James Hall (1892-)
Bede Scholar taken prisoner of war had his lower arm amputated following a bullet wound
Born on 14 October 1892 in Wetheral, James Hall was the son of Isaac and Margaret Hall who had married in 1870. Isaac and Margaret had a total of nine children, eight of whom were still alive in 1911. Isaac worked in the leather trade as a currier who would have been involved in the final stages of treating the leather.
James’ older brother, Robert, followed his father into the leather trade but James chose a career in teaching. By 1910 James had left the family home to live at Bede College, a teacher training college in Durham. Whilst at Bede, James was a keen sportsman, playing for the college’s rugby, hockey and cricket teams. Following his training, James left the college to become a schoolmaster. At the time of his attestation in 1914 he was working in a school in Maryport in Carlisle.
Following attestation into the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on 10 September 1914, James was mobilised around two weeks later. He became part of the 18th Battalion DLI, serving as a private with the service number 18/1060. This battalion began training at Cocken Hall near Durham in September 1914, and by the end of the following year were ready for service. James began his service abroad on 4 December 1915 when the battalion initially went to Egypt to help defend the Suez Canal. A few months into 1916 the battalion left Egypt for France to begin their service on the Western Front on 5 March 1916.
News from Bede scholars serving abroad featured in the College’s magazine and there are mentions of James throughout the war years. During the first few weeks of July 1916 James, whilst involved in the Battle of the Somme, was “obliged to leave the trenches with shell-shock”, though it seems it was not long before he returned to his battalion. A detailed account of a raid in these weeks was written by James Johnson Sanderson, including a description of an incident involving James:
“Lc/cp. James Hall (’10-’12) was hurled against the door of a shelter and pinned up to his neck with the debris. He was soon dug out and we were very relieved to find that he had sustained nothing more than a few bruises and slight shock”. [For a full transcript of this article, please see “Supporting material”, below.]
There are reports of an injury in James’ service records occurring on 27 or 28 July 1916 and also a mention of a shrapnel wound. There are no further details regarding these injuries so it is not clear whether they are the same injury or whether either of them were related to the incident reported by Sergeant Sanderson. The article written by Sanderson gives a vivid picture of the raid and the full article is attached.
A letter dated 6 March 1917 from Joseph Rotherham, a sergeant in James’ battalion, reports James as amongst a number of missing soldiers: “…it is with great regret that we must count Corporal James Hall (’10-’12) among the missing. He was in a party which went out one night to reconnoitre the enemy’s fourth line and he and two others have not been heard of since. Two days afterwards when we took the fourth and fifth line there was no trace of them, so we may still hope that they are prisoners.”
James had indeed been captured on 1 March at Gommecourt and was a prisoner of war in Dulmen. He had been badly injured by a bullet wound to his arm which led to the amputation of his left forearm. By December 1917 James was a prisoner of war at a camp in Soltau. A fellow Bede scholar, William Johnson Gibbons, wrote that James was “at present awaiting exchange on account of the loss of an arm.” James returned to England on 20 January 1918 and on discharge returned to Maryport.
In 1921 in Kendal James married Sarah Ann Dockray, a daughter of a police inspector, who was also born in Cumberland. James’ amputation did not stop him teaching and at some point he returned to work as a schoolteacher. At the time of the 1939 Register, James was living with his wife, Sarah Ann, in Cumberland and working as an elementary schoolteacher.
Civil Parish: Durham Elvet
Birth date: 14-Oct-1892
Armed force/civilian: Army
Residence: Scotby Village, Wetheral (1901 Census)
Bede College, Durham (1911 Census)
5 Station Street, Maryport, Carlisle (Service Records)
Doroway Scotby Road, Cumberland (1939 Register)
Education: Bede College (1910-1912)
Religion: Church of England
Employment: Schoolmaster (Service Records)
Schoolteacher, Elementary (1939 Register)
Family: Parents: Isaac Hall, Margaret Hall nee Andison
Siblings: Lowingham Hall, Susannah Hall, Mary Isabellla Hall, Robert Andison Hall, Jane A Hall, Isaac Hall, Nellie Edith Hall
Wife: Sarah Anne Hall nee Dockray
18th Battalion DLI
Service Number 18/1060
Medal(s): British War Medal
Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham