Blackburn Soldiers Striking Record.
Five birthdays in the trenches and only once slightly wounded, though he has fought almost continuously since the war broke out, is the remarkable record of Private Henry Jukes of the Coldstream Guards, whose home is at 78 Cherry-street, Blackburn. He celebrated his thirty-second birthday in the line on Monday with bayonet fixed and participating in the present great push. He was following his employment at Messrs Yates and Thom's Foundry when as a first-class army reservist with almost thirteen years' service in, he was called to the colours a week or two before his twenty-seventh birthday, and was one of the first batch of French's “Contemptable little Army" to accept the challenge of the Germans in Belgium.
With the exception of the usual furloughs, he has been fighting almost without interruption, and having regard to the fact that he has from and including the memorable retreat from Mons figured in almost all the big engagement, it is something of a miracle that he has only once been wounded, and then only so slightly that he was able to resume after treatment at a field dressing station.
The battles Private Jukes has participated in includes, Mons, Villascotre, the Aisne, St. Julian, La Bassee, Armentieres, Loos, Landrecies, the Marne, Super, Rouhil Wood, Neuve Chapelie, Ypres, Laventie and the Sommie, so that of the excitement of war he has had plenty. With him “going over the top" became a familiar habit, and ass to be expected, he has had an abundance of hair-breadth escapes. He was once carrying in his haversack two bombs when the haversack was struck with a shot. The material started to burn, but, with the presence of mind of a hardened soldier, he removed the bombs, and after placing them in safety proceeded to extinguish the burning haversack. A less experienced soldier might have removed haversack and bombs together, with consequences of a very different character. During the battle of Ypres, he was buried on three occasions, and was in in each instance extremely fortunate, inasmuch as the shells which caused his temporary internment did not in any instance explode. Many gallant soldier's have fallen on either side of him, and he wonders how it is that he has been so much more fortunate than many of his comrades.
Just prior to an engagement on July 31st last year he shook hands with Richard Smith, of Holehouse, a member of the Blackburn Borough Police Force, who had previously won the D.C.M., and each wished the other the very best of luck. Jukes came out of the ordeal, severe as it was, unscathed, but Smith was killed.
A Short Biography of Henry Jukes
Henry Jukes story was not unique. Many soldiers went through the entire war sustaining only minor injuries only a few would have their stories printed. Little of conditions and the life he led in the trenches is given in the article, and even though the names of the battles he fought in are given the bloodiness and ferocity of these engagements are simply brushed over. Other than a small rather blurred photograph was printed with the article it is still not imposable to get a picture of the man. I have done some research on Henry Jukes and now share it with you.
Henry Jukes was not a Blackburn man. Born in 1886 at Madeley, Shropshire he was the son George Arthur Jukes and Fanny Corfield, and named George Henry Jukes. He was the eldest son and second eldest child of 7. Between 1892 and 1898 the family moved to Manchester and by 1901 they had again removed to Newton-street, Blackburn. The census for that year shows Henry as a warehouse boy. On the 28th November 1904, when he was 18 Henry joined the army choosing the Coldstream Guards. There is something of a mystery surrounding this, on his attestation papers his name is given as Dukes, underneath this it says “Alias Jukes", he also signs his name Dukes. On a paper from his pension record dated 13th August 1914 there is a note which says; “Pte G.H. Jukes (has been permitted to change his name from Pte G.H. Dukes)". I cannot find any reason why he might have called himself Dukes. Could it be that he did not have permission from his parents to enlist in the army? He was under twenty-one, the age of consent, at the time. We also learn something of how Henry looked from his army records; he was 5ft 7in tall weighing 118lb after six months he had grown 1in and put on 16lbs. His complexion was fresh, he had grey eyes and brown hair, his religion is Congregationalist. He was accepted into the army and became Private 5868 George Henry Dukes of the Coldstream Guards. Henry's, first battle experience of WW1 took place almost immediately after he landed in France, that was the battle and subsequent retreat from Mons. On the 22nd of October probably at the battle of La Bassee he got a shrapnel wound to the head, which was not serious and he was soon back in the fray. On the 31st July 1917, the beginning of the battle of Ypres, the article says he met and shook hands with Richard Smith of the Blackburn Borough Police the article says that Smith died but there is no Richard Smith on the police Roll of Honour and I can find no other information about him.
He received his discharge papers out of the army on 31st March 1920, having served 14 years as a soldier and reservist. The medals he was presented with were the 1914 Star with clasp, the Victory Medal and British Medal.
Henry had married Elizabeth Ogden Heatley, on the 18th November 1909, at Blackburn Congregational Church, Chapel Street. They had three children, George Robert, b. 1910, Norman Ogden, b. 1911 and Walter Stanley, b. 1913. There address at the time of the 1911 census was 2 Fawcett Street, Blackburn. In 1914, Elizabeth and one son, Walter Stanley, 7 months old at the time, went to America arriving in June of that year she is on the American census for 1920 and on a paper in Henry's pension record is this note; “Next of Kin (wife) Elizabeth 442 Sawyer St. New Bedford Massachusetts USA." In 1918 Henry was “Granted leave to America" from March to April. It seems, however, Henry was back in Blackburn and living in Cherry-street by the 31st August 1918 when the above article was written. Whether he went back to America later I cannot say, however I cannot find any record that he ever did. It is also a mystery as to why his wife went to America with one son, leaving the rest of the family behind.
George Henry Jukes died in Blackburn on the 18th of June 1933.
If anyone has further information about this man or his family please contact Cottontown