James Edward Barker was born in West Ham in the East End of London around 1875 one of six children of Samuel and Martha Barker. Samuel was a builder and labourer – the 1891 census records James (age 14) as being a paperhanger.
Twenty years later, we find James employed as a general labourer, but he’d by then moved out west to the North Kensington district of London – (at that time, a very poor working class area).
His father died in 1902, but that same year James got married to Elizabeth (nee Hull), and went on to have 5 children: May, Ada, James Edward, William Thomas and David John (his girls didn’t receive middle names, apparently!).
Despite his large family commitments, James enlisted for service at Camberwell in 1915, and was subsequently posted to the 7th Battalion, The Norfolk Regiment (which had recently been raised as part of Kitchener’s New Army).
Posted to France, James’ regiment saw service in the worst fighting on the Western Front. They were in action in The Battle of Pozieres on the 3rd of August with a successful attack capturing the notorious 4th Avenue Trench, and were engaged in heavy fighting until they were withdrawn after a few weeks. By then, James had been killed in action. He died on 12th August 1916, aged 41, and has no known grave. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
After the war, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission recorded his family as living at 36 Bethel Road, Welling.
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Commemorated at Home
East Wickham and Welling War Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/769517/BARKER,%20JAMES%20EDWARD