(L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen', 'South Africa 1901'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal; Meritorious Service Medal
Jeremiah was born on the 25th November 1869 in Manchester. His father was called James and his mother was Elizabeth. He had an older brother called Patrick, who was born in 1866, and 3 younger siblings: Mary, Joseph and Elizabeth. The family were Roman Catholics from Ireland. They had moved from County Carlow some time after Patrick was born.
In 1881 the family lived at 42 Higson Street in Salford. James worked as a plasterer's labourer. In around 1883 the family moved to 96 Melbourne Street in Salford. They still lived there in February 1887.
By this time Jeremiah was working as a labourer. Patrick had joined the Army in May 1883, and Jeremiah decided to follow in his footsteps. Like his brother, he first joined the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Militia, meaning Jeremiah kept his civilian home and job. He trained as a soldier for a short period every year.
When he enlisted Jeremiah was 5 feet 3 1/2 inches tall. He had a 'fresh' complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He joined the 4th Battalion on the 7th February 1887 and was given the service number 2098.
Just like Patrick, Jeremiah took to Army life and became a Regular soldier on the 19th September. He stayed in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 2013. He had grown an inch during his time in the Militia, and now weighed 123 pounds. He began his career with 2 months of training at the Manchester Regiment Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne.
Once he was trained, Jeremiah joined the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment at Aldershot in Hampshire on the 22nd November. He obtained his Third Class Army Certificate of Education there on the 26th March 1889.
After 20 months in Aldershot Jeremiah was posted to the 2nd Battalion on the 20th September 1889. The day before he left the UK he began to receive an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay.
Jeremiah joined the 2nd Battalion at Agra, in northern India. On the 5th March 1890 he was promoted to Lance Corporal. At around the same time the battalion moved to Sealkote, now Sialkot in Pakistan. James and Patrick will have served together until February 1891.
Around 300 members of the 2nd Battalion joined the Miranzai Field Force during April and May 1891. They were awarded the India General Service Medal (1854) with clasp 'Samana 1891' for their service. Several examples of this medal are in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection. Jeremiah was not chosen to join this force. He appears to have stayed in Sialkot.
Jeremiah began to be paid as a Lance Corporal on the 5th January 1892, although after just 42 days he was promoted to Corporal. Between these dates, on the 21st January, he obtained his 2nd Class Certificate of Education.
The 2nd Battalion moved to Meerut in late 1892. They then spent time in Chakrata in the foothills of the Himalayas, and arrived in Dinapore, now Danapur in Bihar State, in November 1893. Jeremiah's Good Conduct Pay was increased to 2d per day on the 19th September 1893.
Dinapore would be the 2nd Battalion's home until November 1897. Jeremiah would spend most of this time as a Sergeant, as he was promoted on the 1st August 1894. We don't know anything else about what he did in India.
The 2nd Battalion left India in November 1897 and sailed to Aden, now in Yemen. They spent a year here and returned to the UK in November 1898. Whilst he was in Aden Jeremiah extended his time in the Army. He would now serve for 21 years.
Back in the UK Jeremiah's Good Conduct Pay was increased to 3d per day on the 19th September 1899. This was good timing, as he would soon have a wife to support. He married Elizabeth Jane Stubbs at St Wilfred's Church in Hulme, Manchester on the 5th October. She was known as Jane.
On the 1st November Jeremiah left the 2nd Battalion and was assigned to the Regimental Depot. He is likely to have been involved in training new recruits, although his time there was short.
Tensions between British and Boer settlers in South Africa had risen during 1899, and war broke out on the 11th October. It did not begin well for the British and by the end of the year the Army was sending as many soldiers as it could to the country. Jeremiah was posted back to the 2nd Battalion on the 10th February 1900 as they prepared to go to war. They set sail in mid March and arrived in early April.
Soon after this, during July, the 2nd Battalion took part in fighting to the west of Harrismith. This qualified Jeremiah and his comrades for the 'Wittebergen' clasp.
By this time the Boers had begun to fight in small groups as guerrillas. This made them harder to find and defeat. To deal with this type of warfare the 2nd Battalion took part in long patrols intended to find and pin down the Boers. They also served as guards in the blockhouses and fence lines that restricted the Boer's movements.
