Mistakenly recorded on the War Memorial with an extra letter in his surname, John was born at Crowle in 1891, the son of Mary Anne Sharp. Also from Crowle, Mary was unmarried when John was born but the following year she married William Checkley at St Oswald’s Church. The couple went on to have six (half) brothers and sisters for John including Tom Checkley. The family were living at Cobby’s Yard, Thorne in 1911 but had moved to Swinefleet by 1917. Although when the news of John’s death reached them, his mother and several other members of the family were being treated at the Smallpox Hospital in Goole.
Prior to enlisting in the Army, John was an itinerant labourer, working for several employers in the Thorne and Crowle areas. When working in Crowle he lodged with his uncle George Sharp in Broadfleet. Among his various labouring jobs was cutting hay for George Frith, a general hay dealer of Broadfleet. Mr Frith was one of the men who provided a reference for John when he applied to join the army, the other being the manager at Thorne Colliery where he had worked as an above ground labourer.
John enlisted in the army at Doncaster on 27th February 1914, aged 23. He looked young for his age as the recruiting officer asked him to come back with his birth certificate. No local regiment was able to accept him so the recruiting office sent him to Pontefract to join the York & Lancaster Regiment there.
John was in training at Pontefract with 3rd (Reserve) Battalion York & Lancaster’s when war broke out. On 27th December 1914 he was transferred to the 1st Battalion, who had just arrived home from India prior to them going out to France. They arrived on 17th January 1915 and served through the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Loos, suffering very heavy casualties in both.
In October 1915 the 1st York & Lancaster’s were posted to Salonika arriving on 14th December 1915. In Salonika, John had to be treated in hospital several times, three times for asthma and an irregular heart beat and once for gonorrhoea. Eventually on 15th July 1916 he was sent back to Britain for recuperation at a Military Hospital. After recovering he was posted back out to France on 28th September 1916 and joined the 2nd York & Lancaster’s on 1st October 1916.
Less than two weeks later, 12th October 1916, he was transferred again, to the 14th York & Lancaster’s, generally known as the 2nd Barnsley Pals, prior to their involvement in the Battle of the Ancre, he final battle on the Somme campaign. The Barnsley Pals had suffered very heavy losses during the Battle of the Somme and John was one of the reinforcements sent to rebuild their numbers. He served with some success as on 17th February 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
In April 1917 the Barnsley Pals were involved in the Battle of Arras and then in May in the Battle of the Scarpe. Most significantly on the 3rd and 4th May they were involved in the capture of Fresnoy and it was probably here where John was wounded. Evacuated to the 1st Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Aubigny, on 9th May 1917, John Sharp died of his wounds. He is buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery.
John Sharp is probably the only soldier remembered on Crowle War Memorial to be commemorated on another memorial under a different name. He is remembered on Swinefleet War Memorial as J W Checkley.