Sunday, 16 November 2014

James Edward Cassidy 1892-1981

James Edward Cassidy was born in Bury England. The 1911 census shows him aged 18 living at 81 Brierley St  Bury with his mother and siblings. After leaving school he had worked as a Hatter (finisher)  at the Felt hat manufacturer - Messrs Spencer's Regent Hat works in Bury.

James signed up for service in 1914 and with his records probably destroyed in the infamous “burnt collection “ isn’t it wonderful that his son, Michael collected an oral history in 1977 just a few years before he died. It is even more remarkable for the details he remembered given he was 85 years old.
James before he signed up 1914

Oral history records

He enlisted on  3rd September 1914 (aged 21 yrs) in the 1st Seventh Lancashire Fusiliers  as a Private with Service Number- 280583 
They sailed from England in a 16 ship convoy, with cruiser escort arriving in Alexandria. On 2nd May 1915, they proceeded to Cairo and  Gallipoli which arrived on  4th May. They landed 5th May and  went  into action on 6th May 1915.

Young James was wounded  weeks later on 4th June 1915 by an explosive bullet with injuries to his  head, arm and  near his heart. His heart was 'saved' by a medal in tunic pocket. From there he was hospitalised in  Malta for 6 weeks. He returned to  Alexandria, and Gallipoli fighting until Christmas 1915.

“Of the 1,500 British soldiers who landed at Gallipoli, only 98 survived.”
(James recollection of the number of dead in his Battalion)

During his oral history interview he remarked “that British & allied troops 'hated' Winston Churchill over the Gallipoli disaster.” He spoke of the " retreat from Gallipoli using water dripping into cans attached to rifle triggers with random firing through the last night, so the  Turks would think the lines were still manned.” Later he went to Egypt and Sinai  with no action seen. The Fusiliers were to take enemy headquarters at EI Arish on Christmas Eve 1916  but it didn't eventuate. The Company was shipped to France in March 1917. James was wounded in the arm 13th October 1917 and hospitalised in Bologna, France before being  shipped back to Bury, England.

He was discharged through war injuries, after serving 4 years and 100 days. His pay  on enlistment was one shilling, i.e. $0.10 cents per day and  at discharge was two shillings & eight pence, i.e. $0.28 cents per day. 


His medals are held by his son Michael:

- The Lancashire Fusiliers  Egypt (cap or hat badge)
- For King and Empire - Services Rendered Medal - on reverse stamped 'B61646' and accompanying Certificate No. B61646which reads: 'WAR BADGE awarded to J Cassidy, late No 280583 Pte Lanes Fusiliers for "Services Rendered" in   H.M.'sMilitary Forces since 4th August, 1914. Station Picton, date 15-1-19.'
-Mons Star Medal" ("1914 - 1915 Star') - on reverse stamped '2516 Pte J. Cassidy Lan.Fus.' + Ribbon
-1914 -1918 Medal - on edging stamped '2519 Pte J. Cassidy Lan.Fus.' + Ribbon
-The Great War For Civilisation 1914 ·1919 Medal - on edging stamped '2519 Pte J. Cassidy Lan.Fus.' + Ribbon

1st /7th  Lancashire Fusiliers

From the website the following documents the movements of the 1/7th Lancashire Fusiliers

Stationed at Salford as part of the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade of the East Lancashire Division then moved to Turton.
Mobilised for war and embarked from Southampton
Arrived in Alexandria, Egypt to defend the Suez Canal.
Landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli and the42nd Division. engaged in various actions including the Battle of Krithia Vineyard.
Evacuated to Mudros due to severe losses from combat disease and harsh weather the division had lost two thirds of its normal establishment.
Arrived in Alexandria and the Division engaged in The Battle of Romani which helped to secure the safety of the Suez Canal.
Feb 1917
Moved to France and landed at Marseilles and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including; Third Battle of Ypres
During 1918
The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Ancre, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle.
Ended the war in France, Hautmont near Maubeuge.


A few months  before he was injured the second time, he married Amelia Duckworth, sister of fellow soldier,  Harry at St Joseph's Church Bury, Lancashire on 24 Apr 1917.  After discharge, the couple had two daughters Winifred and Patricia who  were still  quite young when Amelia passed away on 19 Dec 1924.

Services to the British Legion

Upon returning to England he joined The British Legion. The British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the veteran community as a merger of four organisations: the Comrades of the Great War, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers and the Officers' Association. Its role was also to provide financial, social and emotional support to members and war veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families.

The British Legion - Bury 1919- James centre back

Leaving for Australia

Following the death of his wife, Amelia he left his home in Bury to obtain work in the burgeoning hat industry in Sydney Australia.

This article appeared in the paper when James left for Australia.....

British Legion Farewell to a member

A concert was held at the rooms of the British Legion Bury Branch) on Saturday evening for the purpose of bidding farewell to a member (Mr James Cassidy) who yesterday left for Sydney Australia. Occasion was taken to present Mr Cassidy with a silver cigarette case subscribed for by his friends in the Legion.

The chairman Mr J Lingard in making the presentation gave expression to the goodwill which all the members of the branch had towards Mr Cassidy and wish him the best of good fortune in the new home to which he was going.

Mr Cassidy suitably responded. He said he was deeply moved by their gift which would always remind him of the happy times and good friends he had had there.

He arrived Australia on 3rd November 1927 on “S.S. Hudson Bay” after 6 weeks at sea. He found work at Henderson’s Hat Factory  through his good friend Frank Nuttall. Frank introduced him to May Davis whose family had also come to Australia to work at Henderson’s Hats. Love blossomed and he married May in 1928. His two daughters joined him in Australia and he went on to have 4 sons with May. 

James Edward Cassidy died in 1981 in Sydney at the age of 88 and was survived by his wife, daughters and three sons, numerous grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

His and other love stories can be found in "Love and Other Madness at the Hat Works" by Robyn Robyn's email


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