James KIRKHAM
Rank: Private
Number: 18632
Unit: 8th Battalion Cheshire Regiment
Date of Death: 30 June 1916
Age: 27
Cemetery: Baara Memorial, Iraq

James had been born in the parish of St Paul's C of E Church, Great Portwood Street, Stockport. He was married and lived with his wife and child at 14 Back Water Street. He had worked at the Beehive Mill in Portwood until he enlisted in the army in November 1914.

Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) was part of the Turkish Ottoman empire and an ally of Germany. Then as now, Britain relied heavily on oil from the area. When war broke out in August 1914, British troops were quickly sent to the area to protect its interests by occupying the oilfields and pipeline near Basra.  

Conditions for the men were appalling. Extremes of temperature (120 degrees F was common); arid desert and regular flooding; flies, mosquitoes and other vermin: all led to very high levels of sickness and death through disease. Under these conditions, units fell short of officers and men, and all too often the reinforcements were half-trained and ill-equipped. Medical arrangements were quite shocking, with wounded men spending up to two weeks on boats before reaching any kind of hospital.

The local newspaper reported only that James had died of "disease". The fact that he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing suggests he was not in hospital when he died. If he died whilst being taken the long journey to hospital, he would have been buried nearby and the location of the grave noted. Many of these burials could not be found after hostilities ceased.

   
           
   
     
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