Private, 31st Battalion Canadian Infantry, Service no: 79553.
In 1891, aged 8 years, they were living at 4, James Street, Keighley, with his sister Margaret Elizabeth and his brother Frank.
He entered Keighley Trade and Grammar School in this year, leaving after 4 years schooling in 1895 at the age of 12.
In 1901, aged 17 years, the family were living at 4, Wall Street, Keighley, his sister Margaret Elizabeth and Frank and Charles, his two brothers.
From his Canadian Army service records, we know he had served for two years with the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the West Riding Regiment but sadly no service record exists to show any further details.
In about 1908 he emigrated to Canada but had to return home because of illness, once better, he returned and settled on a farm in Alberta, with the intention of marriage. However, at the outbreak of war in 1914, he felt it was his duty to serve his country and he enlisted at Wetaskiwin with the 31st Battalion, Canadian Infantry on 18th November 1914, aged 32 years 6 months.
His initial Army medical record shows he was 5 foot, 6 inches in height with a 39 inch chest, fresh complexion with light brown hair and blue eyes, and he had a tattoo of an anchor on his left forearm.
After training, he embarked in Canada for England on S.S. Northland, arriving at Shorncliffe Camp on 29th May 1915.
He embarked from England on 18th September 1915, arriving in France the next day.
Little is known of his actual war service but on the 16th September 1916, during the battle of the Somme, he was severely wounded with a gunshot wound and was evacuated to No. 44 Casualty Clearing Station at Puchvillers.
He never regained consciousness and sadly died five days later on 21st September and was buried in grave 29 of row D in plot IV, of the Puchevillers British Cemetery, which is about 19 kilometres north-east of Amiens, in the Somme region.
James' parents later lived at Prospect House, Exley Head. His father John died in 1915.
Keighley News report 30th September 1916 p.9:
Private James Wall, (33), eldest son of the late Mr John Wall, of Prospect House, Keighley, was severely wounded on September 16 and died in hospital in France five days later, never regaining consciousness. He emigrated to Canada – where he had a homestead – several years ago. He joined the forces shortly after the commencement of hostilities, and had been at the front with the Canadians a year. He was an old Keighley Trade and Grammar School boy.
Keighlian Magazine obituary:
James Wall. Private Canadian Contingent.
Private James Wall was the son of the late Mr John Wall, Exley Head, Keighley.
He was a pupil from 1891 to 1895. About eleven years ago he went to Canada but was obliged to return home owing to illness. He went back to Canada after his recovery and took a farm in Alberta, where he lived for eleven years until the outbreak of war.He joined up in September, 1914, and left his farm because he felt it was his duty to come home to help his country. He was to have been married and gone back to settle again in Canada, but on September 16th, 1916, after he had been in France a year, he was wounded, and died on the 21st September.
Private James Wall was one of three brothers who have joined the Army; his brother, Charles, also coming from Canada amongst the earliest of the Volunteer Contingents.
He is remembered locally in Keighley's Great War roll of honour book in Keighley Library.
He is also one of the old boys on our Keighley Grammar School roll of honour
His name is on the Fell Lane Wesleyan Sunday School Boys war memorial - currently in storage with Cliffe Castle Museum.
The inscription says:
'Also of James Wall,
eldest son of the above,
who died of wounds in France,
September 21st, 1916,
Aged 33 years.'
His parents would have received his medals, Great War memorial plaque and his personal effects, plus any back pay owing to him at the time of his death.
A war gratuity and possibly a pension would also have been paid after the war.
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
Canadian Veteran's Affairs - WW1 Canadian Army service records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Keighley News archives held at Keighley Library
Keighlian Magazine (Andy Wade private collection)
St Peter's Church War Memorial, Keighley.