Photograph courtesy of James's grand-daughter, Jackie Arnold, taken during a family visit to Tyne Cot in 2018.
Killed in Action on Thursday, 4th October 1917, age 28.
Commemorated on Panel 90 to 92 and 162 to 162A of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
7th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 33rd Brigade of 11th Division.
Formerly 24084 1st South Staffordshire Regiment.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.
First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.
Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Matthew's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.
Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/846842/
Birth of James William Baker registered June quarter 1889 at Dudley.
7 Court 3 House, Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
William Baker (45, Disabled from Work, born Tipton), his wife Lucy (45, born Tipton), and their 5 children: Daniel (19, Blast Furnace Labourer, born Tipton), Dennis (14, Coal Miner - Door Minder, born Tipton), James (11, born Tipton), Harry (9, born Tipton), and Lucy (7, born Tipton).
8 Court 3 House, Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Lucy Baker (54, Widow, born Tipton), and 3 of her surviving 5 children of 9: Denis (24, Coal Miner, born Tipton), James W. (22, Horse Driver, above ground at Colliery, born Tipton), and Lucy 17, born Tipton).
Marriage of James Baker and Annie Langford registered September quarter 1912 at Dudley. James and Annie had 3 children: James William Langford born 19th November 1910, Elizabeth Baker born 15th January 1913, and Annie Baker born 29th July 1915.
James is incorrectly commemorated as W J Baker on the St Matthew's Memorial.
After James's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/4/5d (2 pounds, 4 shillings and5 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Annie, in May 1918. His War Gratuity was £6/0/0d (6 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Annie in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted in May 1916.
James's widow, Annie, received a Grant of £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly) paid on 5th November 1917. She was awarded a Widow's Pension of £1/6/3d (1 pound, 6 shillings and 3 pence) per week, effective from 29th April 1918; this was for herself and her 3 children: James, Elizabeth and Annie. Her address at this time was 2 Hall Street, Tipton.
James was posted to the 7th Battalion, South Staffs. On 4th October 1917 the 7th South Staffs attacked at Poelcapelle as part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. The attack was moderately successful, but the 7th South Staffs were not allowed to follow-up their success. 42 men of the 7th South Staffs are recorded as being killed in action on the 4th October. James, like most of these men, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
The Battle of Poelcappelle. From "The History of the 7th South Staffs Regiment"
During the night the forming-up tapes were put out, always a trickish job. By 4.40am the battalion was formed up for the attack. Zero hour was timed for 6am precisely, and so we had an hour and 20 minutes to wait on a typical autumn morning in Belgium; a thin drizzlig rain and a cold breeze. As was expected, the enemy put down his accustomed protective barrage just before dawn, but we suffered no losses on the forming-up tapes.
Our barrage opened at 6am precisely, and we were glad to be up and doing after the long, cold, anxious wait. The enemy was resisting by distributing his forces to a great depth; his forward area was mainly defended by small nests in consolidated shell-holes generally supported by one or more machine-guns or else by larger and stronger posts centring round a concrete pill-box defended by machine-gunners.
The first and second objectives were reported captured at 8.55am; casualties had not been severe, and were all due to machine-gun and rifle fire. Further casualties were suffered from snipers and it was hard on our men that they could not go on and exploit their success. At 6.45pm the enemy was seen advancing, but it was a very half-hearted attempt.
Birmingham Daily Post 2nd October 1916
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
South Staffordshire Regiment- Baker, 24084, J.W., (Tipton).