Meredith, John (Johnnie)
No. 6984401, 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Killed on active service on Wednesday 18 April 1945 (aged 23)
Argenta Gap War Cemetery, Italy (Grave I. B. 17)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
John (Johnnie) Meredith was born on 15 July 1921 and was named in memory of his brother John who was born on 23 July 1918 and died in infancy. He was a son of James Gardiner Meredith and Mary Jane (Minnie) Meredith (nee Bennett) who were married on 18 March 1901 in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church, Newtownards. James Gardiner Meredith, a minor and a soldier from Newtownards was a son of James Gardner Meredith, a labourer. Mary Jane Bennett was a minor from Newtownards.
After he was discharged from the Army, James Gardiner Meredith worked as a labourer and he and Mary Jane had at least ten children, most of whom were baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church, Newtownards:
Harriet (born 17 November 1906)
Wilhelmina Gibson (Mina, born 9 June 1908 in Darragh’s Lane, Newtownards)
James Gardiner (born 5 August 1909 in Darragh’s Lane, Newtownards)
David George (born 1 April 1911; served with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War)
Richard (born 4 November 1912)
Sarah (born 14 March 1914)
Francis (Frank, born 29 February 1916 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Albert (born around 1916/1917; served with the London Irish Rifles during the Second World War)
John (born 23 July 1918; died in infancy)
John (born 15 July 1921)
The Meredith family lived at 5 Church Street, Newtownards.
James Gardiner Meredith Senior served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in both the South African and First World Wars and he died on 10 May 1941 (aged 60).
It was reported in the Press that, during the Second World War, five Meredith brothers served, and Francis was the first to die of the two who died.
During the Second World War Lance Sergeant John Meredith (No. 6984401) served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and he was 23 when he was killed in Italy on 18 April 1945 during the final Allied offensive. He was buried in Argenta Gap War Cemetery, Italy and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
SAVIOUR IN THY KEEPING
NOW I LEAVE
MY LOVED SON SLEEPING.
His mother was living at 55 Talbot Street, Newtownards when he died.
There were Killed on Active Service notices from his family in the 5 May 1945 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and they included the texts:
Manly and brave his young life he gave
He lies in a hero’s grave
Other texts and verses were included in notices inserted in subsequent years; in some cases Frank was also included, and in others their late father was remembered as well:
Divided hands shall clasp again
Worthy of love’s last gift – Remembrance
He died that we might live
Just one of the many,
But Johnnie was ours;
Somebody loved you,
Without farewell, you left us all,
Wherever we go; whatever we do,
We shall always treasure memories of you
Beautiful stars shine over the graves
Dear ones we loved, but could not save.
What would we give his hand to clasp,
His dear, sweet face to see,
To hear his voice, and see his smile,
Which meant so much to us.
He is where we cannot see him,
And his voice we cannot hear,
Yet he seems to walk beside us,
Never absent, always near.
In our hearts there’s a beautiful picture,
Worth more than silver or gold,
It’s a picture of my dear brothers and dad,
Whose memory will never grow old.
Whatever else we fail to do,
We never fail to think of you.
Love’s last gift – remembrance
Death divides but memories cling
Sad but true, we wonder why
The best are always first to die.
Tender ties broken without farewell
No one knows my sorrow,
There are few that see me weep,
I shed my tears with aching heart
While others are asleep.
Lance Sergeant John Meredith is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial.