Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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10097   Private James Sterling Lavery
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 13/07/2018
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 14/03/1890
Died: 21/10/1914 (Killed in Action)
Age: 24
Summary      
James Sterling Lavery was the son of William James Lavery and Ellen Lavery, Cookstown, County Tyrone. James was born about 1890 in Cookstown. After leaving school James served his apprenticeship in the offices of Gunnings Factory. James immigrated to Canada where he remained for two years before returning home.James was married to Edith Lavery. James Sterling Lavery joined the army in Cookstown and trained in Omagh. Soon after the outbreak of hostilities he was sent to Dover, from where he went to France in one of the earliest drafts. Private James Sterling Lavery was killed in action on the 21st October 1914. He was 24 years old.
Private James Sterling Lavery
Further Information
James Sterling Lavery was the son of William James Lavery and Ellen Lavery, Cookstown, County Tyrone. James was born about 1890 in Cookstown.
Union Street, Cookstown
The 1901 census records the family as living in Union Street, Cookstown. James was 11 and still at school. His father William was a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary.
William James Lavery, Ellen Lavery, James Sterling Lavery (born 14th March 1890), John Perry Lavery (born 14th June 1891), Agnes Wilson Lavery (born 9th April 1893), Sarah Lavery (born 9th April 1893), Sadie Lavery (born 30th June 1894), Jane Baird Lavery (29th December 1895), William Dunlop Lavery (born 22nd July 1898), Helen Cary / Eleanor Lavery (born 28th August 1902).
Gunnings Factory, Milburn, Cookstown
After leaving school James served his apprenticeship in the offices of Gunnings Factory (Milburn, Cookstown) where the Managing Director, Mr. W. Leper J. P., was a close friend.
The 1911 census shows that James was no longer living with the family. His father was by then, Clerk of the Markets in Cookstown.
After serving his time in Gunnings, James immigrated to Canada where he remained for two years before returning home.
He was married to Edith Lavery.
1914
James Sterling Lavery joined the army in Cookstown and trained in Omagh. Soon after the outbreak of hostilities he was sent to Dover, from where he went to France in one of the earliest drafts.
His last letter home, written just two days before he was killed, congratulated his brother on gaining his commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery and expressed the hope that they would meet in Germany one day.
On the 20th October 1914 the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskillings were in the front line at Le Gheer, Belgium, and sustained a heavy enemy attack throughout the day. The next day the enemy was strongly reinforced and attacked again in a dawn mist. With the exception of D company, the Royal Inniskillings were driven back a few hundred yards. They regained their trenches in a counter attack on the afternoon of the 21st October.
Private James Sterling Lavery was killed in action on the 21st October 1914. He was 24 years old.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 25th November 1914:
Newspaper Report
Mr William J Lavery, clerk of markets, Cookstown, has been notified that his eldest son, Mr James Sterling Lavery, aged 24 years, was killed in action on 30th October 1914.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 28th November 1914:
LAVERY – 30th October, killed in action, James Stirling Lavery, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, eldest son of Mr W J Lavery, clerk of markets, Cookstown, aged 24 years. ‘This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 28th November 1914: Private James S Lavery
The news of the death at the front of Private James Stirling Lavery, at the early age of 24 years was received with deep regret in Cookstown. The deceased was the eldest son of Mr W J Lavery, the respected Clerk of Cookstown Markets. He served his apprenticeship in the office of the Millburn Factory, where he was very popular, and was the recipient of much kindness from Mr W Leeper, J.P, the managing director. He subsequently went to Canada, where he remained two years, and shortly after his return (having from boyhood had a desire to join the army), he enlisted in the Inniskillings. After being trained in Omagh his battalion was sent to Dover, and proceeded to France with one of the earliest draughts. Letters from comrades at the front, and information gleamed from others who returned from the battlefield, told of Jim Lavery’s pluck and cheerfulness, and how amid the din of war, he wore his accustomed smile. His letters to his wife and parents always sounded the optimistic note, and the last letter from him, dated two days prior to his death, was one congratulating his brother, Lieutenant John P Lavery, in Queenstown, on his having obtained a commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and expressing the hope that they would meet in Germany. To the bereaved young widow and little orphan boy, the parents, brothers and sisters, we tender respected sympathy.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th December 1914: From Mons to Armentieres - William Hogg (friend of James Lavery)
Private William Hogg, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was wounded at the Battle of Armentieres, arrived home at Cloghog, Cookstown, on Tuesday week, having got a fortnight’s leave, in addition to having been for a few weeks in hospital in Huddersfield. Private Hogg, who enlisted in the regular army last year, when little over eighteen years, was in Dover when war was declared, and went to France with an early draught of the Expeditionary Force. He came through the Battle of Mons and the successive engagements unscathed up to the latter part of October, when he got a slight stab with a bayonet in the left leg, which did not, however, put him out of action. A few days later though, shrapnel from a German shell inflicted a severs wound above the right eye, and he was removed to a field hospital, and subsequently sent off to England on a Red Cross ship . he says he felt richer than King George, when in Huddersfield hospital he got a hot bath (the first for almost three months) and got his second change of underclothing from he had left Dover in August, and it seemed so strange to sleep in a bed after the trenches.
