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  • Christina Drummond

Private James Alfred Baines, 2nd/4th Battalion, The City of London Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Private James Alfred Baines, 2nd/4th Battalion, the City of London Regiment, was reported as wounded and missing in action in France, his body never recovered. The only son of a director of the firm Wm. Baines Sons. Ltd, Britannia Mills, Morley, he had been educated at Silcoates School near Wakefield, and attended Leeds University. He joined the Army Ordnance Corps in October of 1915, and was later drafted into the City of London Regiment, arriving in France shortly thereafter. His parents received this letter a month after he was reported missing: “Dear Sir, No doubt you have received official intimation that your son is wounded and missing. I sincerely trust that news may yet be received that he is alive and safe beyond our line. As the postal authorities will not accept parcels for return, the three which have been received for your son have been opened and the contents shared amongst the men of the company. I feel sure that you do not mind, and on their behalf I thank you. Trusting your time of anxiety will not last long, I remain, faithfully yours, E.P. Higgs, Sec.-Lieut., O.C.” The following year the Army Council reported that they “regretfully constrained to conclude that he is dead and that his death took place on the date mentioned, or since.” Along with a message of sympathy from the King and Queen, Mr. and Mrs. Baines received a letter from the British Red Cross Inquiry Department for Wounded and Missing: “We much regret to say that notwithstanding constant and careful inquiries we have not succeeded in hearing anything of your son, and we have had to come to the conclusion that he must have lost his life at the time he was missing. We have questioned all the men of his unit whom we have been able to see, both in English hospitals and at the bases abroad, and none of them have thrown any light on his casualty. We watch all prisoners’ lists as they come in from Germany, but we cannot hope to find there the names of any men missing so long ago. If we ever succeed in getting details of the action of October 26, 1917, we will send you a copy. We wish to offer our sincere sympathy to the family and friends, and to express our regret at being unable to help in the matter. Yours faithfully, for the Earl of Lucan, G.C.B.” Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial at Zonnebeke in Belgium, James, from Leeds, was 22 years old.

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