James OConnor

JAMES O'CONNOR (1875 - 1917)

On 27th April 1917, the local paper, "The Macclesfield Times And East Cheshire Observer", reported that James had been reported missing during the First Battle of Gaza, when, as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, his regiment was involved in the push into south Palestine during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. Later, it was declared that James, aged 42 years, had been killed in action on the opening day of the battle - Friday 26th March 1917.

Before the outbreak of war, James lived on Paradise Street in Macclesfield with his sister, Mrs Bradshaw. He was a parishioner of St Alban's and had attended St Alban's School. When working in town as a fishmonger, James joined the Territorials in Macclesfield, becoming part of the 1st/7th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, in February 1915. Three months after singing up, James was mobilised with his Battalion to Bedford, where the formation became 159th Brigade of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. Eventually, James went with a draft to Egypt where he became part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

The 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division experienced large numbers of causalities as it advanced across open ground to attack Turkish fortifications in the south of Palestine, around the town of Gaza, on the Mediterranean coast; it was here that James was killed.

Private James O'Connor is commemorated on Panel 19 within the Jerusalem War Cemetery, which tells us that although his death had been officially declared, James has no known burial place.

The article in the "The Macclesfield Times" that reported James as missing also mentioned that his brother, John, (of 16 King Edward Street), had been wounded in the thigh when serving in France during July 1916. The paper reported,

"Since then he has been in various hospitals in England and is now stationed with the Cheshires at Birkenhead. He expects to go out on foreign service again soon."

Since John O'Connor is listed in the grave registration documents, produced by the Graves Registration Commission, as his brother's next of kin and his name does not appear on our parish war memorial, it would appear John survived the War.

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