James served with the Sixth battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI), part of the Territorial Force (TF), and not the Regular Army which has long been disbanded. 120,000 to 132,000 served during WWI with estimated battle and non-battle casualties being between 54,000 and 70,000 men, and 4,726 becoming prisoners of war. The battalion earned the unenviable distinction of having more men sentenced to death by field general courts martial during the war than any other infantry regiment in the British Army.
James is recorded as ‘killed in action’ on 14 July 1916 at Flanders, France; James was thirty-one. This would have been during the TF’s engagements at the Battle of the Somme. By this time the British Army had given up on attacks seeking a general breakthrough. Instead they set smaller objectives.
From 14 to 17 July the DLI was involved near Longueval with other units from all over the UK. They were ordered to take the Bazentin-le-Petit Ridge and High Wood (Bois des Fourcaux). Before the engagement one French commander scoffed that this action was ‘an attack organized for amateurs by amateurs’; yet it succeeded. This was the classic dawn attack made behind a creeping barrage of artillery. British losses in July on the Somme were 158,786, the French lost 49,859 and the Germans 103,000.
James’s sole beneficiary was Elizabeth Lamb who received £3 7s in 1917 and a further £8 10s in 1920. I could find no record of their having married or of there being any issue.
|ASIDE: A Private Frederick Denton is listed in the Durham Light Infantry |
Book of Remembrance (1939-1945) as dying on 11th July 1944, aged 28.
[#3716743 8 Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (50th Northumbrian Division)]
This was in the subsequent fighting near Rauray a few kms west of Caen, France,
his headstone is at Hottot-les-Bagues War Cemetery.
One force travelled from the D-Day beaches in June 1944
to the final defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945 – this was the 9th Battalion DLI (pictured below).
|Note on shorthand acronyms being used in the DFB:|
– GGF1 / GGM1 – means first great-grandfather /mother;
– GU11 / GA11 – means eleventh great-uncle / great-aunt;
– 1C3 – means first cousin three times removed