photo courtesy of Andrew Spence
Photo courtesty of British War Graves
Date of Death:18/03/1916
Regiment:King's Shropshire Light Infantry
Cemetery:Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery
Grave Reference:XVII. M. 12.
James Beaty was born in Chadderton but moved to Royton when a young boy with his parents James,born in Belfast but largely raised in Royton, and Betty. James had three younger sisters who came along once the family had settled on Middleton Road - Bessie,Rachel and Hilda. He worked as a piecer for his father at the Monarch Mill and in June 1915 was one of a number of Royton lads who signed up with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, along with his cousin Leonard.Presumably the KSLI were short handed at the time and the Royton recruiting office was one of those to fill the gap.Some of those who went to the 5th Battalion were Harry Mellor (not the one on the memorial), Frank Hall,Harry Wood(also killed in action) and James Mills(again,killed in action). In October of that year they were sent to the front.
James was slightly injured in the hand at some point in January 1915, something alluded to in a letter home from James Mills but did not need to leave the unit. James Mills was killed shortly afterwards, shot by a sniper on February 2nd.
In March 1916 the 5th Bn KSLI were sent to relieve the French on a relatively quiet sector of the front. In James' last letter home three days before his death he wrote:
"Dear Father and Mother,just a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter,which I received on March 14th,and to express the hope that you are in the best of health.You have no need to send me any parcels until the 19th of March,for we are now in the trenches for eight days,and then we go out for 16 days rest.It is very quiet round about here.It is a king towards where we have been.We have had some fine weather this last week or so..."
Then on the 18th the battalion's front trenches were hit by a sustained German artillery bombardment. Three men were killed in total, one of them James, and nine others injured. The other two men killed were:
Private Addis,20 years old,11292,from Much Marcle,Gloucestershire
Private John Reeves,32 years old,11180,from Ellesmere,Shropshire
The three are buried alongside each other at the Cabaret-Rouge cemetery.
James' family found out about his death from a letter from Private Harry Mellor, one of the Royton lads sent to the KSLI.He wrote two days after the event:
"Dear Mr and Mrs Beaty, it is with deep regret that I have to inform you that your son,Private James Beaty,was killed in action on March 18th,1916,and I can tell you that the event has upset me very much.There was a bombardment of our front line of trenches,and I and your James and another man were (illegible) when a big shell dropped in our (illegible) and killed your son and (illegible) the other man's leg.I escaped with a slight wound on the head and a severe shaking.I think I shall be all right in a day or two.It has made if very hard for me to have to let you know about the fate of your son. You see we had been chums ever since we came out here and I shall miss him very much now he has been taken away from us. He was buried behind the line,and they are making a cross to his memory.He was well liked by his comrades,and the send their deepest sympathy to you.I send my (illegible) sympathy to you during this sad hour that has befallen your home"
At the same time another Roytoner in the battalion was sending a letter to an Aunt & Uncle of James, the parents of his cousin Leonard.Private Harry Wood,to be killed himself later in the year,wrote:
"Dear Mr and Mrs Newport,it is with great regreat and sorrow that I write these few lines in informing you of the death of your nephew,Private James Beaty,who was killed in action on March 18th,1916 during a bombardment of the front line of our trenches.I really dont know how to express my sympathy for it came to me as a great shock when I knew he had been killed for Jim and I were the greatest of chums and I shall miss him very much.Somehow I feel that I dare not write to his mother,for I know how very hard she will take it when she has the news broken to her.The men of his company send you their deepest sympathy.He died almost immediately and dit not have much pain or suffering.They buried his remains quietly and gave him a burial service the next day".
Then came a letter to Mrs Beaty from the officer of her son's section:
"I am writing to say how sorry we all feel for you at the loss of your son.He was a great favourite among the men and I always very much admired his work both in the trenches and when resting.His death was caused by a shell which landed in the bay in which he stood".
The was a memorial service for James at St.Paul's which had a large congregation, including several soldiers. The Rev.JH Humphrey said that hardly a week passed by without some brave lad from the parish being called upon to sacrifice his life for them. This day they were thinking of James Beaty.
"He was a good,upright,and conscientious lad,an old member of the Church Lads' Brigade (as a bugler) and one of their Sunday school boys.Indeed,one of the things he valued most was the way in which his Sunday school teacher kept in touch with him,and he appreciated above anything else little gifts sent by his teacher to cheer and comfort him in the hard life of a soldier on active service.James was very popular in his regiment,and one of his friends,another of their old lads,wrote saying how distressed he was at his death"
From the Chronicle's 'In Memorium' section in March 1917:
O for a touch of the vanished hand
And the sound of a voice that is still.
Sadly missed by Father,Mother,Sisters,Grandfather and May,and Relatives.
& the following year:
Do not ask us if we miss him
There is still one vacant chair
From his sorrowing Mother,Father & Sisters
Sometime,someday we'll understand
When we meet again in the better land
Never forgotten by his Uncle and Aunt Esther Green
James' surname is given incorrectly on the Royton War Memorial as Beatty. He is remembered on the gravestone in Royton Cemetery of his cousin Leonard Beaty Newport