1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Laurence James

Contributed by: Judith, on 2008-11-03

Laurence James
First Name Laurence
Surname James
Year of Birth 1894
Year of Death 1958
Regiment London Regiment
Place of Wartime Residence Grays, Essex

Laurence's Story

Laurence James joined the Artist's Rifles in 1915, transferring to the Shiny Seventh almost immediately, and being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant within six months. The Regiment were held in reserve until the end of 1916, but crossed to France in January 1917. Laurence kept a notebook diary from then until March 1918, he gave brief entries about what he was doing, in and around Ypres, where periods of duty at the Front were broken up by relief behind the lines and training.

"We were coolly informed, in perfect French, that we were prisoners"

He was wounded in August 1917, near Poperinghe, and then, in action in Shrewsbury Forest during September 1917, he won the MC, having led a party to capture a dugout, from where fire was holding up the advance of his company. When later asked by his son what he had done to win the award he replied, "Oh, just for bombing a couple of Germans out of a trench".

He was promoted to Captain and given two weeks leave in February 1918, when he received his medal at Buckingham Palace. Rejoining the regiment towards the end of February, he found they had moved to Beaulieu-Le Fontaine. His diary notes, "excellent billet, best I struck in France. Had 4 weeks glorious time - football, sports, horse racing - training only in mornings". However, whilst out on patrol at the end of March, he mistook a German patrol for a French one and was taken prisoner.

He was taken to Rastatt, near Baden, where the conditions were bad and the food poor, his cards home asking constantly for food to be sent. However in June he was moved to Graudenz in Poland, and Red Cross parcels started to arrive. He remained a prisoner of war until December 1918, when he was repatriated.

In 1919, he married his girlfriend (my grandmother) whilst still in uniform, and he applied for a regular commission. Having trained as an accountant before the war, he joined the Corps of Military Accountants, and remained in the Army. He served through the peace, through the Second World War and was still serving at his death in 1958.

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