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James Caton was the eldest of seven children born to William and Jane Caton (nee Hardman). William and Jane married in the church of St. Saviour in Preston on the 27th August 1888 and James was born the following year (1889). He was followed by Bertha (1891), William (1892), Jane (1894), Edward (1897-1899), Edmund (1902) and Ethel (1903).

James` parents were both from Preston and after their marriage they went to live at number 10 Back Bolton Street in Preston. By 1901 James and his family had moved to 94 School Lane in Bamber Bridge where his parents were both employed in the mill on School Lane, his father was an overlooker and his mother a cotton ring spinner. Twelve year old James had also been given a part-time job in the mill as a cotton spinner.

By 1911 the family had moved to 10 Collins Road in Bamber Bridge which was just about a ten minute walk away from their previous home in School Lane. Apart from Edmund and Ethel who were both at school James and the rest of his family were all still working in the mill.

After war was declared James re-enlisted at Preston on the 5th August 1914, he had previously served with the 4th (Territorial) Battalion of the Regiment becoming time expired. He was unmarried and living at home with his parents who by this time had moved to 3 St. Mary`s Road in Bamber Bridge. He was 25 years old and still working as a weaver at the School Lane Mill in Bamber Bridge. James was issued with the service number 42 and posted to “B” Company of the 1/4th Battalion. He confirmed his intention to serve abroad with the Regiment and signed his agreement to that effect on the 7th August 1914.

James went to France with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915 sailing from Folkestone on board the “SS Onward”. The strength of the Battalion was 31 Officers and 1003 other ranks.

Extract from the Battalion War History

“At last we were really on our way, after all the delays and waitings we were going overseas like the rest! And it had all been done so quickly, that only now as we stood on the darkened boat and watched the lights of England receding, did we begin to realise what it meant – this stealthy journey of nearly a thousand souls across the Channel, which many of us had never seen before, and which many were never to see again”

James would have taken part in the Battalion`s first major action around Festubert in June 1915 and came through it unscathed unlike many of his pals.

An entry on his misconduct sheet reports that on 20th February 1916 he received 14 days Field Punishment No. 1 for “Insolence to an Officer”. Two months later on the 19th April 1916 he was admitted to a Field Ambulance suffering from septic sores on his arms and legs which kept him away from his Battalion until the 13th May 1916.

The following month on the 10th June 1916 he was appointed paid Lance Corporal.

Early in February 1916, the Battalion had left Airaines, the 55th Division had been detailed to relieve the 88th French Division who at the time was occupying the sector south of Arras, from Wailly to Bretencourt. February and March were uneventful months, the sector being a fairly quiet one and casualties were few. However, there had been heavy snow followed by a thaw and the trenches had become very wet and uncomfortable. During this time in April and in May small reinforcements of Officers and men joined.

Raids were now being organised and attempted more frequently and in the middle of June a special battalion raiding party was organised and practised continually. This party was comprised of Captain E M Gregson, 2nd Lieutenants Martin, Roscoe and Walker and sixty other ranks, and on 28th June a daylight raid took place.

Extract from the 1/4th Battalion War Diary – 28th June 1916

“On the 28th a raiding party of 3 Officers and 56 other ranks left our lines at the junction of GAMBLER STREET with the fire trench at 5.35pm. The raid was preceded by cloud gas and artillery fire.

This party was working in conjunction with raiding parties from all Battalions in the Division. They advanced by two rushes to within a few yards of the enemy trenches, where they came under heavy fire and were held up. At 5.50pm they established communication with our lines and reported that they could get no further and were suffering heavy casualties. A Sergeant returned and reporting that the enemy were in strong force and further progress was impossible. Major Crump ordered them to retire, which they did in good order in spite of losses which included the whole of the leaders”.

In the raiding party ten were killed including Lance Corporal James Caton. Captain Gregson also died while 2nd Lieutenants Martin and Walker along with 17 other ranks were wounded.

The Preston Guardian later published the following article;Caton

James` parents later received their son`s two ID Discs, two pocket wallets, some photographs and postcards and these appear to be the only personal items recovered.

After the war his parents also took receipt of their son`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals that he was entitled to.

Of the men who died on that day, James is the only one whose body was recovered and he was buried in Le Fermont Military Cemetery, Riviere, Pas de Calais, France. The other men were never found and their names are recorded on the Arras Memorial to the Missing.

James` parents had the following words inscribed at the foot of his grave;

   “For King, Country, liberty and truth, he sacrificed his glorious youth”

On the second anniversary of his death the following was published in the Lancashire Evening Post;

28th June 1918

In loving memory of Lance Corporal J Caton, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment June 28th 1916

“We who love you sadly miss you

As it dawns another year

In the lonely hours of thinking  

Thoughts of you are ever dear”

From Father, Mother, sisters, brother and brother Bill in France – 3 St. Mary`s Road, Bamber Bridge

 

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 42
Date of Death: 28/06/1916
Age: 28
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Cemetery: LE FERMONT MILITARY CEMETERY, RIVIERE

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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5 Responses to 42 LCPL. J. CATON. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. William Robinson says:

    I was very interested and pleased to read Janet Davis’ story about Lance Corporal James Caton some of which I was aware of because he was my great uncle and I have visited his grave in France on several occasions. My paternal grandmother was Ethel who was James’ younger sister and I recall her talking about him when I was a child. Janet Davies’ story has also allowed me to confirm that a faded photograph passed to me by my late father of a soldier in uniform was in fact James Caton. The detail in Janet’s story was fascinating and led me to wonder if she is also a relative of James?

    • Janet Davis says:

      Hello William,

      Thank you for the kind comments, they are very much appreciated. I`m afraid I`m not related to James I just help to write up articles for the website William.

      I`m really pleased the newspaper photo of James has helped to confirm the identify of your unknown soldier in uniform, that is great! The photo could always be added to his page if you want to submit it to Paul at admin@loyalregiment.com

      Kind regards
      Janet

      • William Robinson says:

        Hello Janet,

        Thank you for your prompt and helpful reply and for the suggestion about the photograph.

        Having been to James’ grave in France which, by the way is located in a small cemetery near Wailly, I was keen to know whether other relatives are visiting the grave as it would be a shame if I and my immediate family are the only ones to do so. Anyway keep up the good work!

        Best wishes

        William

  2. Mike Gregson says:

    Hi William/Janet,
    I have been researching my family history, in particular their involvement in the Great War, for several years. I have several photographs of a couple of Soldiers from the Great War which were recovered from my Aunties house when she died. I know one to be a family friend who served with the 1st LNL Regiment, because of his cap badge and records I found on Ancestry. I have photos of him before injury, in his hospital bed and posing after being in hospital, in civilian clothing in 30’s/40’s and at a wedding in the 60’s. I have found a medal with the photos that states 4682 T Caton LNLR. I cant find him on this site but thought he may be relater to James?

  3. William Robinson says:

    Hi Mike,
    Sorry but according to our research James Caton did not have a brother T Caton. This is not to say that he did not have another relative of that name but, if so, we are not aware of him. James did have a brother Bill who served in France during the war but as far as we are aware survived.
    Good luck with the research and if you find out that he is related to James please let us know.
    Best Wishes
    William

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