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boote-mayJames Percival Boote was born in Manchester in 1885 to James Percival Boote and Ann Elizabeth Hopkinson. Ann was from Retford in Nottinghamshire which is where she married James P. Boote in 1882. James had an older sister Ethel Beatrice (1883) who was also born in Manchester. By 1891 James, his sister and parents had moved to “Hollindale”, a house on North Road, Glossop in Derbyshire where his father was employed as a bank manager.

There was an addition to the family in the early part of 1898 when another sister Eveline Gladys arrived. Sadly, a few months after Eveline was born James` father died. After her husband`s death Ann Boote moved back to Manchester with James and his two sisters and they went to live in Hyde Road in Gorton where Ann was running a grocer`s shop.

By 1911 James and his family had moved counties again, this time to 18 North Parade, Grantham in Lincolnshire. James` mother Ann and his eldest sister Ethel had no occupation and his youngest sister Eveline was still at school so James appears to be the sole breadwinner, working as an engineer`s clerk.

At some point after 1911 it seems that James moved up to Preston to work in the offices of Messrs. Dick Kerr & Company Limited on Strand Road in Preston.

He enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in December 1914 and after a very brief period of training he was sent to France on the 27th April 1915 to reinforce the 1st Battalion.

The Second Battle of Ypres commenced on the 22nd April 1915 and lasted until the 24th May of that year. The 1st Battalion as part of the 2nd Brigade first became involved in the action in the early part of May.

An attack was planned for the 7th May but was subsequently postponed until the morning of the 9th May 1915.

Extract from the Battalion War History

7th May 1915 – A long day of preparation, every man was issued with 220 rounds of ammunition, a gas mask and two sandbags.

8th May 1915 – The Battalion left Les Choquaux at 8pm and moved into battle position in the third line of breastworks behind the Rue du Bois, and was in position there by midnight.

The attack went ahead as planned on the 9th May but sadly James was severely wounded in the action and sadly he died from his wounds the following day.

The attack was a costly one, 7 Officers and 190 non-commissioned officers and men killed or died of wounds and 21 posted missing.

A few weeks later a letter appeared in the Preston Guardian, it had been written by Privates James Treadwell and J.C. Barnes from Preston, both had been wounded in the same attack. The letter was sent from the Queen Mary Hospital in Whalley to their Grandmother in Preston.

“A THRILLING CHARGE – Interesting story by Preston Soldiers”

“Grandmother, a 15 inch gun gave the signal for the battle, and then came a bombardment which lasted three hours and a half. It was a Neuve Chappelle battle all over again on a much greater scale. Field guns, howitzers and siege guns all joined in the chorus that bellowed and beat in heavy waves of sound along the line. The shells streamed overhead, shrieking and screaming. The reports of their burst clapped and rumbled in one long rolling unbroken uproar.

The German lines were veiled and hidden in drifting clouds of white, black, greenish and yellow puffs of smoke. For nearly three and a half hours the British shells pounded the German lines and the front parapet crumbled and broke and gaped in patches under the steady fire. The barricades were stoutly built but there was no hesitation when the time came to charge. Suddenly the “Loyals” swarmed to the German trenches and the open space was filled with running figures. The appearance of those running figures was the signal for a sudden outbreak of rifle fire and the murderous machine like whirr of the machine guns.

The space was about 400 yards – 400 yards of whistling, pelting bullets and bursting shrapnel storms, and our lines were rent, battered, torn and beaten out of shape. It was no longer a charging line but the remnant still pushed on the in the teeth of death…..the running groups melted and withered, men fell in clumps and clusters, the dead lying crumbled where they fell. The wounded were hobbling and staggering crawling back to shelter from the scouring bullets. Right to the trenches our attack pushed, but there it stayed and died, and we got the word to retire, which the “Loyals” don`t like doing at any cost.

The retirement was an appalling and dreadful business. Our line swarmed out again over the hard fought ground, and doubled back towards the British trenches.

There are a good many Preston lads who took part in this charge lying in the Queen Mary Hospital at Whalley now”.

The following article was printed in the Preston Guardian a few weeks after James’ death.Boote

James was buried in Bethune Town Cemetery. His mother had the following words inscribed at the foot of his gravestone;


His next of kin would later receive the 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 18472
Date of Death: 10/05/1915
Age: 30
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Janet Davis
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