James William Morris


Private No.12512, 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Died 5th May 1915 aged 32

Buried Reninghelst Churchyard Extension, Belgium

Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Marsden Morris

Lived 11, Union Road, Heckmondwike

James was born in 1883 in Heckmondwike, the second son of Samuel Morris and Elizabeth nee Marsden, who had married in the Dewsbury area in 1877. Sam was a Coal Miner from Huddersfield and his wife had been born in Heckmondwike.

The 1881 census shows Sam and Elizabeth living with her invalid mother Hannah Marsden at High Street, Heckmondwike, and Sam is working as a Dyer’s Labourer, his wife, Elizabeth, as a Woollen Blanket Weaver together with her younger sister Mary. Their first son Fred is mentioned as being 3 years old.

By 1891 the family had moved to Crossley Lane, Mirfield. Samuel, by now aged 33 is employed as a Coal Miner again and they have four children, Fred (10), James W (8), Hartley (3) and Pricilla (1).

The 1901 census shows they had returned to Heckmondwike and were living at 35, Croft Street with seven of their children. Fred, the eldest has joined his father down the coal mine and Esther was working in a mill, but James William is not at home. On the 28th November 1900 he had enlisted with the West Riding Regiment, a job which he kept for 12 years, being posted in “India” at the time of the 1911 census, which lists him with fellow soldiers. His parents were living in Lancashire. Sam was lodging, but his wife was staying with her daughter Esther and other family members, including her younger son, George Henry Morris, who later also became a casualty of the war.

Private James William Morris had been discharged from the army on the 14th July 1913 ‘a good and steady sober man’, after an eventful career. At the outbreak of the Great War he was employed as a Collier, working at Messrs. Read Holiday & Sons Ltd and living at Square Hill, Kirkheaton with his wife, Mabel Mary nee Coates who was born in Ambala, India and he had married in 1911.

He enlisted in Huddersfield, the records stating that he was born in Kirkheaton, and taking the rank of Private, joined the 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment).

James William Morris saw action on Hill 60 at the time of the first German gas attacks in April, which killed many British soldiers including himself and Corporal Fred North also of Heckmondwike, on May 5th 1915. Letters were then written home by fellow soldiers at the front to friends and family, which were published in the Heckmondwike Herald, relating the location of their graves in Reninghelst and the laying of flowers by fellow soldiers and the local ladies.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reported ‘that he was a man of fine physique, an enthusiastic rugby footballer and was predominantly connected with the battalion team and the Kirkheaton Club.

The family address: 4, Hope Street, High Street, is in the Velum Memorial Book in Heckmondwike Library.

Locally commemorated: on the Green Park memorial and the Kirkheaton Parish Church memorial.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory medal.{KH-092}

Website: Kirkheaton local history.

Publication: Huddersfield Roll of Honour 1914-1922 by J M Stansfield.

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