James Clowes, Private 11509, 19th Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Killed in action 23rd July 1916 in the Somme, France, aged 37
James Clowes was baptised on 24 August 1879 at St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield, the eldest son of Ann and John Clowes, a bobbin-turner of Macclesfield. In 1881, one year old James was living with his parents at 4 Barker St, Macclesfield; ten years later the family was at the same address, with the addition of Alfred (9), Frederick (6) and Jane (3), and John was employed as a silk piecer.
In 1901 the family had still not moved from Barker Street. James was then employed as a silk finisher and had another young sister, Eveline (7). By 1911 James’ parents had died and he was living at 7 Barker St with his sisters Jane and Evelyn and his widowed aunt Jane Podmore.
James later found employment as a packer with the Co-operative Wholesale Society in Manchester.
On 4th September 1915 James married Mary Elizabeth Higginbotham at the Trinity Wesleyan Church, Macclesfield, and the couple set up home at 13 Statham St, The Dams, Macclesfield. Mary later moved to 28 Statham St.
James enlisted in Manchester on 9th September 1914, having previously been a volunteer with the Cheshire Regiment in Macclesfield. In his service records he was described as 5 feet 5½ inches tall, weighing 131½ pounds, with a 33¾ inch chest, blue eyes and fair hair. After training as a machine gunner, on 7th November 1915 James embarked from Southampton with his battalion on the SS Queen Alexandra, arriving in France the next day.
James was wounded in the leg and back in early July 1916 but remained on duty. He went missing during action on July 23rd and was later presumed to have died on or after this date. The news that he was missing was printed in the Macclesfield Times of 18th August 1916:
PRIVATE J CLOWES
Mrs Clowes, 1 Barker Street, off Roe Street, Macclesfield, has been unofficially informed that her husband, Private James Clowes, 19th (service) Batt Manchester Regt, has been missing in France since July 23rd. No message has arrived from the War or Record Offices, and the intimation reached Mrs Clowes through a letter sent by a comrade of her husband’s.
Private Clowes is 37 years of age and a native of Macclesfield, his parents being dead. He was employed by the Co-operative Wholesale Society, Balloon Street, Manchester, and enlisted a month after war broke out. He had been at the front since last November, and on the first day of the “big push” was slightly wounded in the leg and back. Private Clowes was only married last September, and he had a furlough of six days shortly before he proceeded to France. His wife has not seen him since. Mrs Clowes has been for years connected with the Trinity Wesleyan Church… Private Clowes was an old Volunteer and formerly attended the Large Sunday School.
A memorial service was held at the Trinity Wesleyan Church in early July 1917, after James’ wife was officially notified that her husband was presumed to have been killed in action the previous year. By this time she had moved to 159 Park Lane, Macclesfield. She placed the following ‘In Memoriam’ notice in the Macclesfield Times of 6th July 1917:
CLOWES – In loving memory of my dear Husband, Private James Clowes, Manchester Regt., previously reported missing July 23rd, and now presumed to have met his death on that day.
He nobly answered duty’s call,
He gave his life for one and all;
But his unknown grave is the bitterest blow
None but an aching heart can know.
From his sorrowing wife, Mary.
159, Park Lane.
Private James Clowes has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. Pier and Face 13 A and 14 C of the Thiepval Memorial in France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private James Clowes.
In Macclesfield, Private James Clowes is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, the Trinity Wesleyan Church and Macclesfield Sunday School war memorials, and on St John’s Church Roll of Honour.
Elsewhere, he is commemorated on the Manchester Co-operative Wholesale Society war memorial.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield
WW1 British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 18th August 1916, 6th July 1917