James John Hand

James John Hand
Born in St Ives in 1896, James was one of six children born to Walter and Sarah Ann (née Walker). James' father worked as a chemist's porter, the family home being in Nicholas Lane, St Ives. By 1911 James was a messenger boy for the Post Office.

Enlisting some time in early 1916, James joined the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. He landed in France in July 1916. Late that year his Battalion took part in the Battle of Ancre. Offensive activities then stopped as both British and German forces were reduced to surviving a hard winter of rain, snow and fog. They were surrounded by a wilderness of muddy fields and shell-holes, the trenches waterlogged. The British forces constantly harassed by sniper fire, the physical and mental strain was almost unbearable. At some point James was promoted to Lance-Corporal.

WW1 muddy battlefield
The desolate terrain that was the WWI battlefield in 1916/17
In January 1917 James' Battalion fought in the Operations on the Ancre. This was a series of localised tactical exercises on the heights above the valley of the River Ancre, in preparation for a major spring offensive. Conditions remained grim, with little daylight, freezing temperatures and mud everywhere. It was in such desperate conditions that James was killed in action on Thursday 8 February 1917, aged 21yrs. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

Two of James' brother also fought at the Front. The Hunts Post of 1 December 1916 reported both of them injured.

Do you have a photograph of James or any additional information? If so, please get in touch via the make contact page.

Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1901 Census
1911 Census
Medal Rolls Index Card
Army Register of Soldier's Effects
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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