James E Culley, L/Cpl 14069, 12th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Died 23rd November 1917 in Greece, aged 24
James Edward Culley was born in Adlington and baptised at St Peter’s Church, Prestbury on 21 November 1895, the son of Nancy and William Culley, a labourer of Adlington.
By 1901, the family had moved to 70 Thomas St, Gorton, Lancashire, where James’ sister Ellen (Nellie) was born; but ten years later they had returned to live at New Road, Butley, near Prestbury, where fifteen-year-old James was living with his parents and siblings Fred (13), Ellen (10) and John (3). By then James had left school and was employed as an under-gardener; he later found employment as a chauffeur at Collar House, Prestbury.
The family later moved to Bollin View, Prestbury.
James enlisted in Macclesfield on 2 September 1914, his occupation at the time of enlistment being chauffeur. He was given the regimental number 14069 and assigned to the 12th (Service) Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. James was described as being 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 125 pounds, with a 31 inch chest. He had blue eyes and light brown hair.
On 5 September 1915 James left Southampton for France, but this is likely to have been merely in order to cross the country to the south of France, as on 28 October 1915 he was posted to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, leaving from Marseilles for Salonika. He was hospitalised on the island of Malta on 25 August 1916, suffering from Malaria, but returned to active service on 14 October 1916.
On 3 June 1917 James was appointed Acting Lieutenant Corporal, and he was killed in action in Salonika five months later on 23 November 1917. The report of his death, printed in the Macclesfield Times on 14 December 1917, mistakenly states that he was killed in Palestine:
LCE-CORP E CULLEY
Mr and Mrs William Culley, Bollin Grove, Prestbury, have received notification that their son, Lce-Cpl Culley, Cheshire Regt, was killed in Palestine on Nov 23rd. Lce-Cpl Culley was twenty-two years of age and received his education at Prestbury School… He was formerly a member of the Church Choir and a bellringer. The deceased was connected with the Village Club and the Football Club, and in civil life was employed as assistant chauffeur at Collar House. He enlisted on the outbreak of war and was in Salonika for two years and three months. Pte Fred Culley, his brother, is serving in France with the Cheshire Regt.
On 26th April 1918 L/Cpl Culley’s personal property was returned to his family. The property comprised of 1 Metal Ring, Photos, 1 Purse, 1 Cross, 2 Wallets, 1 Steel Mirror in Case, Cards, 3 Coins, 1 Cigarette Case and 1 Notebook.
L/Cpl James Culley is buried in Grave Ref. C. 600. of the Karasouli Military Cemetery, Greece. His father asked for the inscription “GONE IS THE ONE WHOM WE LOVED SO WELL BUT FOR EVER IN OUR HEARTS WILL HE DWELL” to be added to his headstone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for L/Cpl James Culley, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, L/Cpl James Culley is commemorated on the Prestbury St Peter’s Church war memorial.
Brother of Pte Fred Culley who served in France with the Cheshire Regt and is believed to have survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Peter’s Church, Prestbury
Census (England & Wales): 1911
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
Lives of the First World War website
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 14 December 1917
Macclesfield Advertiser: 14 December 1917 (photo)
Thanks to Ian, great-nephew of James Culley, for the photograph of his memorial in Karasouli Military Cemetery; emails from you have been received but it appears that replies are not reaching you.