James McCann

Lance Corporal James McCann. 1/5th London Regiment (Rifle Brigade). Service number 45415.

Private James McCann.

James was born in 1896 with the birth registered in Keighley in the first quarter of the year. His parents were James and Margaret McCann.
By 1901 he was 5 years old and living at 5, Leeds Street in Keighley with his parents and four older brothers Bernard (13), Martin (12), Daniel (9) and Charles McCann (7). Father James was a blacksmith's striker and mother Margaret was a housekeeper.

This house was next door to the alehouse pictured here (it would be just out of shot to the right). This would later become the Brown Cow Public House and it still exists today. After demolition of a lot of the slum housing in this area during the 1960s, the family home was incorporated into the Brown Cow and is now part of the modern pub, which means we can step inside what used to be their home:

Brown Cow alehouse, believed to have been taken in the early 1900s

In 1911 he was 15 years of age and still living at 5, Leeds Street, Keighley with his parents and two brothers Daniel and Charles. Father James was still a blacksmith's striker on textile machinery looms, mother Margaret was not employed and Daniel, Charles and James junior were all labourers making textile machinery looms.
No service records exist for James who enlisted at Keighley around November 1915. He did not enter France until 1916. His brother Charles is named in 'Keighley's Gallant Sons' list of early volunteers in the war and he had joined the West Riding Regiment, Charles survived the war.
Evidence suggests James had also joined the West Riding Regiment under service no. 6845. then was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry (no. 30918) before the London Rifle Brigade (no. 45415.)

War Diary for 5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade). 4th November 1918:
Battalion assembled East of Saultain, in support to the Q.W.R., both battalions passing through the 2nd London outpost line, for an attack on Sebourg. The attack was successful and the village was captured after some lethal street fighting. The village was still occupied by civilians who gave our troops a great welcome. The further advance was checked by heavy machine gun fire from the high ground A15d and A22a. During the afternoon the concentrated their artillery on the village and heavily bombarded the town. A defensive line was taken up in the Sunken Road, East of Sebourg and held by B and C Companies, with Q.W.R. and 33rd Brigade on our flanks. D company formed a defensive flank N.W. of the village, as Sebourquiaux was still held by the Germans. A company in Battalion Reserve at A.19b.

James was killed in action on November 4 of 1918 and he was buried in a battlefield grave.
His remains were exhumed on 3rd January 1920 and reburied in grave 5, row B, plot I of Angreau Communal Cemetery at Hainault, Belgium which is South West of Mons.

Keighley News report of December 7, 1918, page 9:
Lance-Corporal James McCann, London Regiment, who resided with his mother at 5, Leeds Street, Keighley, was killed in action in France on November 4, 1918. he enlisted in June, 1916, and was wounded early in February, 1917. His brother, Bernard McCann, joined the Flying Corps in the United States, while another brother, Charles, has served in the Yorkshire Regiment.

In 1919 his mother Margaret received his outstanding back pay of £19 1s. 1d. which included a war gratuity of £13 10s. 0d. She also received a further payment of £0 10s. 11d. later that year.

James was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service and he is remembered on St. Anne's Catholic Church war memorial on North Street, Keighley, which is located inside the church foyer.

St Anne's Church war memorial in Keighley

Source information:
Birth, marriage and death records.
1901 and 1911 census.
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.
Army service records.
Keighley News archives, Keighley Library.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
National Archives war diary for 1/6th Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. WO95-2801

1 Response

  1. I am so incredibly proud of my Great Uncle James. Heartbreaking for him to lose his life a week before the armistice and at only 22 years old.

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