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Barker, J., Gnr., 1917
In Grevillers British Cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of 8455 Gunner James Barker, serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery who died 25/04/1917.

Dr. Elizabeth Ashton has sent extracts from the Murton School Log Book:
Feb.14th 1916
“The Senior Recruiting Officer has requisitioned the services of Mr. Barker for the afternoon,and as we will shortly be on half-term it has been granted. This necessitates taking Needlework and Drawing from 10 to playtime on Mon. Wed. and Fri and taking the missed lessons in its place in the afternoons.”
May 22nd 1916
“Mr. Barker absent having joined the Army”.
May 26th 1916
“Mr. Barker’s absence much felt. It has meant me teaching St. V. VI, VII over 70 children. This has consequently left little time for supervision.”
May 11th 1917
“I much regret to hear that Mr. Barker our Chief Assistant has died from wounds in France. Having served us for over 14 years and given every satisfaction his loss is much missed. Our sympathy has been extended to his widow.”

Angela Conroy has sent in this newspaper article from the Shields Daily News 08/05/1917:
'GUNNER JAS. BARKER, R.G.A.
News has been officially received that Gunner Jas. Barker R.G.A. of Countess Avenue, Whitley, died of wounds in the (Base?) Hospital, France, on April 25th. Previous to enlistment he was senior assistant at Murton Council School, New York Village, and rendered valuable assistance in the recruiting office at Whitley Bay. The news of his death cast quite a gloom over the village, where he was widely known and respected, and many manifestations of regret were expressed'.

Angela Conroy has also sent the following:
James served in the Royal Gunner Artillery and his Regimental no was 8455.

He is recorded as having been born in Ferryhill, Durham around 1878.

Ward's directories and the census records that his address before the war was 38 Countess Avenue, Whitley Bay.

He married Mary Ann Morson in the June quarter of 1906 in Sedgefield. They had a daughter called Ena Morson Barker who was born in Whitley Bay in 1908.

His parents were Robert and Annie Barker nee Kirtley.His siblings were David Thomas, Robert William, Joseph Ernest, another Robert? and Jane Annie. David and Robert also served in WW1. His brother Robert married Isabella Davison at St Edmund Church in Sedgefield on 23 August 1905. Robert and Isabella had a daughter called Doris who according to the census was born in Durham. Robert and his family were staying with James at Whitley Bay during the 1911 census.

Further information has come to light from Angela Conroy:

April 7th 1902
'Re-opened School. Commenced a new school year ... (a list of teaching staff follows) ... then the entry - Mr James Barker, Certificated Asst. No 00/295 born 17th Dec 1877, formerly PT in East Howle Board School until December 1896, Ex PT in the same school until Sep 1898. Trained in Chester Training College until July 1900. Cert Assistant in Tudhoe Colliery Bd School until Mar 31st last, commenced duties in this school re: Mr J H Stanger resigned'
(Note: This was John Henry Stanger)

Sept 25th 1903
'Mr Barker compelled to leave school ill at 11.00 am.'
March 24th 1905
'Mr Barker absent with leave to attend the funeral of a relation.'
Oct 30th 1905
'Mr Barker absent with leave to attend the funeral of a near relative.'
Mar 4th 1908
'Mr Barker left school at 9.15 with every symptom of an influenza attack.'
April 16th 1908
'School closed at noon for Easter vacation. Mr Barker absent this morning with leave to attend a relative's funeral.'
Oct 14th 1910
'Mr Barker absent owing to the death of his father under most sudden and tragic circumstances.'
February 5th 1915
'Mr Barker absent today & yesterday. This has meant dis-continuing the examination of Standard IV and taking the uppers.'
Feb 11th
'Mr Barker resumed duties today.'
Dec 7th 1915
'Mr Barker absent this afternoon.'
Dec 10th 1915
'Mr Barker absent since Tues morn.'
Dec 17th 1915
'Mr Barker abs on Mon & Wed afts (recruiting)'
May 12th 1916
'Mr Barker absent to attend the Army Medical Board.'
May 22 1916
'Mr Barker absent having joined the army.'
June 2nd 1916
'Mr Barker's place is still not filled.'

James Barker is remembered at Whitley Bay on W84.30 where his name is given as “Baker”, in W84.34 and in Teachers who fell


The CWGC entry for Gunner Barker

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk