John Beagin was born in Dudley and was living in Birmingham in 1914 with his mother, Clara Beagin of 12 Cumberland Terrace, St. Luke's Road, Edgbaston. He volunteered in Dudley for the Worcester Territorials and served in the 1/7th Battalion, possibly before the war broke out. They were in the 48th (South Midland) Division and crossed to France on the 1st April 1915. They were sent to the front line at Ploegsteert Wood below the Messines Ridge, where they gained battle experience in front line trenches in what was a quiet sector. John Beagin was a leader of the Signals Section and at a time when there was considerable shelling on the 19th April, he risked his life to repair a damaged line to a listening post. He was awarded an immediate Distinguished Conduct Medal, the first in the Division, for an act of bravery. The citation reads, For conspicuous gallantry displayed near Le Gheer on 19th April 1915. The telephone wire having been cut at an isolated post which the enemy were shelling, Lance Corporal Beagin at once voluntarily proceeded 100 yards across an open space, under shell and rifle fire, and connected up the post again with a spare instrument. (London Gazette 30th June 1915). When he risked his life a second time, he was severely wounded in the action and taken to a Casualty Clearing Station where he died on the 2nd June. An A Company officer, Lieutenant Roland Leighton, wrote to his fianc?e that he had just been to his first funeral at 'our little cemetery on the road to the trenches? The man had been recommended for the DCM for laying a telephone wire under fire a week or two ago. It is such a pity that he could not live to wear it.' The fianc?e was Vera, a nurse, later Vera Brittain, author of 'Testament of Youth', and Roland Leighton himself died of wounds on the 23rd December 1915. Lance Corporal John Beagin was 23 years of age and is buried in Calvaire (Essex) Military Cemetery (IV C 5) and is commemorated on the Dudley Memorial.
Town Hall, Priory Street, Dudley
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