Monumental Error

Private James Cale

Here is another in my occasional series about the men commemorated on the war memorial in the churchyard to St James, Ogley Hay, in the West Midlands of England. The sad thing about this one is that the name on the memorial is wrong.

The seventh name on the memorial is James Cahill. I searched online records for someone of that name living in the Brownhills area prior to World War I, but the only men I could find were from other parts of the country. However, Ancestry allows searches for similar names, and the only relevant return was James William Cale, who lived with family at Catshill, at the bottom end of Brownhills. As with some other men who died later in the war, there was no report in the local press, but his service record is available online and, though much is hard to read or illegible, it does confirm family relationships.


James William Cale was born on 13 February 1899 at Catshill, the son of George Cale and his wife Mary Ann, formerly Johnson. The 1901 census says Shenstone, but Catshill was in the parish of Shenstone at the time.

1901 Census

1 Coppice Row, Catshill Road
George Cale, head, m, 37, colliery labourer above ground, worker, Foxhills, Worcs
Mary A, wife, 25, Penkridge, Staffs (Mary Ann Johnson)
James W, son, 2, Shenstone
Gladys M, daur, 4, Shenstone

Catshill Road is now Lindon Road. Coppice Row appears to have stood between Chester Road (Anchor Bridge) and the Wheel Inn.

1911 Census

Ten years on, the family was at Catshill (High Street), Brownhills. George was a domestic gardner, and there was another daughter Ellen; all three children were at school, and were born at Brownhills. James’s military service record says Gladys May, the oldest child, was born at St James’s Square, which stood on the north side of High Street, between today’s New Road and Brickkiln Street.

Ordinarily, James would have left school at age 14 in 1913, and then taken employment, until he enlisted at age 18. Most boys leaving school in that place and time would have begun work at a colliery, but he might have joined his father as a gardner. (No trade or occupation is given in his service record.)


From the service record, James enlsited on 6 September 1917, in the North Staffs Regiment, number 61129. He was compulsorily transferred to the Middlesex Regiment and posted to 7th London Regiment on 12 August 1918, and joined his unit in the field on 15 August 1918. On 7 September he was recorded as missing in action, but date of death is given as 28 August 1918, France & Flanders – the service record says “this soldier is to be regarded for official purposes as having died on or since 28th August 1918”. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, which his father signed for on 3 March 1921.

The record describes him as 5 ft 7.25 inches tall, weight 133 lbs, chest 36.5 inches. Physical development good.

There is nothing in the online newspaper archives that I have access to, though there were detailed reports, including images, of other soldiers who were killed. missing, wounded or taken prisoner. Public trees on Ancestry add nothing, indeed some have clearly gone astray.

100 days offensive (began 8 Aug 1918)

It appears that the London Regiment was not engaged in any particular action on 26 Aug 1918, but there was heavy fighting as the German forces were driven back, leading to the end of the war.


Pte G/60382 James William Cale is commemorated at Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery and Memorial, Haucourt, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow …

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