John Belton

Born 4 September 1887

Died 30 May 1916

Studied at the RCA:  Oct 1913 – Oct 1914

John came from a Lincolnshire farming family living at Redhill Farm, Blyton Carr, near Gainsborough. He was one of six children – the youngest of four sons – brought up by their widowed father.  It seems likely that one of his older brothers, Arthur, took over the farm tenancy soon after their father died in 1907: the 1911 Census notes him as head of the household, with John and other members of the family continuing to live there at the time.

Very little information about John can be gleaned from his College student file, but it is noted on Form 16 that he had been an art pupil teacher, and later an assistant teacher, at ‘Gainsborough Art Class’ before starting as a fee-paying student in October 1913. He had only just registered for his second year of studies before enlisting locally either at Chelsea or Kensington, and leaving on 21 October 1914. According to a letter from the Board of Education, written in December, John had applied for, and was granted, the remission of his fees for the term.

His service file has not survived, but his Medal Roll Index Card (MIC) shows John became a private in the recently formed 22nd (Service) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment. Their formation in 1914 was the initiative of the borough council and keenly supported by the mayor of the time.

For much of the following year the battalion trained at Roffey Camp near Horsham, followed by Clipstone Camp and Tidworth, eventually arriving in France on 17 November 1915, with later published accounts suggesting that John served in their C company. Along with the other companies of the battalion they went on to experience several bouts of trench warfare in the area near Bethune that winter. But, after just six months of service abroad, John was ‘killed in action’ at the end of May 1916.  The 99th Brigade (2nd Division) that the battalion belonged to, had been involved in very heavy, and reportedly confused, fighting at Vimy Ridge in the Pas-de-Calais. In the aftermath of this action at least two ORs (Ordinary Ranks) are described in the battalion war diary as wounded on 30 May, with a further two noted as killed the following day.  John must have been one of these, with the earlier date for his death appearing on his MIC.

His effects went to his two older brothers, Arthur and William.

John is buried at Zouave Valley Cemetery, Souchez, Pas-de-Calais, France.

Student file, Form 16 – Royal College of Art Archive
Student file, Form 16 RCA – Royal College of Art Archive