John D Kriens

Born: 18 October 1883
Died: 28 March 1918
Service number: 15839
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: 2/7 Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment
Family information: Husband of Hannah (nee Lease), 14 North Street, Fryston

War service

John enlisted in November 1914. He went to France on the 26 August 1915.

He was a rifleman in the 2nd/7th battalion West Yorkshire Regt (Prince of Wales Own).

He was wounded twice: in July 1916 and April 1917 and it is thought by the family that in one instance his wife went to visit him in France.

Earlier in the war his adoptive brother, Sidney, of the 8th KOYLI was killed in action in France. He was 20 years old. In a newspaper report, a letter to his relatives is quoted as describing terrible weather conditions “It was either raining or freezing. Some parts of the trenches were knee deep in sludge. They expected going out of the trenches for a week’s rest and to get their clothes clean. His overcoat was about three inches think in mud”. His other brother, Henry Wright was also at the front with the West Yorkshire Regiment.

John was killed during the first Battle of Arras on the 28 March, 1918. He was stretcher bearing at the time. He was 34 years old. 2/7 battalion was in action around Rossigny Wood, just East of the village of Hebuterne, SSW of Arras. He fell close to the village of Bucquoy.

Family story

John Douglas Kriens was my grandfather. He was born in London in 1886, the illegitimate son of Henrietta Kriens. He was adopted at an early age by the Wright family who at that time were living in Newton, near Ledston. He did not know anything of his background until he was 21. The news made him so unhappy that he contemplated suicide.

He attended local schools with his adoptive brothers, Sidney and Henry Wright and sisters, Kate and Bertha Wright.

By the time he was 17, the family had moved to Fryston, and John was employed as a pony driver at the local colliery. He continued to work at the colliery, becoming a coal miner and was one of the first men to use a mechanical cutter.

His adoptive mother, Mrs Wright saw a good deal of trouble over the years. Mr Wright was killed down the pit several years before the war, so she was widowed quite early. Then she remarried Theophilus Smith. He too was killed in the pit, during a fire at Fryston Colliery. Then John Douglas and Sidney were killed in the Great War.

In 1907 John married a local girl, Hannah Lease. They lived at 15 North Street, Fryston. The couple had four children: Alice, Evangeline, born about 1908, John Douglas, born 1911 and Amos. Alice and Amos both died in infancy.

At home, John was very fond of reading and had a bookcase full of books and other reading material. When settled down for a reading session he would more than likely have a bag of liquorice allsorts ready for his consumption and woe betide anyone who disturbed him. He had a raging temper and when he calmed down after one of his rages would describe it as being taken over by ‘blue devils’.

After my grandfather’s death, his widow remarried fairly swiftly and became Mrs Astbury

If my grandfather had survived our lives would have been very different. The family set-up would have been different because his son, my father, did not have a very good relationship with his step father.

Story submitted by Alan Kriens

Contact us

We Will Remember Them Project

Wakefield Library,
PO Box 700,
Burton Street,
Wakefield,
WF1 2EB

01924 302 210