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200174 Corporal James Bamber MMJames Bamber was born on the 20th September 1883 in Longridge to Jane Bamber a single lady. Two years after James` birth his mother married Archibald Hollows at St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge and the couple went on to have three children; John (1887), Joseph (1889-1894) and Clara (1890-1890). In the third quarter of 1890 Archibald Hollows died at the age of 28, his death being registered in the Haslingden district of East Lancashire.

A year later in the 1891 Census James, his half-brother John Hollows and his mother had moved in with Jane`s parents Joseph and Hannah Bamber at 8 King Street in Longridge.

A year later in 1892 James` mother Jane remarried to Roger Hunt and they went on to have nine children together, seven of whom survived; Ann (1893), Jane (1894), Mary Theresa (1895), Agnes (1897), Margaret (1899), Joseph (1902), Janet (1904-1904), Roger (1906-1906) and Ellen Josephine (1908).

In 1901 James was employed as a quarry man and was living at 22 King Street in Longridge with his mother Jane, stepfather Roger, his step brother John Hollows and five of Jane and Roger`s children, Ann, Jane, Mary, Agnes and Margaret. Also resident was 15 year old Ann Hunt who was Roger Hunt`s niece.

When the 1911 Census was taken James was recorded as a `boarder` at 22 Market Place in Longridge living with his mother, stepfather and their seven children. James was single and his occupation was a `rock getter` at a stone quarry.

At the outbreak of war and as a serving member of the 4th Battalion Territorial Force James was recalled along with the other Territorials and attested at Preston on the 5th August 1914. His medical inspection noted that he was five feet four and a half inches tall and his physical development was good. James confirmed that he had been living at 9 Bent`s in Colne where he worked as a quarry man. He was 31 years old, single and he named his mother Mrs. Jane Hunt of 22 Market Street in Longridge as his next of kin (this address was later amended to 11 King Street). His initial service number was 337 which would later become 200174.

James sailed to France with the 1/4th Battalion as a member of “A” Company on the 4th May 1915. He appears to have come through the Battalion actions at Festubert unscathed but ten days later on the 25th June 1915 he reported sick suffering from diarrhoea which kept him out of action for ten days. Two months later on the 20th August 1915 James was appointed Lance Corporal (paid).

On the 1st July 1916 he was granted 1st Class Proficiency Pay and at some point during the month of July 1916 James was recommended for the Military Medal. The following month on the 9th August 1916 he was further promoted to Corporal. His Military Medal award was confirmed in the London Gazette on the 14th December 1916.

According to the Battalion War History on the 18th February 1917 the Brigadier presented James with his Military Medal Ribbon along with two other men; CSM Heywood and 1147 Private T. Ainscough.

James` papers also record that he was sent to VIII Corps Sanitation School for eight days 10/3/17 – 18/3/17. Then from the 6th May until the 20th May 1917 he had a spell at the 2nd Army Rest Camp before five days later 25th May 1917 he was granted a period of leave to England returning to France on the 7th June 1917.

He was still serving with the 1/4th Battalion in France when he was fortunate enough to be awarded a second period of leave to England 30/1/18 – 13/2/18.

Sadly, just two months after returning from leave James was killed in action on the 9th April 1918 which was the day the German Army launched the second phase of its Spring Offensive.

The action on the 9th April 1918 was on the Festubert-Givenchy line, where early in the morning the Germans were found to be heavily bombarding the whole divisional front. Unfortunately this weakened the Portuguese troops that were on the left of the Division causing them to retire, which completely exposed the 55th`s flank.

The German infantry now attacked, and owing to the thick fog that morning, they were allowed to get so close to the British that they go not be engaged until they were within 20 – 30 yards. The Germans succeeded in their objective and breached the 164th Brigades front, even managing to overrun their headquarters, and several other key areas.

Eventually a counter-attack was organised which forced the German`s back. By the end of the day the Brigade had won back every inch of the ground they had temporarily lost. Casualties numbered 44 killed, 100 wounded and 50 soldiers were missing

After his mother was informed of his death the following article appeared in the Preston Guardian;200174 Corporal James Bamber MM 2

A number of James` personal effects were returned to his mother in Longridge which included his ID Disc, photographs, letters, a wallet, cards, a memorial card and 1 defaced Franc note (souvenir).

After the war Jane Hunt signed for her sons` 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and she would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

The name of Corporal James Bamber is also remembered on the War Memorial Plaque inside the church of St. Lawrence in his home town of Longridge.

St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge panel

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 200174
Date of Death: 09/04/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Awards: M.M.

Janet Davis
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