Gunner James Edward Heaton

Stanbury Men


Gunner James Edward Heaton. 77th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. Service number 151582.

James was born in Oxenhope in 1884, his birth was registered in Keighley in the first quarter of that year. His father was Joseph, his mother's name is not known.

By 1891 he was seven and living at 81, Stanbury with his father Joseph and his older sister Martha Ann, who was nine. Joseph was a quarryman and his wife was absent at the time of the census.

By 1901 James was 18 and the family were living at Bully Trees Farm. Joseph was now a farmer and James was a stone dresser at a building stone quarry (probably Smoker Quarry on Stanbury Moor), His sister Mary Ann has moved out and Joseph's 76 year old mother Ann Heaton (a widow) had moved in.

Five years later in 1906 at the age of 20, James married 19 year old Edith Holmes, this was registered at Keighley in the fourth quarter of the year. Their daughter Mabel Estella was born on 14th May 1909.
James is recorded in 1910 renting 2, Moor View in Stanbury from William Alfred Moore. James and Edith are still living there in the 1911 census, with their daughter Mabel. James was working as a quarryman and delver and Edith is a cotton weaver. The census also records that two out of their three children had died.
Their son Allan was born on 25th October 1912. Tragically James' wife Edith died in 1915 aged 30. We believe James enlisted in the Army at Keighley early in 1917 and trained as a gunner. He went out to France to join the 77th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.
According to the battery war diary for November, they were based at Hooge, shelling enemy artillery positions and supporting the infantry, with their fire being guided by aeroplane observations. On 26th November whilst the German artillery were shelling them in retaliation, James and some of his pals were in the shelter behind their gun when it was hit by a shell which killed three of them and wounded two others. The men who died were Gunners' James Heaton, Frederick Albert Timson and Harry Westaway and they were buried in adjoining graves.

Keighley News 8th December 1917, page 3:
News was received from the War Office on Wednesday of the death of Gunner James Edward Heaton, Royal Garrison Artillery, the Old School House, Stanbury. It is understood he was killed instantaneously by the bursting of a shell which fell on the shelter of the gun emplacement. Prior to joining the colours he was employed at the Sladen Valley Waterworks, being one of the little happy band of workers under John Nield at the Smoker Quarry on Stanbury Moor. Of these workmen four are dead. The manager, Mr. John Nield, died at Greenfield, in Cheshire, soon after the quarry was closed. The other three, who have all died in action in France, are: Fred Wright Greenwood, Lewis Butterfield, and James Edward Heaton. The last named, who was a widower, leaves two children.

James is buried in grave 10 of row G in plot 1 of Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery, in Belgium.
He is remembered locally on the Stanbury and Oldfield war meemorial in Stanbury Cemetery.

He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service. The medals were probably sent to Robert Allinson.

At Moor View in Stanbury, their immediate neighbours were Robert and Edith Allinson. Robert was a tanner, who moved there with his wife Edith and their children from a rented cottage and garden at Flappit Springs, to 4, Moor View in 1911 which meant they were the next door neighbours of James and Edith Heaton.
The Allinson family were living there in the 1911 census with their children Mary (10), Maggie (5) and Willie (2). [Willie Allinson died in WW2 whilst serving with the Royal Air Force] When James died, Robert and Edith became legal guardians for Mabel Estelle Heaton and Allan Heaton, and Robert was named next of kin for James' effects and war gratuity, along with the war pension for the children. He received payments of: £5 6s. 10d. on 8th April 1918, 5s. 3d. on 21st May 1918 and a war gratuity of £3.0s.0d. on 25th November 1919. The war pension for the children was 19 shillings and two pence per week.

Source information:
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Tax Valuation, 1910
1911 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Keighley News archives in Keighley Library
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923

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