Private 20425 James Henry Drew

Killed in Action on Friday, 14th July 1916, age 21.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 7 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

'C' Company of 1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 22nd Brigade of 7th Division.
Formerly 26557 Royal Scots.

Son of John Drew; husband of Lilian Ellen Cooper (formerly Drew), of 4 Church St., Gloucester.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: West Bromwich.

First landed France & Flanders, 20th December 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. Peter's, Greets Green Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/754978/

Genealogical Data

Birth of James Henry Drew registered December quarter 1895 in West Bromwich.

1901 Census
25 Farley Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
John Drew (46, Brickyard Labourer, born West Bromwich), his wife Ann M. (45, born West Bromwich), and their 8 children: Mary A. (24, born West Bromwich), Enoch (20, Foundry Labourer, born West Bromwich), Ann M. (17, born West Bromwich), William (15, Glassworks Labourer, born West Bromwich), Rebecca (13, born West Bromwich), James H. (6, born West Bromwich), Joseph H. (4, born West Bromwich), and Baby (3 weeks, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
25 Farley Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
John Drew (56, Labourer in Iron Foundry, born West Bromwich), his wife Ann Maria (55, born West Bromwich), and 6 of their 9 surviving children of 13: Ann Maria (27, Washwoman, born West Bromwich), William (25, Iron Moulder, born West Bromwich), Rebecca (23, Domestic Servant, born West Bromwich), James Henry (16, Tag Heater, born West Bromwich), Joseph Herbert (14, Art & Craft Student, born West Bromwich), and Edward (10, School, born West Bromwich).

Marriage of James Drew and Lilian E. Gough registered December quarter 1914 in West Bromwich.

Personal Data

James Henry is the brother of William Drew who was also killed whilst serving in the army. There is no real sign of James ever having lived in Tipton. He is recorded on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' as being born in Tipton, but even in 1891 the family was living at Farley Street which is just over the border in Greets Green, West Bromwich.

After James's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £1/17/5d (1 pound, 17 shillings and5 pence); this was paid to his widow, Lilian E., in September 1917. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Lilian, in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted in the 12 months prior to his death.

James's widow, Lilian, received a Widow's Pension of 13/9d (13 shillings and 9 pence) per week from 16th August 1917.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Bazentin lasted from 14th-17th July 1916, and included the capture of Longueval, Trones Wood and Ovillers.

From The History of the South Staffordshire regiment by Colonel W. Vale
"On July 14th the 1st South Staffords dug in under heavy shellfire in a valley behind the British front line and that afternoon the 91st brigade had orders to attack High Wood. It moved up to the assembly area through persistent shelling, led by two Companies of the Battalion on the left, with the Queen's on their right. A mile across the fields lay the dark mass of the wood, hitherto undamaged, but almost as soon as the attack commenced, forward enemy troops were encountered in hollows and shell-holes and quickly killed or captured.

Accurate automatic fire from its left slowed down the Battalion and caused some loss, but the two units forced their way into the dense forest, darkness added to their difficulties. By midnight the Queen's had established themselves on the eastern edge of the wood and had dug in; the Staffords were however again held up, this time by a strong redoubt in the north-west corner and gallant efforts made by two platoons could not dislodge the enemy. During the early morning of the 15th, fierce counter-attacks forced back the Companies on the left before they could consolidate and the Queen's had to conform, so that by dawn the northern and western parts of the wood were firmly held by the Germans."

34 men of the 1st South Staffs were killed on the day, including 2 Tipton men - James Drew and Joseph Jones. Neither man has a known grave, and both are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

It would seem that James's body was never found as enquiries were made by the Red Cross. Pte John Mason (9306, 'C' Company, 1st South Staffs) was a Prisoner of War at Munster when he made the following statement: "Last time I heard, was wounded on July 14 1916". This was communicated to his mother, Mrs A.M. Drew of 25 Farley Street, Greets Green, West Bromwich.

Newspaper Cuttings