James was born in South Hackney on 18th June 1894 and attended Ilford County High School between 11th September 1906 and 28th July 1910. Previously, he had been a pupil at the neighbouring Christchurch Road Elementary School. In 1910, James achieved a pass in the Oxford Senior Local examination (having passed the Junior Level examination the previous year).
His father, Arthur, was a Compositor and his mother was Elizabeth. However, his mother had died by the time he started at Ilford County High School. As a result, James and his brother, Stanley, lived with their uncle and aunt, Gottfried and Annie. His uncle was an employee in a silk firm and the family lived in Balfour Road, Ilford.
Upon leaving the school, James started an apprenticeship at a city firm of wholesale gentlemen’s outfitters. He is remembered on the Du Ruvigny Roll of Honour.
James is recorded on the first Roll of Honour (in the Christmas 1914 Chronicles magazine). It gives his regiments as the Camerons. At the time of his death on 23rd April 1917, James was a second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The Du Ruvigny Roll fills in the gaps and provided the following details. James joined the 4th Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders on 8th September 1914 and completed initial training in Bedford. He served in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France and Flanders from February 1915 and took part in the Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Festubert. As a result, he was promoted to Lance Corporal. He then fought at Givenchy.
He returned to England in May 1916 to train for a commission as an officer and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in October 1916. He went back to France in December and was killed in action on 23rd April 1917.
His Lieutenant Colonel wrote, “Young Jackson advanced to the attack with his company and led his men in a manner deserving of the highest praise. The attack in which he took so prominent a part was a success, and we were able to bury him on the battlefield the next morning.”
His Captain added, “It grieves me more than I can say to lose so brave and at the same time so capable an officer, in whom the men had such confidence.
He was unmarried and aged 22 when he died. His body was buried in what became the Wancourt British Cemetery (Special Memorial 48) with the inscription, ‘Their Glory shall not be blotted out.’
The Summer 1917 edition of Chronicles carried the following tribute;
‘2nd Lieut. J. B. Jackson, Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 23rd April. Brought up by his uncle, Mr Hafner, of Valentines Road, he came to the School from Christchurch Road School, and left us in 1910 after a most successful career, during which he passed the Junior and the Senior Oxford Examinations. Having left school he entered a business firm in the City, and threw himself with ardour into the religious life of the town. To the last he retained his membership of the High Road Baptist Bible Institute.
He joined the Cameron Highlanders in September 1914, and in 1915 fought at Neuve Chapelle, Festubert, Givenchy and Vermelles. In August 1916, he was sent to Oxford to join an O. T. C., and in October he was gazetted to the Royal Welsh. He fell while gallantly leading his men in what proved to be a highly successful attack.
All who had the privilege of knowing James Jackson, whether in home, school, church, or business life, bear testimony to his sterling character, his unfailing courtesy, ready wit and inexhaustible good humour. The following is an extract from a letter which has been received from his Colonel:-
“He advanced to the attack with his Company and led his men in a manner deserving of the highest praise, and I venture to hope that it may in some way help his relatives in their sorrow to hear this.
The attack in which your nephew took so prominent a part was a success, and we were able to bury him with other brave men on the battlefield next morning.”’
Research by Andrew Emeny, History Teacher at ICHS
ICHS school records and magazines
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Du Ruvigny Roll of Honour
Ilford County High School started life as the Park Higher Grade School in 1901 in Balfour Road, Ilford. It was renamed Ilford County High School (or initially County High School, Ilford) in the years after the school’s management was transferred from Ilford School Board to Essex Education Committee in 1904.