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James Osbaldeston was born on the 7th September 1889 in Preston the son of Thomas and Isabella Osbaldeston (nee Sutcliffe). His parents married in Preston in 1880 and James was one of four sons born to the couple, the other three being; Thomas (1882), Josiah (1884) and Joseph (1893). Three years prior to Joseph`s birth, Thomas and Isabella and their three sons had been living at the Morning Star Public House on North Road in Preston where Thomas was the landlord. The family was still at the Morning Star in 1891, the Census noting that James` father was also a stonemason as well as landlord. Sadly, James` mother Isabella died in late 1893, her death was registered in the December quarter of that year and it was the same quarter that her youngest son Joseph`s birth had been registered.

In 1895 James` father remarried to a lady named Elizabeth Osbaldeston, Elizabeth being fourteen years younger than her husband. When the Census was recorded in 1901 James and two of his brothers, Thomas and Joseph, were living with their father and stepmother at 5 Gardner Street in Preston. The family had also doubled in size because Thomas and Elizabeth now had three daughters, Margaret (1897), Alice (1898) and Agnes (1901). Sadly, James` father passed away a few months after the 1901 Census was taken.

By 1911 James` stepmother Elizabeth had remarried to Francis Parkinson and the couple were still living at 5 Gardner Street. However, James had moved out and was boarding with a William and Ada Wilkinson at 26 Broughton Street and he was working as a labourer in a cotton mill. Three years later James married Jane Hall in Preston, the marriage registered in the June quarter of 1914.

On the 12th October 1914 he enlisted at Preston into the 4th Battalion (TF) of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was allocated the service number 2859. Unfortunately his service papers no longer exist so information is fairly limited but his Medal Index Card confirms that he embarked for France with the 1/4th Battalion LNL on the 4th May 1915. A week after landing the Battalion became part of the 165th Brigade of 51st (Highland) Division. Towards the end of May the Battalion had their first experience of the trenches and also incurred their first casualties and then on the 15th June 1915 they took part in their first major engagement, later often referred to as `the great bayonet charge`. During this action the Battalion lost 431 men, killed, wounded or missing and James, as far as we know, appears to have come through this action unscathed.

While James was overseas with the Battalion Jane gave birth to the couples` first child, a daughter and she named her Mary Ethel, her birth was registered in the September quarter of 1915, sadly she died in 1916 before her first birthday.

In January 1916 the Battalion left the 51st Division and transferred into the 164th Brigade of 55th (West Lancashire) Division and then towards the end of July 1916 the 55th Division made their way south to take part in the ongoing Battle of the Somme. On the night of the 31st July 1916 they took their place in the line opposite the village of Guillemont (which thus far had proved a major sticking point) and an attack was planned for the 8th August. 

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

7th August 1916 – The Battalion left for the trenches at 8.40pm and assembled in trenches running E & W of road running south from E. Corner of Trones Wood.

2 Platoons of A Coy acted as carrying parties for 1/4th R.Lancs.Regt. on the right, and 2 Platoons of B Coy acted in the same capacity to 1/8th Liverpool Regt. on the left.

C Coy were to consolidate right of enemy line and D Coy were to consolidate left of enemy line on W side of Guillemont.

2 Platoons of A Coy and 2 Platoons of B Coy were in support to 1/4th R.Lancs.Regt. and 1/8th Liverpool Regt. respectively.

At some point during the evening and night of the 7th August it seems that James was supervising the conveyance of munitions from the bomb store when the store was hit by the enemy and subsequently set alight. James made valiant efforts to recover some of the more important contents whilst at the same time attempting to extinguish the fires. Newspaper information states that after some three hours the store was blown up by a shell and as a result James was wounded in the head and legs.

The attack planned for the 8th August went ahead but was not successful and once again the Battalion incurred a large number of casualties; 3 Officers and 9 other ranks killed; 3 Officers and 97 other ranks wounded and 2 Officers and 107 men were reported missing. Meanwhile James was removed to a hospital in Rouen before being shipped back to England and then sent to a hospital in Manchester where he spent a number of weeks recovering from his wounds. For his bravery on the night of the 7th August 1916 James was recommended for the award of the Military Medal.

On the 19th October 1916 he was discharged from the Army as a result of his wounds and was awarded Silver War Badge No. 106648. On returning home to Preston he was presented with his Military Medal by Colonel Williams at the Preston Records Office.

The Preston Guardian later reported on James` Military Medal award, note that the article refers to James as Sergeant (his MIC and the Medal Rolls all refer to him as Corporal);

Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

In 1917 James and Jane had a second child, a son and they named his Joseph.

After the war James also received the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled.

In 1939 the couple lived at 31 Symonds Road in Preston, James` occupation noted as motor driver. An elderly single lady named Mary A. Hall (b.1879) was also resident at the property at the time and she was described as being `incapacitated`.

James passed away in Preston in 1966 aged 77 years and Jane six years later in 1972.

Janet Davis
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