Date of birth: 1897
Date of death: 11.12.1917
Area: Ferrybridge, Knottingley
Regiment: Royal Garrison Artillery
Family information: Son of Ralph and Eliza Baker of Fishergate, Ferrybridge
Service number: 83835
James Baker joined up in May 1916 and became a Gunner service number 83835 in the 161st Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.
The Italians entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915. Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918. On 4th December 1917 the 11th and 14th British Corps relieved the Italians on the Montello sector of the Piave front, with the French on their left. The Montello sector acted as a hinge to the whole Italian line, joining that portion facing north from Mount Tomba to Lake Garda with the defensive line of the River Piave covering Venice, which was held by the Third Italian Army. The Commonwealth troops on the sector were not involved in any large operations, but they carried out continuous patrol work across the River Piave, as well as much successful counter battery work. James Baker died aged 22 on 11th December 1917 and is buried in the Giavera British Cemetery, Arcade – Plot 1 Row E Grave 9. Men who died in defending the Piave from December 1917 to March 1918 and those who fell on the west of the river during the Passage of the Piave are buried in this cemetery.
His Military Service Record shows that he was the son of Elizabeth Ann and his sisters were Laura (22) and Blanche (25).
Pontefract Advertiser 26th January 1918
“Gunner James Baker of the RGA, only son of Mr and Mrs Ralph Baker of Fishergate, Ferrybridge, is reported to have been killed in action on Dec 11th. He joined up in May 1916 and early in the following January crossed over to France, but it was in Belgium that he met his gallant end, being instantaneously killed whilst on duty. His senior officer writes to the bereaved parents that “he was a man on whom his officers, NCO’s and comrades placed infinite reliance and trust.” He was held in high esteem locally and every sympathy will be extended to his distressed father and mother in the loss of their only, but very gallant, son.”
Pontefract and Castleford Express 18th January 1918 – Roll of Honour
“83835 Gunner James Baker, Royal Garrison Artillery, birthplace Ferrybridge, residence Fishergate – enlisted at Knottingley – died 11 December 1917, killed in action France and Flanders.
Gunner James Baker, RGA only son of Mr & Mrs R Baker, Ferrybridge, killed in action in France 11 December 1917 aged 20 years.
“Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
James Baker was born in 1897, the son of Ralph Baker and Eliza Ann Shaw who married on 18th June 1892 at St Andrew’s Church, Ferrybridge.
In the 1911 census he is shown as a “Boy in a Warehouse” which was part of the pottery industry, living at Fishergate, Ferrybridge with his parents Ralph (45) and Elizabeth Ann (46) and his siblings Blanche (17) and Laura (12).