Private 10590 James Neale

Neale James 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Friday, 12th October 1917, age unknown.
Buried in Grave X. E. 46. at Cement House Cemetery, Langemark-Poelkapelle, West-V., Belgium.

8th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 51st Brigade of 17th Division.

Born: Dudley Port, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Wednesbury.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: 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/97955/

Genealogical Data

Probably this family, but not 100% certain.
1901 Census
21 High Street, Moxley, Staffs.
William Neale (46, Labourer, born Worcs), his wife Sarah (44, born Tipton), and their 6 children: Roland (20, Galvaniser, born Tipton), Emily (13, born Pontypool), Stanley (11, born Wednesfield), James (8, born Tipton), Lily (4, born Tipton), and Dorothy (3 months, born Bilston).

1911 Census
5 Foundry Street, Moxley, Staffs.
William Neale (56, Labourer, born Worcs), his wife Sarah (54, born Tipton), and 2 of their 8 surviving children of 9: Stanley (21, Galvaniser, born Wednesfield), and James (19, Shingler, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After James's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/3/5d (5 pounds, 3 shillings and 5 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Sarah, in December 1918. His War Gratuity was £14/0/0d (14 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted in January 1915.

Action resulting in his death

The third Battle of Ypres started on the 31st July 1917, the first few weeks brought some success particularly in the north part of the salient. Numerous subsidiary actions in August, particularly around the Menin Road in late August, led to heavy casualties and to General Plumer being given control of the offensive from General Gough. Plumer developed Allied tactics towards 'bite and hold', with more limited geographical objectives capable of resisting the inevitable German counter-attack.

Success was achieved in September with the Battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood, and Broodseinde on 4th October, by 9th October rain returned for the Battle of Poelcapelle. This brought heavy casualties for both sides with some gain in the north around Langemarck, but all the gains near Passchendaele being lost to German counter-attack.

The rain continued but Haig wanted to capture Passchendaele before winter, and the first Battle of Passchendaele was set for 12th October. The attack on Passchendaele village was a total failure. The mud dramatically reduced the impact of the bombardment, shells either failed to explode at all or had the force of the explosion absorbed by the mud. Forward patrols reached Passchendaele village, but were not strong enough to hold the village and were soon forced to retreat to their starting point. At the end of the day, all of the attacking units had been forced to pull back almost to their original position.

The 8th South Staffs were at the northern end of the attack on 12th October, with a frontage of almost a mile astride the Ypres-Staden railway line to the north-east of Langemarck, centred on Namur Crossing. The attack commenced at 5.25am with many junior officers immediately killed by machine gun fire. Almost leaderless the battalion still took their objectives by 11am and consolidated their gains, no German counter-attack materialised.

The War Diary records,
"12 October 1917 - "A" Company lost all its officer before reaching the first objective; "C" Company had one officer left; "B" and "D" Companies had 2 or 3 officers left. Yet the enemy retreated and "B" Company reached its final objective, Turenne Crossing.
6.37pm, the battalion then consolidated on Turenne Crossing-Angle Point Road that was little more than an irregular line of shell holes and posts. By 6.45pm casualties were more than 200 other ranks while only 3 officers remained. The battalion was relieved at 4.45am on 14 October."

The battalion had 18 Officers and 340 Other Ranks killed, wounded or missing, of whom 5 Officers and 108 Other Ranks were killed. Most have no known grave and are commemorated at Tyne Cot, but James Neale is buried in Cement House Cemetery, at Poelcapelle.

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