John Garwood (1933 - 2022) - A Tribute

John Garwood

Our friend and Trustee John Garwood died on the 17th February.

He was born John Marcus Garwood at Lucknow, India in 1933 where his father, a First World War veteran, was serving in the British Army. By 1939, the family had moved to Euxton in Chorley after his father got a job as a Policeman at the newly opened Royal Ordnance Factory.

John did his National Service in the Army in the early 1950s with the REME, and his first job was at Leyland Motors in Chorley before he eventually moved to the ROF. In 1985, he was awarded the Imperial Service Medal with his occupation being described as “Professional & Technology Officer III”. At the ROF he would run the Shooting Club for many years at a rifle range on the Euxton site.

John was married and had four children, becoming a Grandfather as time went on. He lived in Chorley, being a long-term resident of Heath Charnock. Besides his interest in the First World War, John was a keen Bowler seen playing on greens in the area for many years.

John Garwood at the Pals tree on the Somme in 1985His interest in the First World War went back to the 1980s when he met Richard ‘Dickie’ Barrow, a resident of Euxton and a member of the Chorley Pals Company who was wounded at the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916. John was a regular visitor to the Great War battlefields on The Western Front and the Somme in particular.

In September 1985 he made a wooden plaque to commemorate the Chorley Pals, travelling to the Somme battlefield to fix it to a tree in the front-line trenches at Serre. Upon hearing in the summer of 1997 that it had mysteriously disappeared, John made a new metal plaque and returned to Serre in March 1998 to fix it more securely – thankfully it is still there. John was also instrumental in getting a larger ‘official’ plaque in French and English placed nearby, being at its unveiling on the 1st July 1998.

John always said he was fortunate and humbled to meet some of the surviving Chorley Pals, as well as families of those Pals who did not survive. In the late 1980s John started writing his book about the Chorley Pals, seeing it published in 1989 and updated in 1992. He continued with his research (some would say passion) and successfully campaigned for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to place the name of Chorley Pal, Private Seth Rollins, on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme – it had been omitted upon its unveiling in 1932.

Chorley Pals statue arrives in Chorley on 25 February 2010. L–R: Steve Williams, Lindsay Hoyle and John GarwoodWhen the Chorley Pals Memorial Trust was founded in early 2007, it was only natural that the co-founders, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle and local historian Steve Williams, invited John to become a Trustee. Playing his part, in 2009 John would work with fellow WW1 author Steve in writing an updated history of the Chorley Pals Company, with all proceeds from the book going to the memorial appeal fund.

He also suggested that the statue of a WW1 soldier had his rifle at a certain angle as the Pals did when going over the top on the Somme in 1916. John was to be on the scaffolding of the memorial when the statue was lowered in to place in 2010, witnessing the unveiling a few days later on the 28th February.

In paying tribute to John, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Chairman of the Pals Trust and Member of Parliament for Chorley & Speaker of the House of Commons said “John’s dedication and passion in recording the service and sacrifice of the Chorley Pals will be his lasting legacy. He will be sadly missed by many, including his fellow Trustees. Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this time”.


Steve Williams
Secretary, Trustee & Co-Founder of the Chorley Pals Memorial Trust
(with thanks to fellow Trustee & Historian, Stuart Clewlow)

20th February 2022