Disease was a greater threat to British soldiers than the Boers, and Jeremiah was taken ill in February 1901. Although we don't know what was wrong with him, his condition was serious enough that he was invalided back to the UK on the 18th February. He was not officially reassigned to the Depot until the 1st January 1902, which suggests he needed many months to fully recover.
On the 1st August 1902 Jeremiah was promoted to Colour Sergeant. He worked at the Depot for the next 2 years. In mid August 1904 he was posted to the 4th Battalion at Kinsale in County Cork, Ireland. During his time with them he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal to recognise 18 years of Army service.
After just over 2 years Jeremiah returned to the 2nd Battalion in November 1906. It was split between the Channel Islands of Alderney and Guernsey. The 4th Battalion had been disbanded by the end of the year.
Jeremiah's time with the battalion was short. On the 1st March 1907 he was assigned to the Permanent Staff of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This unit was based on Stretford Road in Hulme and made up of Volunteers. These men had civilian jobs and trained as soldiers during evenings and weekends. The Permanent Staff organised and led training for the Volunteers, and ran the unit between training sessions.
In April 1908 the Volunteer Force was disbanded and replaced by the Territorial Force. The 2nd Volunteer Battalion became the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. Jeremiah served through this change, and continued to train the Territorials until September 1908. By this time he had finished his 21 years of service, so he retired on the 18th. Shortly before he retired he was able to pass the 1st Class Certificate of Education.
Jeremiah's conduct had been 'exemplary'. He told the Army he and Jane intended to live at 8 Boundary Street in Hulme. We don't know whether they did.
In 1911 the couple lived at 31 Hood Lane in Sankey, near Warrington in Cheshire. As well as receiving his Army Pension, Jeremiah was working as a watchman at a soap and chemical works. They had no children, and we don't believe they ever did.
The First World War broke out in August 1914 and like many old soldiers Jeremiah quickly rejoined the Army. He enlisted on the 10th September, and chose to join The King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). He was given the service number 4342.
Jeremiah's experience must have been obvious. He was sent overseas to France on the 4th September 1915, and by this time he held the rank of Company Quartermaster Sergeant; equivalent to his former rank of Colour Sergeant.
We don't know which battalion of the King's Own Jeremiah joined, so we can't say for certain where he served. He was promoted to Warrant Officer Class II at some point, and given the job of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.
During the war Jeremiah fell sick. He did not recover and was discharged as 'no longer physically fit for war service' on the 26th February 1919. This was after the end of the war, but it is likely he had been ill for some time.
We don't know much about the rest of Jeremiah's life. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1935. This recognised his long and distinguished Army service. It came with an annuity, although we don't know how much Jeremiah received. There was a limit on the total amount of money available to units to fund annuities for this award, so it is likely that Jeremiah had to wait until a previous holder of the medal had died before he could be awarded it.
By 1949 Jeremiah and Jane lived at 'Crossways' in Aston-on-Clun, near Craven Arms in Shropshire. We know he was a member of the Manchester Regiment Old Comrade's Association (OCA), but not how active he was able to be.
We do know that Jeremiah attended the Reunion dinner on the 4th March 1947. This was held in Belle Vue, Manchester. As he wrote, 'in coming home [I] nearly lost my life. It had snowed all day. After leaving the station and Craven Arms I had four miles to walk, and the snow was from 3 feet to 10 feet along the roads. It took me two days to traverse four miles'.
In May 1953 Jeremiah sent the Museum of the Manchester Regiment some photographs of his time in the Army. Although he 'intended visiting the Museum,... I am afraid I have left it too long, as my eyesight is rapidly failing. I would be afraid of passing through Manchester'.
Jane died at home on the 22nd January 1954. She was 88. Jeremiah continued to live 'all by himself' at Crossways. In late 1957 he had an operation to remove his cataracts, which seems to have gone well. He celebrated his 90th birthday on the 25th November 1959, when he was 'wonderfully well'. His friends in the OCA sent him a 'congratulatory telegram'.
Jeremiah celebrated his 91st birthday the next year, but less than a month later he fell ill and had to go into East Hamlet Hospital in nearby Ludlow. He died there on the 23rd December 1960. He was buried in Clungenford, a short distance from Aston, on the 27th.
Jeremiah left his medals to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment, and they were donated in January 1961.