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James Leaver was born in Cop Row, Burnley on 10th July 1885. He was the son of James and Mary Jane Leaver.

In 1913 James married Elizabeth Blackburn. They had two children, James Leaver
(1913 – 1990) and Sidney Leaver (1916 – 1982). The young family lived together at 428, Briercliffe Road, Burnley.

James initially enlisted in the East Lancashire Regiment at Preston in June 1916, his service number 27389. He was later transferred to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment being given number 33198.

On 3rd November 1916, Private James Leaver sailed for France with a batch of reinforcements for the 10th (Service) Battalion.

On 28th April 1917, James was reported missing, later to be confirmed as killed in action.

The Battalion War Diary details the attack on Greenland Hill at Arras, during which James lost his life;

27th April 1917 – Arras

During night moved to companies into Cuba (trench) and brought support companies into new trench in front of Clasp Trench. Attended conference at Brigade Headquarters.

Received orders to attack Greenland Hill at dawn next day. Made all the necessary arrangements and decided the Battalion should ‘go over’ in two waves. In the meantime getting my first wave which was already in Cuba out into the open about 100 yards in front, so as to get a good start and escape any enemy fire which might be brought to bear on it, my second wave remaining where it was.

28th April 1917 – Arras 

04:25hrs – Barrage opened, Battalion being already in position for attack. The enemy did not put up much of an artillery barrage so I immediately brought my second wave into the new trench.

04:27hrs – The Battalion attacked and reached a point where a trench had been begun by the enemy. By this time the Battalion had suffered heavily and one one officer (2nd Lt. Jones was left).

The Battalion immediately commenced to dig in into this newly begun trench as they were so heavily enfiladed with machine guns from the right flank (Chemical Works).

There were several batches of the Regiment still further advanced in shell holes. These wisely remained there all day, sniping and doing as much damage as the could. By the time the Battalion was dug in, between 50 – 60 were all that remained.

During the advance, a few of the East Lancs, Bedfords and Warwicks joined my Battalion and dug in with us.


Thoughts as to why the attack on Greenland Hill failed; Lt Col E. A Cameron, Officer Commanding 10th Bn LNL;

This attack on Greenland Hill once more failed although we did gain some ground. Undoubtedly the Chemical Works was the main reason for this failure, but I cannot help thinking that if my Battalion had been supported in a more determined manner, we might have got to the enemy’s trench, but they were so few in numbers they were killed or wounded.

There was a great delay and much confusion at the time of the start, amongst the supporting Battalion, which I myself witnessed and tried to rectify. I am afraid this delay was a great hamper to the leading Battalion as the wave which should have been the first evidently never started, or if it did, it didn’t support my Battalion. Only the second wave appears to have got through, so naturally, there was a gap between the front waves and the supporting ones. Still, on the whole, I am afraid the ‘right flank’ was the main reason for our failure.


The following month, his wife still hadn’t received news of his death, an advert was printed in the Burnley Express (26 May 1917).


33198 PTE. J. LEAVER


Pte. James Leaver, No. 33198, Loyal North Lancashire, is reported as missing, his wife having been notified to this effect by his officer. He enlisted on June 14th, 1916, and left for the front on November 3rd, 1916. Mrs. Leaver last heard from him on April 13th, when he was working with the R.G.A. heavy batteries. She would be glad to receive information of him from anyone connected with the regiment. She resides at 428, Briercliffe-road, with her two children. Pte. Leaver was 31 years of age, and was formerly employed as a tape labourer for the Queen-street Manufacturing Co.


Private James Leaver is remembered on the Arras Memorial.

Rank: Private
Service No: 33198
Date of Death: 28/04/1917
Age: 32
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL, Bay 7.


Paul McCormick
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