Private 17045 James Gerrity

 Gerrity James 96 349x600Gerrity James 96 450x600

Died of Wounds on Monday, 3rd July 1916, age 38.
Buried in Grave I. B. 1. at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

2nd Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment. 25th Brigade of 8th Division.
Formerly 16791 North Staffordshire Regiment.

Unmarried husband of Mrs Susannah Pugh, of 6, Croft Street, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Stoke-on-Trent, Resident: Smallthorne, Stoke.

First landed France & Flanders, 4th May 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton 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/74374/

Genealogical Data

Birth of James GARRATTY registered June quarter 1878 in Dudley.

1881 Census
Court 1 House 1, Walker Street, Tipton, Staffs.
James GARRATTY (29, Puddler, born Tipton), his wife Catherine (27, born Darlaston), and their 4 children: Mary (6, Scholar, born Tipton), Sarah (5, Scholar, born Tipton), James (3, born Tipton), and Thomas (1, born Tipton).

1891 Census
13 Sidney Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
James GERRITY (38, Puddler, born Tipton), his wife Catherine (36, born Darlaston), and their 8 children: Mary (16, Potter's Transferer, born Tipton), Sarah (14, Potter's Transferer, born Tipton), James (12, born Tipton), Thomas (11, Scholar, born Tipton), John (8, Scholar, born Hanley), Edward (7, Scholar, born Hanley), Annie (5, born Hanley) and Francis T. (1, born Hanley).

1901 Census
21 Sandon Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
James GERRITY (48, Puddler, born Wednesbury), his wife Catherine (46, born Wednesbury), and their 8 children: Mary (26, Potter's Transferer, born Tipton), Sarah (24, Potter's Transferer, born Tipton), James (22, Puddler, born Tipton), Edward (17, Puddler, born Hanley), Annie (15, born Hanley), Frank (11, born Hanley), William (9, born Hanley), George (7, born Hanley) and Joseph (5, born Hanley).

1911 Census
1 Davenport Square, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
James GERRITY (34, Iron Worker, born West Bromwich), his wife Susannah (40, born Hanley), and their 1 surviving child of 2: Annie Gerrity (3, born Hanley). Also Brother-in-Law Harry Smith (34, Boarder, Potter Placer, born Hanley).
James and Susannah never married. Susannah Smith married William Pugh in 1896, they were living together at the time of the 1901 Census, but by the time of Annie's birth in 1907 Joseph and Susannah were living as man and wife.

Personal Data

James' birth registration and the 1881 Census spell his surname as GARRATTY, his Army Records spell his surname as GARRITY. These are all wrong as James' surname was GERRITY. The Commonwealth War Graves originally had the spelling as GARRITY but have accepted the spelling to be GERRITY and have kindly changed their records.

The Gerritys were a large family of 11 children - 8 boys and 3 girls. The father, James senior, was born in Tipton but his parents were from Cong, County Mayo, Ireland. The family had moved from Tipton to Hanley around 1882. The Staffordshire Sentinel of 1st April 1915 reports that all 8 brothers (James, Thomas, John, Edward, William, Joseph, George and Francis) had tried to enlist, and 7 had been accepted, the exception being the youngest, Francis, who was refused on the grounds of ill health.

The war was a cruel time for James senior as four of his sons were to lose their lives. Thomas died from fever in Gallipoli on 10th August 1915, James died of wounds on 3rd July 1916, and Edward and Joseph were both killed in action in Mesopotamia on 25th January 1917 and 25th February 1917 respectively. Then in July 1918, the Staffordshire Sentinel reported that 2nd Lieutenant William B. Gerrity was missing in action, and the fifth Gerrity casualty. In the one good piece of news that James senior was to receive during the war, the Sentinel of 9th August reported that William was alive and a Prisoner of War at Rastatt, Germany. He had been taken Prisoner of War at Montigny in France on 28th May 1918 - he was one of over 200 Hanley Prisoners of War repatriated in January 1919.

After James' death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £7/8/9d (7 pounds, 8 shillings and 9 pence); this was paid to his unmarried wife, Mrs Susannah Pugh, in October 1916. His War Gratuity was £5/10/0d (5 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to Mrs Susannah Pugh in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted in approximately March 1915.

Mrs Susannah Pugh was granted a Dependent's Pension of 15/0d (15 shillings) per week for herself and as 'guardian' of their daughter Annie, effective from 5th June 1917. Susannah was described as 'unmarried wife' and living at 50 Denbigh Street, Boothen, Hanley.

Action resulting in his death

The 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment (2/Lincolns) took part in the attack on 1st July 1916 by 8th Division on the Ovillers Spur, a formidable German defensive position north of the Albert to Bapaume road concentrated around the village of Ovillers. The village, standing on a low ridge 3 miles north-east of Albert, had been turned into a fortress of barbed wire defended by interlocking machine guns.

