ANDERSON James 1875 – 1916

4/9484 Private James Anderson, 10th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 23 January 1916, aged 41 years.  He is buried at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium[1] and commemorated on the Witton Park War Memorial.

Family Details

James Anderson was born 1875,[2] the son of James and Elizabeth Anderson of Witton Park.[3]                  

In 1881, James’ parents, 26 years old James and his 26 years old wife, Elizabeth lived at Mill Square, Wylam, Northumberland where James senior worked as a coal miner.  Their children were 4 years old James (junior) and 1 years old Robert.  James, Elizabeth and their eldest son James were all recorded as being born at Crook, County Durham.  Robert was born at Wylam.[4]   James senior died in 1889, aged 36.[5]

By 1891, widowed Elizabeth  was head of the family, living Single Row, Esh, County Durham with her 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters:[6]

  • James aged 13, born at Crook, County Durham
  • Robert aged 11, born at Wylam, Northumberland
  • Joseph aged 9, born at Esh
  • Sarah aged 7, born at Crook
  • Elizabeth aged 2, born at Gateshead

By this time, James worked as a “pony driver” at a local pit.

By 1901, the family lived at Black Road, Witton Park.  Elizabeth now 49 was head of the household and her 5 children still lived together.  Her sons James (aged 23), Robert (21) and Joseph (19) all worked as coal miners “hewers”, Sarah (16) and Elizabeth (12) were “at home”.[7]

By 1911, Elizabeth, 32 years old James, 30 years old Robert, 26 years old Sarah and 3 years old grandson William lived at Jane Pit Row, Witton Park.  Both James and Robert worked as coal miners (hewers).[8]

Military Details [9]

Given that the service number for James Anderson was 4/9484, the prefix probably indicates that, at some time, he served with the 4th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry. 4/DLI was a Regular Army Battalion (Extra Reserve) – a depot/training unit based at Barnard Castle until it moved to the Tyne defences on mobilisation.[10]  James was 39 years old at the outbreak of war so perhaps he’d served with 4/DLI at an earlier date and retained his service number.

DLI Cap Badge

Men who joined the 10th (Service) Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry were those who responded to Kitchener’s call for volunteers and his conception of the New Army.  It was formed at Newcastle on 22 August 1914 as part of K1 and it was allocated to the 43rd Brigade of the 14th (Light) Division.  Training took place at Woking, Aldershot and Witley Camp.  The Division comprised the 41st, 42nd and 43rd Infantry Brigades and the 43rd comprised the following battalions: [11]

  • 6th Bn., the Somerset Light Infantry [Prince Albert’s]
  • 6th Bn., the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
  • 6th Bn., the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • 10th Bn., the Durham Light Infantry [10/DLI]

The Division landed at Boulogne, France on 21 May 1915.[12] Private J. Anderson arrived in France later, 11 August 1915.[13]  Presumably, part of a draft of reinforcements to replace those lost in the conflict.  By this time 10/DLI had lost 5 Officers 65 Other Ranks killed inaction or died of wounds [14] serving on the front line around the Ypres area in Belgium, popularly known as the Ypres Salient.

14 August: 10/DLI was billeted at the town of Ypres in an area known as “The Ramparts”, part of the medieval town walls.  The town was subjected to a bombardment but casualties were not heavy.  Nine days were spent behind the lines at Watou, a village to the west of Poperinghe, before the month ended.

During September, 10/DLI enjoyed a quiet tour of Railway Wood trenches and a week in reserve to carry out, “much work on defences”.  Then on the 25th September, while coming up to the front to Ypres by train, it was heavily shelled.  40 men were lost, killed and wounded. 

On arriving at the front line, Lieutenant A. Parke and a party of 32 bombers were lent to the 9th Rifle Brigade and they took part in the assault of Bellewaarde Ridge.  This resulted in the party suffering 20 casualties, including Lieut. Park who was wounded. [15] Later research records that 14 Other Ranks were killed in action on the 25th and 2 died of wounds on the following day.  There were another 6 casualties by the end of the month.[16]

By this time, 10/DLI casualties had increased to 25 officers and 586 men therefore drafts were brought in during October.[17]  Perhaps Private J. Anderson was one of these reinforcements.

11 November: 10/DLI moved up the line north westwards from Wieltje, in and out of the trenches, which were a chain of isolated bits of breastwork rather than a continuous line of trenches.

12 December: 10/DLI took over the line and were subjected to a heavy German bombardment causing 24 casualties in the ranks.  Lieut. A. Hines was killed.[18]

At Christmas 1915, 10/DLI was at St. Jan-ter-Biezen on the Ypres Salient expecting to move to another theatre of war but on the 29th December, the battalion were sent up the line again to occupy the divisional front astride the Langemarck road.  The first tour was quiet.  10/DLI then went to billets at Vlamertighe before entering the front line again. 

11 January 1916: A bombardment killed 4 men and wounded 10, one of whom died of wounds 13 January.  An officer and another 3 ORs died on successive days 18, 19 and 20 January.  Further intense shelling accounted for another 3 casualties on the 23rd including Private James Anderson.  Another officer and 2 ORs were lost before the end of the month.  In all, 2 officers and 13 Other Ranks were killed in action or died of wounds between 11 and 31 January 1916.[19] 


Private J. Anderson was awarded the 1915-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.[20]



Private James Anderson is buried at grave reference II.A.4, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.[21]



James’ sister Sarah Anderson was the beneficiary of his estate and effects.[22]


James Anderson was born at Crook and lived at Witton Park with his mother, 2 brothers and 2 sisters.  He worked as a coal miner.  He served as 4/9484 Private James Anderson in the 10th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry.  He had probably served in the DLI at an earlier time and retained his regimental number.  Private J. Anderson entered France in August 1915, serving on the front line around Ypres in Belgium before being killed in action about 5 months later, on the 23rd January 1916.  He was 41 years old and single.  Private J. Anderson is buried at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium and is commemorated on the Witton Park War Memorials.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.413 Durham 1895 Q1 Possible birth

[3] CWGC

[4] 1881 census

[5] England & Wales Death Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.200 Lanchester 1889 September

[6] 1891 census

[7] 1901 census

[8] 1911 census

[9] The service record of Private J. Anderson has not been traced.  These details are derived from a number of sources as referenced



[12] “Faithful: The Story of the Durham Light Infantry” SGP Ward 1962 p.323

[13] Medal Roll card index

[14] Officers Died in the Great War (ODGW), Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW)

[15] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-1918” Capt. W. Miles 1920 p.16

[16] SDGW

[17] Miles p.25

[18] Miles p.25

[19] ODGW, SDGW & Miles 1920 p.26

[20] Medal Roll card index

[21] CWGC

[22] Army Register of Soldiers Effects 1901-1929 Record no. 260524 & Dependant’s Pension card index