PRESTON, James Henry

Captain James Henry Preston
Royal Army Ordnance Corps
(Lieutenant) 1/8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment

James Henry Preston was born in 1887 son of George Preston an ironworks stocktaker born Tipton, Staffs and his wife Anne Maria (nee Kendrick). His parents married in Dudley in 1877 and moved to the Ilkeston area shortly afterwards. Children George, Arthur,  Lucy, Elsie and James Henry, who was the youngest, were all born in Ilkeston. By the time James was 4,  the family had moved to 36 Victoria Street, Ironville and  then later onto Dixie Street, and then to ‘West View’, York Avenue, Jacksdale.

In 1899 when the Co-operative opened a branch store in Jacksdale, on the day of the official opening there was an exhibition of Ironville school children’s work and ‘Henry’ Preston was awarded a 1st prize for freehand drawing, a 1st prize for map drawing and a 2nd prize for ornamental writing. Not surprisingly James Henry went on to do well in life.

In 1911, his father George, age 62, had retired as a stock taker at the iron works rolling mills. To achieve an early retirement in those days was unusual and something of a ‘rags to riches’ story as George’s mother had been widowed when he was only 2 years old, and was regarded as a pauper until she was able to make ends meet taking in laundry to feed her two children.  All of George’s Preston’s children embarked upon good career paths, George junior being a grocer/shop keeper, Arthur an iron works timekeeper, and Lucy, Elsie and James were all assistant teachers. James went on to study at Nottingham University College attached to the Officers’ Training Corps for 3 years also undertaking scholastic duties at Long Eaton.

James joined up in October 1914, being commissioned on enlistment and granted the rank of Lieutenant after one month’s service with the West Yorkshire Regiment. In May 1915 he embarked for the Dardanelles, attached to the 1/8th Manchester Regiment arriving in Gallipoli in June 1915. Due to his efficiency as an officer he gained his third star in September 1915. James is listed on the absent voters roll of 1918/1919, absent from York Avenue, Jacksdale so he served throughout the war. He was recipient of the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory Medals and was on the Plymouth Garrison subalterns  nominal roll of individuals entitled to ‘the Emblem’.  The Emblem was a small oak leaf worn by those who had been awarded the Victory Medal who had also been mentioned in dispatches. His 1914-15 Star was forwarded to Messrs. Cox & Co, of 16 Charing Cross, SW1, bankers for commissioned officers.

James’ parents George and Anna are buried at Westwood, St. Mary’s as is his brother Arthur who died aged 36 in 1916.  Either one or both of James’s sisters went into teaching, a Miss Preston taught at Jacksdale School and Westwood school also had a head teacher named Miss Preston in 1921.

Photo: Miss Preston, Jacksdale School in  1919

JDS 1919 JACKSDALE SCHOOL 1919 miss Preston