Nisbett, James

James Nisbett, Private 1252, 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Died of enteric fever 30th April 1916 in Mesopotamia (Iraq), aged 25



James Nisbett was born in March 1891 at Hollingworth, Oldham, the twin son of Elizabeth and Alfred Nisbett, a cotton spinner. On 5th April 1891, one month old James was living at 16 Edith Street, Oldham with his parents and siblings Amos (8), Mary (3), Elizabeth (2), and his one month old twin brother Joseph, who died later that year.

By 1901 the family had moved to 3 Marsland Street, Chadderton; the census shows that ten year old James had two more siblings: Lily (6) and William (3).

Another daughter, Emily, was born in Oldham in early 1903; at some time between 1903 and 1911 the family moved to Macclesfield where Alfred became a publican at the Sir Robert Peel in Bank Street.

By 1911 James was boarding at 10 Edale Street, Failsworth and working as a coal miner waggoner.

James married Alice Mary (or May) Hinde at Prestwich in early 1914, and they had a daughter Lily born in late 1914. Alice later moved to Chorley, where their second daughter Amelia was born in late 1915.



James was a national reservist at the outbreak of war and attested at Ashton-under- Lyne; he was immediately mobilised into the 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment and drafted with the British Expeditionary Force to France on 27th December 1914. He was invalided back to England in February 1915 with frost bite and pneumonia. Once recovered, James was sent to Cleethorpes and trained as a signaller with the Royal Engineers.

James embarked on the H.M.T. “Maloja” for Mesopotamia, departing from Tilbury at 3pm on Saturday 26th February 1916. The following morning, when about two miles off Dover, the ship struck a mine and sank in 24 minutes with the loss of nearly 150 lives. James survived this ordeal and eventually arrived at Kut-al-Amara where he was struck down with enteric fever on 27th April 1916; he died from this disease three days later at the age of 25.


His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 19th May 1916:


Mr Alfred Nisbett, licensee of the Sir Robert Peel, Bank Street, Macclesfield, has been officially informed that his son, Private James Nisbett, 1st Manchester Regt., died of enteric fever in hospital in Mesopotamia on April 30th.

Private Nisbett was 24 years of age, and his wife resides at Chorley. There are two children. Prior to enlistment he was employed in a cotton factory in Oldham. His wife had previously received a cable stating that her husband was seriously ill. Private Nisbett has two brothers serving with the forces, namely: Private William, RAMC (who was formerly scoutmaster of the St Peter’s troop), and Private Amos, Irish Guards (who has had his left thumb amputated as the result of a wound received while fighting in France).

The death was also reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 20th May 1916:


Information has been received by his wife, who resides at Failsworth, Manchester, that her husband, Private James Nisbett, has died in Mesopotamia. Private Nisbett was a National Reservist, and was called up on the outbreak of war, and joined the 1st Manchesters, in which regiment he went out to France in September, 1914 and was invalided home with frost-bite and pneumonia in February, 1915. He was then sent to Cleethorpes and trained as a signaller in the Royal Engineers. He was going out on the “Majola” when she was torpedoed, but he eventually arrived at Armara, where he was struck down with enteric fever on April 27th, and died on April 30th from this disease. The news was received by his wife on May 3rd. His parents live in Bank Street.



Private James Nisbett is buried in Grave Ref. VI. D. 2. at the Amara War Cemetery, Iraq.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private James Nisbett, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.

In Macclesfield, Private James Nisbett is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and St Michael’s Church war memorials.



Brother of Private William Nisbett, who served in France with the RAMC; and of Private Amos Nisbett, who served with the Irish Guards and was wounded at the battle of La Bassee.

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