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James Davis was born in Preston in 1883 the son of James and Mary Davis (nee Wilson). Mary already had a two year old son James Leeming Wilson (1873) when she married James Davis on the 6th February 1875 in the Parish Church of St. John in Preston, the couple went on to have five children together including James, the others being; Eliza Jane (1875), William (1879), Ellen (1881) and Lucy (1886). In 1891 the Davis family was living in Fletcher Road off New Lane in Preston, apart from James and his younger sister Lucy the rest of the family were all employed as cotton weavers.

Sadly, James` mother passed away in 1901, her death was registered in the March quarter of that year. When the 1901 Census was recorded on the 31st March 1901, James together with his father and two sisters Ellen and Lucy were living at 91 Wilbraham Street, James was a labourer, his father and sisters all cotton weavers.

On the 26th November 1901 James attested into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment agreeing to serve a term of 12 years (3 years with the Colours and 9 years on Reserve). At his medical examination the Medical Officer noted that he was five feet six and a half inches tall and he weighed 115lbs. His hair was brown and he had grey eyes. James stayed in the UK until the 5th November 1903 when he went to Gibraltar where he remained until the 10th April 1904. He was then sent to South Africa on the 11th April 1904 and stayed there until 5th December 1905. He sailed for home on the 6th December 1905 and was subsequently transferred to the Army Reserve.

By 1911 both of James` sisters had married and he was living with his father at 19 Gosford Street in Preston, James Snr. was a cloth weaver and James was a loom cleaner. Having completed his 9 years on Reserve, James was discharged from the Army on the 25th November 1913. Just 11 months later James re-enlisted into his old regiment, signing his attestation papers on the 26th October 1914 at Preston. He passed his medical inspection, the Medical Officer noting that he was now 5`9” tall and slightly heavier at 124lbs. James was issued with his new service number of 4571 and then posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion LNL. He sailed to France as one of many reinforcements for the 1st Battalion LNL on the 11th March 1915, joining the Battalion in the field soon after landing, the Battalion at the time being in the vicinity of Le Touret.

His service papers record that James was wounded on the 9th May 1915 during the Battalion`s involvement in the 2nd Battle of Ypres (22nd April – 25th May 1915). His papers noting that he sustained a gun-shot wound to his scalp and as a result was hospitalised in Boulogne before being shipped back to a hospital in England via `HS Brighton` on the 15th May 1915. His hospital stay in England was relatively short and by the 25th May 1915 he had been granted a week`s furlough to return home to his father at 11 Shuttle Street in Preston. By the 8th June 1915 James had been posted back to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Felixstowe in readiness for a return to the front.

On the 22nd September 1915 he was posted to the 6th Battalion and he arrived at Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli Peninsula with other reinforcements on the 14th November 1915. By the time the reinforcements had arrived a decision had already been taken to evacuate the Gallipoli Peninsula, a huge task involving thousands of men, stores and equipment. They sailed for the Greek island of Mudros in the middle of December 1915 and then a month later they transferred to Egypt. The Battalion left Port Said in Egypt on the 14th February 1916 and arrived at Basra, Mesopotamia in early March, the objective now being to relieve the British and Indian troops in Kut-al-Amara.

Sadly, James was killed in action in an attack on the 9th April 1916, his family later posting the news of his death in the Preston Guardian;

James` father later acknowledged receipt of a few of his sons` personal possessions, these included; his birth certificate, a letter, one photograph and a card.

After the war his father also took receipt of the three medals his son was entitled to, the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and he would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

James` body was never found and as such he has no known grave, his name was later inscribed on the Basra Memorial. He is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in his hometown of Preston, pictured below with a copy of the original submission form filled in by his next-of-kin, note his date of death being one month out;

Rank: Private
Service No: 4571
Date of Death: 09/04/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6th Bn.
Memorial: BASRA MEMORIAL

Janet Davis

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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