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  • Christina Drummond

Private James Ward Musto, 2nd/4th Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Private James Ward Musto, 2nd/4th Battalion, the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), was killed in action on the Western Front.

Before the outbreak of the Great War he had worked as a barman in the Three Rabbits Hotel on the Romford Road in London. The building still stands but it is now considered one of London’s “lost pubs,” - the pub achieved some notoriety in 1910 when a fellow barman fatally stabbed a customer and Private Musto was called as a witness in the murder trial. He also achieved some positive minor fame as his brother was a professional photographer and used his photograph, in which he is suitably garbed as a naval man, in an advertisement for Player’s “Yachtsmen’s Mixture” tobacco.

The 4th Battalion was formed at the outbreak of war, and within two weeks had over 400 men, continuing to grow until by December there were 986 men and twenty-seven officers. They saw service in Malta, Egypt and Gallipoli, as well as coastal defence duties in East Anglia. There was some renumbering within the battalions (for example, the 3/4th Londons became the “new” 2/4th), so it is not clear exactly where Private Musto served before being sent to the Western Front, where it is reported he arrived the day before his death. He is buried in the Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery at La Gorgue in France.

James, from Mile End Old Town, London, was 39 years old and married.

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