Rank or Title
Date of Death
7 Jun 1917
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Sgt John McPheat, 35986, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action at Messines on June 7th, 1917. He was aged 36.
Born in Perth, Scotland, he enlisted as a volunteer at Luton at the outbreak of war. He served with the 1/5th Bedfords (No. 2961) at Gallpoli, from the Suvla Bay landing to the evacuation of the peninsular. He was finally invalided home suffering from shell shock and dysentery to recover in England before leaving Halton for France with the 2nd Bedfords in January 1917. He fought at Ypres and Messines.
Sgt McPheat was included in a list published in The Luton News of local men serving at Gallipoli, His address was then given as Letchworth Road, Limbury. At the time of his death, his widow Jessie and six of their children, including two-months-old Thomas, were living at The Cottage, Green Lane, Limbury.
The newspaper report of his death included very little information about John McPheat's life in Limbury. In 1901 he was living in Perth at the home of his wife's parents and working as a railway porter. He had married Jessie Morris Kirk on August 22nd, 1898, and they had a young son, Michael, born in 1899. They subsequently had seven more children - Margaret (born 1901), Jane (1904), Helen (1906), Jessie (1908), John (1913), Mary (1915) and Thomas (1917). By 1917, eldest son Michael had served on a Navy patrol boat for two years.
Jessie McPheat had already lost two brothers, killed within days of each other at Mons in 1915. Another brother was serving in an officers mess in France after being twice wounded and no longer fit for the firing line. Her youngest brother had been wounded in France but was then serving with the Royal Scots in Salonica, while her eldest brother was serving with the Black Watch in the north of Scotland, having already fought in the Boer War.
One of the couple's daughters, probably Margaret, was working in a local munitions factory. Five of her husband's stepbrothers were serving with the Forces in France and Salonica.
The family later moved to live at 33 John Street, Luton, and John is commemorated on both the Luton and Leagrave War Memorials, as shown above at Leagrave.