Private Hogg was stationed in Dover with Private Jim Lavery (whose death in action was reported last week) and the two Cookstown young fellows were chums, and were side by side in the trench when Lavery received his fatal wound from a shell which exploded at the side of the trench. Hogg said it seemed marvellous that Lavery, who was quite close to him and eight others who were a considerable distance from them in the same trench, should lose their lives, and three others got wounded, and that he should be spared, but it was the fortune of war, and only one of many such escapes he has had, and only an example of the thrilling experiences he has been through from the time he entered France. He says that poor young Lavery’s sufferings were short, and that just after being taken to the field hospital, where he and the other wounded were removed, as soon as possible, he passed away. Private Hoff said he felt the loneliest man at the front with Jim Lavery gone, as they had been so great chums, and there was no sorer heart in all France than his as he helped bury his fallen comrade at midday on that fatal day. It was a bad he states, in the trench. They had been driven out of it in the morning by the Germans, but retook it a few hours later, and it was after having recovered their position that the shell exploded which brought death to Lavery and the others. He pays a high tribute to Lavery’s fearlessness and cheerfulness, and of his worth as a friend.
Asked as to the German atrocities, Private Hogg says that from his own personal experience he would say that exaggeration is impossible. He has seen things, descriptions of which no newspaper would print, and would seem incredible if told. He attributes the outrages by the German soldiers to drunkenness. When the Germans come to a town or village, they loot the wine shops and get so drunk that they are fit for any inhumanity, and it is no unusual thing to see old men of 70 or 80 years of age lying bayonetted to death, or dying, in wrecked houses, the wine cellars of which have been ransacked. One incident he mentioned as typical of Teutonic brutality. When reconnoitring with a party of other British soldiers in a wood one night, they came across two young French girls tied hand and foot and lying naked on the ground. The British soldiers cut the straps and Hogg and a comrade lent the girls their great coats and escorted them tom a farm house, where clotting was procured, and the girls got shelter. One of the most notable features of the war, Private Hogg states, is the attempt by the Germans to adopt the extended formation of our army. At Mons the Germans came up like midges and must have lost fearfully. Now they come up on the offensive in extended formation, but sometimes appear to forget, and get quite close together. Asked as to the weather, he says that the first three weeks was very warm, but after that there were few days without rain, but it was wonderful the amount of comfort (though he admits comfort is hardly an applicable word) can be had in a well-constructed trench when gets some straw into a dug out. The scarcity of tobacco and cigarettes was fearfully felt at first, and many of the men who smoked pipes used their allowance of dried tea for smoking, in preference to infusing it. Now however, there are plenty of cigarettes and tobacco, thanks to the friends at home who cannot imagine the happiness they are bestowing on the Tommies in the trenches when they send them such parcels. The tot of rum served almost every night is taken he says, as a necessary medicine, and he has never seen or heard of man refusing it, though there are many teetotallers and Temperance men in the ranks. The Indians in action, Private Hogg says, is a sight one can never forget. They are very subtle and silent when preparing for an attack, but to see a Ghurkha’s rush forward with bayonet in hand, a knife between his teeth, drop the bayonet when close to the enemy, and use the knife is awful. Private Hogg says the British Army officers take their full share of the danger and responsibility; in fact, in his opinion, the officers of all ranks have the hardest part to play. Not only have they to take the risk of danger, but to bear the responsibility, and for this reason he has three times declined promotion to lance corporal. It may be mentioned that Private Hogg has two brothers in the North Irish Horse in training at the Camp in Antrim.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th December 1914: Second Presbyterian Church, Cookstown
