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James Higham enlisted in the King’s Liverpool Regiment and has a service number from that regiment, but was attached to 8th Bn. L.N.LAN.R. at the time of his death.

James Higham was born in Leyland on 16 June 1897. His parents were Ralph Higham (b. 1866 in Leyland) and Alice Holden (b. 1863 in Croston). Ralph and Alice had 13 children, 10 of whom survived infancy. James had 7 sisters and 2 brothers. Ralph was only 16 when he and Alice were married (she was 3 years older than him). He had a number of jobs in the Leyland area, from tenter in a cotton mill, to hosepipe weaver, to general labourer and engineer in 1911, when the family was living at 10 Hough Lane, Leyland. At that time, James was working as a cut hooker in Reade and Halls Fancy Coloured Cloth Mill.

James originally enlisted with 13Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment and landed in France on 29 December 1915. At the start of the War, both 13/K.L.R. and 8/L.N.LAN.R. were part of 25 Division but there were reorganisations in both October 1915 and April 1916 which could have been the occasion when James was attached to 8/L.N.LAN.R. but the regimental history also informs us that in mid-July 1916, after the capture of Ovillers, 25th Division was withdrawn to the neighbourhood of Authuille where:

… two drafts joined the battalion (8/L.N.LAN.R.) the one of 60, the other of 90 men, mostly of other regiments. At the end of July … two more drafts arrived of 138 and 214 other ranks respectively.

In early August, the Division was holding a sector of the line from the River Ancre northwards but took no further part in the offensive operations that month (during the continuing Battle of the Somme). However, on the 24th two companies of the Battalion took part with two battalions of the Brigade in an attack on the main Hindenburg trench; but when on the 26th the 7th Brigade was relieved the Battalion remained up in the line, in the words of the War Diary, having been:

… placed at the disposal of the 75th Brigade in order to attack a small pocket of Germans who were still holding on to a small portion of the Hindenburg trench on our left. The belief that the remnants of the enemey’s garrison was demoralized through want of food and water and therefore likely to surrender was unfounded. An attack by ‘D’ Company, 8/L.N.LAN.R. under Capt. Cash with Lt. May and Lt. Copeman was made at 6pm. The information as to the condition of the garrison of this strong post, called the Wunderwerk, turned out to be incorrect, and the enemy was very much more numerous and better prepared for resistance than had been expected. The first wave succeeded in entering the enemy’s position, but though reinforced by a second and third wave the North Lancashire were unable to maintain themselves and were forced to retire to their original line, Capt. Cash and Lt. May being killed.

James Higham was killed in this action on 26 August 1916. He was 19 years old. Hs body was never recovered. His effects of £1 12s 11d and a War Gratuity of £9 were paid to his mother.
James’s father Ralph also served during the War. At the age of 46, he enlisted in the Royal Engineers in Whitehall, London on 17 September 1915 and served as a Pioneer (Labour Battalion) with service no. 120239. He served with the BEF in France from 24 Sep 1915 to 6 Jan 1916 and again from 24 April to 17 May 1916, and was discharged as being no longer medically fit for service on 1 July 1916. Ralph died in Leyland in 1936.

Rank: Private
Service No: 13789
Date of Death: 26/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 13th Bn. attd. 8th Bn. The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 1 D 8 B and 8 C.

Bill Brierley
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