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James Gaskarth

James Gaskarth. 3538, renumbered 201028 L/Cpl. 8th. Bn.(previously 1/4th) KORLR, KIA 30th April 1917, Monchy-le-Preux, France, age 26yrs.

James lived at Park View, Cartmel with his family, enlisting on 7th June 1915, aged 24yrs. 5mths. He was quite badly injured by a vehicle running into him in 1916. Uncle of James Albert killed in WW2. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" gives date of death as 30/4/17 as does the King's Own records, the Cartmel cemetery memorial says 28th, as does the "Barrow News" of 2nd June 1917.


It goes on to report, "On Sunday Mr & Mrs Joseph Gaskarth, Park View, received official intimation that their son, Lance-Corporal James Gaskarth King's Own (R.L.) Regt., had been killed in action in France on April 28th. The deceased soldier was a fine, strapping young fellow, and was a great favourite with all who knew him. Prior to joining the forces he assisted his father with the plumbing and painting business. Two other brothers have been in active service in France, one is still there, the other is in hospital suffering from wounds. The chaplain, after expressing deep sympathy, adds, "Your son will be laid to rest in a little cemetery by the side of many more gallant lads of the battalion.""

Park View, the Gaskarths lived in the house with the green door.

The "little cemetery" must have been destroyed as James is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing in the Fabourg d'Amiens Cemetery, Arras.

The 8th King's Own belonged to 76 Bde. 3rd "Iron" Division, part of Haldane's VI Corps, Third Army (Allenby). During heavy fighting south of the Arras-Cambrai road, in the Battle of Arras, between 9th and 12th April, the battalion lost 43 killed. They were relieved from their snowy shell-holes and on the night of 13th moved to billets in Arras.

The 8/KORLR returned to the line on 23rd April and occupied trenches on the forward slope of the hill, in plain view of the enemy. These trenches were the most heavily shelled on the British front at this time. Enemy snipers and machine guns prevented movement by day, but at night digging continued in the face of heavy shell and machine gun fire, to provide a strong defensive position. A German attack was repulsed by "C" company on the 26th.

Monchy-le-Preux, 30th May 1917. (IWM)

On the 28th a heavy attack fell on Capt. D.A. Jones' company. He stood behind his trench controlling the defence and the enemy was successfully driven off. The majority of the fighting took place near the village of Arleux, which gave its name to this part of the Battle of Arras. The 8th Battalion was relieved on the 1st of May.

The June 1917 Parish magazine reported, "Lance-Corporal James Gaskarth, who had only just been transferred to the VIII. K.O., was taking a supply party up to the firing line on April 28th when he was killed either by a sniper or a piece of shell, and was laid to rest in a cemetery whose whereabouts his parents know, by the Revd. P.G.M. Leonard D.S.O. son of the Revd. J.G. Leonard, Vicar of Roughton Head, who wrote a very touching letter to Mrs Gaskarth. No one in Cartmel was more loved than "Jimmy" and no one had a better name. He himself loved to collect wild flowers, and continually helped little children and old people in their troubles, besides being looked up to by all the other lads of his age. He was a regular communicant whenever he got a week-end leave. He was a very smart and good soldier, who took the greatest pride and delight in his work. Some boys seem to be born with the instincts of a true knight, which show even in their childhood. Jimmy was one of these, and he never sold his birthright."

 Revd. P.G.M. Leonard D.S.O.

Joseph senior died in 1927, James' mother, Grace, a local character who knew an old herbal remedy for everything, died in 1935. James had three brothers Richard Barrow, John Lishman, Joseph, born in 1892, and a sister, Grace, baptised in March 1896. Barrow enlisted in the Canadian Engineers in March 1918 and landed at Liverpool on 16th August 1918. He served the rest of the war in England and married his wife, Maud, in Bradford on 29th April 1919. He was discharged in August 1919 and returned to Canada, where he died in 1960. Pte. Joseph Gaskarth, 3538, enlisted in the 1/4th KORLR on the same day and from the same address as James. He served with the BEF from 3rd March 1916 to 6th July 1916 and is the the wounded brother mentioned above. This was the second time he had been wounded, receiving a severe shrapnel wound in the knee. He was transferred to the 541st Agricultural Company, Labour Corps on 15th October 1917. Lishman was the unwounded brother serving in France. He was the father of Albert killed in WW2. Lishman died following a motorcycle accident at Longlands in 1928, aged 48.