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James Marshall – Killed in action 1918

James Marshall buried in Rue-David cemetery

James Marshall served with the 1st/5th battalion of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment). James enlisted in November 1916 and was drafted to France in May 1917. He was seriously gassed in October 1917, and returned to his unit once recovered. He has been back at the front for approx. 1 month when he was sent as a runner with an important message for the advanced positions; he was killed by a shell explosion on 16 October 1918. He was the son of Walter and Agnes Ann Marshall, of 263 Liverpool Rd, Birkdale, Southport, Lancashire.


The Final Advance in Flanders

28 September-11 November 1918, the Final Advance in Flanders. The British Second Army and Belgian Army combine and finally break out of the Ypres salient. More ground is gained in a day that in the entire Passchendaele offensive of a year before. The offensive continues through fighting in the Courtrai area and eventually well across the Scheldt.

Extract from a map contained in the British Official History of Military Operations, France and Flanders, 1918, volume 5. Crown Copyright.

The map above illustrates the advance of the British Second Army from 28 September (the position being the solid red line at Ypres shown on the left of the map) to 11 November 1918 (the solid red line at Grammont on the right of the map), with phase-lines in between. The red line of crosses was the start position for operations on 14 October. 

North of Second Army came the Belgians, and in the latter stages the United States forces in the Audenarde (Oudenaarde) area; south of Second Army was the British Fifth Army where the Kings(Liverpool Regiment) were operating.


On the 15 and 16th October Kings(Liverpool Regiment) were to cross the Canal (the blue line in the map above to occupy Don, almost due east from la Bassee. The orders for this operation are below. This operation was split between 4 companies requiring liason between the companies to manage the advance.

Subsequent operation orders were issued to 2 companies on 16th October, to move forward; could these be fateful message that James Marshall was sent as a runner to deliver.

War Diaries

The diary does not mention any casualties for the whole of October.

Press Announcements

Private Marshall resided at 263 Liverpool Rd, Birkdale, and was employed for 15 years by Mr J F Maiden of Eastbank Street, Southport. He joined the King’s in November 1916, and went to France in May 1917. He was seriously gassed on 29th October 1917. On his recovery he returned to France on 1st April 1918, and was gassed again in June. He again rejoined his regiment in September and, while acting as a runner with important messages to the advanced positions, he was killed by a German shell.


The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) – 1st/5th Bn.

The Regiment was first formed in 1685 by Lord Ferrars of Chartly as ‘Princess Anne of Denmark’s Regiment of Foot’ after King James II’s second daughter (later Queen Anne).  It was formed in response to the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685 when, James Scott the 1st Duke of Monmouth (the oldest illegitimate son of Charles II and James II’s nephew) unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the unpopular King.  His small force was swiftly put down at the Battle of Sedgemoor.  The Regiment was under the command of James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick; the illegitimate son of King James II.  In 1688 James II fled to France when Prince William of Orange was invited by the English Lords to become King William III.  The Duke of Berwick decided to follow his father into exile and was replaced by Colonel John Beamon as the commanding officer of the Regiment.

In 1881 the regiment was renamed The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and in 1921 became The King’s Regiment (Liverpool). The Regiment is one of only four Regiments associated with a city, unlike most British infantry Regiments, which are associated with a county.  The Regiment went on to serve during the Third Burmese War (1885), Second Boer War (1899-1902), and two World Wars.  In 1958 after 273 years of continuous existence, the Regiment was amalgamated with the Manchester Regiment, and became The King’s Regiment (Manchester and Liverpool).  In 2004 the British infantry was restructured once again and the King’s Regiment was merged with King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment to form The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border).

The Regiment formed 49 battalions and were awarded 58 Battle Honours and six Victoria Crosses, losing 15,000 men during the course of the war.

1/5th Battalion Territorial Forces
04.08.1914 Stationed at St. Anne Street Liverpool, at the outbreak of war as part of the Liverpool Brigade of the West Lancashire Division then moved to Canterbury in the autumn.
22.02.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre, transferred to 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division. They were engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
During 1915
The Battle of Festubert, The Battle of Loos.
15.12.1915 Transferred to 99th Brigade of the 2nd Division.
During 1916
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of the Ancre, Operations on the Ancre.
07.01.1916 Transferred to 165th Brigade of the 55th Division and continued to engage in action on the Western Front;
During 1916
The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Ginchy, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval.
During 1917
The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, attack’s in the Spree, Pond and Schuler Farms area, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, The Third Battles of the Ypres, and Phases of the Cambrai Operations.
During 1918
The Battle of Estaires, The Defence of Givenchy, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The capture of Givenchy craters.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Ath. The Division was used to repair road and railway in the Leuze area and demobilisation began on 03.01.1919.

