Research and text by Brian Roote
James was born in Crewe on 19 May 1896 to William and Louise Jones. The family moved to Croydon and lived at 16 Lebanon. His father worked in the Borough Engineer’s Office in Croydon Town Hall. James attended Selhurst Grammar (previously known as The Borough Grammar School for Boys) on 11 September 1906. On leaving he became a junior assistant at The Borough Engineer’s Office, and was based at Russell Hill Waterworks.
He enlisted on 23 August 1915 and trained at Warlingham, Wendover and Northampton. He went to France in April 1916. He was posted missing on 1 July 1916 but it seems the family was not told his body had been found until January 1918 After two years of living in hope, the family were devastated. His father wrote to the Army in very strong terms, complaining bitterly about the delay. No reply is in the records. In 1920 they were offered the Plaque and Scroll which all families were offered but they completely refused the items and his medal card is endorsed ‘NO MEDALS’ by order. The final piece in this sad story is that when James’ effects were calculated after the war they came to £3 19s.11d. plus War Gratuity £3. The register has the words ‘cheque not cashed’ against the War Gratuity payment.
James is remembered on Thiepval Memorial Selhurst Grammar School Roll of Honour, and Croydon Roll of Honour (as published in Croydon and the Great War, edited by Ald. H. Keatley Moore, 1920).