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jesse frederick mealand -9th bnJesse Frederick Mealand was born in Birmingham in 1878. His parents, Jesse and Sarah were living at 10 Villiar Street when he was born but later ran The Rose public house on Sherborne Street and this is where the family were residing when the census was taken in 1891. He had two sisters, one older; Alice A Mealand and one younger,Beatrice A Mealand.

On the evening of the 1901 census Jesse Fredk was 23 years old and was resident at the Bull Hotel, Church Street, Welshpool. He had followed his parents into the service industry and worked in the hotel as a billiard marker.

The Bull Hotel, Welshpool

The Bull Hotel, Welshpool

Billiards was an extremely popular game in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth. The game, played in dedicated halls, in pubs, hotels, or just as often in the club houses of other sporting or associated organisations, required someone to keep score of the match and to keep the drinks fresh. (Source).

Jesse married Emily Howells on 5th November 1906 at St. John’s Church in Birmingham and they had 5 children; Elizabeth Beatrice (b. 15th September 1906, Llandyssil), Frances Emily Mealand (b. 31st December 1908, Welshpool), Jesse Frederick (b. 24th November 1910, Preston), Clara May (b. 19th May 1914, Preston) and Edith Mary (b. 29th April 1915, Preston).

When war broke out in Europe in 1914 Jesse was 36 years old and still working as billiard marker. He wasted very little time to enlist and turned up at the recruiting office in Preston on 16th September 1914 where he joined one of the newly raised battalion of Kitchner’s New Armies; the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He had a little experience of military matters having served in the South Wales Borders militia presumably during his time in Wales years earlier and was now living at 8 Park Place, Preston.

At his enlistment medical it was noted that he stood 5ft 2.5in tall, weighed 113lbs and had a 35in chest, fully expanded. The medical officer recorded that Jesse was of a dark complexion with grey eyes and dark brown hair with a scar on his right buttock.

Jesse sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne with the main body of the 9th Battalion (27 Officers and 889 men) on 25th September 1915. Within three weeks they taking their turn in the trenches near Armentieres where they remained for the rest of the year. After some time near Arras in March/April 1916 they moved toward the Somme area, WARLOY, at the end of June in preparation for the ‘Big Push’. The Battalion weren’t involved in the first actions during the Battle and didn’t get back into the trenches until 5th July where they took up position at LA BOISSELLE, north-east of ALBERT. On 7th July 1916 they commenced an attack on the German trenches.

9th Bn. War Diary: 7th July 1916

The Battalion commenced an attack on two successive lines of German trenches, the first objective being X.14.e79- X.14.d.29 and the second objective X.14.a.95-93.B.42. Both these objectives were captured, the second being consolidated. Enemy parties massing for counter attacks were promptly dispersed and bombing parties were sent forward successfully up communications trench. Though casualties were somewhat many, and in spite of heavy and continuous shelling the line was improved and consolidated and held until the Battalion was relieved on 10th July. During the operation the Battalion captured some 200 prisoners of 180th, 110th and 90th Regiments.

Casualties: Officers killed 6, wounded 10. Other ranks killed 70, wounded 235 and missing 24.

Private Jesse Mealand was one of the men initially reported missing.

In October 1916, his mother, Mrs Mealand of 357 Liverpool-road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham posted a notice in the Birmingham Daily Gazette asking for news about her son’s whereabouts which was about the same time that his wife up in Preston was asked by the authorities to prove that Jesse was the biological father to all of her children because she hadn’t ‘the paperwork’. She eventually swore on oath to this which was sufficient to enable separation allowance payments to be made to her.

Emily was finally awarded separation allowance for herself and all the children in March 1917 – Jesse was still officially ‘missing’ at that point but was soon after confirmed ‘for official purposes’ to have died on or since 7th July 1916. His body was never identified on the battlefield and as such he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

In February 1919 Emily received her late-husbands 1914/15 Star and sometime between then and June 1921, when she received his British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal, she had remarried and signed her name as Mrs E. Linnett.

Rank: Private
Service No: 15382
Date of Death: 07/07/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Paul McCormick
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