James Johnson, Private 33379, 11th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 9th August 1916 in Somme, France, aged 23
James Johnson was born in July 1893, the son of Emma Johnson, a silk winder of Congleton Rd, Gawsworth. By 1901, the family had moved to 10 Preston Street West, and six year old James was living there with his mother, aunts Rachel and Hannah, and siblings May (11) and Harry (4). The family later moved to 9 Bread St, off Crompton Rd.
James was educated at Gawsworth School, and, after the move to Macclesfield, continued his education at Crompton Road School.
By 1911 James had left school and was employed by William Hockenhull as a live-in assistant farm labourer at Moss House Farm, Gawsworth. He later worked for Mr Hockenhull at Park House Farm, Gawsworth.
James was commonly known as Jimmy Johnson.
James attested in Macclesfield on 30 November 1915 and joined the 3rd Cheshire Regiment for training on 29 January 1916. His army service papers describe him as a man of 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighing 110 pounds, with a 30 inch chest. The records also note that he had ‘bad teeth’.
James embarked for France on 4 July 1916, joining the 11th Cheshire Regiment on 16 July. He was killed by a shell less than four weeks later on 9 August 1916, when leaving the orderly room while the battalion was being relieved from the trenches.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 19 August 1916:
Mrs Johnson, of 9 Bread Lane, has received a letter from Sergeant T. Guy Rogers stating that her son, Private James Johnson, has been killed in action in France… “Dear Mrs Johnson – It is with real sorrow that I write to tell you of the sad office which I have just performed for your son. His battalion was being relieved and your son was struck by a shell as he left the orderly room… Your last letters to him which were found in his pocket, and which I return to you, make me understand a little of what he was to you and you to him. His body was left behind in the care of one of our battalions, and I read the burial service over him. He lies buried beside several of his comrades and a cross is being erected over his grave. It will be some comfort to you to know that the service was reverently taken over him, and every respect paid to his brave body. I remain, yours sincerely, Sergeant T. Guy Rogers. P.S. Particulars of where the grave is may be obtained from the Graves Commission after the war. Military reasons will not allow information being given now.”
Private Johnson was a native of Gawsworth, his parents coming to live in Macclesfield about 14 years ago. He enlisted on January 29th, 1915, and was sent out to France at Barnaby. He was educated at Gawsworth School under Mr F W Proctor, and later at Crompton Road Day School. Employed by Mr Hockenhull, of Park House Farm, Gawsworth, he was well-known in that village, where he was held in high esteem. He was 23 years of age, and a single man… he was best known as ‘Jimmy’ Johnson.
His death was also reported in the Macclesfield Times of 18 August 1916:
FIVE WEEKS AT THE FRONT – STRUCK WHILE LEAVING ORDERLY ROOM
Official intimation has reached his parents, who reside in Bread Street, off Crompton Road, Macclesfield, that Private James Johnson, 11th Cheshire Regt, has been filled in action in France… The late Private Johnson spent his 23rd birthday in the trenches a fortnight ago. He enlisted in the 3rd Cheshires on March 29th, 1915, and was drafted out to the front five weeks ago. On arrival in France he was transferred to the 11th Cheshires. The deceased was a scholar for four years at the Gawsworth Day School… and completed his education at Crompton Road School…
Private James Johnson is buried in Grave Ref. II. P. 3 of the Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, France. His mother requested that a cross and the words “FATHER IN THY GRACIOUS KEEPING LEAVE WE NOW THY SERVANT SLEEPING” should be added to his headstone.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private James Johnson .
Nearby, he is commemorated on the Gawsworth (Church Lane) war memorial.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 18 August 1916
Macclesfield Courier: 19 August 1916