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James Robson Brass (1890-1915)

From Sacriston, served with 8th Battalion DLI, killed in action 1915

Born in 1890, James Robson Brass was the son of colliery manager Thomas Francis Brass of Charlaw House, Sacriston. After leaving Durham Johnston School, James trained as a mining engineer and was assistant manager of Charlaw and Sacriston Colliery, when the First World War began.

Commissioned in June 1913, Lieutenant Brass went with the 1st/8th Battalion DLI to France on 19 April 1915. Within days, the raw Territorial battalion was fighting in the Second Battle of Ypres. During the battalion’s stubborn defence of Boetleer’s Farm, James Brass was mortally wounded.

On 14 May 1915, the Chester le Street Chronicle published a letter that had been sent to James’ father describing his wounding and death.

County Councillor Brass, JP, of Charlaw House, Sacriston, has received from an officer of the 8th Durhams a letter giving particulars of the death of his son, Lieut. J.R. Brass. The officer writes:-
‘It may be some consolation to you to know how gallantly your boy behaved under fire. All through the 25th of April, under very trying circumstances, he was as cool and as steady as anything, and showed a very fine example to those near him. He almost seemed to be enjoying himself. On the morning of the 26th, when we had to retire, he was assisting me in organising some men, and his services were of the greatest value. He was so quick to see what one wanted, and so thorough and self-sacrificing in carrying out orders. He was hit in the abdomen about 7 a.m. on the 26th. He was immediately attended to, and a dressing applied. I am afraid he suffered a bit at first, but he rapidly became unconscious. He was carried back, and would soon receive medical attention. Everything possible was done for him.’

After the war, James’s parents asked for their son’s medals to be sent to them.

For North East War Memorials Project story:

Civil Parish: Witton Gilbert

Birth date: 1890

Death date: 27-Apr-1915

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Charlaw House, Sacriston, County Durham (Chester le Street Chronicle)

Education: Durham Johnston School.

Employment: Assistant manager of colliery (1911 census)

Family: Parents: Thomas Francis Brass, Mary Jane Brass (CWGC)
Siblings: Hilda H Brass, Herbert W Brass, Simon T Brass, Thomas F Brass, Reginald Brass (1901 census)

Military service:

Lieutenant, 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

Medal(s): 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.

Memorial(s): Potijze Burial Ground Cemetery, Belgium
North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers Roll of Honour, printed in Transactions of the Institute of Mining Engineers, published in 1916, Volume 51 (LI), 1915-1916. Page 56, line 25
Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, Wood Memorial Library, Newcastle, plaque
Saint Peter’s Church, Front Street, Sacriston, plaque (not at Sacriston Working Men’s Club)
Sacriston Wesleyan Methodist Church, plaque (now at Methodist Church. Plaque unveiled by James’s father.)
Durham Johnston School, plaque

Gender: Male

Contributed by Sacriston Heritage Group | Durham County Record Office. Jack Mulligan, Lewis Cooper and Daniel Hyatt

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