In the late spring of 1886, Joseph Bancroft married Alice Barlow at St Thomas’ Church, Stockport. They lived for many years at 22 Lake Street, Heavily until he died in 1896. They had four children together – Jane, James, George and John.
James was born on 1 January 1890 and was the couple’s eldest son. His education was at Great Moor School between 1900 and 1903 and it’s not known what he did for a living in later life. O 10 November 1913, he married his fiancée, Annie Gertrude Fallows at St Mary’s Church and they went to live at his family home on Lake Street where, the following year, their daughter Nellie was born. He worked as a carter.
He enlisted into the army on 19 July 1916, joining for training at Gosport a few days later. His service papers still exist at the National Archives and these show him to have been 5’ 7” tall. James had recorded his religious denomination as Church of England. He went overseas on active service on 2 January 1917, sailing from Southampton to Le Havre.
The Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery fired the heaviest weapons in the British arsenal. They were used to batter enemy strongpoints and were situated in relative safety some way behind the front line. They were, of course, within range of similar German guns and most artillerymen were killed by enemy shelling. Few records now remain of their day-to-day activities so it cannot now be known under what circumstances James was killed in action on 18 July.
In January 1918, James’ personal effects were returned to Gertrude. They included a letter, three religious books, cigarette case, pocket knife, brushes and a tin of shaving soap.
As well as his commemoration on the Stockport War Memorial, James’ name is also inscribed on the Memorial at St Georges Church. An earlier project researching the names on that Memorial indicate that George and John Bancroft both served with the Cheshire Regiment during the War with the respective ranks of Sergeant and Corporal.