James Barber, Private 39886, 5th Bn. South Wales Borderers
Killed in action 14th April 1918 in Belgium, aged 31
James Barber was baptised on 1 August 1886 at St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield, the son of Mary and James Barber, a silk power loom overlooker of 26 Turnock St, Macclesfield. In 1891, four-year-old James was living at that address with his parents and siblings William (12), Joseph (10), Thomas (7) and Annie (2). By 1901 the family had moved to 38 Jodrell Street and James, who was employed as a silk bobbin carrier, had three more siblings: Fred (9), Lizzie (8) and Wilfred (5).
On 31 August 1907 James married Mary Finlow at Park Green United Methodist Chapel, Macclesfield. At the time, he was employed as a joiner and lived at 47 Brook Street, Macclesfield. The couple later lived at 40 Lord Street, Macclesfield, and had two children.
James enlisted in Macclesfield in 1916, initially joining the Monmouthshire Regt with service number 4361.
James was killed in action on 14 April 1918; his death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 10 May 1918:
Mrs Barber, 40 Lord St, has been informed that her husband, Pte James Barber, South Wales Borderers, was killed in action on April 14th. Pte Barber, who was 31 years of age, enlisted two years ago and went out to France six months later. He was educated at St Paul’s School and worshipped at Park Green U. M. Chapel. Prior to enlistment he was employed as a joiner by Mr J B Cooke, Buxton Road. Two of his brothers are now serving and one has been discharged. Pte Barber leaves a wife and two children to mourn their loss.
Private James Barber is buried at Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, Belgium, in grave ref. IV. E. 25. His brother William paid for the inscription ‘LATE OF MACCLESFIELD, ENGLAND “IN LOVING MEMORY OF DUTY NOBLY DONE”‘ to be added to his headstone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private James Barber, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private James Barber is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, St George’s Church, Church Street West Methodist Chapel and Park Green United Methodist Chapel war memorials.
Brother of Frederick Barber, who served as Private 10301 in the South Wales Borderers and was discharged from the Army on 15 January 1916 after being severely wounded, causing damage to the sight of his right eye and the amputation of the index finger on his right hand; Wilfred Barber, who is believed to have served in the Merchant Navy; and another brother who served.
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers (Find My Past): St Paul’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
Cheshire Non-conformist & Roman Catholic Marriage Registers (Find My Past): Park Green Methodist Chapel, Macclesfield
Soldiers Died in the Great War (Find My Past)
WWI Absent Voters Lists (FindMyPast): Macclesfield Parliamentary Division
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 10 May 1918
Macclesfield Courier: 26 August 1916 (Unveiling of Park Green Methodist Chapel Roll of Honour)