Lance Corporal John Richard Nisbet (Jack) served with 458 West Riding Field Company, Royal Engineers, 49th West Riding Division. He landed at Le Harve on 21th June 1915 and his first real experience of the Great War was on Tuesday 13th July 1915 when his unit was subjected to heavy bombardment on the banks of the Yser canal.
The 49th Division then formed the Divisional Reserve in the Thiepval sector during the Battle of the Somme (1st July–18th November 1916). On the evening of 2nd July 1916 they relieved the 36th Ulster Division.
Jack Nisbet personally considered that the cream of British manhood, Kitchener ‘s Army, was annihilated on the first day of the Somme and that Britain has never been the same country since!
He then fought in the Third Battle of Ypres – Passchendaele. As a result of the awful conditions, and constant hunger (supplies did not always reach the front line), he vowed that if he survived, for the rest of his life, he would never ever grumble about food again, regardless of what was put in front of him.
After Passchendaele, he served in Nieuwport. He claimed lucky to be alive because when his unit was about to go over the top, a flare launched and the Germans were seen in their trenches waiting behind their machine guns to wipe them out but the attack was cancelled.
He was wounded twice in 1918 and on the second occasion gained a Blighty, returning to England on 27th October 1918. He said that he owed his life to the wound because an officer told him to go to the dressing station to have the wound dressed. Of his comrades who stayed to repel the German advance none survived; had he not been wounded he would no doubt have perished with them.
Recently, Lieutenant Colonel M R Appleton, Jack’s eldest great-grandson, had the privilege as a member of the wreath laying party at the Menin Gate. Remembering Jack and his comrades he had the great honour of publicly reading:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.