Monday, 10 July 2017

Private James Fisher lost in action on July 7 1915

Sometimes the story just writes itself and that is pretty much how it was when Ken told me about his grandfather Private James Fisher who died aged 29 on July 7, 1915.

1914 Star awarded to James Fish
“A few years ago I was in Central Library and as I was leaving I came across an exhibition of items from the First World War.

As I was getting to the end there were some medals displayed with some notes.

Reading them I realised one of the medals belonged to my grandfather James Fisher, who died at Ypres.

I asked the staff who had created the display and they put me in touch with David Harrop who I met a few days later, a very nice man with a great knowledge of the First World War.

David got in touch with the Evening News and they did a piece on the story.

David also had another medal belonging to my granddad’s brother who I knew nothing about and I was very grateful.”

I now also know that Private James Fisher was one of the 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who are recorded on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Of all the Great War memorials the Menin Gate is in some ways the most powerful monument because each of those 54,896 are men who have no grave and whose body is still missing.

At present I cannot find any census return listing James Fish and only have the record of his birth.

The Menin Gate
His military records are missing and may well be one of the thousands destroyed by enemy action during the Second World, which leaves just the record from the Commonwealth War Graves which lists his name, rank, number and regiment, along with his age and his the reference to where his name can be found on the Menin Gate.

But David tells me that the medal was the 1914 Star awarded to those men who fought in the first year of the conflict.

That might suggest he was a regular shipped out to France at the beginning of the war and will have been involved in the costly battles that halted the German advance.

Ken added, "my sister June had a letter from  the army  that was sent to my gran that said somebody had seen James and five other soldiers take shelter in a cottage when the shelling started but the cottage suffered a direct hit and they were all killed."

Pictures; the Menin Gate, "Menenpoort ieper" by Johan Bakker - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - and the 1914 Star awarded to Private James Fish  courtesy of David Harrop

*David Harrop,

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