James Alfred Ploughman

James Alfred Ploughman ©

James Alfred Ploughman ©

Date of birth: 7th May 1891
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: 425212
Rank: Private
Regiment: Canadian Infantry / Alberta Regiment
Battalion: 49th
Died: 16th September 1916 aged 25 years
Death location: France





This photograph is © Richard Taunton Sixth Form College. Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends Group have received permission to reproduce this photograph and extracts from the narrative on the Old Tauntonians’ online War Memorial:http://www.ota-southampton.org.uk/memorial/index.html

Please do not reproduce the photograph or any wording from this page.  If you want permission to use this photograph or narrative please contact the College on email@richardtaunton.ac.uk.


Before the War
James was born on 7th May 1891 to James Appleby Martin (29/01/1861 – 17/06/1930) and Annie Ploughman (nee Plume 26/09/1862 – 15/07/1950).  His parents were married on 2nd September 1882 in Kensington, London.

James’ 7 siblings were:

Annie Gertrude            (1883)  Married Rene F J Pinet in 1911.
Margaret                         (11/11/1886 – 1982)
Dorothy                           (22/02/1889 – 1969)  Married Charles Hogge in 1916.
Beatrix Mary                 (10/04/1893 – 1986)  Married Reginald J C Weber in 1916.
Winifred Elizabeth      (1896)
Muriel Phyllis               (11/07/1899 – 1984)   Married David Percival Larham in 1927.
Marjorie Gladys           (25/03/1901 – 1996)  Married Robert N S Pearce in 1928.

On the 1901 census James is living with his family at 235 Portswood Road, Southampton.  His father is employed as a Boot Buyer and his sister Annie is a Draper’s Assistant.  Also living at the address is James’ aunt Elizabeth and two servants.

By the 1911 census the family are still at the same address except for James, who emigrated to Canada in 1910, and Margaret, who is a patient at Southampton Hospital.  James’ aunt Elizabeth and one domestic servant are also living at the address.  Margaret, Dorothy and Beatrix were teachers.  Winifred was still at school and she too became a teacher.  On 12th September 1924 she sailed from London to Shanghai, China.

James sailed from London on 16th March 1910 aboard SS Sardinian and arrived in St John, New Brunswick, Canada on 30th March 1910.  He planned to live in Winnipeg, Manitoba and work as a Missionary.


Military History
James was working as a farm hand when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Brandon, Manitoba on 3rd April 1915.

The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was formed in Canada from August 1914 onwards.

By the end of the war more than 250 battalions had been formed.  Although most battalions made it as far as England only a few served in France and Flanders.  The others were usually disbanded at a Training Depot in England and the men sent as reinforcements to the CEF in France.

James was posted to the 45th Battalion and embarked for England on 1st April 1916.  His Battalion then embarked for France on 6th May 1916 and on arrival he was transferred to the 49th Battalion.

On 15th August 1916 James was in the field hospital suffering from Pyrexia (fever).  He was discharged on 21st August 1916 and returned to his unit.

On 13th September the 49th Battalion marched to Albert and made camp at Tara Hill.  Orders were received on 15th September to move to the Chalk Pits and an attack was to start at 6.15pm.  On 16th September a total of 253 casualties were caused by heavy shelling from the enemy.

James was reported missing between 15th and 18th September and later reported as killed in action on 16th September 1916.

James was awarded the Victory medal and the British War medal and these were sent to his father, together with the Plaque and Scroll.  The Memorial Cross was sent to his mother.

He is buried in Ovilliers Military Cemetery, Somme, France.  Grave reference X111.Q.2.  The cemetery is north east of Albert which was known then as No Mans Land.  The cemetery was started in August 1916 and used until March 1917.  There are 3440 Commonwealth servicemen buried or commemorated in the cemetery.

James is also remembered on the Highfield Memorial, Highfield Church, Portswood, Southampton and also at Southampton Old Cemetery. Grave reference N150 079.  The inscription on the Ploughman family grave reads:


The Ploughman family grave at Southampton Old Cemetery

The Ploughman family grave at Southampton Old Cemetery

Sacred to the memory of James Alfred Ploughman
Born May 7th 1891
Killed at Courcelette Sep. 16th 1916
Fighting for us

Also of Mary Williams, grand-mother of the above
Born July 13th 1824, died Jan. 3rd 1898

Also sacred to the memory of James Appleby Ploughman
The dearly loved husband of Annie Ploughman
June 17th 1930, aged 69 years

Also the above named Annie Ploughman
Who feel asleep July 15th 1950 aged 87 years




Old Tauntonians’ Memorial Roll

Time at Taunton’s School:  1902-1905

Education & Employment:  James was born on 7th May 1891 in Southampton.  James was his parents only son and he had 7 sisters.  He worked as a farm labourer after he emigrated to Canada. 

Life during the War:  James lived with his parents on Portswood Road until he emigrated to Canada in 1910.  He enlisted on 3rd April 1915 in Brandon, Manitoba.  James was in the 49th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, in the Alberta regiment.  His regiment was in the trenches as Courcelette when he and two other men went, on the night of 15th September, to connect with the left flank of the company.  They were declared missing and later reported to be killed in action.  James is buried in Ovillers British Cemetery in France.

James died on 16th September 1916 aged 25 years.


Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published.: 3rd July 2013
Updated: 14th August 2014

If you have any additional information about the person named above please complete the Comments section below.

2 responses to “James Alfred Ploughman

  1. Ann Grimble

    He is also remembered on the war memorial in Avenue St Andrews Church. I have two photos of him.

    • Ann, sincere apologies that we have not responded to your Comment sooner. The person who monitors Comments has been unavailable for some time and we just don’t have the voluntary manpower to do all we need to do.
      I have today updated James’ story as Taunton’s College has recently given us permission to publish their photographs and narrative. You will see the photograph they have provided from their own records – James was such a lovely looking lad, just like to many others who sacrificed their lives. If you have any information or photographs that will enhance his story, any anecdotes from your family at all, we would be delighted to incorporate them. If you have anything please email me on southampton.cenotaph@hotmail.co.uk.
      Thank you so much for your interest.
      Kind regards
      Lona Fryatt, Secretary, Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends Group

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