Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

John Albert James

John Albert James :

John Albert James : (L to R) Military Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal

(L to R) Military Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal

John was born in late 1893 or early 1894 and grew up in the Ellesmere Port area of Cheshire. We don't know anything about his early life or family.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and we believe John joined the Prince of Wales's Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment) at some point during October. He was given the service number 15225. He was sent overseas to France on the 26th September 1915.

John was transferred to the Manchester Regiment in around early 1918. He joined the 12th Battalion and was given the service number 61360. This unit helped to defeat the German Spring Offensive of March and April 1918. It then took part in the Allied attacks that began in August. These pushed the Germans back and led to the end of the war on the 11th November. This became known as the Hundred Days Offensive. John had been promoted to Corporal by the time it began.

At some point during the fighting in August, September and October John carried out an act of great bravery. He was awarded the Military Medal in the London Gazette of the 14th May 1919. Unfortunately there was no citation telling us what he did to earn the medal. We also don't have a more precise date. The 12th Battalion were advancing through Martinpuich, Flers and Neuvilly during this period.

Although we don't know which battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment John joined, the date he arrived in France and the time he was transferred to the Manchester Regiment suggest he was most likely a member of the 7th or the 8th Battalion. These both fought on the Somme between July and October 1916 and took part in the Passchendaele Offensive in August 1917, although they did not serve together. They were disbanded in February 1918 and their soldiers were sent to other units to help bring them up to strength.

By the end of the war John held the rank of Sergeant. His life after the war remains a mystery.

During the Second World War John played a part in the defence of the UK, although we don't know exactly what he did. The 1939-45 Defence Medal was awarded to members of the Home Guard, the Fire Service, Police officers and many others.

John died on the 1st September 1979 either in Ellesmere Port or in Solihull, near Birmingham, at the age of 85. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1982.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council