No. 19236, ‘B’ Company 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Thursday 16 August 1917 (aged 23)
No known grave
Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium (Panel 138 to 140 & 162 to 162 A & 163 A)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
James Vance was born on 6 June 1894 in Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards and he was a son of James and Annie Vance (nee McMillan) who were married on 14 April 1884 in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards. James Vance from Newtownards was a son of William Vance, a labourer. Annie McMillan from Newtownards was a daughter of Alexander McMillan, a labourer.
The Vance family lived at 19 Greenwell Street and before that at 12 George’s Street, Newtownards.
James Vance Senior fought in the South African War and then he worked as a labourer. He and Annie had at least eleven children:
Robert (born around 1881)
Mary (born 4 July 1884 in George’s Street, Newtownards; died 29 December 1884)
Mary (born 11 December 1885 in Queen Street, Newtownards)
Isabella (Bella, born 18 April 1888 in Queen Street, Newtownards; died of tuberculosis 9 September 1916)
William (born 29 July 1890 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)
Alexander (born 11 July 1892 in Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards)
James (born 6 June 1894 in Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards)
John (born 25 July 1896 in George’s Street, Newtownards; died of tuberculosis 31 October 1913)
Eliza Jane Warden (born 15 July 1898 in Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards; died of tuberculosis 20 January 1909)
Patrick (born 24 July 1900 in Greenwell Street Newtownards)
Annie (born 26 May 1903 in Greenwell Street Newtownards; died of tuberculosis 1 July 1918)
Three brothers served during the Great War and only Alexander survived. He was discharged from the Army after suffering gas poisoning and being severely wounded – part of one foot was blown off in an explosion and he needed a series of operations to remove shrapnel from his leg. Alexander Vance died in 1965 and was buried in Movilla Cemetery Newtownards alongside his father who died in 1937 and his mother who died in 1938.
James Vance was the second of the two brothers to be killed during the Great War and, during the war, at least four of his siblings, his sister-in-law and his niece died of tuberculosis.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War James Vance worked in a factory. He played inside forward for the Ards Football Club and in one newspaper report he was described as having outstanding ability. There was a prediction that James was destined for stardom on the football field. The report stated that ‘his ability to shield and control the ball was legendary’.
James Vance enlisted in Newtownards and went to France on 6 October 1915. He served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and he was 23 when he was killed in action on 16 August 1917 at the Battle of Langemarck. First official reports indicated that James had been wounded in action. Then he was listed as missing in action and later it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed in action. Rifleman James Vance has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium and on Newtownards and District War Memorial.
In the CWGC Debt of Honour website his age is recorded as 28.