James Meakin was born in the period October – December 1895, (UK Birth Index). His mother was Annie Meakin described as being Single and employed as a Charwoman. His father is unknown. In 1901 James and his mother were living with his Grandmother Emma Meakin at Red ……… (illegible), Kingsley Moor. (1901 Census). James had no brothers or sisters, he never married and had no children.
In 1911 James (then aged 16yrs) was living at Booths Farm, Kingsley, where he was employed by the Farmer, John Fallows, as a ‘Farm Servant’. (1911 Census). Later records described his pre-service employment as a ‘Cowman’. (Army Records).
In 1915 records indicate that his next of kin were his Uncle, James Thompson, and Aunt, May Thompson, of Laburnum House, Kingsley, Staffs, later living at 12 Church Street, Kingsley. (Army Records). It is not known what happened to James’ mother Annie Meakin.
James Meakin joined the Army on 10th December 1915 on a ‘Short Term’ enlistment. At this stage he gave his age as 20 years 3 months, during his initial medical he was described 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a 39 inch chest measurement. James was ‘Fit for general service’ and was posted to the Royal Garrison Artillery as Gunner 89347. (Army Records).
On 20th May 1916 James had a further Medical Examination, at which stage he weighed 10 stone. Following basic training he joined the 193rd Siege Battery and was mobilised / posted on 30th May 1916 travelling from Folkestone to Boulogne, prior to deployment in Northern France on the Western Front. (Army Records).
On 4th May 1917 James Meakin was wounded, (in unknown circumstances). He was returned from the front to a hospital near Boulogne where he is described as having a ‘severe chest wound’. Some days later he was considered fit and on 25th May 1917 he was reallocated to the 154th Siege Battery.
In October 1917 James had a one week break in a rest camp and was allowed home leave over Christmas 1917, returning to his unit on 5th January 1918. On 19th January James was taken to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station. At 10.50am on 20th January 1918 James died of Septicemia – Sickness’. (Army Records).
On 8th February 1918 the Cheadle and Tean Time reported that he was very ill, perhaps an indication how at times the news could be delayed.
Regimental War Diary, Royal Garrison Artillery, (154th Siege Battery), required.
James Meakin is buried at the Military Cemetery ot Outersteene, Near Baillieu, Northern France. (Army records and CWWG site entry)
There is a web site dedicated to the 154 Siege Battery which can be found HERE
It has been confirmed that James Meakin more than likely served at a location known as Manor Farm. He may well have been unwell but its likely he was there and the website link above is a very interesting source of information.The Manor Farm site is some 25 kilometres from the location of the casualty clearing station where Jame’s died.
Here is an extract from their officer on the day they took up their positions.
154 Siege Battery, 11th of January 1918 (Captain M.C. Walker): By 12 hours we had taken over our new battery position at Zillebeke, from 117 Siege Battery. There were 3 guns in action here. All guns, B.C. post, telephone exchange, dugouts etc., were immediately manned by us. Our exact location was at a point known as Manor Halt, where the Ypres-Comines railway crossed the road. A deep mined dugout under the road with two entrances formed accomodation for all the gunners. The remains of Manor Farm, strenghtened with concrete and iron, served as a B.C. post and officers’ quarters combined. This building was rather unique as it contained no less than nine dugouts, all of with were connected up with each other. The dugout we used as an officers’ mess was only nine feet long by twelve feet broad and it was quite impossible to stand up right in it. A moat in which all the rubbish of the locality was thrown, encircled the farm. This lent a mediaeval air to the fortress.
We are keen to hear from anyone who is related to James Meakin.
Footnote 1. Siege Batteries Royal Garrison Artillery were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire.The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strong points, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines.