James LEE
Rank: Private
Number: 56498
Unit: 14th Battalion WELSH REGIMENT
Date of Death: 22 August 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

James was born in Stockport and probably lived all his life in town until he joined the army. His parents, James and Mary Jane, lived at 90 Newbridge Lane and he worked as a piecer at the nearby Vernon Mill on Mersey Street in Portwood.

He enlisted into the army, no doubt as an 18 year old conscript, in March 1917 and was assigned to the Glamorganshire Yeomany (service number 90553). This was for training only and, before going overseas, he was transferred to the Welsh Regiment.

At the beginning of August 1918, the British army launched attacks that would bring the War to an end some three months later. Although there would be much hard fighting, there would be no more defeats for the Tommies. After a week's training for a future operation, James and his comrades returned to the front line. The book "Swansea Pals" recounts what happened and the author, Bernard Lewis, a fellow member of the Great War Forum permits me to quote from the book:-

 "...a twelve man patrol under Lieutenant I Williams attempted to ford the River Ancre but found it impassable and covered by heavy machine-gun fire. Undaunted by this failure, Williams promptly tried again and this time succeeded in crossing the river and found that a part of the German defence system was currently unoccupied. Fording the river for a third time he brought with him six rifle sections of "A" Company and occupied the German position. The German response was immediate and a number of rifle grenades were fired at the British party, causing several casualties. As the wounded were being evacuated back across the river, the party was caught by machine-gun fire causing even more casualties. Given this setback the evacuation attempt was abandoned. Seeing the plight of their "A" Company comrades, Second Lieutenant L O Griffiths and Private A. Crocombe, attempted to wade the river from the British held side while under heavy fire. On the third attempt they got across and succeeded in bringing back all the wounded."

Of course, they will have left the dead, almost certainly including James. He has no known grave.

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