Menu ☰
Liverpool Pals header
Search Pals

Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 16855 James Massam

  • Age: 24
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 18th Btn
  • D.O.W Saturday 22nd July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Liverpool, Yew Tree Cy
    Panel Ref: IVA.160
James Massam was born at 31 Bulwer Street in Liverpool on 30th November 1891 and baptised on 6th December in All Saints Roman Catholic Church, Liverpool. He was the son of Edward Robert Massam and his wife Martha (nee Pinnington).

The 1901 Census shows the family are living at 18 June Road, Fairfield, Liverpool. James is 9 years of age and lives with his parents and two sisters. His father is a 37 year old cotton porter born in Ince Blundell, whilst his mother is a 32 year old born in Southport. His sisters, both born in Liverpool are listed as: Isabella aged 10 and Mary Eleanor aged 2.

His mother died in 1906 and his father died in 1907 leaving James and his sisters as orphans. 

Two further siblings William Alphonsus and Ellen died in infancy

The 1911 shows they have moved across the Mersey to 181 Withens Lane, Liscard and are living with their Uncle Joseph Pinnington, a 41 year old estate agent born in Southport  (their mothers brother) and his wife their Aunt Lavinia, a 47 year old born in Flint.. James is now 19 years of age and is described as an assistant sampleman in a cotton brokerage. His three sisters, Isabel 20, Eleanor 12 and Teresa 8  are listed in the household alongside his two cousins Charles a 21 year old motor car mechanic and chauffeu and Isabella aged 20. Also present is another Aunt Elizabeth Ann Pinnington aged 49 born in Chorley.      

James was educated at the School of the Blessed Sacrament in Aintree and was a member of St Albans Church, Liscard. On leaving school he took up a postion as a clerk/sampleman with Messrs. John H Hutchinson and Co, cotton merchants of Liverpool.

He enlisted at St George's Hall in Liverpool on the 1st September 1914, joining the 18th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment as Private 16855. He gave his age as 22 years and 270 days and his occupation as a sampleman. He was 5' 5 and 3/4 inches  tall, weighed 126lbs with a fresh complexion, grey eyes, brown hair and gave his religion as Roman Catholic. He gave his sister Mrs Isabel O'Hare, 218 Poulton Rd, Wallasey as his next of kin.

From the 23rd September 1914 he was billeted at Hooton Park Race Course and remained there until 03rd December 1914 when they moved into the hutted accommodation at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 18th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain.  

7.11.15: Embarked for France with his Battalion on board the SS Invicta.

12.2.16: Attached to 202 Field Coy. R.E.

18.6.16: Attached to 21st Trench Mortar Battery and he was with this unit when he was wounded at Montauban on the 01st July 1916. He was wounded by gunfire whilst taking part in the offensive on the German lines, a bullet passed through his watch and penetrated his left wrist. He was admitted to 13 Casualty Clearing Station and transferred to No 9 General Hospital (Rouen) on the 04th July where his wounds were assessed and preparations were made to evacuate him to the UK. This took place on the 06th July when he embarked on the Hospital Ship Marama. James was admitted to No 3 Western General Hospital, Lansdowne Road, Cardiff on the 07th July and, though the wound was not considered serious an infection took hold and he died from septicaemia on the 22nd July 1916 with his family around him.

The 18th Battalion Diary gives an insight into the action during which James was wounded: 

At 6.30am the artillery commenced an intensive bombardment of the enemy’s trenches. Zero Hour – 7.30 am – the battalion commenced to leave their trenches and the attack commenced. The attack was pressed with great spirit and determination in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun enfilade fire which caused casualties amounting to 2/3rds of the strength of the Battalion in action. The whole system of German trenches including the Glatz Redoubt was captured without any deviation from the scheduled programme. Consolidated positions and made strong points for defence against possible counter attacks.

Graham Maddocks provides more detail concerning the events of the day:

As the first three waves began to move forward towards the German reserve line, known as Alt Trench and then on to the Glatz Redoubt itself, they suddenly came under enfilading fire from the left. This was from a machine gun which the Germans had sited at a strong point in Alt Trench. The gun itself was protected by a party of snipers and bombers, who, hidden in a rough hedge, were dug into a position in Alt Trench, at its junction with a communication trench known as Alt Alley. These bombers and snipers were themselves protected by rifle fire from another communication trench, Train Alley which snaked back up the high ground and into Montauban itself. The machine gun fire was devastating and it is certain that nearly of the Battalion’s casualties that day were caused by that one gun.  

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Henry Trotter  wrote in the conclusion of his account of the days action:

I cannot speak to highly of the gallantry of the Officers and men. The men amply repaid the care and kindness of their Company Officers, who have always tried to lead and not to drive. As laid down in my first lecture to the Battalion when formed, in the words of Prince Kraft:

“Men follow their Officers not from fear, but from love of the Regiment where everything had always and at all times gone well with them”.    

Joe Devereux in his book A Singular Day on the Somme gives the Casualty Breakdown for the 18th Battalion as Killed in Action 7 Officers and 165 men and of those who died in consequence of the wounds 3 Officers and 19 men a total of 194 out of a total loss for the four Liverpool Pals Battalions of 257. 

He now rests at Yew Tree Roman Catholic Cemetery, Liverpool.

The Wallasey News reported his death:

Shot Through Wristlet Watch

"We regret to record the death of Private James Massam, of the Liverpool Pals, who resided with his sister at 218, Poulton Road, Seacombe, and who previously lived in Buchanan Road.

The deceased soldier, who was 24 years of age, was wounded during the recent fighting in France. He was struck by a shot in the left wrist and, strange to say, the bullet penetrated a wristlet watch and glanced through the palm of the left hand. It was at first thought that the wound was not of a serious nature, but after Massam had been removed to the Cardiff Hospital blood poisoning set in, and he died on Saturday last.

Private Massam was educated at the School of the Blessed Sacrament , Aintree, was a member of St. Alban’s and St. Joseph’s Men’s Society, and was a prominent local footballer".  

Liverpool Echo 24th July 1916


The flag over the cotton exchange floats half-mast today in memory of Private James Massam, King's (Liverpool) Regiment, who has died from wounds received in action. He was formerly with Messrs. Jno. H. Hutchinson and Co., cotton merchants, and was everywhere popular.

Western Mail 26th July 1916

Private James Massam, King's Liverpool Regiment, a native of Wallasey, Cheshire, who was admitted on July 7, died in hospital at Cardiff as the results of gunshot wounds.

Liverpool Daily Post 31st July 1916

Private James Massam, also of the Liverpool comrades, has died at Cardiff Hospital. He was struck in the left wrist, the bullet penetrating a wrist watch and glancing through the palm of the hand. The wound which was at first thought not to be serious led to blood poisoning. Massam, who lived with his sister at 218 Poulton Road, was a prominent local footballer and a member of St. Alban's and St Joseph's Men's Society.

Liverpool Echo 23rd July 1917

MASSAM - In loving memory of Private James Massam (Pals), who died from wounds July 22, 1916. - Fondly remembered by all at home.

He left estate valued at £138 10s 6d (based on average earnings this is worth around £37,500 in 2016).

Soldiers Effects and Pension to his sister Isabel O'Hare

He is also remembered on the following memorials:

St Alban's RC Church, Mill Lane, Liscard

Wallasey War Memorial located in the Hospital on Mill Lane, Wallasey

Liverpool Cotton Association Ltd, 620 Cotton exchange Building, Edmund Street, Liverpool.

Killed On This Day.

(103 Years this day)
Thursday 19th September 1918.
Pte 88128 John William Rimmer
33 years old