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James Richard Thompson was born in Preston in 1885 the eldest of ten children born to his parents James and Caroline Thompson (nee McManus). His parents married in Preston in the June quarter of 1884 and after James arrived in 1885 they had another four sons and five daughters; Mary Agnes (1887), William (1889), Ann (1891), Joseph (1894), Margaret (1897), Teresa (1899), Francis (1902), Thomas (1905-1905) and Caroline May (1907).

The 1891 Census shows the family living at 7 Moorbrook Street in Preston where James` father was working as an iron dresser and his mother Caroline a cotton weaver. Later that same year on the 1st October 1891 James started his education at the English Martyrs Roman Catholic School in Preston. At some point between 1891 and 1901 the Thompson family relocated to 9 Clover Street (later known as St. Ann`s Street) where James Snr. was still an iron dresser and sixteen year old James was now a labourer. James` mother Caroline was also running her `own account` as a fruit dealer.

On the 14th September 1904 James enlisted into the Militia of the Royal Lancaster Regiment and stayed with them until 14th November 1904. Four days later on the 18th November 1904 he joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. The Medical Officer noted that he was five feet five and a half inches tall and weighed 120lbs. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair and his only distinguishing feature was a small scar on his right cheek.

When the 1911 Census was recorded James was serving overseas in India with the 2nd Battalion LNL. His parents and the rest of his family were living at number 11 Essex Street, his father was still employed as an iron dresser and his younger brother Joseph was now a page boy at a local vicarage.

By 1913 James had returned home to Preston and on the 7th October of that year he married a local girl, Margaret Rigby in St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church in Preston. James and Margaret had one child, a son was born on the 5th September 1914 and the couple named him James Richard Thompson after his father.

At the outbreak of war James, as a Reservist, was recalled to the Colours and he subsequently disembarked in France with the 1st Battalion LNL as part of the British Expeditionary Force on the 12th August 1914.

Sadly, just over four weeks later James was posted as missing in the Troyon area on the 14th September 1914 during `The Retreat from Mons`. His mother who was obviously concerned for her sons` whereabouts had the following photograph published in the local paper;

8097 Private James Richard Thompson 1st Battalion

A number of months would have passed before the Military Authorities finally confirmed that James` was believed to have died on or since the 14th September 1914. His body was eventually recovered and he was originally buried in one of the smaller outlying cemeteries in the area where he fell. However, after the war his body was one of many exhumed and re-buried and James was finally laid to rest in Vendresse British Cemetery, his body having been identified by means of his uniform and identity disc.

James` widow Margaret remarried to Joseph Miller in Preston in 1917 and the couple moved to Chorley and went on to have four sons and one daughter together.

After the war James was awarded the 1914 Star & Clasp and the British War and Victory Medals. His family would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 8097
Date of Death: 14/09/1914
Age: 29
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.


On the 29th September 1939 the Government created a record of the entire population for the purposes of issuing identity cards and ration books for use during WW2. James and Margaret`s only son James Richard Thompson was 25 years old at the time and he was recorded as being an iron and steel furnace man living at 42 Raikes Road in Preston.

At some point after this date and following in his father`s footsteps James joined the 2nd Battalion of the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) who at the time were stationed in Singapore where they had been since the outbreak of war. When Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942 those men who did not perish at the time were made prisoners of war.

On the 4th September 1944 two ships sailed out of Singapore, their `cargo` being British and Australian prisoners of war who had previously been forced to build the infamous Burma railway and they were now being transported to Japan. The ships the Rakuyo Maru holding in excess of 1300 British and Australian prisoners and the Kachidoki Maru carrying 900 British Prisoners of War one of which was POW 3855682 Private James Richard Thompson.

On the 12th September 1944 the two Japanese ships were sunk after being struck by torpedoes fired from U.S. submarines. It was reported that 400 men from the Kachidoki Maru went down with the ship, at least eight of them were Loyals, one of which was Private James Richard Thompson. James died almost thirty years to the day that his father had been killed in WW1.

The name of 3855682 Private James Richard Thompson 2nd Battalion Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) is remembered on the Singapore Memorial.



Janet Davis
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2 Responses to 8097 PTE. J. R. THOMPSON. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Keith says:

    What a great summary. I stumbled upon it while randomly googling my ancestors names. Thanks for your research and you efforts. You clearly have done a lot of research and if possible i’d love to add your research to my collection.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Keith,

      I`m pleased you found the article and thank you for the kind comments, they are very much appreciated. Please feel free to add the information to your collection and good luck with researching your ancestors.

      Kind Regards

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