James Henry PERKINS
Rank: Private
Number: 44826
Unit: GLOUCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 8 December 1919
Age: 41
Cemetery: Willow Grove Cemetery, Stockport

James is one of a comparatively small number of men who are eligible for commemoration on the country's Debt of Honour Register, but who are not so commemorated. Even though he died, after being discharged from the army, his death was directly related to his service and, as such, his grave should be maintained as a war grave by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It is probable that it was a simple matter that no-one at the time told the authorities of his death. The information gathered for this project was submitted to the Commission in April 2008 with a request that they now include James on the Register.

UPDATE.....May 2008.......War Graves Commission accepts that James is entitled to be commemorated. The original burial register for Willow Grove does not record a grave reference for James' burial and the grave cannot be located. As such, the Commission cannot erect one of its usual headstones but will inscribe his name on the screen wall in the Cemetery which is located near the Cross of Sacrifice.

His name was not originally included on the South Reddish War Memorial but has been added at some later point. The Memorial is currently in a poor condition with letters missing and others damaged. It is, perhaps, no surprise, therefore, that other on-line information about the Memorial wrongly records his name as the more common "Perkins", which made identification of him for this project initially difficult

James was born in the Heaton Norris area in 1877. In 1897, he married Alice Redmonds at St Mary's Church, Heaton Norris. They set up home at 74 Weston Street, South Reddish where, by 1901, they had two children - Robert and Alice. James earned his living working in a local cotton mill as a doubler.

His inscription on the War Memorial records that he served with the Gloucestershire Regiment. Only two men called James H Perkin served abroad with the army during the War and one did, indeed, serve with the Gloucesters. Records of his entitlement to service medals are available online and these have enabled further research to be undertaken. James originally joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was given the service number 87871. It confirms he was not an early volunteer for the War and would, originally, have been deemed too old. He was assigned to the 26th Battalion, which was originally a Garrison Battalion undertaking guard duties in the reserve areas. It is a unit to which an older man might well be posted if thought not fit enough for the rigours of the front line trenches. As British losses mounted after the German attacks of the spring of 1918, many such men were drafted to the front and a fellow enthusiast from the Great War Forum confirms that he was one of a batch of 90 men who transferred from the 26th Welsh Fusiliers to the 18th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.

In due course, James was "de-mobbed" and returned to civilian life in Stockport where he and Alice were now living at 24 Ann Street, Reddish and he was working as yarn packer. His health was poor and he died in Salford, probably in hospital, on 8 December. His death certificate records cause of death as "Stricture of the bowels and the same was due to natural causes following frequent attacks of dysentery first contracted while in war service in France." It is the direct link between his cause of death and his army service that entitles his grave to have "war grave"status.

An inquest was held by the Salford coroner on 11 December and his body was then brought back to Stockport where it was buried at Willow Grove on the 13th.

   
           
   
     
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