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Private James Durkin

Civilian Occupation: Plastererjames durkinjames durkin 2

James Durkin was 38 when he died on the Somme on 7th July 1916. His sacrifice is recalled on the THIEPVAL MEMORIAL and he is recorded in the Chorley Memorial Album in Astley Hall on page CMB/II/16b. He attended Sacred Heart, Chorley. The information on the CMB is wrong, James died in July 1916 and therefore did not take part in the 1917 Battles of Vimy Ridge or Passchendaele.

Notes of his life and service include:
James Durkin was born in Chorley in about 1878 and was the son of Dennis and Catherine Durkin.

1881 Census has the family at 26 and 26 a Lyons Lane (Victoria Inn).

1891 Census has the family at 4 Brook Street, Chorley. The household comprises: Dennis (53, Plasterer’s Labourer), Catherine (48), Mary Ellen (24, Factory Operative), Frederick (17, Apprentice Slater), Annie (15, Factory Operative), James (12, Factory Operative), James Hayden (29, General Labourer, boarder), John Williams (23, General Labourer, boarder), Thomas Moon (34, General Labourer, boarder) .

1911 Census has James at 96 Lyons Lane, differing from CWGC but agreeing with CG, age 32 and Plasterer. Household comprises: Dennis (73, Plasterer), Mary Ellen (43, Band Tenter), Annie (34, Cotton Weaver), James (32, Plasterer, single). The father died in the first quarter of 1914.

Soon after War broke out he enlisted in the Army at Blackburn and joined the 9th (Service) Battalion with the number 17721. After training in the UK he sailed to France with the main body of the Battalion on 25th September 1915.

James was killed in action on the first day that any Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment got properly involved in the Battle of the Somme, 7th July 1916. The 9th Battalion war diary reads;

7/7/16 In Trenches. 8:30 a.m. The Battalion commenced an attack on two successive lines of German trenches, the first objective x.14 e.79 – x.14 d.29, and the second objective x. 14 a.95-93. e.42. Both these objectives were captured, the second being consolidated under the direction of three Second Lieutenants. Enemy parties massing for counter attacks were promptly dispersed and bombing parties were sent forward successfully up communications trench x.14 e.42 to x.14 e.75. Though the 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 the 10th July.

Initial casualty estimates were: Officers: killed 6, wounded 10. Other ranks: killed 70, wounded 235, missing 24. During the operations the Battalion captured some 200 prisoners of 180th, 110th, 90th and other Regiments. Second Lieutenant Green was wounded at the moment the attack was launched, but continued to take part in the attack and in the consolidation of the captured trenches until again wounded at 5:30 p.m. when he was compelled to go down to the dressing station.

Rank: Private
Service No: 17721
Date of Death: 07/07/1916
Age: 38
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Author’s Notes

  1. Possible link to William Durkin [CMB/II/15a] not clearly established.
  2. A John Durkin (82613) gives Dennis Durkin, father, of 96 Lyons Lane as next of kin on Attestation Paper f0r 14/1/1903 for the Royal regiment of the Royal Artillery. He had given service since 1890, though, as Service Record expands on this, serving in South Africa. Next of kin in detail: Dennis (father), Catherine (mother), Fred, James, Michael (brothers), Annie (sister) of 4 Brook Street, Chorley.
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