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Phelps James Spencer

James Spencer Phelps was born on 8th November 1887 in French Lynch, Gloucestershire.

The 1901 census on Ancestry.co.uk shows that the Phelps family were living in the Civil Parish of Walsworth , Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Head of the household John Phelps, 44 years of age born in Gloucestershire was a Journeyman, Joiner by trade. His wife Sarah Ann, age 45 born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire  and her husband had three sons and one daughter. They were, Alice M. age 14, James Stewart age 13, Samual H. age 11 and Jesse age 6. All four children were born in French Lynn, Gloucestershire.  Alice was a Domestic Servant by trade and James a Newspaper Boy.

Ten years on the 1911 census reveals that the Phelps family were living at 36, White Cross Road, Cudworth, York. Most of the children had left home by this time just leaving Jesse age 16 an Office Boy by trade living with his parents, John Phelps age 54 and Susan age 55. Sadly Jesse died age 26.

James Stewart Phelps emigrated to Canada sometime between 1901 and 1911.

Then 1911 census for Canada shows that James was living in the Sub District of Collins Inlet, Algoma East, Ontario. He was 23 years of age and a Labourer by trade.

In 1914, James Spencer Phelps married Florence Annie Read who was born in Kent and emigrated to  Canada on 14th Mar 1912 aboard the S.S.Corinthian bound for St. John, New Brunswick.( UK Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960. Ancestry.co.uk)

They were married on 15th December 1914 and had a daughter, Ethel born on 27th March 1917. Family Tree on Ancestry.co.uk. (The Nutt Family) and 1921 census for Canada on Ancestry.co.uk

Attestation Papers for Private 249385, James Spencer Phelps. The Library of Canada.

James enlisted into the 208th Battalion of the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on 14th April 1916 in Toronto, Canada. He gave his next of kin as Florence Phelps, Wife and address, 32  Gladstone Ave, Toronto, Canada. His trade was Engineer and he was described on his medical form as being 5 ft 3inches tall with dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. James had a birth mark at the top of his chest and a scar on the bend of his right arm.

After basic training in Canada, James embarked from Halifax for England on the S.S. Justicia, and on arrival in Liverpool on 14th May 1917 he was posted to Seaford Camp where he undertook duties as a signaller. Unfortunately James had not admitted that he was suffering pain and discomfort in the groin area and upon investigation by the medical staff at Sandling Army Camp it was discovered that he had a double hernia that required an operation.

To read about the S.S. Justicia please follow the link.http://www.maritimequest.com/daily_event_archive/2008/07_july/20_ss_justicia.htm

During his time in U.K. James spent a considerable amount of time in hospital due to having a double hernia and eventually had an operation on 18th February 1918  at the Canadian General Hospital, Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe to rectify the problem. He spent 75 days recuperating at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Monks Horton Kent and was eventually discharged on 29th May 1918 when he was posted to Whitley Army Camp attached to the 8th Reserve Battalion.

James was selected to go to France but was refused permission on the grounds that he suffered pain and discomfort due to the after effects of scarring resulting from the double hernia operation. He was therefore posted to various Army camps, 19/7/18 Shorncliffe Camp, 6/12/18 Seaford Camp, 21/1/19 Shorncliffe Camp and 25/1/19 Kinmel Army Camp, Rhyl where he was discharged to await repatriation to Canada.

It was while James was at Kinmel Camp that he developed Influenza, and was admitted to number 9 Canadian General Hospital on 2nd February 1919 and sadly died of Bronchial Pneumonia at 4.30 pm on 10th February 1919.

James is buried in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan.

He is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

James’s wife Florence married Edmund Bertie Nutt on 2nd June 1919.

The 1921 census for Canada shows that she was living with her husband and one year old daughter at 5, Northern Place Off Shirley Road, Toronto. Her daughter Ethel was 4 years of age. Florence received James’ British War Medal, his mother Mrs Sarah Phelps of 36, Whitecross Road, Cudworth Near Barnsley, Yorkshire, received the Memorial Cross.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Bodelwyddan Memorial

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