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James Walsh was born in Blackburn on the 25th September 1876 to Robert and Alice Walsh (nee Woodcock). His parents married on the 27th May 1871 in St. Thomas`s Church in Blackburn and James was one of at least four surviving siblings, the others being; Esther Ann (1874), Robert (1879) and Alice (1882).

In both the 1881 and 1891 Census the Walsh family lived in Higher Audley Street in Blackburn where James` father worked as a cotton weaver. In 1891 fifteen year old James and his elder sister Esther are also shown as being employed as cotton weavers.

On the 1st January 1900 at the age of 23 years and 4th months James joined the East Lancashire Regiment. At his medical inspection he was described as standing at five feet four and a half inches tall and weighing 141lbs. He had a light complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. James went on to serve overseas with the Regiment in the South African War before being discharged on the termination of his engagement on the 10th June 1901. On the 16th October 1902 he enlisted for 12 years (3 years with the Colours and 9 years in the Reserve) with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion on the 5th November 1903 and served overseas with them, first of all for five months in Gibraltar followed by a year and a half in South Africa before being transferred to the Army Reserve on the 15th October 1905.

James married Mary Ann Barrett in St. Matthew`s Church in Blackburn on the 31st January 1906 and the couple had a son Robert Patrick born in the same year. They had a second son James Barrett born in 1911. The Census of that year shows James, Mary Ann and the two boys living at 152 Audley Range in Blackburn where James had his `own account` as a coal merchant. His younger brother Robert Walsh was lodging with the family at the time and he was also working as a coal merchant.

James` service papers reveal that on the 2nd February 1912 the Infantry Records Office in Preston received a letter from James requesting permission for him to emigrate to Canada with his family. As he was still attached to the Army Reserve James had to sign a declaration to the effect that “he must return if and when the Army Reserve is called out on a permanent basis”. James signed the declaration two days later at Blackburn. The following month on the 29th March 1912 James, Mary Ann and their two sons together with Robert Walsh boarded the ship “Virginian” and sailed for Canada.

At the outbreak of war James was still a member of the Army Reserve and as such was mobilised on the 8th August 1914. He was now 38 years old. On the 7th September 1914 he was posted to the Depot with the service number 6888 and on the 7th September 1914 he was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Felixstowe where he would undertake some additional training. Two months later on the 29th November 1914 he sailed to France with a batch of reinforcements for the 1st Battalion.

Sadly, James was posted missing during Battalion actions at Givenchy on the 22nd December 1914. The Battalion losses on the 21/22nd December amounted to 89 killed and 320 wounded or missing. An account of the days` actions can be seen here.

Mary Ann Walsh had the following photograph published in the local Preston paper and also asked that any information on her missing husband should be sent c/o Dr. Reid at 146 Deepdale Road, Preston. This perhaps suggests that Mary Ann was still resident in Canada at the time.6888 Pte James Walsh 1st Battalion

When the Military Authorities finally confirmed for official purposes that James Walsh had died on or since the 22nd December 1914 Mary Ann was awarded a pension for herself and just one child amounting to 15/- per week with effect from the 23rd August 1915.

As James` body was never recovered from the battlefield his name was later remembered on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Mary Ann took receipt of her husband`s 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals in 1920/21 and at the time she was resident at Galway House, Tyldesley Road in Blackpool. The same address for Mary Ann is also noted on James` Commonwealth War Grave Record.

Rank: Private
Service No: 6888
Date of Death: 22/12/1914
Age: 37
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Janet Davis
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3 Responses to 6888 PTE. J. WALSH. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Jennifer Robinson says:

    Hello Janet, I have found the information about James Walsh 6888 really interesting.He is my grandfather and I have researched him and already have a lot of this information.
    I have to say that you have done a brilliant job.
    I would be intrigued to know how you found the information in the newspaper as this is new to me.I would be very grateful if you could let me know. Regards Jennifer

  2. Janet Davis says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you for the kind words they are very much appreciated. From memory I think James` newspaper photograph was from the Lancashire Daily Post, copies of the paper are on microfilm at the Harris Reference Library in Preston.

    Regards Janet

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