Downes, James (No. A/36344)

Downes, James

Private

No. A/36344, 4th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment)

Died of wounds on Wednesday 12 April 1916 (aged 33)

Buried:

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave VI. B. 6A)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s) as James Downs

BIOGRAPHY

In some Canadian records his Regimental Number is listed as 436344.

There is some variation in the spelling of his family surname.  It is spelt Downs on the Memorial Plaque in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s) and that is the form that Andrew used when he signed his name on form A for the 1911 census.  It is spelt Downes on Newtownards and District War Memorial and that is the form that James used when he signed his name on his attestation papers.

James Downes was born on 13 August 1882 in Ballyrogan, Newtownards (he declared 14 August 1884 at attestation) and he was a son of Andrew and Anne Downes (nee Beers) who were married on 2 November 1881 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).  Andrew Downes from Mark Street, Newtownards was a son of James Downes, a farm servant.  Anne Beers from Ballyoran, Dundonald was a daughter of William Beers, a farm servant.

The Downes family lived in the townlands of Ballyrogan and Milecross Newtownards.

Andrew Downes worked as a labourer and surface-man on the roads and he and Anne had six children including:

James (born 13 August 1882 in Ballyrogan, Newtownards)

Margaret Jane (born 4 April 1885 at 12 Schomberg Street, Belfast)

Martha (born 17 March 1890 in Carrowreagh)

Robert Andrew (born 8 October 1892 in Killearn, Newtownards)

Annie (born 9 June 1895 in Greengraves, Newtownards)

James Downes moved to Canada where he worked as a labourer.  He was unmarried when he enlisted on 11 January 1915 in Edmonton, Alberta and he cited his father as his next-of-kin.  It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 7½ inches tall with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.

Private James Downes went with the Central Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Infantry to France in September 1915 and he died of wounds on 12 April 1916.  The Rev A.B. Brooker, Military Chaplain, wrote a letter from No. 10 Casualty Clearing Station to James Downes’s parents expressing his sympathy and outlining the circumstances of James’s death:

Private James Downes died around 7.30 am on 12 April 1916 having been brought in about three hours earlier with serious wounds to his head and chest.  He was unconscious when he was brought in and, despite every effort being made to save him, he died without regaining consciousness and without being able to leave a message.

His family placed a For King and Country notice in the 22 April 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and Private James Downes is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (as James Downs).