James Stott was born in Royton on May 23rd 1897, his parents were Henry and Ellen. He was baptised shortly afterwards at the Primitive Methodist Church on Henshaw Street in Oldham. Both Henry and Ellen were originally from the Rochdale area and Henry worked as a grocer for the Royton Co-Operative Society. James was the eldest of their eight children. Following James were Edwin, Joseph, Ellen, Henry, Frank, Clara and John. As a boy James attended the Royton Congregational School.
When the 1901 census was taken the family were living at 350 Rochdale Road, at number 354 were Henry Stott's parents Edwin and Margaret. By the time of the 1911 census they had moved to number 354 themselves with James' grandparents now living at 352. Sadly James' sister Ellen had died the year before at the age of six. James started work as a piecer in one of the local mills at the age of 13, this was probably at the Roy Mill where he was employed at the time of his joining the army.
James joined the army in Royton in May 1916 and would have spent time with one of the Manchester Regiment's reserve units before being sent out to France. This was most probably in early 1917 and was to the Regiment's 18th Battalion. This unit had essentially been wiped out in July 1916 (Alfred Bardsley being one of those killed) and had suffered considerable losses again in October of that year.
The new year saw the 18th spend January and February 1917 in training and providing working parties. There was a period in the front line in March which was a particularly miserable one due to very severe weather - frost, snow and heavy rain - to which the men were exposed without any cover.To compound their misery they had to live off water and dry rations with no hot food being available to them.
On April 8th the battalion moved to trenches east of Ficheux and then the following day they received orders to occupy reserve trenches south of Mercatel and then on April 10th, two companies (A & C) were sent forward to reinforce the 19th Manchesters in the front line. On April 11th the battalion was ordered to cross the Cojeul River and move forward to the Hindenburg Line. They were in position by 16:30. A minor bombing operation was then undertaken by two platoons from D Company.Their objective was to bomb along an unmarked trench and if possible reach "Nepal trench". The party moved off at 17.15pm and initially made some progress but owing to almost blizzard conditions and darkness the men withdrew.
April 12th saw orders issued for the men, suffering greatly due to the cold and wet, to be ready to move off and bomb their way down the Hindenburg Line. At 9.00am, A company were the first men away. They crossed the river under a protective barrage provided by the rifle grenadiers and the Lewis gun section. Advancing in the open, they reached the front line at Heninel trench. A sentry was killed and 100 yards further down the trench a number of enemy were attacked with bombs. The men continued to bomb their way along the trench and formed a block. 2Lt Shirley in command then sent back for more bombs and reinforcements. A group of about thirty Germans appeared in the trench and the Lewis gun team inflicted a number of casualties before the enemy withdrew. Reinforcements from C and D companies arrived and, as the opposition grew weaker the objective was taken. Altogether over 1700 yards of trench had been taken by the 18th Manchesters but amongst their dead was James Stott.
James' parents were first informed he was missing and then in early November 1917 were officially informed that he could now be presumed killed in action.
The other men listed as being killed in the action on April 12th were:
AKEHURST JOHN 38 Private 41692 from Brighton
BLISS FREDERICK Private 41735 born Northants,enlisted Eastbourne
HEYWOOD JOSEPH 29 Private 16233 from Tyldesley
HOLLINGSWORTH ARTHUR 40 Private 43731 born Northwich,enlisted Atherton
POOLE THOMAS 23 Private 44007 from Manchester
WORSLEY RICHARD 19 Private 44090 from Irlam
Date of Death:12/04/1917
Cemetery:Wancourt British Cemetery
photo courtesy of Bomber Brown