James SHAW
Rank: Private
Number: 2403
Unit: 1/6th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 21 October 1916
Age: 22
Cemetery: Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuile, Somme, France

Jim lived with his father, also called James and mother at 8A Baker Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport. He worked in the local hatmaking industry for Howlinson, Andrew and Ferguson Ltd. He volunteered for the Army in September 1916, joining the local Territorial battalion and probably went overseas, on active service, around the following January.

During the evening of 21 October, other battalions would attack along a 5000 yard front in the heart of the Somme battlefield. The Cheshires would not take part in the assault would stand-by as reinforcements.

The day was quiet and the Battalion War Diary records "Weather improving. Battalion supplied trench fatigues and stretcher bearer party of 50 O. R." (O.R. - Other Ranks). Later, the orders were received to move forward. Lieutenant Cowpe describes the night , in the official Battalion History:-

"About 7 o'clock on Saturday night the Battalion got the order, ‘Prepare to move off immediately in Fighting Order (dress).' We fell in, and were moved to a place some distance behind the firing line; and settled down. As soon as we got settled down ‘A' Company was ordered to move up to the line at once, and was provided with a guide. This was about 8-30 p.m., and it was a fairly dark night. We trudged on and on, and the guide lost his way. We moved through mud knee-deep, which clung to your legs, and you had to use nearly all your strength to draw your leg out. It was a bitterly cold night, and we trudged on until 8 o'clock next morning. At that time we came across some old German dug-outs, and I put the men in, whilst went away to try and get in communication with Battalion H.Q. by means of telephone. At 1 p.m. we got the order to return to a spot behind the lines, and reaching there about 4 o'clock, we got our first food since moving off. After that we returned to our original billets. What a picnic, and how jiggered we all were!"

By then, Jim had been killed. His sergeant wrote to the family "Jim was in front of a party and was hit by an enemy shell. Death was instantaneous." Of course, it cannot be known if this was one of the working or stretcher parties during the day or the party moving towards the front in the evening. However, the following letter from his officer, indicating that he was buried with other members of the Regiment coupled with his job as a signaller perhaps suggests he was near to their main trench rather than moving forward.

"I mourn the loss of your son more on account of having known him for many years, he and his brother Albert being schoolmates of mine. He is laid to rest in a well kept grave alongside other men of the Regiment. A neat wooden cross has been erected to his memory by the Regiment. His death is deeply mourned by his companions in the Signal Section and I feel the loss greatly of such a good signaller, a fine soldier and schoolmate."

Lonsdale Cemetery contains over 1500 burials. Most were moved to the Cemetery after the armistice when the many small front-line burial areas were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. Jim's brother, Albert, appears to have survived the war.

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