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James Rawson Coatham (1882-1916)

Durham joiner served with the 18th DLI

James Rawson Coatham was born in 1882 and baptised on 4 June 1882 in Durham. He was one of six children born to John Rawson Coatham, a railway rolleyman from Yorkshire, and Thomasina Coatham. The 1891 census records James as also having a half-brother John.

James married Kate Alice Chitock on 5 August 1906 in Brandon and at the time of the 1911 census they were living at Crossgate in Durham and James was working as a joiner. The couple had two girls; Lilian born in September 1907 and Margaret born in 1910. Sadly Margaret died at the age of one a few months after the 1911 census.

James attested into the army two days before Christmas in 1914 to serve as a private with the service number 18/1119. He was initially posted to the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI), known as the Durham Pals, before being posted the following year in July to the 21st Battalion DLI. James embarked from Folkstone, arriving in Boulogne on 26 April 1916 at which point he was transferred to the 15th Battalion. It was whilst serving in this battalion that James was reported missing and later listed as killed in action on 1 July 1916. The war diary on the day of James’ death records the battalion as beginning their attack at 7.30 a.m. when men attempted to reach the German trenches. These detailed diaries can be found on The National Archive website.

James is buried at Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovilleris-La Boisselle and remembered locally on several memorials in Durham. The British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to James for his service were sent to his wife Kate.

Civil Parish: Durham Crossgate

Birth date: 1882

Death date: 01-Jul-1916

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 5 Leazes Lane, Durham (1891, 1901 Census)
58 Crossgate, Durham (1911 Census)
2 Front Street, Crossgate Moor, Durham (1914 Attestation Papers)

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Apprentice Joiner (1901 Census)
Joiner (1911 Census)

Family: Parents: John Rawson Coatham, Thomasina Coatham nee Grabham
Siblings: William Coatham, George Coatham, Elizabeth Coatham, Annie Coatham, Bertie Coatham
Half-brother: John W Coatham
Wife: Kate Alice Coatham nee Chiltock
Children: Lilian Coatham, Margaret Coatham

Military service:

DLI 18th, 15th, 21st Battalions
Service number 18/1119

Medal(s): Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Book of Remembrance 1914-18 DLI, Durham Cathedral
Cross 1914-18 1939-45, St John’s Churchyard, Crossgate Peth, Durham
Organ and Plaques 1914-18 St Margaret’s Antioch, Crossgate, Durham
Plaque 1914-18 1939-45 Town Hall, Durham
Plaque 1914-18 Comrades Club, Durham

Gender: Male

Contributed by JRC, Darlington | Fiona Johnson