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James Shannon was born on 16 May 1895 in West Derby, near Liverpool. His father was James Shannon and his mother was Elizabeth Fairclough. They probably also came from Liverpool. Not much more is known about them, all we know for sure is that in 1911, James was living with his grandmother, Elizabeth Fairclough, and two sisters, Maria (b. 1891) and May (b. 1898) at 4 Charnley Fold Lane, Bamber Bridge. James was working as a creeler in a cotton shed. As the article tells us, he shortly afterwards moved a few streets away to Brandiforth Street.

Aged 19, James enlisted before the start of the War in 1Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was assigned service number 2334. He landed in France with the Battalion on 22 September 1914. 1Bn was part of 1st Division and had a fine fighting record: in 1914 at Mons, the Marne, the Aisne and the First Battle of Ypres; in 1915 at Aubers in May and Loos in September-October; in 1916, in all phases of the Battle of the Somme, at Albert, Bazentin, Pozières, Flers-Courcelette and Morval.

The article appeared in the Preston Guardian in September 1917 and official confirmation of the award of the Military Medal appeared in the London Gazette on 14 September. There are no citations for the MM award, but we know that in the Spring of 1917, 1st Division were engaged in the pursuit of the Germans to the Hindenburg Line and then the Division was ordered to prepare for an operation along the Belgian coast – ‘Operation Hush’ – in the summer of 1917. A full account of the operation can be found here. Operation Hush was intended as an amphibious landing on the Belgian coast to take back control of the ports occupied by the Germans and serving as bases to harass British shipping in the Channel. The landings were planned to take place after the launch of the attack at the end of July which would become known as the Third Battle of Ypres. However, in the face of ferocious German attacks from 6-10 July and given the failure of the attack at Ypres to make significant advances, Operation Hush was finally abandoned. This German attack marked the first use of mustard gas in an artillery bombardment. It would have been during these attacks in July that James demonstrated the bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal.

According to James’ medal records he was then transferred first to 1Bn South Wales Borderers and then to 18Bn Welsh Regiment, and he was assigned a new service number, 79242, and also promoted to Lance Corporal. James fought with these Battalions through the remainder of the War. He survived the War but I don’t know what happened to him afterwards.

Bill Brierley

Bill Brierley

Before taking early retirement in 2007 and returning to his native Lancashire in 2009, Bill Brierley was head of the School of Languages and Area Studies at the University of Portsmouth.Bill has researched his own family history and has developed a further interest in World War 1 especially as it impacted on the villages of Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, where his family originates from.Bill has also displayed his work at Lostock Hall library and contributed to other displays at Leyland Library and South Ribble Museum.
Bill Brierley

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