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James Calvin was born in 1895 in Preston. His father, also named James, was an American, born in New York; in 1901 his father was working as carpenter and joiner. His mother was named Mary. James was the eldest child, having a brother named John and two sisters called Winifred and Ellen. They were living at 14, Fleetwood Street, Preston.

By 1911, he had two more younger brothers, Arthur and Jospeh. At this time it is shown that James was working as an apprentice drapers assistant.

James Calvin was 20 years 4 months old when he enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 10th December 1914. He was still living with his parents, now at 68 Egan Street, Preston. He gave his occupation as being a salesman.

James was unmarried, and had no previous military service. He gave his fathers’ name, also James Calvin as his legal next of kin.

James was mobilized on 26th January 1916 and posted into No 4 Company, 2nd Battalion and given the service number 22993.

On 24th May 1916, James embarked at Devonport for South Africa on the S.S Trafford Hall. The 2nd Battalion, as part of the Indian Expeditionary Force had been evacuated there following mass ill-health in German East Africa earlier that month.

S.S Trafford Hall. Source: Clydesite.

S.S Trafford Hall. Source: Clydesite.

On 27th December 1916 he landed in Suez, Egypt, and the following month was admitted to hospital in Cairo with malaria.

In June 1917, James attended a Lewis Gunners course, achieving the qualification ‘1st class gunner’.

Lewis Gun. Click link to Wikipedia entry about this machine gun.

Lewis Gun. Click link to Wikipedia entry about this machine gun.

In May 1918, James and the 2nd Battalion were moved to the Western front, France. They landed at Marseilles on the 27th May 1918.

On 23rd July 1918 he was wounded in action during The Battle of Soissons, a phase of the ‘Second Battle of the Marne’. He had suffered a gunshot wound to his knee, and was sent through hospitals in Paris and Rouen, before receiving treatment in Etaples.

Source: Wikipedia

The Battle of Soissons (also known as the Battle of Soissonnais and of the Ourcq (French: Bataille du Soissonnais et de L’Ourcq)) was a World War I battle, waged during 18 July to 22 July 1918, between the French (with American assistance) and the German armies.

Ferdinand Foch, the Allied Supreme Commander, planned a major counter-offensive on 18 July; 24 French divisions, including several British Divisions, and the Buffalo Soldiers 92nd Infantry Division (United States) then under French command, and reinforced by other Allied troops including eight large U.S. divisions under U.S. command, and 350 tanks, sought to eliminate the salient that was aimed at Paris.

The Allies suffered 125,000 casualties (95,000 French, 13,000 British and 12,000 American), while the Germans suffered 168,000 casualties.

The battle ended with the French recapturing most of the ground lost to the German Spring Offensive in May 1918.

On 16th March 1919, James returned to the UK. He was demobilized to ‘Class Z’ reserve on 15th April 1919.

Paul McCormick
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