James Lee

JAMES LEE (1881 - 1918)

James was born in Macclesfield, the son of James and Mary Lee. As a young man he served with the 9th (Queen's Loyal) Lancers and was posted to South Africa in 1899, where he saw action in The Second Boer War. On 11 December, James was wounded at The Battle of Magersfontein when deployed for communication line protection duties. He was later awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with the Belmont clasp. This indicates that James had seen action at the Battle of Belmont on 23 November 1899.

In 1908, James married, Londoner, Mary Ada McIver. It was perhaps around this time that he had been working at Preston Prison as a warder; James' death was announced in the Prison Service Monthly Circular. When living in Oldham, Mary gave birth to the couple's first child, James Patrick. By the time of the 1911 Census, the couple had a further two children, Mary Eugenie and Terence Michael, who were both born in Farnham. The family was then living at No.1 Albion Villas, Franham, Surrey; a house, which according to the Census had at least six rooms.

James arrived joined the fighting in Europe when he landed in France on 9 May 1915. This time he served with the Military Police Corps. 1914-1918.net describes the responsibilities of the mounted military police as being:

"...arresting all persons found without passes, plundering, making unlawful requisitions, or committing offences of any kind. They were also responsible for collecting stragglers, and for guarding against spies. In case of emergency they could call upon any troops in the vicinity to supply guards, sentries or patrols."

James Lee on duty
Photo of James on duty in the field © Jennifer Hazlewood (James' Great-granddaughter)

James was mentioned in Despatches for bravery during May 1917 when in the role of acting Sergeant in the Mounted Police. We have no information on the story behind James' name appearing in the London Gazette.

James was 'Killed in Action' shortly before the Armistice on 3 October 1918. We do not know the circumstances of his death. He is buried in the small La Baraque British Cemetery, Aisne in France. His widow, Winifred, asked for James' headstone to be engraved with the epitaph:

"Jesus Pasteur De Nos Ames
Ayez Pities De Lui"

In 1920, Winifred and her three children left England for a new life in America. They settled in Philadelphia and became naturalized as American citizens on 28 February 1927.

James Lee in PSM Circular
Prison Service Monthly Circular (click to enlarge) © Silkman

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