James YARWOOD
Rank: Private
Number: 37384
Unit: 15th Battalion LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 11 November 1918
Age: 37
Cemetery: Premont British Cemetery, Aisne, France

The Yarwood family lived at 11 Richmond Road, Heaton Mersey for many years. Samuel and Esther are thought to have married in the late 1860s and had four children at home when the 1901 Census was taken. 17 year old James was working at a bleachworks - probably John Walton & Sons, Vale Road, Heaton Mersey for whom he was working before he enlisted into the army.

He had gone to school at St John's Day School. In later life he attended the Men's Bible Class at the Heaton Mersey Sunday School. In his spare, James was keen member of the local Park's Bowling Club and had won prizes in competitions.

James joined up in March 1916, originally joining the Cheshire Regiment (service number 4447) and went overseas in the September. At some point during training, he was transferred to the Fusiliers. In December, he was invalided home suffering from trench foot and spent 14 weeks at the Hospital run by the Heaton Mersey Branch of the Red Cross. This is presumed to be the temporary hospital that was based at the Reform Club on Heaton Moor Road.

James returned to his unit in September 1917. Sometime during that year, his father died and this may be when his mother moved to 12 Parr's Mount, Heaton Mersey (where she was living in the early 1920s). On 21 March 1918, the German army launched a very large scale attack on British positions in France. James' younger brother, Tom, was reported to be missing. Tom was never heard of again and he is also remembered on the local War Memorial.

James would not have been allowed home to comfort his mother and it was not until October that his turn came up and he was given 14 days leave. He was back with his unit by the 21st. The local newspaper reported that James had been badly wounded on 1 November. The Battalion was in the front line near the village of Happagarbe on that day, prior to an attack on the 2nd. It is, of course, possible that he was wounded by shellfire whilst in the trench but it seems more likely that he was injured in the attack.

At 6am on the 2nd, the Battalion attacked towards German positions near the village. The objectives were all taken and 62 prisoners captured. A large number of the enemy were killed. At 9am, the Germans attempted a counter-attack but this was driven off. At 14.00, the counter-attack was resumed and this time, the Germans managed to get through the British line and started to attack it from the rear. Casualties were heavy and the reserve company was quickly ordered forward to fill the gaps. The Battalion's War Diary notes that the Germans made heavy use of machine guns - with one strongpoint in the village holding 15 heavy and light guns.

James will have been evacuated from the front line and will have received attention from the Battalion's own medical officer. He would then have been evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station (field hospital) at Premont, some 27 kilometres away on today's roads. It is unusual for a man to spend more than a couple of days at a CCS. Their condition was usually stabilised allowing them to be moved to a permanent hospital - or they had died. It must be case that James' condition was too serious to allow him to be moved. He died on the day that the Armistice was signed.

   
           
   
     
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