Baxenden Lads: Heys JL

20th October 1918

PTE. 26365 JOHN LAWSON HEYS of the East Lancashire Regiment was killed in action on the night of October 20th 1918 during the capture by his battalion of the village of Briastre, near Cambrai in northern France.

John was aged twenty four and lived with his parents at 15 Hudson Street, Accrington. Before his enlistment in 1916 he worked with his father at Kearns Allan Turkey Red Dyeworks, Baxenden. He saw much service in France, and also suffered much. He was wounded in July 1917 and again in March 1918. He had returned to France from hospital in England only a month before he was killed. His death was instantaneous, and he died together with two comrades – his platoon officer and his platoon sergeant. John’s company officer later wrote to his father that “John was one of the most cheerful and efficient soldiers in the company, and all the N.C.O.’s and men in his platoon will greatly feel his loss”.

John’s body lies in Belle Vue Farm British Cemetery. It was begun by John’s battalion on October 23rd after they captured the farm. In 1922 it was enlarged by forty seven graves from the surrounding area, and now contains 140 graves, even so, a relatively small cemetery for the area. The cemetery is bounded by the high wall of the farm, and the other three sides by brick walls. The whole is planted with flowering shrubs and thorn trees.