Personal Life

James Marshall was born on 11 Mar 1887 to Walter Frank and Agnes Ann (nee Jopson) Marshall in Birkdale, Lancashire, England. He had an elder sister, Elizabeth was born on 12 Mar 1885 

He was baptised on 20 Apr 1887 in Liverpool Street, Birkdale, Lancashire, England.

He was age 4 and living with his parents in the 1891 UK Census on 5 Apr 1891 at Clifford Road in Birkdale, Ormskirk, Lancashire, England.

He later had two other sisters born Birkdale, Lancashire, England, These were Nellie Muriel born on 21 Jan 1893 and Annie born on 28 Sep 1899 .

He was age 14 and living with his parents in the 1901 UK Census on 31 Mar 1901 at Liverpool Road South in Birkdale, Ormskirk, Lancashire, England.

He was a Pork Butcher in 1911. He was age 24 and living with his parents in the 1911 UK Census on 2 Apr 1911 at Liverpool Road in Southport, Ormskirk, Lancashire, England.

He enlisted in November 1916 the King’s (Liverpool Regiment); Rank: Private; Service number: 204391.

He died on 16 Oct 1918 at age of 31 years as is buried in Rue-David Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France.

His father died in 30 March1946 at age of 84 years in Southport. and his mother on 30 Sep 1950 at age of 86 years in Southport

Census Records

1901 Census
1911 Census


James Marshall was initially buried in Sainghin-en-Weppes, Nord, Francs. He was reburied in RUE-DAVID MILITARY CEMETERY in 1920.

Grave Details

His war grave details can be seen here.  This links to the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website.

Grave details

The grave photograph was taken by the War Graves Photographic Project. A copy of this photograph can be ordered from their website.

Remembered in Birkdale Cemetery.

James is remembered on his parents headstone in Birkdale Cemetery – Section C

DIED MARCH 30th 1946, AGED 84 YEARS.

DIED SEPT 30th 1950, AGED 86 YEARS.
WHO DIED MARCH 25th 1958.


Fleurbaix is a village about 5 kilometres south-west of Armentieres. Rue-David Military Cemetery lies to the south-east of the village. Leave Fleurbaix heading towards Armentieres, 300 metres from the centre of Fleurbaix turn right towards Bois Grenier. After a further 1 kilometre turn right again, follow the road round a sharp left hand bend, and the Cemetery is approximately 500 metres further on.

“Rue-David” (or “Rue-des-Davids”) is the local name of the road running between La Croix-Marechal and La Boutillerie. The cemetery was begun by the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers in December 1914 and closed to Commonwealth burials in December 1917. At the Armistice it comprised Rows A to F and part of G of the present Plot I and contained 220 graves. The cemetery was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in mainly from the neighbourhood of Aubers and Fromelles, including those of many of the 1st Middlesex who died at the end of October 1914, and of the 5th Australian and 61st (South Midland) Divisions who died in July 1916. The cemeteries from which graves were brought to Rue-David Military Cemetery included the following:- ABBEY WALL CEMETERY, LA BOUTILLERIE, FLEURBAIX, under the North wall of the ruined Chartreux Abbey. Here were buried 60 soldiers from the United Kingdom (including 46 of the 1st Middlesex who fell in October and November 1914), five from Canada and five from Australia. CROIX-MARECHAL MILITARY CEMETERY, FLEURBAIX, at the cross-roads known as La Croix-Marechal. Here were buried 27 soldiers from the United Kingdom and one from Australia, who fell in 1914-16, and October 1918. ORCHARD OF SMITH’S VILLA, FLEURBAIX, at the cross roads nearly 1.6 kilometres West of Bois-Grenier, where twelve men of the 1st South Staffords were buried early in 1915. PONT-DE-LA-LYS INDIAN CEMETERY, ESTAIRES, by the bridge between Estaires and La Gorgue, where 34 Indian soldiers were buried in 1914-15. SAINGHIN-EN-WEPPES CHURCHYARD, where 15 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried. SAINGHIN-EN-WEPPES COMMUNAL CEMETERY, where 24 soldiers from the United Kingdom, who fell in October 1914 – January 1915, were buried. WANGERIE POST OLD MILITARY CEMETERY, LAVENTIE, on the road from the Rue-du-Bacquerot to Aubers, a little South of Wangerie Farm. (The New Military Cemetery was smaller, and closer to the Farm.) It contained the graves of 39 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in October 1914 and April 1916; and it was used by the Portuguese Corps in 1917. There are now 898 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War in the cemetery. 429 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to four casualties known to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 11 casualties buried in Abbey Wall Cemetery, La Boutillerie, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire, and six men of the Indian forces. The cemetery also contains ten German graves. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

You can view the details for this cemetery on the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website here.