Lance Corporal James FERRIS


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
1/6th Battalion
Service Number:
1661
Date of Death:
9 August 1916 - Died of wounds
Age:
22
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
II. B. 6.

Personal History:
James was born at Upper End, Wormhill, Derbyshire, on the 2nd August 1894, the son of Uriah (Foreman - Lime works) and Hannah Ferris. He had four older brothers and sisters, Arthur, Jonathan Robert, Annie Elizabeth and Martha Ellen (1901 Census RG 13/3273).
By 1911 (Census RG 14/21263) James was the only child still at home, living at Pine Cottages, Peak Dale, Buxton, and employed, along with his father as a "Weigher of Stone Works". A year later, on his enlistment papers, he gave his occupation as "Rope Runner". At the time of his enlistment in 1912 he was 5 ft. 6 ins. (1.70 m.) tall.  James' father died the March quarter 1913 and Hannah later moved to 'Hill Top', Peak Dale.

Military History:
James enlisted into the 6th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment),
aged 17 years 9 months, at Peak Dale, nr. Buxton, on 17th April 1912, so was a serving
soldier at the time War broke out. At that time the 6th was a Territorial Force Battalion.
He had two weeks training at Abermaide Camp in August 1912 and again at Clumber Park,
27th July to 10th August 1913.

James' War Service commenced on 5th August 1914 and his record shows he was
promoted to Lance Corporal on 12th February 1916, being demoted back to Private on
the 3rd July that year. However, at the time of his death 5 weeks later at No. 2 Canadian
Hospital, Le Treport, "from wounds received in action", he appears to have regained his
rank as Lance Corporal. At that time he had served 4 years 115 days with the Battalion.

His Service Papers also show that James sailed from Southampton and entered France at
Le Havre on 28th February 1915 along with 547 other Officers and men. In May 1916 the 46th
Division, including James' Battalion, moved towards the training areas in preparation  for the
attack on the 1st July - The Battle of The Somme.

On the evening of the 1st July the Battalion was withdrawn from the line and marched to billets at Fonquevillers and Warlincourt, arriving on the 2nd. After 10 days rest in Divisional reserve the Battalion moved back to the Front line, replacing the 5th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment on 11th July.

On the 24th July the war Diary reported that "..a patrol made up of 2/Lts E. Kershaw & F.R. Oliver & 2 Other Ranks penetrated gap in the TALUS wire and lay on bank. Whilst there they were challenged by a German patrol who fired, severely wounding 2/Lt Oliver. Pte Webb missing. Others got back with valuable information." [The 'Talus' was a bank (or sunken fence) 200 yards long in advance of the enemy's main line and lying in a hollow screened from direct observation.]

On 30th July 1916 James received a gunshot wound to the right leg, fracturing the femur,
for which his leg was amputated at the thigh. He died of "shock following the amputation"
at 11.15 p.m. on 9th August. During the First World War, Le Treport was an important
hospital centre and by July 1916, the town contained three general hospitals (the 3rd,
16th and 2nd Canadian). It would have been to one of these that James was admitted for
his operation, and where he subsequently died.  As the original military cemetery at Le
Treport filled, it became necessary to use the new site at Mont Huon, where he now lies.

The history of the Battalion records that:

"At 10.30 p.m., on the 28th, Lieut. Kershaw left No. 15 sap with orders to find a gap in the
Talus wire and reconnoitre it as far as the third belt of wire. Rather more than an hour later
two of the scouts came back and guided the main party to the front, and these joined the
remainder of the scouts at 12.15 a.m., on the 29th, when all passed through the gap and entered the Talus, the blocking party moving towards the bushes on the left, while the scouts remained on the bank.

It goes on to say, that finding his way blocked by more wire, 2/Lieutenant Evans decided to make his way back, withdrawing without notice, but eventually coming under fire.

"Meanwhile the rest of 2nd Lieut. Evan's party, and also the scouts, made their way back to No. 15 sap without difficulty, but when near our sap, one man and one Non-Commissioned officer were wounded by enemy machine gun fire.
This NCO was undoubtedly James Ferris.

Sources:
· "Chesterfield Sherwoods on the Somme" - 1/6th (Territorial) Battalion, Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment
   (Sherwood Foresters)
· "Men of the High Peak: A History of the 1/6th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters 1914-18" - Capt. W D Jamieson
   (ISBN-10: 0952964864) Miliquest Publications (1 Oct 2004)


Link to CWGC Record
James Ferris' grave
The postcard shows 'C' Company (Ashbourne and Buxton) at Clumber Park in 1913. It is likely this was James' Company and he is on the picture.
Part of the Peak Dale Memorial
James' name on the Peak Dale Memorial
poppy
Mont Huon Hospital c. 1918
Mont Huon Hospital c. 1918