The 2/Lincolns had to move in the open westwards towards the German trenches which were approximately 400 yards from the 2/Lincolns front line. 400 yards behind the 2/Lincolns stood the remnants of Authuille Wood.

The battalion war diary records that between 7.30 am and 7:50 am they succeeded in taking a 200-yard stretch of the German front line. This was despite intense machine gun and rifle fire which made any attack on the German second line impossible. Their flanks were also open to attack, particularly by grenades, from the Germans still holding trenches on either side. They were forced to withdraw from the gains they had made by 9.00 am.

The 2/Lincolns had started the day with 22 Officers and 650 Other Ranks. The War Diary records total casualties (killed, wounded or missing) of 443 men. Today, the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission show that the 2/Lincolns had 8 Officers and 130 Other Ranks killed on 1st July, with a further 10 men dying from their wounds on the next 2 days.

James Gerrity was almost certainly wounded on 1st July and died from his wounds two days later. He is buried in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension with three other men of his battalion.

For anyone wanting a fuller explanation of the day, the War Diary tells the story:
June 30 1916
Moved to assembly trenches,
‘W’ Company: 3 platoons front line, 1 platoon Pendlehill Street
‘X’ Company: 3 platoons front line, 1 platoon Longbridge Street,
‘Y’ Company: 3 platoons front line, 1 platoon Longbridge Street,
‘Z’ Company: 2 platoons Pendlehill Street, 2 platoons Longbridge Street.
Battalion HQ: Waltney Tunnel.

July 1 1916
In Trenches opposite Ovillers.
Everybody was in their position by 3.30 a.m. and the wire along the whole of our front reported cut by 2.30 a.m.

6.25 a.m. The intensive bombardment commenced to which the enemy retaliated on our front line and assembly trenches with high explosive shrapnel.

7.25 a.m. Companies started to move forward from their assembly positions preparatory to the assault. The three assaulting companies getting their first two waves out into No Man's Land and their 3rd and 4th waves out at Zero hour. These arrangements were carried out most excellently, no hitch occurring but casualties were fairly heavy from machine gun fire. The support company got into our front-line trench but suffered a lot of casualties from shell fire.

7.30 a.m. As soon as the barrage lifted the whole assaulted. They were met with very severe rifle fire and in most cases had to advance in rushes and return the fire. This fire seemed to come from the German second line, and the machine gun fire from our left. On reaching the German front line they found it strongly held and were met with showers of bombs. After a very hard fight about 200 yards of German line were taken about 7.50 a.m., the extreme right failing to get in and also the extreme left where there appeared to be a gap of about 70 yards. Our support company by this time joined in. The few officers left gallantly led their men over the German trench to attack the second line but owing to the rifle and machine gun fire could not push on. Attempts were made to consolidate and make blocks but the trench was so badly knocked about that very little cover was available. The enemy made one frontal attack from their 2nd line which we repulsed.

9 a.m. This isolated position became untenable, no supports being able to reach us owing to the intense rifle and machine gun fire. Our left being driven back, the remainder which by now only held about 100 yards had to withdraw. On reaching our own line all the men that could be collected were formed up and tried to push on again but the heavy machine gun and rifle fire made the ground quite impassable.

1 p.m. Orders were received from the Brigade to withdraw to Ribble and Melling Street and occupy the assembly dug outs there which was done.

12 midnight We were relieved by the 6th West Kents and proceeded to Long Valley.

Newspaper Cuttings

Staffordshire Sentinel 1st April 1915
Hanley Family’s Remarkable Record
Mr. Francis P. Gerrity, 32 Newcastle Road, Shelton, sends us an interesting photographic group of his father and seven brothers, who are all serving with the North Staffordshire Regiment. Mr. Francis P. Gerrity says: “I might mention that I am the eighth brother of this Irish Catholic family, and my services as a recruit have been refused, on the grounds of ill-health.” The photographic group is composed as follows:
- Lance-Corporal Joseph H. Gerrity; Private George H. Gerrity.
- Private Edward Gerrity; James Gerrity senior; Company Sergeant-Major William B. Gerrity.
- Private John Gerrity; Private James Gerrity; Private Thomas Gerrity.
NOTE: The photograph described was not printed in the Sentinel.

Staffordshire Sentinel 28th July 1916
Died of Wounds.
Pte. James Gerrity, Lincoln Regiment, husband of Mrs. Gerrity of 6, Croft Street, Smallthorne. Prior to his enlistment, Pte. Gerrity was employed by Messrs. Robert Heath and Sons. His six brothers also joined the Army. Pte. Thomas Gerrity, North Staffordshire Regiment, died at the Dardanelles last year. Pte. G. H. Gerrity is recovering from the effects of gas poisoning, while another brother, Corpl. Joseph H. Gerrity, has been wounded and is in hospital. They are all sons of Mr. James Gerrity, of 36 Newcastle Road, Shelton. The other three brothers are on active service.