Monday, 24 November 2014

James "Jumbo" Jolly

I have previously posted about my great grand-uncle James Jolly, particularly at times of Remembrance. He was killed in action on this day, one hundred years ago. The Great War was barely three months old when James was fighting on the front lines during the First Battle of Ypres.

James Jolly, circa 1899

James Jolly was born in 1880 in Bungay, county Suffolk. He was the son of William Jolly and Emma, nee Clarke. James was baptised at Bungay Holy Trinity Church on 16 November 1881. He joined the Norfolk Regiment at around the age of 19 and served with the 2nd Battalion in the Boer War from 1899-1902.

James' nickname was Jumbo. This could have stemmed from the fact that he had large ears. Bless him.

In 1894, when James was thirteen years old, he was sent before the Bungay Petty Sessions (with H. Rider Haggard presiding) for stealing seven rabbit traps, the property of Mr C French of St John Ilketshall. James did not work alone, he was with Arthur Ward and his brother Herbert Ward, and Edward Barber. Arthur Ward, who was twelve years old at the time, would go on to become my great-grandfather.

When war broke out in 1914, James served with the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment and was sent to France. According to the website the 1st Battalion formed part of the 15th Brigade, 5th Division and landed at Le Havre in August 1914. The 5th Division were involved in the following:
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, including the Action of Elouges
The Battle of Le Cateau and the Affair of Crepy-en-Valois
The Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Aisne
The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914
The First Battle of Ypres

James Jolly, circa 1914

Grey field of Flanders, grim old battle-plain,
What armies held the iron line round Ypres in the rain,
From Bixschoote to Baeceleare and down to the Lys river?

Merry men of England,
Men of the green shires,
From the winding waters,
The elm-trees and the spires,
And the lone village dreaming in the downland yonder.
Half a million Huns broke over them in thunder,
Roaring seas of Huns swept on and sunk again,
Where fought the men of England round Ypres in the rain,
On the grim plain of Flanders, whose earth is fed with slaughter.

--- Margaret Louisa Woods (1845-1945)


  1. My great uncle also went from Norfolk to the Boer War but he stayed in South Africa for a while & then went to Australia. In WW1 he joined the AIF & was sent to Gallipoli. He took a prisoner to Egypt where he died in 1916 of cholera.

    1. Thanks for your sharing that, have you written a blog post about him anywhere yet? It would make for very interesting reading. Have you seen the film 'Gallipoli"? Best Australian war movie by a country mile! :-) xx

  2. It was so interesting to read this post Debra. I've been doing some writing recently about H Rider Haggard, he lived for some time at Ditchingham and was a great supporter of that church..I think his most famous book must be 'Kings Soloman's Mines' - have you read it?

    1. Hello Ann, and thank you for your comments. I grew up learning about H Rider Haggard at school and I've read some of his books over the years. I had no idea he was so involved with Bungay petty sessions though; he would have met many of my ancestors!! :-) xx