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John Messina Laverack

He left just over £100 to his brother Clyve Cordukes Laverack, who was running the family shop at Butcher Corner, Malton.

John Messina Laverack is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Methodist Church in Saville Street and was also named on the original Barclays bank Memorial in Lombard Street in the City of London.

 (After the War, Barclays erected memorial panels in the banking hall at Head Office at 54 Lombard Street. The panels were headed “In honoured memory of the members of Barclays Bank Limited who gave their lives for King and country during the war A. D. 1914-1919”. Pictures of them were published in the first official history of Barclays in 1926, and posters of them were also made. The panels included the name J M Laverack. After WW2 it was decided that the permanent official Barclays memorial should be an illuminated inscribed book of remembrance, one for each war. A Staff Circular issued in 1951 said, “The Staff War Memorial Committee recommended that the permanent memorial should take the form of books of remembrance, which would be suitably housed in the new building at Head Office. The management, in accepting this recommendation, arranged that in the meantime the names of the fallen in both world wars should be recorded on panels….which have now been placed on the walls in the Large Hall at Head Office.” The books were duly completed by 1960 and put in purpose-built wall cases at 54 Lombard Street, replacing the panels. When the head office was rebuilt in the 1990s, the books were put on display in the new building, and when the head office moved in 2005 to 1 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, the books were put on display in cases there. In 2008 Barclays commissioned new stone tablets to accompany the memorial books, and these are also on display at Churchill Place.)

John Messina Laverack was born in the last quarter of 1883 in the Malton area and was the third son of William Henry and Lucy (nee Cordukes) Laverack. Lucy and William were married in York on 19th June 1875.

By 1881 they had moved to Malton and taken on the established family chemist’s business of William Horsley (who had died at the age of 80 in 1875)  at Butcher Corner in Malton and were clearly doing well. It was a large household – along with their three small children and their nursemaid, there were also Lucy’s unmarried sister, a shop assistant and an apprentice as well as a general servant.

1881 Census - Butchers Corner, New Malton

William H. Laverack, Head, Married, Male, 31, Chemist and Druggist Master, Newsholme, Yorkshire.

Lucy Lavarack, Wife, Married, Female, 26, -, Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire.

Clyve C. Laverack, Son, Single, Male, 4, -, Malton, Yorkshire.

Ernest W. Laverack, Son, Single, Male, 3, -, Malton, Yorkshire.

Evalyn Laverack, Daughter, Single, Female, 3 months, -, Malton, Yorkshire.

Emily Cordukes, Sister In Law, Single, Female, 18, -, Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire.

Charles F. Forshaw, Boarder, Single, Male, 18, Chemist and Druggist Assistant, Bilston, Staffordshire.

Charles M. Snow, Boarder, Single, Male, 18, Chemist and Druggist Apprentice, Malton, Yorkshire

Charlotte Carley, Servant, Single, Female, 20, General Domestic Servant, North Dalton, Yorkshire

Annie Armstrong, Servant, Single, Female, 11, Nurse Dom Serv, Huttons Ambo, Yorkshire

John Messina was born in the last quarter of 1883. Why they gave him the name Messina is something of a mystery. It is not a common name, and very rare as a boy’s name – possibly it reflects an interest in things Italian.

By 1891 things were largely unchanged. There were now three children younger than John and his older brother Clyve was now apprenticed to his father.

1891 Census - Old Malton Gate, St Leonards, Malton

William H. Laverack, Head, Married, Male, 42, Chemist & Druggist, Newsholme, Yorkshire

Lucy Laverack, Wife, Married, Female, 36, -, Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire

Clyve C. Laverack, Son, Single, Male, 14, Chemists Apprentice, Yorkshire

Ernest W. Laverack, Son, Single, Male, 13, Scholar, Yorkshire

Evelyn M. Laverack, Daughter, -, Female, 10, Scholar, Yorkshire

John M. Laverack, Son, -, Male, 7, Scholar, Yorkshire

Vincent H. Laverack, Son, -, Male, 5, Scholar, Yorkshire

Lilian V. Laverack, Daughter, -, Female, 3, -, Yorkshire

Percy G. Laverack, Son, -, Male, 0, -, Yorkshire

Annie E. Burnett, Servant, Single, Female, 16, Domestic Servant, Great Barugh, Yorkshire

Emaline M. Dale, Servant, Single, Female, 14, Domestic Servant Nurse, Yorkshire

In 1897 Lucy died at the age of 42 and by the third quarter of the following year William had remarried; he married Amy Wood in Pontefract. By 1901 he had moved to The Mount along with Amy and the three youngest children. Clyve had married and moved to Great Ouseburn where he had a Chemist’s shop, but John seems to have evaded the census altogether!

1901 Census - 18, The Mount, Malton

William Hy Laverack, Head, Married, Male, 52, Chemist & Druggist, Yorkshire,

Amy Laverack, Wife, Married, Female, 44, -, Ferrybridge, Yorkshire,

Vincent Hy Laverack, Son, Single, Male, 15, -, Malton, Yorkshire,

Percy Gordon Laverack, Son, -, Male, 10, -, Malton, Yorkshire,

Annie Monkman, Servant, Single, Female, 35, General Servant (Domestic), Yorkshire

By 1911 John had moved to Hull.

1911 Census - 12 Silver St Hull, Holy Trinity and St Mary, Yorkshire

Thomas William  Stamp, Boarder, Single, Male, Bank Clerk, 35, Goxhill Linc

John Messina Laverock, Boarder, Single, Male, Bank Clerk, 27, Yorks Malton

Clyve had by then returned to Malton and was living on Broughton Rise with his wife and four children,and was presumably now running the Chemist’s business as William seems to have retired and taken on life as a farmer at Knapton Grange.

John was working for Barclay’s Bank as a clerk when war broke out and he  remained working there until he joined the 9th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in 1916. A register entitled “Barclay & Company Limited – Staff on Active Service” of 1917 includes, in the section for Hull local head office, the name J M Laverack, with branch given as Hull. An annotation records him as having been killed in action. The register contains no other information about him.

He seems to have left England on 10th October 1916 and finally reached his battalion on the evening of 17th as part of a draft of 29 men while the Battalion was at Camp in Bernafay Wood on the Somme in a short-lived pause to the ongoing offensive.

The following day the offensive resumed at 3.40 a.m. and the newly arrived men found themselves coming under shellfire at 7.00 a.m. which destroyed several of the bivouacs. The battalion provided labour for 178 Tunneling Company of the Royal Engineers, while others were deployed clearing road obstructions and burying dead horses.

The next few days were spent on the march and by 27th October they went into trenches at Agny just south of Arras. This was a largely uneventful week, though on the night of 31st October the weather broke and torrential rain caused the collapse of many of the trenches. They were relieved on 1st November and moved into Billets and dugouts in Agny, spending the next few days working on the Agny defences before returning to the sodden and collapsing trenches the next week.  There was little hostile action this week beyond some gunfire and the occasional over-flying aircraft – presumably the Germans, like the British were far too involved in attempting to drain and repair their trenches to have time for much else.

Later in November there was far more activity as both sides continued to dig saps and lay wire in No-man’s-land and a few casualties were sustained largely as a result of sniper fire. This pattern continued through December – Christmas day was marked by Church Parade and football matches.

On 1st January they were marched to Houvineul near Frevent where they spent the month training before being posted to Arras at the beginning of February. The weather was freezing and when it thawed at the end of the month, the trenches again collapsed and all available men were employed in clearing and repairing them. The end of the month was marked by a successful raid on enemy trenches during which a number of prisoners were taken.

The weather broke in April It was cold and on the 2nd it began to snow. By the end of the day the snow lay an inch thick in Arras. Numerous troops had been moved up to this part of the line and found easy accommodation in the cellars which were dark and damp but reasonably comfortable when stoves were used.

During the late hours of 8 April and early morning of 9 April the men of the leading and supporting wave of the attack were moved into their forward assembly positions. Zero was 5.30 a.m. on Easter Monday, April 9th. The weather was cold and later changed to sleet and snow. Although physically discomforting for everyone, the north-westerly storm provided some advantage to the assaulting troops by blowing snow in the faces of the defending German troops. Light Canadian and British artillery bombardments continued throughout the prior night but stopped in the few minutes before the attack, as the artillery recalibrated their guns in preparation for the synchronized barrage. At exactly 5:30 am, every artillery piece at the disposal of the Canadian Corps began firing. Thirty seconds later, engineers detonated the mine charges laid under No Man's Land and the German trench line, destroying a number of German strong points and creating secure communication trenches directly across no man's land. Light field guns laid down a barrage that advanced in predetermined increments, while medium and heavy howitzers established a series of standing barrages further ahead. During the early fighting the German divisional artilleries, despite heavy losses, were able to maintain their defensive firing but as the Canadian assault advanced, it overran many of the German guns because there was no means of moving them to the rear on account of many of the horses being killed in the initial gas attack.

The 9th battalion was at the northern end of the battle front just above the Arras-Cambrai road. Despite the heavy snow, they succeeded in their objective of the capture of a line of strong points and two trenches, taking a number of prisoners,  at the cost of 121 casualties, the first major losses since John arrived in France.  Over the next few days they continued to advance up the Cambrai Road. On the 12th they received orders that they would be relieved that night. Despite the non-appearance of any relieving troops, they marched back to Arras and took up quarters in the Ronville Caves.  On the 15th they moved on to Mondicourt where they spent just over a week cleaning up, reclothing and training before returning to Arras, spending the rest of the month in support of the newly extended front line.

On May 3rd another attack was launched involving the 9th Battalion, just south of the Scarpe. Together with the 8th Battalion the 900 men were supposed to capture about 7 miles of enemy territory about a mile away. Sarting off from a trench partly held by German forces they reached their first objective Scabbard Trench. However they came under a bombing attack along the river and friendly fire from the British artillery. This left their advance party cut off and captured. Amazingly they escaped as their captors fled from British machine-gun fire on the Douai road. The complex fighting for possession of Scabbard trench continued with the battalion under attack from both front and rear leaving the acting C.O dead. Casualties in both battalions were very high leading to them being combined into one de facto battalion.

On 16th May they were moved to billets in Gouves where they spent the rest of the month and much of June re-organising and training, together with sports competitions which presumably led to an increase in morale!

The battalion returned to the trenches near Arras on 20th June and the time seems to have been spent largely uneventfully, engaged in maintaining and repairing the trenches which had suffered in their absence from three unsuccessful counter-attacks by the Germans. These tedious but immensely necessary activities in the same trenches continued throughout July interspersed with short breaks behind the line.

August 1st saw them moved to trenches just north of the Cambrai Road and things continued to be relatively uneventful until a bombardment and raid of the German lines was carried out on 9th August. While the raid was thoroughly successful and most of teh German posts on this section of front line were destroyed, the supporting heavy British artillery fire fell well short of the German line and successfully annihilated the Battalion’s front line.

It was presumably as a result of this debacle that John died of wounds that day.  He was recorded as aged 37 at the time of his death, though actually he was 35, and was buried in Monchy British Cemetery at Monchy-le-Preux with a stone reading “A most amiable & devoted son who never gave father or mother a wrong word. Sorely missed.”