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James Peak was 29 years old when he enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 4th September 1914. James was miner from Darwen and had no previous military service. He declared on his attestation papers that he had previously served a term of imprisonment for drunkenness.

James said he was single, however it was later revealed that he had a wife and three children. They had separated by the time of his attestation. His children were Stanley (b.1906), May Charlotte (b. 1907) and Winifred (b. 1909).

On the 14th September 1914, James was posted into the 10th (Service) Battalion and quickly impressed his senior ranks, this is evident by a promotion to Lance Corporal on 12th October.

Whilst preparing to sail for France, the Brigade were training at Windmill Hill, Salisbury Plain. James received a severe reprimand for neglect of duty whilst orderly Corporal.

Just prior to their deployment to France, his wife Charlotte was trying to catch up with her ‘missing’ husband. It would appear that James did not want to be found, and his mother was helping hide.

James and the 10th Battalion sailed for Boulogne on 31st August 1915.

James was killed on 21st September 1915;

…at 0700hrs, three enemy shells landed on trench 63, two
men were wounded, one of whom later died.

James service record further reveals that he had sustained wounds to his head and chest.

PEAK, JAMES
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 13426
Date of Death: 21/09/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.
Grave Reference: I. A. 2./ HUMBERCAMPS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

At the time of his death, James had served a total of one year, eighteen days in the Army.

His personal effects were recorded and send to his next of kin.

  • 1 x bag
  • 1 x identity disc
  • 1 x pipe
  • 1 x cigarette case
  • 4 x books
  • 2 x postcards
  • 1 x photo
  • 2 x letters
  • 1 x ring (broken)
  • 1 prayer roseary
  • 3 x religious medals
  • 1 x purse

 

A further statement regarding the relationship between James and Charlotte is made by James’ former Officer Commanding, Captain Henry Frederick King in October 1915.

Transcript

This mans wife left him and went away with another man and has not lived with him, or received any support from him for about 3 years.

James medals were later received and signed for by his wife Charlotte Elliot. Charlotte was by this time living in North Yorkshire.

It was quite a battle for Charlotte to receive money for their three children after his death. The main crux of the argument was whilst they were seperated, did James contribute to the childrens upbringing – as such was the Army now obliged to keep up the payments.  There were dozens of letters sent back and forth between Charlotte and the Army, the police were even involved and interviewed local residents to discover the truth.

On 15th May 1916 Charlotte was finally awarded a weekly pension of 10 shillings and sixpence for their three children. Here is a just one of many letters that she had sent.

Transcript

Dear Sir,

I am taking the liberty of asking you if you do not think it time I had some pay for me and my 3 children as I am living on my old parents and both are 68 years old. I have had my Brother killed and Husband in 6 weeks and there is nothing coming in only a few shilling that my father earns and my brothers bit of pay. If I do not get something soon I shall have to take my children off to the workhouse as there is nothing else for it.

I am yours,

Charotte Peak

 

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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
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7 Responses to 13426 LCPL. J. PEAK. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Julie Mattson says:

    Thanks so much for this post. James Peak/Peake was my great uncle, his brother Timothy was my grandfather. I have been researching the family tree for sometime now. My mother knew that three of her uncles, James, Thomas & Robert died during WW1, & I have been able to find out a few more details of their lives. James had been a bit of a mystery until I came across this post. My mother & her brother are both in their 80’s & still living in the Blackburn Lancashire area. Is there any way I can get copies of the correspondence mentioned above? Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hi Julie,

      I’m glad you found this useful in filling in some blanks for your family tree.

      All of this information was found on ancestry.co.uk – in James Peaks’ military service papers. Do you have a subscription to ancestry? If so I can send you the link, if you can’t locate them on there. Or, I can copy a few and send them by email if not.

      The information about his death came from the War Diary, I am transcribing that day-by-day so might be worth a read to get an idea of what the Battalion were doing at the time.

      All the best,

  2. Julie Mattson says:

    Thanks for the information. Yes I do subscribe to Ancestry .com here in the USA. I thought I had the same access to military records as I have already found my Grandfathers. But I am unable to find James. All I can find is the record of his death but not any military service papers.

    • admin says:

      Hi,

      Try this link >> here, << hopefully it should work. Regards,

    • Julie Mattson says:

      On a second & third look I found the military papers. My problem was that Great Uncle James seams to have lied about his age on his enlistment (quite the fibber!). He was born in 1879, which made him 36 at the time of death. I am certain I have the right James Peak as the details of his mother name and address on Bowen St are correct. Thanks again for all your work.

      • admin says:

        Your welcome, it was not uncommon for soldiers to lie on their attestation papers for one reason or another. It may have been part of his coverstory incase Charlotte did indeed try to catch up with him. I guess we will never know!

        If there is anything else Loyal North Lancashire related you need, let me know.

        Thanks for your interest,

  3. My maiden name was Peake and I am the granddaughter of 13426 L/Cpl James Peak(e); my father. Stanley James, was the son of James Peak. Stanley made himself a very happy family life with a wife and 5 children. His sister, May, also had a very happy family life with her husband and 2 children. Sadly,in a fit of depression, their sister, Winifred threw herself in to the River Don and drowned, aged 16. By this time, Charlotte had married Thomas Elliot. Thankyou for publishing this research, Paul.

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