Commemorated: Le Touret Memorial Panel: 13 Killed in Action: 22 October 1914 Age: 26
Personal: James was born on 5th May 1889 at 7 Levy Street, Bolton, Lancashire (1891 Census RG 12/3123). He was the son of Joseph and Hannah (née Haslam) Greenhalgh.
Ten years later (1901 Census RG 13/3603) the family had moved to 13 Croston Street, Daubhill, Bolton.
James’ father was a foreman storekeeper in a textile machine manufacturing works. He later became an employer in the same business in Manchester and retired to Timperley, Cheshire.
James had an older brother, William Alfred, and three younger siblings, Ernest, Stanley and Ethel Hannah.
James was educated at St. George the Martyr’s School and the Bolton Church Institute and entered Manchester University in 1907, prior to which he was a student teacher at St. James’ School, Gorton. He gained a BA in 1910, a Teachers Certificate Class II also in 1910, and an M.A. in Philology (the study of language in oral and written historical sources) in 1912. He was a member of the Officer Training Corps from November 1908 to September 1911.
During a short teaching career, James was a classics master at Lord Williams’ Grammar School, Thame, Oxfordshire, between 1910 and 1912, and at Ashton-in-Makerfield Grammar School, Lancashire from 1912 to 1914 (1911 Census RG 14/8101).
He also gained the French Language Certificate of Rouen. Just before the outbreak of war he became Secretary of the International Textile Institute (Manchester) after successfully completing part of the Bachelor of Commerce course.
James was a prominent footballer playing for his school, the University and Bolton Wanderers. He secured his colours for three different counties.
Military Service: James had been a member of Manchester University Officers Training Corps and was on the Reserve of Officers. He was Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant to the 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment on 6th August 1914.
On 13th October the Battalion suffered 68 casualties while attacking the village of Rue d’Ouvert and then spent two nights in the trenches. On 17th October 248 reinforcements arrived and the Battalion finally captured the village of Violaines, just over a mile WNW of La Bassée, at 18.15 hours, where, for the next five days, it took part in heavy fighting, especially on 20-21 October during failed attempts to capture La Bassée.
The enemy launched a huge offensive on the 20th October 1914 that reached from Arras to the sea and included a heavy assault upon the 1st Battalion at Violaines.
During the 21st and the 22nd October the 1st Battalion lost rather more than 200 NCOs and men.
“Captain Shore, after working so hard, so gallantly and so long for the battalion, was captured, as also was 2/Lt. Leicester. 2/Lts. Pogson and Stalker brought the remnants out. The battalion in effect had ceased to exist. Such as they were, they continued the business of digging trenches, all utterly exhausted. The adjutant, Lt. T.L. Frost took over command and the grand old QM, Micky Sproule, assumed the appointment of adjutant. It is a sad and sufficient commentary to note that in this month of October the battalion had no less than seven commanding officers.” [Ever Glorious – Bernard Rigby]
Three days after James was wounded and died, Captain Lewis Lloyd wrote to James’ parents: “On Friday night your son was my subaltern, when we had a pretty hot time with the enemy. I was wounded by the first volley, and your son took my place and behaved splendidly. He carried on as well or better than I could have done had I been unwounded, and it was entirely due to his behaviour that we were able to drive off the enemy and to retire with our wounded. I can never thank him enough. I personally brought his conduct to the knowledge of the General, and trust he will receive the honour he deserves.”
The 2nd March 1915 edition of the local newspaper reported on the mystery surrounding Lt. Greenhalgh of the 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment, (‘C’ Company). The War Office stated that he has been missing since 7th November 1914. Two postcards sent by a Sergeant Saunders to two young ladies stated that he was dead as he (Sgt. Saunders) had found the body and removed two letters from his pocket.
Another report states that he was taken as a POW – that he was definitely at La Bassée, but not seen afterwards. James’ death was reported in the 23rd October 1914 edition of the Altrincham Guardian. The 4th February 1916 edition of the local newspaper reports that he had been missing for 12 months and had now been officially presumed dead.
James has no known grave and is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial (picture right). He is also commemorated on:
- University of Manchester War Memorial, Main Quadrangle
- Bolton Church Institute School War Memorial
- Ashton-in-Makerfield Grammar School WW1 Memorial Plaque
- Christ Church War Memorial, Timperley
- Sources: De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, Part Two, p.146
- The Serpent, Roll of Honour Supplement to Volume II, 1917-18, University of Manchester Archive