John Hillyard was born at Long Lawford, Rugby in the last months of 1894. His parents were Charles William and Sarah Hillyard. On the 1891 census, before John was born, they had been living at Primrose Cottage, Long Lawford with John’s older brothers Charles, William and George. By 1901 they are living at 15 Addison Road New Bilton and the family had increased with the births of John’s sisters Kate and Gertrude and the arrival of two more brothers Albert and Ernest. The family had further increased by the 1911 census with the arrival of Annie, Edith and James. John was known as Jack, as on the report of his death in the Rugby Advertiser 21st September 1918.
John’s father, Charles was a general labourer and in 1901 he is working at Rugby Cement Works with his eldest son Charles, another son, William, is an apprentice book binder. John was at school and was being educated at New Bilton Council School.
The 1911 census shows both John and his father both working as labourers at the Cement Works; Brother George is a Butcher’s Assistant, William is a Book Binder, Charles is not at home.
By 1914 John was employed by Mr. J. J. Mckinnell, as a vanman. Mr J. J. Mckinnell owned a grocery shop in Sheep Street Rugby and eventually became Mayor of Rugby.
John enlisted in October 1914 at New Bilton Rugby and served, as a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps (Service no. T3/024551), which became attached to 126th Army Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
By August 1918, John had served 3 years 3 months in France and had returned to the front a few weeks before his death. The family were now living at 20 Frederick Street Rugby. At the time of his death two of John’s brothers had been discharged and three were still in the army. John was probably involved in the fighting on the Somme when he was killed in action 22nd August 1918, aged 22 years.
Private John Hillyard is buried in France at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun Reference Plot V. H. 55.
The report of his death is in the list of U.K. Commonwealth War Graves 1914 – 1921. In the Army Registers of Soldiers Effects John was credited with £4 11s 6d and with a War Gratuity, all of which was sent to his father totalling of £18. 10s 0d. His only memorial, after his headstone in France, is on Rugby’s Memorial Gates.
Rugby Advertiser 21st September 1918:
Driver Jack Hillyard, A.S.C., son of Mr. Charles Hillyard of 20 Frederick Street, Rugby, was killed on August 22nd. He was 24 years of age, and before joining up in October 1914, he was employed as a vanman by Mr. J. J. McKinnell. He served three years and three months in France; and only returned to the front a few weeks prior to his death. He was educated at New Bilton Council School. At one time Mr. Hillyard has six sons in the Army; two have been discharged, and three are still serving.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM