Distinguished Conduct Medal
James was born in around 1871 in Oldham, Lancashire. We don't know anything about his family or early life. By 1914 he lived at 1 Hall Street in the town.
The First World War broke out that August and James enlisted in the Manchester Regiment during August or September. He was assigned to the new 11th Battalion and given the service number 3574.
The 11th Battalion trained at the Manchester Regiment Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne, then moved to Belton Park near Grantham in Lincolnshire. By April 1915 they had moved to an area of Surrey near the villages of Witley and Frensham. After a final inspection they set sail for Gallipoli on the 30th June.
James and the 11th Battalion took part in the landing at Suvla Bay which began on the 6th August. This was intended to support the British forces already fighting at Cape Helles in Gallipoli by diverting Turkish soldiers to deal with this new threat.
The landings did not go well. Inexperienced soldiers were coming ashore in darkness and under Turkish fire. This was made worse by poor leadership, meaning that by the 9th August the British had suffered many casualties and had not captured the high ground from the Turks.
By the 9th John had been promoted to Acting Corporal. For his actions on this day he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. His award was published in the London Gazette on the 16th November. This is his citation:
For conspicuous bravery on the 9th August 1915, at Suvla Bay (Dardanelles). Owing to the nature of the country, the difficulty of removing the wounded out of shell and rifle fire was very great. Corporal Gregory invariably showed exceptional coolness and bravery in unceasing efforts to attend the wounded, and to bring them to safety. No risk was too great for him to undertake, and he showed at all times the greatest devotion to duty.
James would never read this citation. He was killed in action on the 7th October, aged 44. He had endured 2 months of stifling heat, lack of water and poor health. The British had not been able to advance; instead they had held their trenches under shell and rifle fire. It is most likely that one of these was responsible for James' death.
For his conduct at Suvla Bay James was also Mentioned in Despatches. These were written on the 11th December 1915 by General Sir Ian Hamilton, the commander of the forces in Gallipoli. They were published in the London Gazette on the 4th January 1916.
After the end of the war in 1918 James' body was moved to Azmak Cemetery in Suvla, Turkey, along with 389 other identified soldiers. There are also 684 unknown burials. His modern grave reference is I. F. 5.
As well as his Distinguished Conduct Medal, James was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaves. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in June 1991.