James Ernest SMITH
Rank: Private
Number: 3142
Unit: D Company, 1/6th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 12 September 1916
Age: 27
Cemetery: Englebelmer Communal Cemetery, Somme, France

James was born in Stockport and his parents, Samuel and Elizabeth Ann, lived at 15 Brighton Road. By the time the War Graves Commission was collating casualty information in the early 1920s, Samuel had died.

James was a primary teacher at Wycliffe School but, in the autumn of 1914, he enlisted in the army.

On 5 September, the Cheshires came out of the front line and went into reserve billets at Englebelmer, 10 kilometres north of the French town of Albert. On the following day the billets were shelled with gas shells between 1 and 2 a.m., and the Battalion took cover in cellars and wore gas masks which were quite effective. These rest billets were by no means "restful" and suffered from hostile artillery fire, a number of buildings being demolished.

On 12 September, they went back into the line at Beaumont Hamel, in the heart of the Somme battlefield. Captain Innes later wrote "Your son was killed by a shell bursting near where he was working. He died from his wounds, a few minutes later, mercifully without any pain. His death is regretted by all in the Company. He was one of our best bombers and a very brave and good soldier. I trust you will bear up under your sad bereavement. He received a decent burial in a little cemetery for British soldiers close up behind the line. Captain Innes would himself be killed in fighting the following month.

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