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Crimean WarBoer WarWorld WarsRoll of HonourBoys Brigade in WW1
War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 39383
12/13th Battalion Northumberland
Who was Killed in Action on Thursday, 18th April 1918
Age 29

No Known Grave Panel 19 to 23 & 162
Memorial to the "Missing", Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, West Flanders, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium1

James Hallam was born in Long Eaton, Derbyshire in 18882, the ninth of eleven children of James Hallam (b. 1840, Stapleford, Notts) and his second wife Eliza (b. c1851, Long Eaton, Derbyshire, née Parker). James senior was the youngest son of George & Esther Hallam who lived all their married lives in Stapleford with George working as a shoemaker and their four sons finding jobs mining iron ore at the local ironworks at Stanton. After George died in 1867, his widow and John, her eldest son, whose wife had also died, moved first to Long Eaton and then to Beeston. James also moved to Long Eaton, and married his second wife there in 1869. Both John and James were to go on to develop careers as 'hawkers' - selling door-to-door and in the streets - John selling fish, fruit and vegetables and James selling bread and confectionery. John's enterprise was eventually to lead to his son Fred's significant contribution to Beeston's High Road where his descendants still operate as fishmongers and greengrocers after over 100 years. James was to stay in Long Eaton and develop his business there but it is clear that the family network continued3.

In 1901, James and Eliza were at 6 Queens Street, Long Eaton with James described as a self-employed 'hawker of buns'4 although, as their children became of working age, each tended to find work in the local lace trade. James junior was then aged 12 and therefor still at school, but was also to start his working life as a lace maker in due course.

In 1910, James junior married Florence Sowter and they set up home at 7 Oakland Avenue, Long Eaton. Sadly, their first child, Ivy, who was born later in 1910, died within days of her birth5. John, their only other child, was to be born in August 19156 but they were therefor able to have just over a year together as a family before the reality of the war required James to enlist in September 19167. As a newly married man, it is perhaps understandable that James was not amongst those who enlisted so enthusiastically in the early months of the war. By 1916, however, the number of men volunteering for service was diminishing and was not meeting the relentless demand from the Western Front and the Government was looking for ways to fill the gap. The Derby Scheme, which introduced canvassing for volunteers had still not persuaded the required numbers and the Military Service Act was now enacted which meant that all single men aged between 18 and 41 (with some exceptions) would be automatically conscripted with married men not included in this requirement until May. It appears that James had enlisted accordingly.

James joined the 12th (Service) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers which had been formed at Newcastle in September 1914 as one of 51 battalions raised by the Regiment for service in the Great War Having first entered France in September 1915, it had suffered heavy casualties in its first encounter at Loos but has subsequently reinforced and went on the take part in the Somme battles in 1916.

After a period of training, it is possible that James joined his battalion in France by the time they were in action during the Battles of the Scarpe between April and May 1917. Otherwise, it is certain that he was with the battalion when it faced the horrors of various phases at Passchendaele later that year. In August 1917, 12th & 13th Battalions amalgamated to become 12/13th Battalion8.

On 21st March 1918, the German Army launched its Spring Offensive from the Hindenburg Line with the objective of ending the war before American troops and resources could tilt the balance towards the Allies. The plan was to smash through the Allied lines, push the British forces into the sea and to cut off their supply lines by seizing the ports. Very heavy bombardments which included gas shells were launched at various points and advancing attacks began to gain ground. When the surprise attack began, 12th/13th Battalion was in the front line trenches at Heudecourt and was soon overwhelmed on its right flank and the battalion H.Q. was overrun, killing or taking prisoner five officers. Over the next three days, the battalion fought a strong rear guard but with many casualties - 14 officers and 424 other ranks. After withdrawing to a new line, the remaining officers and men merged with those in other depleted battalions to form a new battalion.

