Private 9377 2nd Bn, Coldstream Guards
Died 30th November 1917, aged 25
Remembered at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery
& on both Blakeney War Memorials
John, always known as Jack, was registered at birth in the June Quarter of 1892 while his school record gives 2nd February 1893, Blakeney as his date of birth. He was the 7th son of 8 boys and 9th child of 12 born to George Bennington Long (1856-1939), Fisherman and coxswain of the lifeboat and his wife Catherine Charlotte Daniel (1857-1905). The children, all born between 1880 and 1899, were George 1880, Herbert Charles “Charlie” 1881, William Henry “Will Watch” 1882, Eveline 1884, Henry Matthew “Matthie” 1886, James Herbert 1887, Frederick “Thin Freddy” 1888, Ellen 1890, John “Jack” 1892, Samuel Daniel 1895, Catherine Charlotte 1897 (who died aged 2) and Claudia 1899.
By 1911, aged 18, Jack was a fisherman living with his father and stepmother at 80 High Street, together with his younger brother and sister, Samuel and Claudia.
Except for Charlie and William, all his brothers served as soldiers in the Great War and the Norfolk Chronicle, Friday June 25, 1915 photographed them under the title “Patriotic Blakeney Family” with the comment that “practically every eligible man is serving and Blakeney is proud of her sons.” It was also noted in the article that Charlie played his part on the Home Front as Harbour Master and 2nd coxswain of the lifeboat, Caroline. Completely missing from the account was William who was to serve in the Merchant Navy.
There are no surviving records for Jack apart from enlisting at Hempton and the award of his Military Medal, 1916. However, the following obituary from an unidentified newspaper is revealing; “He enlisted in the Coldstream guards and here his early training among wildfowl of Blakeney stood him in good stead. Constant practice on the muds had given him a quick eye and an accuracy of aim … one of the best shots in the army … He was often specially chosen for perilous enterprises, and as a sniper must have rendered valuable service … He was a lad of singularly reticent character, content to do his duty and not talk about it, and it was only with the receipt of the official notification that his father learned that … he had been awarded the Military Medal … He kept a good heart worthy of his regiment and of the old regular army, and in the brief span of his life of twenty-five years he has added an imperishable jewel to the Immortal crown of brave Blakeney boys who have laid down their lives in the face of the foe.”
After Passchendaele and under a cloak of utmost secrecy, the British Third Army, assisted by massed tanks, mounted an attack in front of Cambrai. This was a major rail centre where the German defences on the Western Front were at their strongest. Battle commenced on 20th November and although initially successful there was constant moving of the front line both backwards and forwards in the ensuing days. Ten days later the Germans ripped open the British line around Gouzeaucourt, capturing then loosing it a few hours later when the Guards stormed in to retake the village. Jack lost his life during this action and is one of the 55 original burials that are still left in place in the cemetery.