The mystery of a First World War soldier has been solved thanks to resourceful Examiner readers – and also reveals a terrible family tragedy.
Former Huddersfield headteacher Ian Mackay’s sons found the parchments from Buckingham Palace relating to James Schofield Wilson in the shed at a house at Wakefield Road in Lepton in the early 1970s.
They had just bought the house from a Mr Moxon who they thought was then in his early 70s and wondered why the parchments would be there.
A few readers immediately set to work on the Ancestry website and Julia Hinchliffe managed to find lots of information and confirmed our suspicion that he was married to Mr Moxon’s sister.
James Schofield Wilson was born on October 21, 1891 and baptised on January 21, 1892 at St John the Baptist Church in Kirkheaton. He was the son of Wright Wilson, a grocer, and his wife, Mary Ann. They also had other children – William, Hilda, Frank and Wilfred.
In 1911, James was living with his parents at 33 Nettleton Road, Dalton.
On August 7, 1915, he married May Moxon of Lascelles Hall, at Kirkheaton parish Church. May was the daughter of David Moxon, a butcher, and his wife Ruth Bissett. May had siblings Henry, Miles, Lawton, Joe, Harriet, David and Alice.
James was Private 241025 in the 2/5 Battalion, Duke of Wellington (West Riding) regiment and died of his wounds on July 18, 1917, aged 25.
Two months before she lost her husband, May also lost her brother David Moxon who had worked with his brothers at a butcher’s shop in Lepton run by their brother, Miles. He joined the same battalion of the same regiment as James, and was killed in action on May 3. He is commemorated on the Arras memorial and on the Kirkheaton Roll of Honour.
But research has also show that James’ brother, Frank, died on the same day as David, although his death was not confirmed until the following year. It was a dark day for Kirkheaton as six men from the Kirkheaton parish lost their lives on May 3.
May died in 1969 in Huddersfield.
Julia said: “I cannot find a record of any children and she appears not to have remarried. The person from whom Mr Mackay bought his house is likely to be her brother, Joe Moxon, who seems to have lived in Lepton all his life and died in 1974. He was rather older than in his 70s though.
“This information has been obtained from the Ancestry website and it appears that a descendant of Joe Moxon has already done some work on her family tree and may know more about any nearer relatives of James Wilson.”
James also appears as one of the 3,500 Huddersfield soldiers killed in the First World War in work done by the late Margaret Stansfield from Elland. She spent many years collating information on all those who died and all her hard work will be published in a book by Huddersfield University shortly before this year’s Remembrance Day.
She said James was educated at Kirkheaton National School and was employed as a power loom weaver by Messrs R Mitchell and Company at Spa Mills, Lepton. He was a member of Dalton Liberal and Bowling Club. He enlisted on January 14, 1915, and is buried at Favreuil British Cemetery in the Pas de Calais, France.
Favreuil village was occupied by British troops in March, 1917, lost in March, 1918, and retaken by the 37th and New Zealand Divisions on August 25.
The cemetery was begun in April 1917, and used until March 1918 by fighting units (particularly of the 62nd (West Riding) Division) and field ambulances. Further burials were made in August and September, 1918, and after the Armistice British graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields. It’s the final resting place for around 400 soldiers.
Sandra Stocks who has carried out a great deal of research on Kirkheaton soldiers who died in the war has provided us with this photo of James.
She said: “James, Frank and David were all serving in the 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) so it seems likely they were all serving together.
“James and David are also mentioned on the gravestone in Laneside Cemetery at Kirkheaton where the three Moxon sisters are buried.
Frank is on the roll of honour at St John’s Church Kirkheaton.
Mr Mackay now lives in Brampton, near Carlisle is anxious that the parchments go back to James’ family.