At the beginning of April the battalion moved to Locre where further reorganisation and re-equipping was possible and this continued after two drafts totaling 373 men were taken onto strength. On the 10th, the battalion once more came under heavy bombardment and attacks but was, at least at first, able to repulse the enemy. However, on the 16th, while in the Vierstraat - Kemmel line, more bombardment and attacks were launched by the enemy which managed to turn the battalion's right flank and subsequent heavy fighting resulted in another heavy toll of casualties totaling 15 officers and 320 other ranks - although it managed, somehow, to hold a defensive position until it was withdrawn on the 18th. At some time during these chaotic days9. Private Hallam was killed in action. A notional date of 18th April was officially recorded.

As his body was never identified, Private Hallam is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing within the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery of that name. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war. On the forward slope of the Passchendaele Ridge is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. The cemetery and its surrounding memorial are located outside of Passchendaele, near Zonnebeke in Belgium. The Cross of Sacrifice is to be found in a central position in the cemetery, at the base of the cross a small patch of the original German Block House can still be seen, contained within a bronze wreath, while on the far side, between it and the memorial wall, is a collection of some 300 graves. These are the original battle-field burials left where they were found after the Armistice. The other some nearly 12,000 graves which stand in parade ground order, were brought in from the surrounding area after the Armistice. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery makes up the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. On completion of the Menin Gate memorial to the missing in Ypres, it was discovered that it was too small to contain all the names that were originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15th August was chosen and the names of the UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial instead. The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces and a further 1,176 New Zealanders10.

Private Hallam was posthumously awaited the Victory Medal and the British Medal11. His Army financial effects of 13 7s 5d, which included his war gratuity of 9, were paid to his widow in two parts on 20 August and 8 October 1919.12.

Although Private Hallam is remembered on the memorial in Beeston Parish Church it does appear that his connection with Beeston relies entirely on his family ties with his uncle John Hallam. Strangely, his name does not seem to be recorded on the Long Eaton Roll of Honour13 where it would be particularly appropriate.

James' widow, Florence Hallam, did not remarry. After her son John married Constance Loseby in 1934 and set up home in Loughborough, Florence is known to have lived with her elderly parents at their home in Castle Donington although nothing is known currently about her later years. James father, James senior, died in 1926 followed by his mother Eliza in 193414.

1The photograph of the Tyne Cot Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Shardlow Registration District (of which Long Eaton was then part) in Q4/1888 (Ref 7b 465)
3We hope to include this interesting family's story elsewhere on this site in due course. Another of James' and John's brothers was the grandfather of David Hallam, the owner of this site.
4Long Eaton, Derbyshire, 1901 Census, Piece 3210 Folio 48.
James siblings were John Henry (1869-1940), George (c1871-1919), Edith Annie (b. 1873), Sarah (b. 1875) Esther (b. 1878), Gertrude Elizabeth (1881-1964. Lizzie (1884-1907), Charles Frederick (1886-1929), Walter (1891-1965) and Maud (1893-1980)
5Long Eaton, Derbyshire, 1911 Census, Piece 20843 RD434 SD4 ED22 Schedule 133. They had married in Q2/1919 (Shardlow Registration District, Ref 7b 966. Ivy, their daughter, was born and died in Q3/1910.
6Their son, John Hallam, was born on 9 August 1915 and was registered in Basford Registration District in Q3/1915 (Ref 7b 490). This might indicate that the couple had move away from Long Eaton by this time - possible to Beeston, which was part of Basford Registration District. We have not had sight of the certificate.
7His enlistment date has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity. His original attachment to 12th Battalion is indicated by his entry in the Medal Rolls
8Details of 12th Battalion's deployment between 1915 and 1917 is derived from the Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/278/northumberland-fusiliers).
9The account of 12/13thth Battalion's deployment during March and April 1918 is based on its war diary (available at ancestry.com).
10This description of the Tyne Cot Memorial is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
11Details from James' entry in the Medal Rolls - available on ancestry.com.
12Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
13The Long Eaton Roll of Honour is in the Council Chamber at the Long Eaton Town Hall. A transcription is available on the local British Legion website. The section that should include James Hallam is at http://branches.britishlegion.org.uk/branches/long-eaton/remembrance/the-g-l-roll-of-honour-ww1
14Family details are from standard genealogical sources, including the September 1939 Registration.

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