Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

James Smith

James Smith :

James Smith : Allied Victory Medal

Allied Victory Medal

We don't know anything about James' family or early life.

The First World War broke out on the 4th August 1914 and James joined the Army on the 26th. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 2860.

This date and James' service number suggests that he joined the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. Before the war this had been a unit of the Special Reserve.

A Special Reservist was a man who had not previously served in the Regular Army. They kept their civilian career, but trained to be a soldier for a short period every year. In a war Special Reservists could be sent to join Army units anywhere as individuals or in small groups. The 4th Battalion itself was not intended to go into battle.

The Army took heavy casualties during the opening months of the war, and soon needed reinforcements from the Special Reserve.

James was sent overseas on the 16th March 1915. He joined the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in Dranoutre in Belgium. During April they took part in attacks on Hill 60 near the town of Ypres. This was part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres, fought between the 21st April and the 25th May. The battalion stayed in the Ypres area, taking its turns in the front lines, until the end of July. They then returned to France and spent the rest of the year in the Somme sector.

Although we don't know when, James was wounded at some point during this period. His wounds were serious enough that he would never be fit enough to return to duty. He was discharged as 'no longer physically fit for war service' on the 10th February 1916. He was awarded a Silver War Badge, with serial number 119001, to show that his discharge was honourable.

James' life after this remains a mystery. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 1987. As well as his Allied Victory Medal, James also received the 1914-15 Star and the British War Medal for his Army service.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council