Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Preston, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom

General information

Circus Performer

Army information

England, United Kingdom
British Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment place:
Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
 —  Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 11th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Tower Hamlets, Geluveld, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Tyne Cot Memorial
Panel: 25

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Private John, also known as Jack, Fossett was born in 1894 to John and Jessie Fossett in Preston, Lancashire, England. He was the oldest of seven children. John grew up in a circus family where learned his trade as a circus performer. He was the grandson of the original founder of the Fossett’s Circus, Robert Fossett. John’s family, starting with his father – also named John –, started specialising in bareback horse riding stunts. John and his brothers Anthony and Claud were also included in the circus trade.
Eventually John would enlist in the army with his brothers Claud and Anthony. John would enlist in Bristol and resided in Selly Oak, Birmingham at the time. He would be assigned to the 11th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (112th Brigade, 37th Division) and took part in the Battle of Passchendaele 1917.
On 5 October the 112th Brigade relieved the 63th Brigade in the Tower Hamlets sector where the Royal Warwicks were in support. A small attack four days later south of the Menin Road was retaliated by heavy German shelling. On 10 Octobre the 112th Brigade was being relieved by the 63rd Brigade, but were again being harassed by German artillery in the evening and during the night. After five days in the frontline, the Warwicks suffered 33 soldiers killed, 75 wounded and 4 missing. Pte. Fossett was one of these causalties.
According to family history an eyewitness approached them to recall that he was present when John was hit by a shell while running a message. His little remains were buried on the spot. He is now commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial on panel 25. His two brothers, Claud and Anthony, eventually survived the war and returned to the circus. Claude was wounded in the leg and limped. Anthony suffered from gas and shell-shock.

Files 1

Sources 5

Sources used
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The Long, Long Trail
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War Diary 11th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment
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