John Speed

Royal Engineers

Personal Details

Born: 22 December 1875 in Whitchurch, Shropshire.

Family: He was the fourth of eight children born to Ernest Speed, a labourer, and his wife Jane. He married Martha Simpson on 22 August 1896 in the Unitarian Church, Whitchurch and together they had eight children – John, Eliza, Martha, Edith, Alice, Sarah, Ruth and Gladys.

Residence: In 1881 the family were living in Folly Lane, Whitchurch; by 1891 they had moved to Sherrymill Hill, Whitchurch. In 1901 John was living with his wife and children in Chemistry, Whitchurch; in 1911 they were living at 39 Newtown, Whitchurch which continued to be his address until his death in 1964.

Employment: Builders labourer

Died: In 1964 in Whitchurch, aged 88, and was buried on 28 July the same year in Whitchurch cemetery.

Military Details

Regiment: Royal Engineers

Rank: Pioneer

Service Number: WR/24383 (previously 280151)

Date of Enlistment: 7 December 1915

Date of Discharge: 11 April 1919

Reason for Discharge: Demobilisation

Other Information: John had previously enlisted on 23 August 1893 in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (number 3012) and had bought himself out on 13 March 1895.

Medals and Awards

John was awarded the Campaign Medals (British War Medal, and Victory Medal).

Campaign Medals

Great War History Hub Whitchurch Shropshire Medals Front Image

The British War Medal (also known as 'Squeak') was a silver or bronze medal awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. This was later extended to services in Russia, Siberia and some other areas in 1919 and 1920. Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals were issued. Approximately 6.4 million of these were the silver versions of this medal. Around 110,000 of a bronze version were issued mainly to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. The front (obv or obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Allied Victory Medal (also known as 'Wilfred') was issued by each of the allies. It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon. The British medal was designed by W. McMillan. The front depicts a winged classical figure representing victory. Approximately 5.7 million victory medals were issued. Interestingly, eligibility for this medal was more restrictive and not everyone who received the British War Medal ('Squeak') also received the Victory Medal ('Wilfred'). However, in general, all recipients of 'Wilfred' also received 'Squeak' and all recipients of The 1914 Star or The 1914/1915 Star (also known as 'Pip') also received both 'Squeak' and 'Wilfred'. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

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