Private James MELLOR


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
10th Battalion
Service Number:
241566
(Formerly: Private 4553)
Date of Death:
26 March 1918 - Died of wounds
Age:
32
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
VIII. I. 66.


Personal History:

James was born in 1886, the son of James (Stone Hacker) and Emily (née Goodwin) Mellor. In 1891 (Census RG 12/2779) the family were living at Hayling Lane, Burbage, Buxton. James had an older brother, John W., and an older sister, Lucy, and a younger sister, Edith.
By 1901 (Census RG 13/3271) two more younger daughters had been born, Lily [see Footnote below] and Nina Elizabeth, and they had moved to Harpur Hill, Buxton. James was employed as a "Farm Waggoner".  James was still living at home, 25 Rockbank, Harpur Hill, Buxton, in 1911 (Census RG 14/21239) and employed as a "General Labourer".

Military History:
James enlisted at Buxton and his service records do not appear to have survived. His Medal Index Card does not show when he entered the war with the Battalion which usually suggest after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star medal. However, by comparing his original Service Number (4553) with others whose records have survived, it looks very likely that James enlisted for 4 years in the 3/5th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, on the 29th or 30th June 1915.

The 3/5th Battalion was formed as a home base on the 29th March 1915 respectively and moved to Grantham in October 1915. On the 8th April 1916 it became the 5th Reserve Battalion. On the 1st September 1916 the 5th Reserve Battalion absorbed the 6th at Grainthorpe. By March 1917 they had moved to Louth and went on in November 1917 to Saltfleet.

At some stage James must have been transferred to the 10th (Service) Battalion, formed at Derby in September 1914 as part of K2 (Kitchener's Second New Army) and became part of 51st Brigade in 17th (Northern) Division. The Battalion landed at Boulogne on the 14th July 1915, so obviously James joined later as a replacement or reinforcement. Without his Service Papers it is not possible to say when.

The 51st Brigade was engaged in many significant battles during the period when James could have been with them in the 10th Battalion. During the Battle of the Somme in 1916 the Battalion fought at The Battle of Albert, (1st - 13th July) and The Battle of Delville Wood, (15th July - 3rd September). In the first eleven days of the Somme offensive the battalion suffered 381 casualties, 15 of them officers.                               

The following year at The First Battle and Second Battle of the Scarpe, (9th - 14th April and 23rd -24th April 1917) - during The Battle of Arras (9th April - 16th May 1917) and later in the year at The First Battle of Passchendaele, (12th October) and The Second Battle of Passchendaele, (26th October - 10th November 1917).

The Battalion was next in action at The First Battles of the Somme, (21st March - 5th April 1918) particularly during 'Kaiserschlacht'  - the first day of the German Spring Offensive - which began on the 21st March with The Battle of St Quentin, (21st - 23rd March), followed immediately by The First Battle of Bapaume, (24th - 25th March).

In March 1918 James' 10th Battalion was stationed in huts at Bertincourt, in the Havrincourt area of the Somme when the 'Kaiserschlacht' Offensive began. High velocity German shells landed on their positions, which were quickly moved to the defence of the village of Hermies, where the Battalion offered defensive fire to the 5th Division as it retired under a heavy onslaught. The Battalion was attacked several times on the 22nd March and had to withdraw about 2,500 yards [c. 2290 m.].

James' wounds were received almost certainly on 23rd March when the Germans attacked and outflanked Jargon Trench, Doignes, held by the 10th Sherwood Foresters. 26 men of his Battalion died the three day Battle, most on the 23rd. Of these 23 have no known graves and are commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

His cause of death ("Died of wounds") and place of burial would indicate that he died in one of the many base hospitals in the Boulogne area. Until June 1918, the dead from the hospitals at Boulogne itself were buried in the Cimetière de L'Est, one of the town cemeteries. In the spring of 1918, it was found that space was running short in the Eastern Cemetery in spite of repeated extensions to the south, and the site of the new cemetery at Terlincthun was chosen.

Footnotes:
· James' sister, Lily, married Robert Blood in 1922. Robert served as Pt. 25750, Sherwood Foresters Regiment, and was the brother of
   Pt. 31866 Daniel BLOOD, (Sherwood Foresters) who died of wounds 28 March 1918, and Pt. 27541 Thomas BLOOD, Machine Gun Corps,
   k.i.a. 26 July 1916. Both are commemorated on this site.

   [Robert Blood's life is the subject of a recently published book called "The Valiant", by Beverley Oakley.
   CLICK the image on the right to find out how to download a copy of this excellent biography.]

Sources:
· I am grateful to Martin McNeela for the information from the Battalion History
· 'A History of the 10th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters 1914-1918.' by C: Housley [ASIN: B002STQL1I]


Link to CWGC Record
Private Mellor's Grave in Boulogne
poppy
Pt James Mellor