Jack was one of the 7 children born to George and Annie Hunt in Grimsby. George was originally a skipper from Boston who moved to Grimsby to continue his work in the fishing industry, with Grimsby then being the largest fishing port in England.
Jack enlisted in the Lincolnshire Regiment, 1st Battalion, along with most of the young men of this fishing town, following the encouragement of The Mayor of Grimsby, Mr J.H. Tate, as one of the ‘Grimsby Chums’.
After training in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Salisbury Plain the Battalion left for Flanders in 1916 and took part in many major battles. Jack was proud to receive the prestigious Military Medal on 22nd March 1918, awarded to him for his ‘conspicuous gallantry’ during the Battle of the Somme.
The Lincolnshire Regimental diaries state:
THE GREAT GERMAN OFFENSIVE OF I918 : THE FIRST BATTLES OF THE SOMME, I918, 2 1 ST MARCH-5TH APRIL The night of the 20th /21st of March which preceded the great German attack was extraordinarily peaceful. Tension in the front-line trenches had for several days and nights been almost unbearable — there was an uncanny feeling of something in the air thus described in a battalion diary : ” Added to a certain apprehension difficult to diagnose there is a general restlessness all round.” At least sixty-four German divisions 1 took part in the attacks on the 2 1 st March, on a front of about fifty-four miles. To meet these, the Third Army (Byng) had eight divisions in the line, and seven in reserve. The Fifth Army (Gough) had eleven divisions in the line, and three infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions in reserve. The total on the original battle front, on our side, was, therefore, nineteen divisions in the line, and ten infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions in reserve.
The Lincolnshires and their comrades fought bravely on, but Jack was injured during the ‘Attacks on the Lys’ on 27th April 1918 and he died of his wounds the following day.
The diaries state: The enemy was held as firmly as he had been held on the Somme — by the splendid valour of the British soldier. Practically the whole of the divisions engaged in the fightingin the Lys Valley were brought straight from the Somme battle-field, where they had suffered severely. “All these divisions, without adequate rest and filled with young reinforcements which they had had no time to assimilate, were again hurriedly throwninto the fight and in spite of the great disadvantages under which they laboured, succeeded in holding up the advance of greatly superior forces of fresh troops. Such an accomplishment reflects the greatest credit on the youth of Great Britain as well as onthose responsible for the training of the young soldiers sent out from home at this time.”The heavy losses sustained by the 1st and 2nd Lincolnshire: 327
Jack is buried at the Military Cemetery on the edge of the small village of Esquelbec, 24 kilometres from Dunkirk, near the Belgian frontier.
Four of George and Annie’s 7 children fought in WW1 with Albert Hunt suffering in a gas attack and consequently discharged from the Army with a war pension in 1917. All the sons of the Hunt family were Enrolled Freemen of Grimsby – an honour that is passed down through the sons of former Freemen if they were born in, and continue to live in, the Borough of Grimsby.
Jack’s name is recorded on the ‘ Great Grimsby Great War Roll of Honour’ – a brass plaque located in the Minster Church of St James in Grimsby.
(John Robert Hunt – great uncle of Stephen Shepherd)