No.15548, Private, James CLAYDON
Aged 33

8th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Friday, 14th July 1916

James Claydon was born in Hempstead [Saffron Walden Q3-1883 4A:534], son of Alfred and Eliza Ann CLAYDON (née WILLIS).

1891 census...Aged 8, he was at Tittle Hall, Boxted with his father Alfred CLAYDON [35] a gamekeeper, born Hempstead; his mother Eliza [36] born Steeple Bumpstead; brothers Harry [12], Joseph [10] both born Steeple Bumpstead and George William [3] born Boxted; sisters Amelia [5] and Aley May [1], both born Boxted.

1901 census...Aged 18, farm labourer, he was at Tittle Hall, Boxted with his parents; sisters Kate [23] born Bumpstead, Minnie (Amelia), May and Grace [9] born Boxted; brothers Harry (farm labourer), Joseph (domestic gardener), William and Thomas [6] born Boxted.

1911 census...Aged 27, a farm labourer/rat catcher, single, he was still at Tittle Hall, Boxted with his mother, brother in law George PEARSON [34], farm labourer with his son Alfred [6] and daughter Annie [3] both born in Boxted (their mother is not identified). Eliza had born 11 children and all still survived. His father was away, at 37 Cambridge Road, Walthamstow, visiting his son Harry and his family (wife Emma [30] born Boxted and their son Alfred [3] born Plumstead, Kent. Also there were Doris PEARSON (Harry's niece) [4] born Boxted and a boarder, Christopher FREE [30] born Castle Camps

The connection with Wixoe seems to be his parents address on the pension card, St.Leonards Lodge, Wixoe

James enlisted in Bury St.Edmunds.
The 8th Suffolks were on the eastern edge of Bernafay Wood on 14th July 1916. War diary says:-
Order received the 53rd Bde attack TRONES WOOD had not been successful and that 54th Brigade were being put in - Battalion marched to BILLON WOOD, arriving at 7 am. CO had conference with Brigadier - Battalion ordered to march via TALUS BOISE -BRIQUETERIEand to take over defence of Chimpanzee Trench (A.5.d.) to SE corner of BERNAFAY WOOD and then along eastern edges of wood as far as Railway:- The Battalion was in position by 11:30 am, the right of the battalion joining up with the FRENCH Battalion HQ at BRIQUETERIE.

CWGC figures show 4 of the 8th Suffolks killed this day

A letter, sent to his Mother by his Platoon commander, was printed in the South West Suffolk Echo on 5th August 1916. The letter was sent to Mrs Claydon at St Leonards Lodge, Wixoe, and reads as follows:-
"Dear Madam, It is with great regret that I am compelled to write to you to inform you of your son's death. Pte. J. Claydon was in my platoon and was one of the most popular of my men. He was an excellent soldier and always performed his duties cheerfully and thoroughly. He was killed on the 14th July, 1916, at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. He was buried the next day and a service read over the grave by our Chaplain, the Reverend Frazer. His grave is situated in the Bricquetine, about a quarter of a mile from the village of Montaubaro [Montauban]. It will, I am sure, be a great comfort to you to know that he died an instant death and could not possibly have felt any pain. I must apologize for not having written sooner, but we have been in the firing line ever since and writing has been impossible. Please accept sincerest sympathies of the men of the platoon and that of the Company Officers. Yours, J. Hannaford, Second-Lieut".

James was obviously yet another whose grave was lost in later fighting.

James Claydon is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial, pier and face 1C/2A

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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