Private (Arthur) John “Jack” Beckett

Thank you to Jane Anthony for this research. Thank you to Rachel Collins (great niece of Jack) for the family detail.

Arthur John Becket, who appears as John on the Abinger War Memorial, was the second son in the family of Thomas and Emily Beckett. He was known as Jack to his friends and family. He was born at Cublington on the Bedfordshire/Buckinghamshire borders in about 1889. His family ware all employed in agricultural, his father was initially a farm labourer who later became a stock man. Two of his brothers were also working in farms. However Jack became a gardener.

At some point between the 1901 census and 1911 he left Buckinghamshire and by 1911 he was living with the Ovington family at 23 The Dene, Abinger Common. Benjamin Ovington, a house painter, had been married for 6 years but his wife and one of the children were not at home for the night of the census. The three other children of the family were all very young 6 or under. Jack Beckett was boarding at the house and working as a gardener.

He enlisted in the 1st/5th Battalion of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment at Dorking. His Battalion was part of the Home Counties Division, which was sent to India. At the time of his death he had been transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment which was stationed in Iraq. Unusually Jack Beckett was not killed in battle, he died of his wounds, but no actual cause of death is given. He died on 11th January 1916. He is buried at the Kut War Cemetery.

His cause of death is speculative, however the back ground is as follows: In April 1915, the Indian Expeditionary Force ‘D’, which had landed at Fao the previous November, began its advance inland with the intention of clearing Turkish forces out of south-west Iraq. Amara was occupied in early June and the advance continued along the line of the Euphrates to Nasiriya, and along the Tigris to Kut, which was taken on 29th September. The advance to Baghdad was resumed on 11th November, but was brought to a standstill against the strong Turkish defences at Ctesiphon on 22nd-24th November.

By 3rd December, the force, comprising chiefly the 6th (Poona) Division of the Indian Army, was back in its entrenched camp at Kut, where they were besieged by Turkish forces. Heavy casualties were suffered in desperate but unsuccessful attempts to reach the town and raise the siege in January, March and April. The garrison was forced to capitulate on 29 April 1916 and nearly 12,000 men were taken prisoner. Jack is also commemorated in Cublington, the village where he was born.

Born Cublington, Buckinghamshire
Lived Abinger Common, Dorking
Son of Thomas and Emily Beckett
Enlisted Dorking
Regiment 1st/5th Battalion. Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Number G/969
Date of Death 11th January 1916
Place of Death Kut, Iraq
Cause of Death Died of wounds
Age 27
Cemetery Kut War Cemetery, Baghdad, Iraq