WW1 Casualty: Private 11365 James Kilgallen -
Private 11365 James Kilgallen
||6th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
|Date of Death
East Mudros Military Cemetery
II F 90
|CWGC Family Details (if shown)
||Son of John and Mary Kilgallen, of Carrowntleva, Co. Mayo.
|SDGW – Where Born
||St Helens, Lancs
||Died of Wounds
||Theatre of War
|Research Ref. No.
James Kilgallen was 27 years old when he enlisted into the South Lancashire regiment on 31st August 1914 in St. Helens. He lived in Highfield Place, Prescot, and worked as a Labourer. He stood 5 foot 10 inches tall, weighed 128 pounds and had a chest measurement of 36 inches. His religion was listed as Church of England.
The 6th (Service) Battalion was formed soon after the outbreak of war from the first thousand men who answered Kitchener’s call to arms “Your Country Needs You”. These units were afterwards known as “K1” units. The battalion commenced training at Tidworth in Wiltshire in the barracks recently vacated by the 2nd Battalion, which had joined the British Expeditionary Force in France. Final “polishing” took place at Blackdown, near Aldershot.
In April 1915, an Expeditionary Force landed on the shores of Gallipoli as part of the Dardanelles campaign, with the ultimate aim of capturing Constantinople. The landings were not the success that was first hoped for, and reinforcements were brought in. This took place on 7th July and included the 6th Battalion, South Lancs., landing at Helles. They had left Avonmouth in England on 12th June 1915 aboard the s.s. "Anconia".
The next few weeks were spent learning trench warfare, and included several spells in the front line before being withdrawn to Mudros on the Greek island of Lemnos on 31st July for a rest period.
On 4th August, the battalion returned to Gallipoli, this time landing at Anzac Cove. On the 8th, it was ordered to follow the 9th Royal Warwickshire Regiment in an assault on the slopes of Chunuk Bair. This took place, although the assault came under withering Turkish fire. The attackers eventually dug in late in the evening about 100ft below the summit.
At some point between the return to Gallipoli and the assault on Chunuk Bair, Private Kilgallen received the wounds which resulted in his transfer back to hospital at Mudros. He is reported to have died from a Gun Shot Wound on board ship on 16th August. It is not clear where he was initially buried when he died, but on 3rd October 1921 he was reinterred at East Mudros Cemetery, where he rests today.
On the 18th June 1919, his mother, Mary Kilgallen, wrote to the War Office asking if they had any information about her son, James. She reported that the last she understood was that he had left England with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force for Gallipoli. The War Office forwarded the letter to the Infantry Records Office at Shrewsbury for their attention. A reply was sent to his mother reporting that he was buried at East Mudros on the Island of Lemnos, and that he had died on 16th August 1915.
The Army Records Office wrote to his mother in Co. Mayo on 26th July 1920 asking for full details of all James' living relatives in order that the ownership of his medals and plaque could be determined. However the letter was returned marked "Unknown" and so the Records Office wrote once again, this time to the local Chief Constable asking if he could help in providing an address for the family.
In October 1921, his mother wrote directly to the South Lancashire Regiment asking if they could provide recompense for the loss of her son as she now had no means of support and was in danger of starvation. The letter was forwarded to the Records Office at Preston for attention.
The letter said, "Sir, I beg to approach you that you might grant me some allowance in recompense for the loss of my son which has done his duty and lost his life with your regiment and owing to his enlistment he abandoned me and he being my only means of support I am consequently in a state of starvation, with what I get through the charity of others being my present means of existence. I was for a lengthy period and could not locate him but eventually did and was still at a loss for his number which I see by his interment notice is 11365. I hope my case will receive your immediate attention and grant me some allowance as relief from my present state of practically begging which I consider is unfair to the mother of a hero. Thanking you in anticipation, etc."
The War Office wrote to the Army Records Office on 11th January 1922 asking that any personal possessions of James Kilgallen should be returned to his mother Mrs Mary Kilgallen of Carrowntleva, Balla, Co. Mayo.
Shortly after this, James' medals were issued to his mother and she acknowledged receipt of them.
John Kilgallen’s Medal Index Card