James Levi French was born on 28th October 1894. His parents were James and Jane French.
He was baptised into the Methodist Church on 21st November and at first lived on Okell Street, Runcorn. He attended Balfour Road County Secondary School.
By 1911, James was living with his father and siblings in Percival Lane, Runcorn, as boarders of Earnest and Eleanor Williamson. His mother, Jane, had died in 1906. He was working as a chemical labourer at the Runcorn Chemical Works. By 1911, his wife-to-be Annie Davidson and her family had also moved to Percival Lane. It is here where their relationship began.
James French enlisted into the Cheshire Regiment on 3rd September 1914 in Runcorn and was soon posted on 15th. James returned to Runcorn for a few days in August 1915 to marry Annie Davidson at Runcorn Parish Church on 23th August. He departed England with his battalion to France on 26th September 1915 and landed in Boulogne on 27th September at 2am.
On 13th November 1915, whilst in the trenches near the Belgian village of Ploegesteert, James Levi French was shot. He died of his wounds the following day. The incident is documented in the war diary of the Battalion: “Ptes French and Shepherd “13” Coy. wounded. Pte French has since died of his wounds.”
James Levi French’s grave is in the cemetery extension in Bailleul, northern France. The grave reference in I. C. 21. The inscription on his grave is “until the day dawns.” This same inscription is carried on the grave of his brother-in-law, William Davidson, who fell in the Second Battle of Gaza on 19th April 1917. He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
James Levi French was survived by his father James, his sisters Clara and Lillian and his half-brother Frederick. His wife Annie went on to marry Thomas Clowes Ireland in 1919.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank Keith Blackhall for this information on James.