By any account, Jim Staveacre was a pillar of the local community. A successful business man, he supported many local organisations and was an active member of several sporting clubs.
He was born in the late summer of 1872, in the Stockport area, the son of James and Marianne. He was their second son but his older brother, Fred, died in 1907. After completing his education at Stockport Grammar School, Jim went to work as a junior for Messrs McIntyre, Hogg & Marsh. He then gained employment with Hodgson, Jack & Co. This was a firm of shirt and collar manufacturers with premises at Foyle Street, Londonderry and Jim represented their interests in Britain. Throughout his young adulthood, Jim had been keen on soldiering and was a member of the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (the forerunner of the Territorial Force). When the Volunteers were mobilised to go to South Africa to help the fight against the Boers, Jim transferred to the Cheshire Yeomanry so he could go. He took part in the operations on the Orange River and in the Cape Colony and was promoted to sergeant. For his service, he received the Queen's medal and three clasps.
Returning home, Jim started up a partnership with another firm of Londonderry shirt makers and the new company traded as Leinster Brothers & Staveacre Ltd, with works at Bellevue Avenue in Londonderry and the main British offices at 34 George Street, Manchester.
Jim lived in Offerton after returning to Stockport and worshipped at the local church. He also maintained contact with the Grammar School through the Old Boys Association. In his younger days, Jim had been a talented lacrosse player and had represented Stockport on a number of occasions. In later years, he took up the crosse for the Offerton team and still turned out regularly for the "A" team as he was anxious to encourage the younger players. He also played his full part in the social side of the Club being the main organiser of the "hotpot suppers". A keen cyclist, Jim also turned out regularly for the Cheadle Cycling Club. He was also a first class boxer and a member of the Manchester Boxing and Fencing Club.
Jim also returned to his "Saturday Afternoon Soldiering" with the Volunteer Battalion and received a commission. In 1907, he took over command of the 4th Battalion's Mounted Infantry Company, after his brother died and was promoted to Captain. The Volunteers became the Territorials in 1908 and, not long after, Jim was promoted to Major and became the new 7th Battalion's third-in-command.
When War was declared in August 1914, the Territorials were mobilised and Jim was keen to "get stuck in". Within a few weeks, they were on board a ship bound for Egypt and the Sudan where they would spend the next seven months. He was disappointed they were not to support the Regular Army in France and, just before leaving, is reported to have said to friend "We are going to a place which does not promise much in the way of fighting. I hope we shall not be held back." Some details of the time in North Africa can be found here.
One of the young Stockport men serving with the 7th Battalion was Private Jack Morten. His letters home were published a few years ago in a volume titled "I remain, your son Jack". On 8 January 1915, he writes home "Yesterday, we had a jolly good of lacrosse. I was on Major Staveacre's side and, needless to say, we won." Later in the month, Jim supported Jack's application for a commission (he became a 2nd Lieutenant at the end of August).
On 3 May, the time for training and sports was over. The Battalion embarked to go into action at Gallipoli, landing on the 7th. By now, Jim was second in command; Major Hertz having been invalided home. On the 28th, Colonel Gresham fell ill and was evacuated from the peninsula. Jim took over command of the Battalion and would lead it into battle a few days later. Click here for an account of the attack. Jim was reported to have been shot in the head as he was passing ammunition to men in the firing line. The Battalion history records that he turned to Regimental Sergeant Major Franklin and said "Never mind me. Carry on." Then he died.
Back in Stockport, a Memorial service was held for Jim on 20 June at the Wellington Road Congregational Church. His sister and other relatives attended. There were also many local people connected with the various organisations of which Jim had been a member. A large contingent of 7th Manchesters had marched from the city centre headed by their drum and bugle band. It contained many who had served with Jim and who had been invalided home from Egypt and the Sudan.
By the middle of September, the Stockport Advertiser was able to publish a photograph of Jim's grave "in a small graveyard at Krithia Nullah". A fine wooden cross had been fashioned which included the regimental coat of arms painted in gold on white. On the crosspiece were the words "Thy will be done". Underneath was a board "In loving memory of Major J H Staveacre, commanding 7th Manchester Regiment. Killed in action, June 4th 1915."