yeovil at War

James Eastment

Killed in action on the Western Front

 

James Eastment was born at Hardington Mandeville in 1880. He was the sixth of the eight children of carter and agricultural labourer James Eastment (1838-1902) and Thirza Jane née Chester (1844-1894). In the 1881 census James and Thirza were listed living at Hardington Mandeville with five of their children, including 10-month old James Jnr. By 1891 the family had moved to Pendomer and 11-year old James was working as an agricultural labourer like his father and tow older brothers.

In the 1901 census James was listed living with his brother-in-law's family at Rustywell. James was working as a box packer at the butter factory of Aplin & Barrett. In 1904 he married Ellen Hutchings (1876-1962). They were to have three children, all born in Preston Plucknett; Leslie Charles (1905-1995), Hettie Irene (1909-1974) and Edith Clara (1914-1999). The 1911 census listed the family living at 15 Larkhill Terrace, Preston Plucknett. James, by now aged 31, was working as a labourer in the butter factory.

It is not known when or where James enlisted, but it was probably towards the end of 1917. He was a Private in the 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment with the late Service Number 290660.

In mid-April 1918 the 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment held a salient near Nieppe, successfully defending their positions against repeated German counter-attacks. They remained around Nieppe until late July. The Forest of Nieppe had become notorious for German gas. It became a nightly programme of the enemy to drench the wood, which was low-lying and infested with pools and undergrowth, with their noxious ‘Yellow Cross‘ shells whose poisonous fumes bore the flavour of mustard.

James was killed on 29 April 1918. He was 38 years old.

James Eastment's name is recorded on Special Memorial at IV.D.6., Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, Merville, Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, and his name is recorded on the Preston Plucknett War Memorial.

 

gallery

 

Men of the Devonshire Regiment leave England to fight on the Western Front.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of James Eastment.

 

 Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, Merville, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

Merville was the scene of fighting between the Germans and French and British cavalry early in October 1914 but from the 9th of that month to 11 April 1918, it remained in Allied hands. In October 1914, and in the autumn of 1915, the town was the headquarters of the Indian Corps. It was a railhead until May 1915, and a billeting and hospital centre from 1915-1918. The 6th and Lahore Casualty Clearing Stations were there from the autumn of 1914 to the autumn of 1915; the 7th from December 1914, to April 1917; the 54th (1st/2nd London) from August 1915 to March 1918, and the 51st (Highland) from May 1917 to April 1918. On the evening of 11 April 1918, in the Battles of the Lys, the Germans forced their way into Merville and the town was not retaken until 19 August. The cemeteries were not used again until the concentration of battlefield burials into the Extension began, after the Armistice.

Merville Communal Cemetery Extension was opened in August 1916, and used by Commonwealth and Portuguese hospitals until April 1918. It was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields immediately north and east of Merville. The Extension now contains 920 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 345 of them unidentified. The 92 Second World War burials (18 of them unidentified) occurred mostly during the fighting in May 1940 and are interspersed among the First World War graves. The Extension also contains 19 war graves of other nationalities. The Extension was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.