29364 PTE. J. BARTON. E.LANCS.
James Barton was born in 1884 in Bamber Bridge. His father was William Barton (b. 1853 in Bamber Bridge), a cotton weaver. His mother was Rose Ann (maiden name not known, b. 1858 in the United Sates, but a British citizen). William and Rose Ann were married at Brownedge St Mary’s in 1883 and they had three children: James and his two sisters, Mary (b. 1886) and Sarah Ann (b. 1888). In 1911, William and Rose Ann were living with their three grown-up children at 7 Mounsey Road, Bamber Bridge. They all worked in the cotton mill – James was a warehouseman and his two sisters were ring spinners.
James enlisted probably in 1915 in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was assigned service number 5256 and posted to 3/4 Battalion. 3/4Bn was a reserve battalion so James may have trained with them but he was later transferred to the East Lancashire Regiment, with a new service number – 29364 – and posted to 11th Battalion. 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington) are better known as the Accrington Pals. They came under orders of 94th Brigade in 31st Division. In late 1915 the Division went to Egypt and in the first couple of months of 1916 they were engaged in the defence of the Suez Canal. They moved to France in March 1916 and began training for the major offensive planned for later in the year. On the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, 31st Division was to attack the village of Serre-lès-Puisieux and form a defensive flank for the rest of the British advance. 31st Division's attack on Serre was a disaster, although some of the Accrington Pals did make it as far as the village before being killed or captured. One of the battalion's signallers, observing from the rear, reported:
"We were able to see our comrades move forward in an attempt to cross No Man's Land, only to be mown down like meadow grass. I felt sick at the sight of the carnage and remember weeping."
Approximately 700 men from the Accrington Pals went into action on 1 July; 585 men became casualties: 235 killed and 350 wounded in little more than half an hour. We don’t know if James was a survivor of Serre or if he was sent out among reinforcements during the summer.
After the disaster at Serre, 11Bn was withdrawn and eventually reinforced and returned to the front line at the end of the Somme offensive, at the Battle of the Ancre (13-18 November). They remained on this part of the front through the winter of 1916-17 and they fought in the operations along the Ancre during the spring, before moving south in May to take part in the Third Battle of the Scarpe (part of the Battle of Arras), including the capture of Oppy Wood.
They were still in this area in June and here from 1-9 June they were engaged in digging defensive and communications trenches. From 10-15 they were in the front line and then in reserve and then back in camp on 19 June at Écrurie, near Arras. From 19-26 June they practised for an attack on CADORNA TRENCH (near Oppy). They moved into the trenches on the night of 26/27 June and the following night they moved into attack positions. They began their attack at 7.10am on the morning of 28 June and captured their objective after strong resistance. 41 Germans were counted dead. On the night of 30 June / 1 July, the Battalion continued to occupy the trenches and they were relieved the following night. During this raid, 14 men from 11Bn lost their lives and only two bodies were recovered for burial. James Barton was among the dead. He was 33 years old.
Service Number: 29364
Date of Death: 01/07/1917
Regiment/Service: East Lancashire Regiment, 11Bn
Cemetery/memorial reference: Bay 6.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Additional Information: Son of William and Rose Ann Barton, of 7 Mounsey Road, Bamber Bridge, Lancs.