John Charles Houseman
1876 - 1942
We do not have John Charles Houseman’s Service
Records. All we have is his Medal Card.
This tells us that he entered the theatre of war in
France on the 22nd November 1915.
He was in the Royal Field Artillery ( RFA) firstly as
a Corporal, number 1661 and then as a Sergeant,
We know from his Medal Card that he was awarded
the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the
1914-1915 Star Medal.
According to the National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918, section VIII Leeds, John Charles is listed as
a Driver with the RASC and “volunteered in June 1915 and in November of the same year proceeded to
the Western Front where he served in various sectors. He was engaged on important duties as a shoeing
-smith at St Omer, Arras and many other places until the end of hostilities, and was demobilised on
returning home in February 1919.”
His address is noted as 5 Paradise Place, Horsforth, Leeds.
It is odd that the National Roll entry above does not match what we already know about John
Charles, from his Medal Card. Maybe he wanted to ‘downplay’ his roll in the war. He was a
blacksmith, so some of what is written does make sense. Also the dates mentioned do tally with
what we know.
From research we can deduce that his service number 735837 came from a block of numbers allocated
to the 3rd (1st Cheshire) Brigade RFA of the Welsh Division that this was his Brigade.
This was also known as the CCLXVII (Cheshire) Brigade RFA or 267th Brigade RFA. It was renamed
as CCLXV (Cheshire) Brigade RFA or 265th Brigade RFA on Christmas day 1916. The Division became
the 53rd (Welsh) Division in 1915.
On the 2nd July 1915 the 53rd Divison was ordered to refit for service in the Mediterranean. Leaving the
artillery and train behind, the rest of the Division left between the 14th - 19th July and embarked at
Sailing via Alexandria (25-30 July), the ships reached Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. The Division was then involved
in the following moves and engagements.
The landing at Sulva Bay. 9-15 August 1915 - part of the Gallipoli campaign
The effects of fighting, few reinforcements and the dreadful blizzard of November reduced the Division to
just 162 Officers and 2428 men (about 15% of full strength).
Between the 11th -12th December the Division was evacuated to Mudros and then went on to Alexandria,
where it began to arrive on the 20th December. The last units reached Wardan three days later.
The Divisional Artillery did not leave England when the Division embarked for service in Gallipoli.
It remained at Bedford and was there rearmed. It sailed for France from the 20th November 1915 and
concentrated near Port Remy by five days later. On the 22 November 1915 John Charles arrived in France.
Entrainment began on the 1st February 1916, embarkation at Marseilles began two days later and by
the 22nd February 1916 the Artillery had concentrated at Beni Salama and came once again under
command of the 53rd (Welsh) Division.
The Divisional Artillery rejoined at Warden between the 11th - 22nd February 1916 and was involved in
the following battles or engagements:
The Battle of Romani (4-5 August 1916)*
The Second Battle of Gaza (17-19 April 1917)*
The Third Battle of Gaza (27 Oct-7 Nov 1917)* incl the capture of Beersheba (31 Oct) and the capture of
Tell Khuweilfe (3-7 Nov)
The Capture of Jerusalem (7-9 December 1917)*
The Defence of Jerusalem (27-30 December 1917)*
The Battle of Tell’Asur (8-12 March 1918)*
Between the 4th June and 29th August 1918 the Division, other than the Artillery, was “Indianised”,
which meant that Indian units arrived to replace most of the British ones. Many of the latter were ordered
The Battle of Nablus (18-21 September 1918)* - part of the Battles of Megiddo
:the Battles marked * are phases of the Palestine campaign
On the 26th September the Division was withdrawn for rest and moved back to Tell’Asur. By the 12th
October it had moved to Ramle and on the 27th October began entraining for Alexandria.
It was there when the Armistice with Turkey took effect on the 31st October.
The first parties to be demobilised left for England on the 22nd December. The final cadres sailed home
from Port Said on the 15th June 1919.
The Division reformed as part of the Territorial Army in April 1920.
John Charles might have been involved in some or all of the battles after arriving with the artillery in
Because of his overseas service in a theatre of war he was qualified to wear the 1914-1915 Star Medal,
the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
= Second & Third Battles of Gaza
= Capture & Defence of Jerusalem
Sergeant - service number 735837
256th Brigade Royal Field Artillery