James Garfield FERNLEY
Rank: Private
Number: 205529
Date of Death: 1 November 1918
Age: 27
Cemetery: Kezelberg Military Cemetery, Wevelgem, Belgium

According to Regimental records published after the War, James was living in Newark on Trent in Nottinghamshire when he enlisted into the army. He had married Rebecca Welch, in the Stockport area, in the late summer of 1913. She may have originated from Nottinghamshire as she was known to be living at North Muskham after the War.

The Fernleys originated from Marple and James had been born there, one of the nine children of John and Elizabeth. John was a general dealer who, in 1901, had premises on Market Street. By 1914, the family was living at The Tannery, Church Lane.

James enlisted into the army in Manchester. His service number was issued sometime after January 1917 and is one linked to the Fusliers' 5th Battalion. This was probably the 3/5th Battalion which was disbanded in France in early 1918 and this was probably when James was transferred to the 17th.

By late October 1918, the War was all but won, but the Germans were undertaking a fierce fighting retreat. On 30 October, the Fusiliers received orders for another attack. They moved into assembly positions overnight and were in position, without incident, ready for zero hour at 5.25am on the 31st.

In conjunction with the 18th Battalion and the 19th Durham Light Infantry, they attacked under a protective artillery and smoke barrage. In spite of this, the Germans opened up on the attackers with artillery and machine guns, causing many casualties. The enemy machine gun posts were captured and the first objective - the Waermaere to Tieghem road - was reached on schedule at 6.46.  Patrols were now pushed out whilst the Battalion re-organised.

At 8.49, the attack resumed. The Battalion's War Diary notes that "opposition again encountered and again successfully overcome". The Germans were using tracer bullets in their machine guns and this gave away their positions. By 9.55, the village of Kerkhove was captured and the Battalion consolidated its gains for the day. They had captured 150 prisoners, 30 machine guns, 1 trench mortar and 2 ambulances. The cost in casualties had been high on both sides. James was amongst the wounded and he was evacuated to a field hospital about 25 kilometres away at Wevelgem. There, military surgeons would have done all they could to save James' life but without success.

Further information about James, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

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