Pte. J. Castle


UNIT: 50th Machine Gun Corps

NUMBER: 73620

STATUS: Killed in Action

DATE OF DEATH: 27th May 1918

CEMETERY OR MEMORIAL: Commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France

AGE: 32

James Castle was married to Mary Alice Payne and they lived at No. 2 Melbourne Yard, Northallerton. He worked as a carter before the War.

James originally served with the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, until the Volunteers were replaced by the Territorial Army under the Haldane Reforms of 1908. The Territorial Army came into being on 1st April 1908 and the following day James Castle was formally sworn in as a member (no. 66) of the 1/4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, at the age of 22.

It would appear that James left the Army in April 1916, after 8 years and 6 days serving with the 4th Yorkshires, including 349 days in "France" (which was the usual euphemism for the Western Front). It is not clear why he was discharged, but his escape did not last long. Like all soldiers who leave the Army, he was placed on the "Reserve" which meant that he was liable to be recalled in time of particular need. That time came in August 1916, when he was recalled from the Reserve and posted, once again, to the 4th Yorkshires (No. 6241). One can only speculate, but perhaps it was the huge casualties being suffered in the Battle of the Somme, which was reaching its height in August 1916, which prompted James' recall.

It is not know how long he served with the 4th Yorkshires as he was subsequently transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He went missing on 27th May 1918, shortly before his 33rd birthday, whilst serving on attachment to the 4th Yorkshires, who were heavily attacked by the Germans near St. Quentin and their positions were overrun. James' body was never identified and he is commemorated, like so many others who fell during this fighting, on the Memorial to The Missing at Soissons.