Samuel was born on the June 24th 1894 in Lamberts Lane, Congleton. His parents Francis Wright and Annie Elizabeth née Cawley had married at St John’s Church Smallwood, Cheshire in 1891.
Samuel was baptised on July 6th at St. Peter’s Church in Congleton. He was probably given the middle name of Jesse after his grandfather, Jesse Wright, who was the coachman for the Bateman family. His father’s occupation was given as farmer at Samuel’s baptism.
By 1901 the family lived at Gillow Heath. Francis (or Frank as he was known) was now 35 and still a farmer. Samuel, then six years of age had an older sister, Dora, aged eight years.
By 1911 the family had expanded with the birth of Alice and they now lived in Well Street, Biddulph. Francis was now working as a ‘loader’ in the coal mine, underground. In this census Samuel Jesse was aged 16 and worked at the colliery. His job was to oil the points on the lines. Dora was working as a shop assistant in a draper’s shop.
Sadly in 1911 his mother Annie Elizabeth died aged 40 and in 1913 his father remarried – to Miss Frances Worth.
Samuel enlisted in 1914. He would have been 19. His name was recorded in the Congleton Chronicle with the list of territorials from Biddulph: Samuel Jesse Wright of Well Street Biddulph.
Samuel initially enlisted in the 1/5th Bn. North Staffordshire Regiment at Biddulph in September 1914. His medal card shows two additional service numbers – 3298 and 20073. There are only accounts in local newspapers to help with his military history as no service records can be found.
This battalion initially trained at Butterton Hall Camp before moving to the Luton and Bishop’s Stortford areas to fulfil their intensive training. In March 1915, and now attached to the 137th Brigade, 46th North Midland Division, the troops embarked at Southampton for a crossing to France. However, Samuel’s medal card shows that he entered France on June 29th 1915, so he must have entered with a later draft. By July, Samuel and his many Biddulph mates of the same battalion, were serving in the Ypres salient and seeing their first action at Hooge, a position on the Menin Road overlooking the ruined town of Ypres. In September the division moved to the Lens area to fight in the Battle of Loos. It was here on October 13th 1915, in a murderous battle at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, the 1/5th Battalion lost over 200 brave soldiers that day. This included eight Biddulph men who fell in battle.
At some time later Samuel transferred battalions to the 2/6th North Staffords, who were attached to the 59th (2nd North Midland) Division, 176th Brigade, and first saw action at Estree on the old Somme battle ground in the spring of 1917. Serving in ‘D’ Company, Samuel was to fight on the Hindenburg Line, Havrincourt and Flequieres during the following months. In June they were thankfully out of the line and at rest; the battalion were in a safer back area at Barastre.
The next battle for the 59th Division came in September 1917. This was the Third Battle of Ypres. Here the North Staffords found appalling conditions. Shellfire had destroyed the whole area and now the battlefield was a sea of deep mud with shell holes full of stagnant slimy water. The battlefield would deteriorate even more as the Staffords fought on the Menin Road Ridge and Polygon Wood. A respite from the salient came in October when the battalion were transferred to fight at Cambrai. By now they had lost many men but thankfully were soon to be taken out of the line on December 23rd 1917. This enabled the lads of the 2/6th to spend Christmas and January 1918 at rest and refit at Le Cauroy.
In February 1918 the division, which was by now strengthened, was in action again at St. Quentin and Bapaume. March saw the German Spring Offensive commence along the whole front and in these enemy attacks many men were lost or taken prisoner. On March 21st 1918, 23 year old Private Samuel Jesse Wright sadly fell during this offensive. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. A fellow Biddulph soldier, Walter Lovelock of the same battalion, also fell on this day.
His name is also on the St. Lawrence memorial as J. Wright and as Jesse Wright on the Albert Square Memorial.
Kathleen Walton and Michael Turnock.