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Barker, J., Gnr., 1917

Photo: Dorothy Hall

In Grevilliers British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, is the Commonwealth War Grave of 8455 Gunner James Barker serving with the 34th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery who died 25/04/1917.

Some time we'll understand.

Son of Annie and the late Robert Barker, of Ferryhill, Co. Durham; husband of Mary A. Barker, of Countess Avenue, Whitley Bay.

In Duncombe Cemetery Ferryhill is a family headstone which reads:-

In
loving memory of
Robert
the dearly beloved husband of
Annie Barker
of East Howle
who was killed on the NE Railway
October 19th 1910
aged 57 years
also James the dearly beloved son
of the above who was killed in action near
Armentiers France April 25th 1917
aged 39 years
also Frederick who died May 10th 1894
aged 10 months
also Annie dearly loved wife
of the above
who passed away Nov. 11th 1935
aged 81 years

Thy will be done.

Angela Conroy has supplied the following:-

James was born in Ferryhill, Durham in 1877 the son of Robert and Annie Barker nee Kirtley. His siblings were David Thomas, Robert William, Joseph Ernest, another Robert? and Jane Annie. His brother Robert married Isabella Davison at St Edmund Church in Sedgefield on 23 August 1905. Robert and Isabella had a daughter 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. David and Robert also served in WW1.

James Barker married Mary Ann Morson in the June quarter of 1906 in Sedgefield. Their daughter Ena Morson Barker was born in Whitley Bay in 1908.

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

Dr Elizabeth Ashton and Angela Conroy have supplied the following extracts from Murton School Log Book

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 and 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)'

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'.

James Barker is remembered at Morpeth on M17.11, at Whitley Bay on W84.30 where his name is given as “Baker”, in W84.34 and in Northumberland 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