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James William Howe (1892-1919)

Shildon railway worker served in the East Yorkshire Regiment

Born in 1892, James William Howe was the son of John and Margaret Jane Howe. He was one of a total of nine children born to the couple, who had married in 1881, although two of these children were no longer alive in 1911.

James spent his childhood in Shildon where his father worked as a fitter on the railways. After leaving school James did not initially follow his father to work on the railways, instead working as a coalminer. However, around 1912, James left the mines to join his father in the railway industry. North Eastern Railway (NER) records list him as a hammer driver.

James is listed as an army reservist who was called up at the outbreak of war. By this time in 1914 James had married Elizabeth Sewell and was living in Lilburn Street in Shildon. James began his service abroad on 23 October 1914 serving with the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment. As a private with this regiment James took part in the fighting at Hooge. His NER records include the information that James was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his actions during this battle. No further information has been found concerning this award.

James was discharged from the army on 17 March 1916 and resumed work on the railways just under a month later on 10 April. James died on 2 November 1919 having spent three weeks in hospital in Sunderland. The casualties ledger for the NER lists James as a furnaceman, it also says he had a wife and one child. A notice in the paper reports him as being badly gassed during his time serving in France. Injuries from this may have been the reason for his discharge from the army and a contributory factor in his death.

Civil Parish: Shildon

Birth date: 1892

Death date: 2-Nov-1919

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 5 East Street, New Shildon (1901 Census)
31 Charles Street, New Shildon (1911 Census)
2 Lilburn Street, Shildon (NER record, 1918 Electoral Roll)

Employment: Coal miner (1911 Census)
Hammer driver (NER records)

Family: Parents: John Howe, Margaret Jane Howe nee Stainthorpe
Siblings: Mary L. Howe, Annie Howe, Harriet Howe (died as child), Sarah Ethel Howe, Thomas Howe, Maude Stainthorpe Howe, Emma Stainthorpe Howe
Spouse: Elizabeth Howe nee Sewell

Military service:

1st East Yorkshire Regiment
Service Number 3/5408

Medal(s): Victory Medal
British War Medal
1914 Star
Distinguished Conduct Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham