Son of Mr. William Hassall and Mrs. Louisa Hassall of Welles Street, Sandbach, Cheshire, 14, Wagg's Road, Congleton, Cheshire, and 5, Paradise Row, Dane Side, Congleton, Cheshire. He had six sisters, Emily, Ada, Annie, Minnie, Frances M. and Beatrice Hassall, along with two brothers, Arthur and Arnold Hassall. Prior to the war he was an apprentice Joiner and then a Cabinet Maker. His brother Arthur Hassall was killed in action on the 9th of August 1915.
Private John William Hassall enlisted into the 10th Battalion the South Lancashire Regiment at Congleton on the 25th of March 1916 at the age of 30. He disembarked at Rouen on the 31st of August, where he was posted to the 7th Battalion for a short while, until being posted to the 2/5th Battalion on the 9th of October 1916. Shortly afterwards he was posted yet again joining the 2nd Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment, who were part of the 64th Brigade, 21st Division. On the 25th of October 1916, he was admitted to the 12th Stationary Hospital at Rouen with Dysentery and moved to the 14th Stationary Hospital at Boulogne where he remained for two weeks, re-joining his Battalion on the 30th of November 1916.
The early part of 1917 was a relatively quiet period for the 2nd Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment leading up to the Battle of Messines which started on the 7th of June. The Battalion was held in reserve until the 12th when they took over the lines from the Australians. On the 13th, they received orders that they were to advance on the 14th with the aim of capturing Ferme de la Croix, east of the village of Messines and to clear the left bank of the River Douve. In order to achieve this the Companies had to reach the starting lines over open land in full view of the German machine guns which were mainly situated in scattered shell holes and which inflicted many casualties. The attack commenced at 19 30 hours and the swiftness of the attack caught the enemy unaware. Several enemy machine gun nests had, however, been left intact and these inflicted the majority of the Battalions casualties. Among the casualties on the 13th of June was Private John William Hassall who was killed in action. His body was never recovered, but he is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1917.
Private John William Hassall of the South Lancashire Regiment, official notification of whose death reached his parents on Wednesday the 1st of July 1917. He was killed in action on June 13th 1917. His brother Private Arthur Hassall 8 went out with the 1/7th Cheshire Regiment to the Dardanelles and was reported as missing on the 9th of August 1915. It was not until September 1916, that he was presumed by the War Office to have died on that date.
Mr. and Mrs. William Hassall and family of 5, Paradise Row, Dane Side, Congleton, desire to return thanks for the many kind expressions of sympathy received in their sad bereavement.
A very promising career has been closed by the death of Private J. W. Hassall and the unaffected sympathy of all will go out to the stricken parents in their hour of trial. A young man of kindly disposition, upright and conscientious, He threw himself with characteristic enthusiasm into the work he was called upon to undertake, strange and arduous though it was, and he was generous to a fault. His genial personality, no less than his earnest manner, have left an indelible memory and his Lieutenant Colonel was much impressed with his bearing and in a letter of sympathy to Mr and Mrs Hassall speaks of him thus.
He was a very brave man; a good soldier and we will all mourn his loss greatly. To be the mother of such a son must be the cause of a very just pride. I hope the pride in him, and his memory will help to sustain you during this sad time.
During the time he was in training at Whitchurch, he made the acquaintance of Private J. Daly and by the time the two were drafted out to France a strong bond of friendship existed between them, which deepened when they came to share together the hardships inseparable from modern warfare. Private Hassall's death came as a great blow to his pal, who has written a letter of sympathy to the parents. Private Daly adds,
Your son and I were always together and his death has been a great blow to me. He was well liked by the whole Regiment and both officers and men regret his sad loss. He died nobly, doing his duty and his death was instantaneous. Mrs. Hassall has also received the following letter,
Dear, Mrs. Hassall,
I am sorry to say that your son was killed during the advance at Messines. I dare say my wife has told you for I sent her word in one of my letters. It was caused by a shell and death was instantaneous, he suffered no pain. In your sad bereavement, I offer you my sympathy. His death, along with others who gave up their lives on that day, has caused a great loss to us, but our loss cannot be compared with yours, for I am certain he was a good son. It may be a comfort to you to know that he was one of my best pals and we got on very well together. It did not matter which of us received news from home we always informed one another, and we were glad to know that they were going on alright. You would be surprised to see us when the mail comes up, for we always flock round to see if there is any for us. I have not only lost one of my best pals but one of England's hero's. I hope you will try and bear the loss and think of the time when we shall all meet again, and pain will be no more.
Percy Shaw. 8, Hillfields, Congleton.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on John William.