Born in 1881 at Auckland in Co Durham, John Hayes Ambler was the son of John Cristopher and Emily Brammer. His parents were married at Owlerton in Sheffield in 1879 and John Hayes was their eldest child. John Christopher was born in Ireland in 1885. By 1879 he was working in a drapery shop in Bishop Auckland, where he and Emily returned after the wedding. (John Hyes’second forename is the same as the surname of one of the witnesses to his parents’ marriage.)
When John Hayes was two years old, the family returned to Sheffield where John Christopher established himself as a draper in Hillsborough. This was short-lived as he was declared bankrupt in 1886. Although he did not have the business skills to manage his own drapery shop, he knew much about the trade. The family moved to Nottingham and then Bradford where John Christopher was as draper’s buyer (1891), draper’s traveller (1901) and a clothing club agent in 1911.
Meanwhile John Hayes had followed in his father’s footsteps as a draper’s assistant. He was recorded in Lincoln in the census of 1901, working as an assistant in Bainbridge and Sons and living in accommodation provided by the shop.
By 1907 he was back in Sheffield. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported that he had completed training for the Royal Life Saving Society’s award. Although he was recorded as being at his parents’ home in 1911, he was probably living and working in Sheffield where his mother’s family lived.
Within a month of the declaration of war, John had enlisted at Sheffield joining the 12th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, the Sheffield Pals. He lied about his age because he was too old to sign up but recruiting officers weren’t too worried about verifying a recruit’s age. Like so many, his initial training was on the Redmires moors, before moving on the camp Ripon in 1915.
In September 1915 John married Hilda Evelyn Marsden at Fulwood Church. Hilda was the daughter of Henry Marsden who had grown up on a farm on Crimicar Lane and had trained as a solicitor’s clerk. The family had lived at Crookes before moving to Nethergreen Road and about 1905 to one of the new houses on Silver Birch Aenue.
At the beginning of December, while the Regiment was training on Salisbury Plain, John overstayed his leave by 24 hours for which he was confined to barracks for 7 days. Just before Christmas 1915, the Regiment embarked at Devonport for Egypt, tasked with defending the Suez Canal from the Turks. At the beginning of March 1917, the Regiment was re-deployed to the Somme region. As the Regiment prepared for embarkation to Marseilles, John developed influenzas and spent 3 days in hospital but was discharged on the day the ships sailed.
John Hayes Ambler was reported missing on the 1st July 1916. His body was never found so he is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial and the Fulwood memorial.