Private 260065 Henry James

Killed in Action on Friday, 30th November 1917, age 19.
Commemorated on Panel 9 of Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Nord, France.

2nd/6th Bn., North Staffordshire Regiment. 176th Brigade of 59th Division.
Formerly 203769 Lincolnshire Regiment.

Born: Great Bridge, 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 Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1754249/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Henry James registered June quarter 1898 in Dudley.

1901 Census
8 Court 8 House New Road, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs. (3 rooms)
Henry James (28, Foundry Labourer, born West Bromwich), his wife Ellen (29, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Sarah J (6, born Tipton), Mary (5, born Tipton), Henry (3, born Tipton), and John (5 months, born Tipton).
Also Hannah Melia (67, Boarder - actually Mother-in-Law, born Ireland) and her daughter Catherine Melia (31, born Tipton) and son Martin Melia (25 Brickyard Labourer, born Tipton).

1911 Census
8 Court 8 House New Road, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs. (3 rooms)
Henry James (38, Iron Foundry Labourer, born West Bromwich), his wife Ellen (39, born Tipton), and their 6 children: Sarah Jane (16, born Tipton), Mary (15, born Tipton), Henry (12, born Tipton), John (10, born Tipton), Nellie (6, born Tipton), and Thomas (2, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Before the war Henry James was living at New Road, Great Bridge. He worked at Wellington Tubes, and a family story says that the foreman didn't like him and wouldn't sign his exemption certificate, hence he had to join the Army.

After Henry's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £6/6/6d (6 pounds, 6 shillings and 6 pence); this was paid to his father, Henry, in November 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Henry had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

After the initial success on the opening day of the Battle of Cambrai, the breakthrough to Cambrai was elusive. Bourlon Wood, dominating the northern end of the battlefield, was eventually captured but was under constant bombardment giving massive casualties.

The 2/6th North Staffs operated alongside the 2/6th South Staffs, so the following summary of the 2/6th South Staffs is also relevant for them.

On 28th November the 2/6th South Staffs moved into Bourlon Wood and came under heavy bombardment, with large amounts of phosgene gas. Bourlon Wood was abandoned on the 3rd December, as it was impossible to hold against German shelling.

War Diary of 2nd/6th South Staffs.
29th November 1917, Bourlon Wood.
Enemy heavily bombarded Bourlon Wood with High Explosive and Gas shells and attacked front line positions on the 2/6th North Staffs regiment front, to which we were in support. 'A' Company advanced through the wood under heavy fire and reinforced the front line in answer to the S.O.S signal. The Company sustained several gas casualties.

30th November 1917, Bourlon Wood.
The battalion was heavily bombarded by Gas and High Explosive shells. During these two days the battalion suffered heavy causalities from gas, the whole of 'A', 'C' & 'D' Companies becoming casualties.

39 men of the 2/6th North Staffs were killed on the 30th November, and a further 16 men died over the next 2 weeks, mostly due to the effects of gas in Bourlon Wood. Henry was killed in action on 30th November. Like most of his comrades killed on this day, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval.

Newspaper Cuttings