James William Avory

James William Avory
Born at St Ives in 1891, James was the youngest son of four children delivered to George, a basket maker's labourer, and Jane (née Baker). The eldest child, Charles, died in 1908 when James was aged 17yrs. Another child died, most probably in infancy.

By 1911 James worked as a rod cutter for John Harrison, osier grower and basket maker. The family home in Filberts Walk  was owned by John Harrison, who also employed James' father. Another branch of the family lived in Filberts Walk, their son Sydney Avory also killed in the War. James was sporty, winning the men's high jump with a height of 4ft 9ins in Enderby's 1913 sports day, reported in the Hunts Post of  11 July 1913,

James was still working for Harrison in 1915. A local tragedy occurred when a young woman was knocked off her bicycle accidentally by one of a group of schoolboys on The Thicket path. She fell into the River Ouse. The schoolmaster in charge of the boys dived in to rescue her, even though he couldn't swim. Both drowned. James found the schoolmaster's body and appeared at the inquest, as reported on 26 March 1915

James enrolled in 1914 at the start of War. He joined the 175th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery as a driver, seeing much active service in France and Italy and was present at many of the big battles on the Western Front. Looking after and driving the horses, James would also assist in supplying ammunition and be trained to replace any casualties in the team. James' older brother, George, also served in the War as a driver with the Royal Engineers. News of both brothers was published on 4 May 1917.

Royal Field Artillery WW1
Royal Field Artillery battery moving into position
At some point during his service James caught a chill from which rheumatic fever developed. Although rare today, several years of antibiotics are often prescribed to ensure the illness does not return. Permanent heart damage can result. James didn't have the luxury of antibiotics since they only came into common use in the 1940s. So he would have suffered recurring episodes of the illness with a good chance of his heart being affected.

James died from his illness on Sunday 29 February 1920, aged 28yrs. The Hunts Post reported his death on 5 March 1920, and his funeral on 12 March 1920. He is buried at Hemingford Grey cemetery and commemorated on Hemingford Grey War Memorial.

His brother George sent letters telling of his experiences, published in the Hunts Post on 3 August 1915 and 22 October 1915. George also suffered for several years after the War from severe wounds.

Throughout his life James' surname was more often recorded as Avery, and is shown as such on the Hemingford Grey War Memorial. However, the one record that exists of the family writing their own surname is when James' father completed the 1911 Census. On that he records the surname as Avory.

Have you 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
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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