James Slack, Corporal 33446, 2nd Battn, Yorkshire Regiment (formerly 18975 East Yorks Regt)
Killed in action 25th August 1917 in Belgium, aged 24
James Slack was born in 1892 and baptised on 23rd July 1893 at St Mary’s Church, Bosley, Cheshire, the son of Mary and James Slack, a goods porter for the North Staffordshire Railway Company, of Bosley.
By 1901, James was living at 7 Higginbotham Street (now South Park Road), Macclesfield with his parents and younger siblings Lucy (6), Abraham (3) and Mary (1). James was educated at Christ Church School and connected with the Newtown Primitive Methodist Chapel.
James’ father was not at home at the time of the 1911 census so, as the eldest child, James filled out the form and signed it on behalf of his mother. A further two children, George and Lily, had been born, and James, aged 18, was employed as a grocer’s assistant to Mr Smith of 55, Chestergate, Macclesfield.
James later found employment with Messrs Hunters of Mill Street, Macclesfield, and in 1912 he moved to Tunstall, Stoke on Trent.
James enlisted with the East Yorkshire Regiment at Tunstall in May 1916 and went to Withernsea for his basic training. In October 1916 he was drafted to the Western Front with the Alexandra, Princess Of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment), and was killed in action on 25 August 1917. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 21 September 1917:
KILLED BY A SHELL – LOSS TO NEWTOWN PRIMITIVE CHAPEL
Mrs Slack, 7 Higginbotham Street, Macclesfield, has received official notification of the death in action on August 25th of her son, Corporal J Slack, Yorks Regt. The chaplain of the regiment writes: “Your son, Corporal Slack, was killed by a shell on the 25th, and I buried him the following day in the British cemetery. We are all so sorry…” The following letter was received from Captain G P Lund: “Your son suffered no pain. He was one of my best NCOs and always did his duty faithfully and cheerfully. He was respected both by officers and men.”
Corporal Slack was twenty-five years of age, and received his education at Christ Church School, being connected with the Newtown Primitive Methodist Chapel. He served his apprenticeship to the grocery business with Mr Smith, Chestergate, and afterwards at Messrs Hunter’s, Mill Street. Corporal Slack went to Tunstall about five years ago and enlisted in May 1916. He trained at Withernsea and was posted out to France in October of the same year. Pte Abraham Slack, Cheshire Regt, his brother, is in training in England.
Corporal James Slack is buried in Grave Ref. D. 8. of the Torreken Farm Cemetery No.1 near Ypres in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. His mother, who was still living at 7 Higginbotham Street, asked for the inscription TOO DEARLY LOVED IN LIFE TO BE FORGOTTEN IN DEATH to be added to his military headstone. A photograph of Corporal Slack’s grave can be seen on the Yorkshire Regiment First World War Remembrance website.
Corporal James Slack is commemorated in Macclesfield on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church and Christ Church School war memorials. He may also be the James Slack named on the St John’s Church Roll of Honour and Ancient Order of Foresters war memorials.
Brother of Abraham Slack, who served as Private 3055 with the 7th Cheshire Regt, later transferred to the Labour Corps.
Note there were two men named James Slack in the Macclesfield area at the time of the Great War; the other James Slack was born in Macclesfield in 1880, served in the UK with the Cheshire Regiment and died in Macclesfield on 3 December 1918.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Mary’s Church, Bosley, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 21 September 1917, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)