2754 Private James Campbell, 1/8th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 26 April 1915 and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.  He was 28 years old [1] and is commemorated on the West Auckland War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, West Auckland Memorial Hall.

Family Details

James Campbell was born 1886 [2] at Bishop Auckland, the son of Kenneth and Elizabeth Campbell.  There were at least 6 children:

  • Alice bc.1873 at West Auckland
  • Christine bc.1876 at West Auckland
  • Alexander bc.1881 at West Auckland
  • Robert bc.1884 at West Auckland
  • James born 1886 at Bishop Auckland
  • Margaret bc. 1890 at West Auckland

In 1881 the family lived at West Auckland, in 1891 at Wood Bridge, St. Helen’s Auckland and in 1901, they lived at Toadpool, West Auckland. [3] Scottish born Kenneth worked as a general labourer, Alexander and Robert were coal miners (hewers) and James a coal miner (putter).[4]  By 1911, James (recorded as 21 years old) lived at Evenwood Gate as a boarder with J.W. Clarke.  James worked as “a carter” (colliery). [5]  At that time, Randolph Colliery at Evenwood was the nearest pit and he may have worked there.

By 1911, James’ oldest brother 31 year old Alexander was married to Ann and lived with their 3 young children at 178 Staffordshire Street, Sacriston.[6]  The CWGC Index for the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial records Alexander Campbell of 130 Staffordshire Place, Sacriston as the brother of 2754 Private James Campbell [7] which confirms his family/service details.

Service Record

The service record of Private J. Campbell has not been researched.  James Campbell enlisted at XXXXX and joined the 8th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry and was given the regimental number 2754.[8]

The 1/8th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was part of the Territorial Force raised from men living at Houghton-le-Spring, Chester-le-Street and Durham City areas.  In addition, over 150 students of Bede Teaching Training College served in this battalion.[9] The battalion came under the orders of the 151st (DLI) Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division which comprised the following units:[10]

  • 1/6 DLI
  • 1/7 DLI
  • 1/8 DLI
  • 1/9 DLI

Following training, the Division left for France between 17 and 19 April 1915, concentrating at Steenvoorde then moving onto Poperinghe and Vlamertinghe.  Private J. Campbell entered France 19 April 1915. [11] Within a few days, the battalion was involved in action when it marched through Ypres 24/25 April under shellfire.  In the early hours of 25 April 8/DLI relieved the Canadians at Boetleers Farm. [12] This action was to become known as the Second Battle of Ypres.

22 April – 25 May 1915 The Second Battle of Ypres[13]

This began with a surprise German attack using poison gas against the French North African forces holding defences near Ypres.  Both sides rushed reserves in and the battle developed into the second epic encounter around Ypres which resulted in the British Second Army withdrawing to form a shorter line around the town.

25 April: A and D Companies were ordered forward to trenches to relieve the Canadians holding them.  B and C Companies were entrenched at the farm.  The German Line formed an arc to the north and north-west covering two sides.

25/26 April:  The Germans attacked D Company, shelling broke the communication lines back to Boetleers Farm.  Having been located by a German aeroplane, shells fell upon the trenches occupied by D and A Company.  Surrounded on 3 sides, the decision was made to withdraw through the remaining gap, a move made under terrific shell (HE and shrapnel) machine and rifle fire.

Casualties were heavy 19 Officers and 574 Other Ranks killed, wounded and missing including those taken prisoner.  Later research records 102 men killed in action 26 April.[14]

Due to these heavy losses 6/DLI and 8/DLI amalgamated to form 6/8th Composite Battalion until drafts were brought in to supplement losses and bring the battalions up to fighting strength.[15]

26 April 1915: Private J. Campbell was killed in action and has no known grave.  He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[16]


Private J. Campbell is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial which bears the names of more than 50,000 officers and men who were killed prior to 16 August 1917 and whose graves are unknown.  It was unveiled 24 July 1927. [17]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.1909 Auckland 1886 Q1

[3] 1881, 1891 & 1901 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census Note: James would have been 25 years old.

[6] 1911 census

[7] CWGC

[8] Soldiers Died in the Great War


[10] &

[11] Medal Roll



[14] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War – all deaths are given the date of 26 April even though some may have occurred on 25 April 1915


[16] Medal Roll

[17] Commonwealth War Graves Commission




Menin Gate Memorial (Ypres)

Menin Gate Memorial (Ypres)

Campbell J.