutenant Schofield led a party of nine men against a strong-point and was attacked by about 100 of the enemy, but his skillful use of men and weapons resulted in the taking of 20 prisoners. This officer, having made his party up to ten, then proceeded towards the front line, where he met large numbers of the enemy, on whom his party opened fire. He climbed on the parapet under point-blank machine-gun fire and by his fearless demeanor forced the enemy to surrender. As a result, 123 of them, including several officers, were captured. He himself was killed a few minutes later.
Schofield was buried near to another VC, Joseph Henry Collin (killed on the same day) in Vielle Chapelle Military Cemetery, Lacouture, France. Mrs. Schofield received several letters from her son's superior officers, in which they lay glowing tributes to his gallantry. His Captain wrote “This was almost immediately followed by the news of his death. He had been hit by a machine gun, and just murmured, 'Send someone to help me down', and passed quietly away. It was all over very quickly and I thank God that a brave, cheerful soul was spared any long drawn out pain. All day long he was laughing and joking about his work, and told one of my officers 'that I don't need my revolver, I just shout at them and out they come, calling Kamerad'. I reckon that he took some 170 prisoners off his own bat in that one day, by sheer pluck and initiative...Personally, I have lost not only a fine officer, but a cheerful, good comrade and friend, by his death". His medals are held by the Lancashire Fusiliers Museum, Bury, Lancashire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FUSILIERS MUSEUM, BURY, LANCASHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: VIELLE-CHAPELLE CEMETERY, LACOUTURE, FRANCE.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT III, ROW C, GRAVE 8.
Blackburn Golf Club
Blackburn Town Hall (Paul Lee)