Photograph of Jim in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR3/28/12
(L to R) Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military Division); 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal; Territorial Efficiency Medal; Efficiency Medal
James was born between October and December 1885 in Pembroke, south Wales. His father was named Michael and his mother was Julia. He had an older sister called Annie and 3 younger sisters called Mary, Florence and Eileen. By 1911 the family had lost 2 other children.
Michael worked as a tailor. In 1911 he was employed by the Royal Army Clothing Department. If he had worked for them for some time it would help explain the family's movements. They had lived in Portsmouth in Hampshire, Pembroke, Ireland and Preston, Lancashire between 1884 and 1900. In 1901 they lived at 34A Edenvale Street in Fulham, south-west London.
By 1911 James had left home. His family lived in Battersea, London, but he had moved to Annie Goolden's boarding house at 99 Urban Road in Sale, Manchester. He was working as a clerk at an electrical engineering firm. We believe that he began to work for this company during 1902. Although we don't know its name we know it was based in Trafford Park, Manchester.
James must have wanted to do more with his life, because in December 1908 he joined the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, based at Stretford Road in Hulme. He was given the service number 710. As a Territorial James continued with his civilian job as well as training to be a soldier during the weekends and at annual camps lasting around 2 weeks. He was always known as Jim by his comrades.
The First World War broke out in August 1914. Jim and the 6th Battalion were mobilised and sailed to Egypt on the 10th September. They guarded the Suez Canal and trained until May 1915 when they took part in the landings on Gallipoli. At some point during 1915 Jim became the Battalion's Machine Gun Sergeant. In this job he was the most senior Non-Commissioned Officer in the Machine Gun Company of 4 Vickers Machine Guns.
Jim and the 6th Battalion were involved in heavy fighting during their time in Gallipoli. In particular many soldiers were killed during the attack on the village of Krithia on the 4th - 6th June, and during fighting on the 7th and 8th August. Jim, though, seems to have emerged unscathed.
Jim and the 6th Battalion were evacuated from Gallipoli in early January 1916. By the time he returned to Egypt Jim had been Mentioned in Despatches and awarded a certificate for his courageous conduct. He had also been promoted to Sergeant.
The 6th Battalion spent 1916 in Egypt, firstly protecting the Suez Canal from a Turkish attack and then taking part in the British advance into the Sinai. They sailed to France in March 1917. At around this time soldiers serving in the Territorial Force were given new service numbers, although Jim does not appear to have received one. When he rejoined the 6th Battalion after the war it was noted that he had served for 7 years and 55 days under service number 710. This would suggest that he had left the 6th Battalion during early 1916. We don't know why he left them, or what he did instead.
After the war the Territorial Force was recreated as the Territorial Army. Jim rejoined on the 10th May 1920 and was given the service number 3511457. He was employed as an engineer's assistant at the same company he had worked for before the war. During this period he lived at A4 Moreton Avenue in Stretford, Manchester. On the 14th June he regained his old rank of Sergeant.
The 6th Battalion was amalgamated with the 7th Battalion during early 1922. Jim continued to serve in the new 6/7th Battalion and played a key role in helping to bring the members of the 2 units together. He qualified as a 1st Class Machine Gunner in mid 1922.
During 1923 Jim was promoted to Company Quartermaster Sergeant. He was appointed Company Sergeant Major of Headquarters Company 2 years later. This later became known as HQ Wing and Jim continued to serve in it.
During 1929 the 6/7th Battalion was reorganised. The result for Jim was a return to the Machine Gun Company as its Company Sergeant Major, with the rank of Warrant Officer Class II.
Jim' long service was recognised by the Army. He was awarded the Territorial Efficiency Medal in April 1925 to recognise 12 years' service (although he could count service during the First World War twice). On the 3rd June 1930 Jim was appointed a Member of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to the 6/7th Battalion. He was awarded the Efficiency Medal in around 1937 to recognise another 12 years of service.
In December 1936 the 6/7th Battalion was converted to a unit of the Royal Artillery and renamed 65 Anti-Aircraft Regiment. Jim continued to serve with this unit during the Second World War. We don't know anything about what he did, but he will have been involved in defending the Manchester area against German air raids. He held the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major during the war.
We don't know when Jim left the Army. Once he did though, he used his free time to work with Army Cadets. He had been a devoted member of the Committee of the 6th Battalion Old Comrade's Association since 1919, and used this position to help former soldiers find work.
Jim was a familiar sight at Reunions and in services at the Manchester Regiment Chapel in Manchester Cathedral. By the 1950s he was seen as a 'permanent institution' by 6th Battalion veterans.
Jim still lived on Moreton Avenue in Stretford, at number 38. He died suddenly there on the 11th January 1959, aged 73. His friends and comrades described him as 'one of nature's gentlemen' who left 'proud memories'.
We don't believe Jim had ever married. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in mid 1959.