Private 41468 James Reuben Hayes

Killed in Action on Tuesday, 31st July 1917, age 24.
Commemorated on Panel 21 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

2nd Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment. 25th Brigade of 8th Division.
Formerly 35648 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Husband of Mrs Minnie Hayes, of 8 House, 1 Court, Union Street, Tipton, Staffs. Son of Joseph and Eliza Jane Hayes, of 35, Coppice St., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Tipton.

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 Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1613433/

Genealogical Data

Birth of James Reuben Hayes registered June quarter 1892 at Dudley.

1901 Census
29 Hurst Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Hayes (35, Ironworker, born Tipton), his wife Eliza Jane (34, born Tipton), and their 8 children: Sarah A. (13, born Tipton), Joseph (12, born Tipton), Florence (10, born Tipton), James (9, born Tipton), Thomas (6, born Tipton), William (5, born Tipton), Edith (2, born Tipton), and Emma (1, born Tipton).

1911 Census
35 Coppice Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Hayes (46, Ironworker, born Tipton), his wife Eliza (46, born Tipton), and 8 of their 10 surviving children of 13: Joseph (22, Miner, born Tipton), James (18, Moulder, born Tipton), Thomas (14, Dresser, born Tipton), William (13, Labourer, born Tipton), Edith (12, born Tipton), Emma (7, born Tipton), John (3, born Tipton), and Gladys (1, born Tipton).

James Hayes married Minnie Maull in December quarter 1915, and they had a son, James Thomas Hayes, born 28th July 1916. By the time that James' War Gratuity was paid in November 1919, Minnie had re-married and was Mrs Minnie WIlkes. It is likely that she married John T. Wilkes in September quarter 1918, with the marriage registered in Kings Norton.

Personal Data

James' brother, William Hayes, was killed on 30th September 1917 serving with the 11th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment.

After James' death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/6/8d (2 pounds, 6 shillings and 8 pence); this was paid to his widow, Minnie, in February 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds precisely), this was also paid to Minnie in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted within the 12 months prior to his death. The article in the Tipton Herald (see below) reports that James enlisted shortly after New Year 1917.

James's widow, Minnie, was awarded a grant of £5/0/0d paid on 6th December 1917. She was awarded a Widow's Pension of £0/18/9d (18 shillings and 9 pence) per week for herself and her child, this was effective from 15th April 1918. At this stage she was living at 8 House, 1 Court, Union Street, Tipton.

Action resulting in his death

It can be argued that the Third Battle of Ypres began on 7th June 1917 with the stunningly successful capture of the Messines Ridge. This removed the Germans from the high ground and denied them observation over the British back areas and the slopes up to the Passchendaele Ridge – essential for the forthcoming battle.

The Third Battle of Ypres started on 31st July 1917 with the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. General Gough’s Fifth Army attacked on a 7½-mile front from the north of Ypres, around the east, to the south where General Plumer’s Second Army continued the attack. The Battle continued for 3½ months in some of the worst conditions of the war, but for James Hayes it lasted less than a day.

The objective of the 8th Division was the village of Westhoek, just over 3 miles east of Ypres and north of the Menin Road. 8th Division attacked with 23rd and 24th Brigades, with 25th Brigade in support. James Hayes was serving in the 2nd Lincolnshire (2/Lincs) who were in the 25th Brigade.

8th Division began their advance at 3.50am and advanced through Hooge, up the Bellewaarde Ridge, through Chateau Wood to the slope in front of Westhoek. Here 25th Brigade were to take over the attack.

2/Lincs began their move forward at 6.50am. German machine-gun fire caused casualties in Chateau Wood, and then more casualties from shell-fire between the Wood and Westhoek. By 9.00am they had advanced to Jabber Trench near the crest of the Westhoek Ridge which was supposedly in our hands. However, heavy machine-gun fire was coming from Glencorse Wood and other unsuppressed strong-points near Westhoek.

By 9.40am, the Commanding Officer and other senior officers were casualties, and command fell upon 2nd Lieutenant Young. Orders were received to advance, and ther 2/Lincs pushed on to the crest of the Ridge.

Machine-gun fire caused heavy casualties in the forward companies. This was mostly from the right, as a result of lack of progress by the Division on that flank. To make matters worse, our barrage fell beyond the German machine-guns, allowing them to continue causing casualties. No further advance was possible and 2/Lincs began consolidating the reverse slope of the Ridge, with Lewis gun posts pushed forward to the crest. The consolidation line was about two hundred yards west of Westhoek.

The Germans launched counter-attacks at 11.50am, 1.10pm, and again at 2.30pm but these were easily repulsed with considerable casualties to the German troops. No further serious counter-attack was made. Consolidation was completed after darkness had fallen and at 5.00am the following morning 2/Lincs were relieved and moved to Pioneer Camp near Poperinge.

The Battalion War Diary recorded 10 officers and 243 Other Ranks as casualties (that is killed, wounded or missing). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records 4 Officers and 56 Other Ranks of 2/Lincs killed on that day. Of these 60 men, 50 have no known grave and are commemorated on the Menin Gate, this includes James Reuben Hayes.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald September 1st 1917
The death in action has been reported of Private James Reuben Hayes, 24, whose parents reside at 35 Coppice Street, Tipton Green, and whose wife and child live in Court 2, Union Street, Tipton. He is the son of Mr Joseph Hayes, who like his deceased son, was employed at Messrs. Bullers.
Mr and Mrs Hayes have ten children living, and four of their five sons were in the army, the remaining boy going to school. Three of the sons joined the army soon after the outbreak of war. Joseph Hayes (the eldest) is aged 28 and single; James (24) has been killed, Thomas (21) has been for six months in a military hospital at Huntingdon and William (20) is in France (later killed Sept 30th 1917).
The late Private James Hayes had not been in the army much more than six months when he met his death, he joined up early in the New Year.
The Chaplain of the Battalion and the Captain of the deceased's Company have written to the young widow sympathising with her in her great loss.