Corporal James Lomas BARRATT
(BARRETT on Memorial and CWGC Records)


Regiment/Service:
Machine Gun Corps (Motors)
M.M.G.S. (R.A.) (Motor Machine Gun Service Royal Artillery)
Unit:
14th Battery
Service Number:
625
Date of Death:
11 August 1919 - Drowned Accidentally
Age:
41
Cemetery / Memorial:
Cemeteryl Reference:
Plot CE/6. Row O. Grave 62.
Memorial Reference:
Face 11


Personal History:

James was born in the March quarter 1878 at Horwich End, Fernilee, Buxton, the eldest son of Samuel Heathcote (Railway Points man) and Martha (née Collier) Barratt. (1881 Census RG 11/3457). He had a two younger brother, Leonard and Gilbert, and a younger sister, Lottie. (1891 Census RG 12/2781).
By 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) the family had moved to 1 Wesley Terrace, Fairfield, Buxton, and James was employed as a "Postman". [See: London Gazette, 21 January 1898]

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21234) James was still living with his parents at 33 Queen's Road, Buxton, still employed as a postman. He was engaged to Elizabeth (Betty) Critchlow who lived next door to him in Buxton. (James' father was now designated "Inspector L and N W and Midland Railway". However, Samuel died in the June quarter 1916.) Probate Records show that James left £276 3s. 8d. (£276.18) to his mother - a relative value of about £11,070.00 today [2014].

When reporting his death 'The Buxton Advertiser', 23rd August 1919, said that : "It will be remembered that before joining his Majesty’s Forces James Barrett was a postman at the General Post Office, Buxton. Always a clever mechanic and skilful in motor work, he joined the Motor Corps and served in the war. He was not long ago home on leave. Of a bright, cheery disposition and a favourite with his fellows, his untimely end will be lamented by a large circle of friends. Mrs Barrett will while mourning the loss of a beloved son, have the satisfaction of knowing how highly he was esteemed. To the bereaved will be extended the deepest sympathy."

Military History:
James' Service Papers have not survived, nor is there any record on the SDGW database. His Medal Index Card shows that he first entered the War into France on the 17th July 1915. He must have been 36 years old when he enlisted, originally as Private 625 in the Machine Gun Corps. Later in the War he became a Corporal in the Motor Machine Gun Service (Royal Artillery).

Pt William Adcock, Service Number 623, i.e. 2 away from James', enlisted in the Motor Machine Gun Service on the 16th April 1915 and was posted to France a week after James. Also, Pt. 629 William Alfred Barnett enlisted on the 14th April 1915. It seems likely, therefore, that James would have enlisted about the 15th April 1915.

The 14th Battery was originally attached to the 20th (Light) Division in England. This Division was established in September 1914 as part of the Army Orders authorising Kitchener's Second New Army, K2. Just before James enlisted, in February 1915 the Division moved to Witley, Godalming and Guildford. The artillery had to go by train as there was insufficient harness for the horses! Another move was made, to Salisbury Plain, in April 1915. The Division was inspected by King George V at Knighton Down on the 24th June 1915, by which time all equipment had arrived and the Division was judged ready for war.

By the 26th July 1915 the Division had moved to the Western Front and completed concentration in the Saint-Omer area, all units, including James', having crossed to France during the preceding few days. Early trench familiarisation and training took place in the Fleurbaix area.

James' 14th Motor Machine Gun Battery left the 20th Division on the 22nd April 1916, before it took part in The Battles of the Somme. It then joined the 1/ANZAC Corps which had moved to France from Gallipoli in 1916. During The Battles of the Somme (1st July - 18th November 1916) James' new Division was engaged in the Battle of Pozieres, 23rd July - 3rd September, in particular in fighting for Mouquet Farm.

The 14th M.M.G.B. was attached to 1st Division between 19th July and 17th October 1917. The 1st Division was warned to prepare for an operation along the Belgian coast (Operation Hush) in the Summer 1917 and several mobile units were attached in readiness. The operation was cancelled when the initial assaults in the Third Battle of Ypres failed to progress as expected.

By January 1918 James had been posted to India and his Battery was with the 5th (Mhow) Division of the Indian Army at Jubbulpore. It was there, the following August, long after the War ended, that James drowned on the 11th August. The following Monday, the 18th, His widowed mother, Martha, received notification of her son's death, from his Commanding Officer.

James is commemorated on the Kirkee Memorial which commemorates more than
1,800 servicemen who died in India during the War, who are buried in civil and
cantonment cemeteries in India and Pakistan where their graves can no longer be
properly maintained. However, James' burial took place in Jubbulpore Cantonment
Cemetery where he still lies in Plot CE/6. Row O. Grave 62.
                                    


Footnote:
· The diary of Sgt James Lomas Barratt was written in 1915 and 1916, and is available for
   viewing at Derbyshire Council's record offices in Matlock, catalogue reference D7158.

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser', 23rd August 1919

Link to CWGC Record
The Kirkee Memorial
poppy
James Barrett'name on the Memorial
about the Motor Machine Gun Service.
Jubbulpore Cantonment Cemetery