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fletcherJames1James Fletcher was born in Preston in 1893 to Alexander Edward and Mary Alice Fletcher (nee Morley). His parents were married in St. Thomas`s Church in Preston on the 22nd September, 1883 and they went on to have six daughters and five sons.

In 1911 the family were living in six rooms at number 9 Maynard Street in Preston. James`s father was a mill engineer and James was employed as a `clogger` (bootmaker). Eight of James` siblings were all working in a cotton mill; Nancy (1884), Ellen (1886), Alexander (1888), Edward (1889), Mary (1891), twins Alice and Sarah (1896) and Daniel (1897). The two youngest children were still at school; William (1900) and Maggie (1906).

James signed on for 4 years with the 4th Battalion of the Territorial Force on the 20 July, 1913 at Preston and was allocated the number 1755. He was unmarried and living with his parents in Maynard Street and was still working as a boot maker employed by Mr. James Mercer on Friargate in Preston.

At the outbreak of war James volunteered to serve abroad and signed his agreement to that effect on the 7 August 1914.

The 1/4th Battalion spent several months in training before departing for the front on the 4 May, 1915. Just a few short weeks later the Battalion were involved in their first major action around Festubert and at the time James had the role of stretcher bearer and medical orderly.

For his actions in tending to the wounded and dying on the 15 June, 1915 James Fletcher was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citation reads as follows:-

fletcherJames2The following is an extract from a letter concerning the events of the evening of the 15 June, 1915 written by Private Thomas Preston to his parents in Preston, Thomas was also in the 1/4th Battalion.

Storm of rifle fire and shrapnel

“I am ready for this ending any time. I do not think it can last much longer. We have been in the trenches again, and have been in a charge. You talk of hell! It was awful, but never mind we had the Germans beaten.

I was one of the first over the parapet, and we were met by a storm of rifle fire and shrapnel. Our chaps were dropping all around, it was an awful sight. I don`t know how I came through it all, I got fast in the barbed wire entanglements and cut my hand to pieces.

I hope and trust I will never see anything like it again. Nobody can realise what it was like. We have lost very heavily as you will see before long. I think that we have done our share now, don`t you? The German Jack Johnsons are awful, some of our chaps were blown into the air”.

After the actions on the 15th June orders were finally given to withdraw and under the cover of an early morning mist (16th) they finally got away although James appears to have stayed behind to tend to the wounded.

When the Battalion arrived back in Le Touret only 243 men answered the roll call. The total number of casualties being: killed or died of wounds 4 Officers and 19 other ranks, six Officers and 255 non-commissioned Officers and men were wounded, 2 Officers and 145 men were missing.

When word of his DCM award had eventually reached his family back in Preston the following article was printed in the Preston Guardian.

fletcherJames3

James was appointed Acting Lance Corporal the day after the famous charge at Festubert and a year later in June 1916 he had advanced to the rank of Sergeant. In January 1917 he received his new TF style number of 200388 and by February 1917 he had been promoted again to Company Quartermaster Sergeant.

Sadly, James died on the 31 July 1917 during the first day of the 3rd Battle of Ypres (often referred to as Passchendaele). He was part of ‘D’ Company.

After his death another article with a photograph of James wearing his Distinguished Conduct Medal appeared in the local paper.

fletcherJames4

James`s father Alexander died at the age of 56 in 1919 and so his mother Mary Alice signed for her son`s medal entitlement to the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Unfortunately James` body was never recovered from the battlefield and so his name is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing.

fletcherjames5

 

Rank: Company Quartermaster Serjeant
Service No: 200388
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Awards: DCM
Memorial: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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One Response to 200388 CQMS. J. FLETCHER. L.N.LAN.R

  1. suzanne howarth says:

    Hello Janet…I have in my house a Beautiful Oak Prayer kneel desk, which has a brass plaque…It is Inscribed, Major James Fletcher, DCM, 1/4 Loyal North Lancs, died 31st July 1917…..which is the same soldier as this article,,,

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