John Philip Beningfield

Rank Lieutenant
Service No Unknown
Date of Death 27/04/1915
Age 23
Regiment/Service Royal Field Artillery 59th Battery
Cemetery Divisional Cemetery. This is located 2kms west of Ypres, Belgium. It contains the graves of 278 personnel who died in the Great War.

John was born on 26th May 1891 at St Margaret’s, Stansted Abbots, Hertfordshire. His parents were Colonel John William Beningfield (b.1850) and Mrs. Phoebe Emily Beningfield (b.1866). He had four siblings: Violet (b.1892), Kathleen (b.1895), Maurice (b.1898) and Anna (b.1905).

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family and three servants were living at 9, Elsworthy Road, Hampstead, London. John is not listed as resident but as a pupil at St Catherine’s School in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, so he was almost certainly boarding at a private school. His father was a ‘linen merchant – employer’.

At the time of the 1911 Census, John was living at 11 Seymour Road, Finchley, with his father, his youngest sister, a cook and a domestic servant. There is no mention of his mother, his two older sisters, Violet and Kathleen, who was a boarder at Queen Anne's School, Caversham, Reading, or his brother, Maurice, who was a boarder at Felsted School, Great Dunmow, Essex. John’s occupation is listed as ‘Insurance Clerk’ and his father is still a linen merchant – employer.

John enlisted on 8th August 1914, aged 23 and 2 months, and was attached to 7th battery Royal Field Artillery until 13th January 1915, at which point he got a commission. His occupation is listed as ‘linen merchant for Thomas Baker and Sons, 17 King Street, Cheapside, London’. His application form for a commission, dated 12th December 1914, states that he was based in Dover and able to ride. His character reference was provided by the Vicar of St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London, who said he had known him for 17 years and his educational reference was supplied by the headmaster of Aldenham School, where he had almost certainly been a pupil. He was made a temporary Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery on 16th January 1915.

On 30th April 1915, his father received a telegram saying that his son had died. On 7th May 1915, his mother wrote to the War Office saying she is ‘a complete invalid’, signing the letter ‘the saddest and proudest of broken-hearted mothers’. She also said her husband ‘has been very will …. since his younger boy’s death’. This refers to Maurice’s death, on the Western Front at the age of 17 on 10th March, just 48 days earlier. Maurice’s name is also on the St Paul’s memorial plaque.

John died of wounds and left no will. It is interesting to note that all military documents refer to him as Philip. At the time of his death, his parents were living at 9, Elsworthy Road, Hampstead, so it seems as if they owned both this house and the one in Seymour Road, Finchley.

John’s father is listed in the London Gazette of 7th June 1918 as follows: Colonel John William Beningfield, V.D. (Volunteer Officers' Decoration, an award for long and meritorious service by officers of the UK’s Volunteer Force), Commandant, City of London Special Constabulary.