John Massey Jarvis was born in Mona Terrace, Wellington, Shropshire on 1st June 1894 the second son of Alice Rebecca Jarvis [née Kynaston] and James Jarvis who was an ironmonger.
After his education at Wellington College, 1906-08 John left to become an apprentice ironmonger under his father’s tutelage and after war broke out enlisted with the 1/1st The Shropshire Yeomanry as a private soldier.
The Regiment was formed on the creation of the Territorial Force in April 1908 and came under the control of the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade. Its HQ was at Shrewsbury with the four squadrons being deployed around the county, and the adjacent counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. ‘A’ Squadron was at Shrewsbury with drill stations at Baschurch, Pontesbury, Pulverbach and Wem. ‘B’ Squadron was at Oswestry with drill stations at Whitchurch and Ellesmere. ‘C Squadron was at Ludlow with drill stations at Craven Arms, Ross on Wye, Hereford, Leominster, Tenbury Wells and Kington. Finally ‘D’ Squadron was at Wellington with drill stations at Much Wenlock, Shifnal, Market Drayton, Newport and Bridgnorth.
On the outbreak of war in August 1914 the Battalion centred itself at Oswestry but by the end of September had left Shropshire for good with the move to Flixton in Suffolk where it reported to 1st Mounted Division. It subsequently moved to the Lowestoft area but returned to Flixton in early 1915. In August 1915 it moved on to Benacre and on 21st October to Gorleston. By the end of November the 1/1st had become a ‘dismounted’ formation with the men reverting to infantry soldiers.
On 4th March 1916 they sailed from Devonport to Egypt aboard the “Arcadian” and upon arrival formed part of the defending forces for the Suez Canal where they were to remain for over two years. However, twelve months into their deployment the Regiment merged with the 1/1st Cheshire Yeomanry to form the 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalion, The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) which came under the orders of 231st Brigade of the 74th (Yeomanry) Division.
Whilst out in Egypt they took part in battles for Gaza and the capture and defence of Jerusalem. In the spring of 1918 they received orders to return to Europe where they were needed on the battlefields of the Western Front. They left Egypt on 1st May 1918 by sea and whilst en route were subjected to daily PT and gas training, arriving in Marseilles a week later. Following a prolonged journey by train and foot they arrived tired and exhausted in CANCHY, northern France at 9.45pm on 12th May 1918.
This was a world away from their previous life in the heat of the desert. Here they were thrown into training in trench warfare and gas defences before they moved to the Doullens – St. Pol area, whilst still part of the GHQ Reserve. By 14th July they were declared battle ready and moved to a sector of the line near MERVILLE.
On Thursday 22nd August 1918 Private John Massey Jarvis, 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalion, The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) was killed in action during an operation to relieve two front line battalions from their position in the trenches between St. FLORIS and MERVILLE. John was 24 years of age and was buried locally nearby.
After the Armistice in November 1918 a new section of cemetery was created at Vieille-Chapelle by the concentration of graves from the neighbouring battlefields and from other cemeteries. John’s remains were disinterred and reburied with full military honours at Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacouture in France.
John’s elder brother James Henry Jarvis, also an OW, served within the Royal Naval Division during the war and, although he survived beyond the armistice, he was to die not long afterwards. John Jarvis is also commemorated in perpetuity on his brother’s grave and in Hadley, Shropshire.
The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) is perpetuated today in the 3rd Battalion, The Rifles.