Private 16595 James Callaghan

Callaghan James 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Friday, 5th November 1915, age 17.
Commemorated on Panel 73 to 76 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 22nd Brigade of 7th Division.

Son of Mr Owen and Mrs Hannah O'Callaghan, of 15, Chapel St., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 1st June 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, 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/1765922/

Genealogical Data

Birth of James Callaghan registered September quarter 1898 at Dudley.

1901 Census
9 Waterloo Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Owen Callaghan (29, Coal Miner, born Tipton), his wife Hannah (28, born Coseley), and their 5 children: Minah (8, School, born Tipton), Alfred (7, School, born Tipton), Owen (5, School, born Tipton), James (3, born Tipton), and Wilfred (5 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
62 Sedgley Road, Woodsetton, near Dudley. (3 rooms)
Owen Callaghan (40, Miner, born Princes End), his wife Hannah (40, born Coseley), and 7 of their 8 surviving children of 9: Alfred (16, Horse Driver, born Princes End), Owen (15, Colliery Banksman, born Princes End), James (13, School, born Princes End), Wilfred (10, School, born Tipton), Elsie (8, School, born Tipton), William (4, born Tipton), and Bernard (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

James Callaghan's name is recorded in a number of ways, in all civilian documents it is correctly recorded as James Callaghan. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records him as James O'Callghan, while the Medal Index Card and Medal Roll record his surname as Gallaghan. In the military records, only the Soldier's Effects correctly records his name as James Callaghan.

After James's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/10/8d (2 pounds,10 shillings and 8 pence); this was paid to his father, Owen, in February 1916. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in August 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted within the 12 months prior to his death.

Action resulting in his death

Looking purely at military records it would appear that James died whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire regiment (1/SS) on 5th November 1915. However, the Tipton Herald of January 8th 1916 said that after the Battle of Loos (September 1915) James transferred to the Royal Engineers. Given that his pre-war occupation was miner, this would likely have been to one of the Tunnelling Companies. There is no mention in the 1/SS War Diary of any such transfers.

“Soldiers Died in the Great War” records that James was killed in action, whereas his Medal Index and Medal Roll records “Died”. The latter generally refers to a death due to sickness or accident, rather than due to military action.

If James was serving with the Royal Engineers, then there is nothing which records which of the Tunnelling Companies he belonged to. Both 176th and 180th Tunnelling Companies have men recorded on the Loos Memorial in November 1915.

If James had been serving with 1/SS, then they returned to the trenches at Windy Corner near Cuincy on 3rd November 1915. This is just north of the La Bassée canal, and about 4 miles east of Bethune, it is at the northern end of the Loos battlefield. For this period, the War Diary has little of note other than the surrender of a number of Germans before the 1/SS were relieved on the 5th November and marched to billets at Essars. This was a quiet time for 1/SS, as there were no November casualties before 21st November excepting James Callaghan.

James has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial which forms the 2 sides and back of the Dud Corner Cemetery at Loos-en-Gohelle.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald January 8th 1916
Official intimation has come to hand that Private James Callaghan of Wades Passage, Tipton Green, was killed in action in France on November 5th. The deceased soldier, who was only seventeen years of age, joined the 1st South Staffords nearly twelve months ago, but after the battle of Loos he was transferred to the Royal Engineers. Callaghan was a miner until he enlisted, and worked for Messrs. William Elwell, Dudley. His father is also a miner.