Date of death: 19.2.1916
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Husband of Elsie nee Higgs
Service number: 2813
According to the Medal Rolls Index Cards, James arrived in France on 13th April 1915. In February 1916 the 1st/4th Battalion were in the region of Authuille. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission states date of death as 10th February but on that day the Battalion were on a route march to billets in Breilly via Reincourt – Cavillon-Foudrinoy with no casualties – or fighting – reported. It seems more likely to have occurred on the date the Wakefield Express reported. According to the war diary, on 17th February they relieved the 5th Battalion KOYLI. On the 18th February the war diary states that it was “Very quiet: No rifle fire: Enemy shelled front trench heavily with whizz-bangs. The following day – the day James died according to the Express – it reads
“19.2.16. Very quiet: no rifle fire: Enemy shelled front trench with heavy shells. Casualties: 3 O.R. killed; two wounded with rifle grenades”.
The Wakefield Express reported on March 4th 1916:
“A WRENTHORPE SOLDIER KILLED
HIT BY A RIFLE GRENADE
The news has been received of the death in France of James Shaw of Springfield View, Wrenthorpe, a private in the 1st/4th KOYLI whose wife and baby are at present living at 49, Rodney Yard, Wakefield.
The widow has received a sympathetic letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Hargreaves, who states that Shaw was killed in action on February 19th, being killed instantly by an enemy rifle grenade. The Commanding Officer adds ‘Your husband was a brave soldier and he will be greatly missed by his comrades in the company. He was buried last night in a small military cemetery just behind a ruined village a few hundred yards from the firing line’.
Shaw who was 22 years of age enlisted in October 1914 previous to which he worked at Newton Colliery.”
James was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 14/15 Star and laid to rest in the Authuille Military Cemetery. He is remembered on the Wrenthorpe Colliery Memorial as well as the Wrenthorpe St Anne’s Memorial.
James Shaw’s marriage took place at St Mary Magdalene Church Outwood on December 18th 1915, where he married 20 year old Elsie Higgs of Leeds Road Outwood. His full name was given as John James Shaw of 4 Springfield View, Wrenthorpe and his occupation was listed as a Private in the KOYLI. His father was George Thomas Shaw deceased.
I found a John James Shaw living in South Elmsall in 1911. He was living with his brother George Thomas and sister in law Matilda. There was another brother also living there called Henry. George and Thomas were both coal miner hewers, while James, who was recorded as having been born in Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, was a pony driver, presumably also in the pit.