Died of wounds
Regiment: Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Battalion: 1st/5th Battalion
Service Number: 766496
Date of Death: 3rd October 1918
Age when killed: 19
Cemetery: Vis-En-Artois Memorial (Panel 7)
Born: Loughborough 1899
Parents: Charles Obadiah & Sarah Anne Wheatley. The School House, Long Whatton.
John Wheatley was the son of Charles Wheatley and his wife Sarah. Charles Wheatley was the village schoolmaster in Hoby but by 1918 had moved to Long Whatton to take up a similar post there. John had been born in Loughborough in 1899 and was 19 years old when he died of his wounds at Ramicourt in France on 3rd October 1918. He is commemorated on the memorial at the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery.
John did some initial officer training in Nottingham before enlisting in the 28th London Regiment, otherwise known as the Artists Rifles. This was a specialist officer training regiment responsible for providing replacements for the many junior officers killed on the Western Front. John Wheatley was a Corporal in the Rifles, he was then commissioned in the Sherwood Foresters on 26th June 1918 and posted to the 1/5th Battalion in France in July.
The battle at Ramicourt on 3rd October 1918 which cost him his life is famous in the history of the 1/5th Battalion as the one in which Sergeant William Johnson won the Victoria Cross. The area around the village of Ramicourt, north of St Quentin, was part of the Hindenburg Line system of trenches, fortified villages and gun emplacements which formed the last line of German defences on the Western Front. On the morning of 3rd October 1918 waves of allied soldiers were advancing behind an artillery barrage towards these well defended enemy positions.
Sergeant Johnson’s Victoria Cross citation describes his heroic actions on that occasion and offers an insight into the situation which will have faced John Wheatley as a platoon leader in the same location before he was fatally wounded:
When his platoon was held up by a nest of enemy machine guns at very close range. Sergeant Johnson worked his way forward under very heavy fire, and single-handed charged the post, bayoneting several gunners and capturing two machine guns. During this attack he was severely wounded by a bomb but continued to lead forward his men. Shortly afterwards the line was once more held up by machine guns. Again he rushed forward and attacked the post single-handed. With wonderful courage he bombed the garrison, put the guns out of action and captured the teams.
John Wheatley was survived by his parents and by his brother, Eric, who was too young to serve in the War. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The following note is written on John’s medal record card: C Whealtey Esq makes application in respect of late son’s medals 13/7/22.