At the close of service in the above church on Sunday, Rev David Maybin, B.A., made the following reference to the death of Private Lavery (son of Mr W J Lavery, Cookstown) of the Inniskillings, who was killed in the trenches at Ypres, as already reported. He said:-
‘One of our brave soldiers has fallen in the field of battle – James Stirling Lavery. We all deeply regret his death. He was known to all of us, being the son of a respected member of this congregation. Some three years ago he joined the army, and when the war broke out, he was called to the front, and was there until his death. He died a true soldier’s death, he died doing his duty, he died as many a brave soldier would have wished to die – he died at the post of duty. His comrades in the regiment testify of him that he was brave and unselfish, and that he never shirked his duty even in the face of danger He had the brave and patriotic spirit which has ever characterised the Protestant of Ulster; and patriotism is one of purest and noblest passions that burn within the human breast. The men who have sacrificed their lives in the service of their country we place high on the role of heroes. James Stirling Lavery has died in the service of his country, and his was a noble death. Our hearts go out in sympathy to the bereaved widow and orphan, father and mother, brothers and sisters in the loss they have sustained; and it is our earnest prayer that the Father of Mercies and God of all comfort may comfort and sustain them in their bereavement.” The lessons and hymns were suitable for the occasion. The congregation stood at the close as the organist played the Death March from Saul.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 12th December 1914:
Hearts of Oak L.O.L. No. 511 met in the Orange Hall on Tuesday, Bro. Hamilton Clements W.M., in the chair, assisted by Bro. W G Hamilton in the vice chair. A vote of condolence was passed to the D.M. (Bro. W J Lavery) on the death of his son, who was fallen in action on the Great War.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 12th December 1914:
Cookstown True Blues (Temperance) L.O.L. No. 459 met in the Orange Hall on Thursday evening, Bro. John Hogg, R.W.M., presiding, assisted by Bro. John McQueen, D.M., in the vice chair. The dance committee gave a report which showed that a substantial sum was forwarded to the Lord Enniskillen Orphan Memorial Fund. The R.W.M. informed the members that he had a letter from our late D.M. (Bro. Sam Espie) from France informing him that he had now recovered from his injury and was in the fighting line again. This news was gladly received. A vote of sympathy was passed to Bro. W J Lavery on the death of his son (Bro. Jim Lavery) who was killed in action at the front. The late Bro. Lavery was a member of this lodge. It was unanimously agreed not to parade with drums at the 18th December celebrations on account of so many members having joined the colours and especially on account of Bro. Lavery’s death.
1915
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 23rd January 1915:
Cookstown District L.O.L. No. 3 met in the Orange Hall on Tuesday evening, Brother Rev C A B Millington, D.M., presiding assisting in the unavoidable absence of the D.D.M., the vice chair was occupied by Brother Samuel Kennedy. Brother Alex Morrison, district secretary, and Brother William Woods, district treasurer, were also in attendance, together with a large representation from all lodges in the district. Private business was transacted. An invitation was received from the Magherafelt District L.O.L. inviting the brethren to Magherafelt this coming 12th July, but it decided to adjourn this matter to a further meeting. The district master proposed that an expression of sympathy of the district be sent to Brother William J Lavery on the loss of his son, who fell in action. This was seconded by Brother John McQueen, and passed in silence, all members standing.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 23rd October 1915:
LAVERY – In fond and loving memory of James S Lavery, who was killed in action in France on 21st October 1914, husband of Edith Lavery, Oldtown, Cookstown.
‘He answered the call and surrendered all,
And we meet not on earth again.
His duty done, he was welcomed home,
By the Man who died for men.
Oh! Hard was the blow, but he died for the right
And strong is the chain of love
That binds us together, heart to heart,
Till we meet in god’s home above.’
Inserted by his little son, James Cecil Lavery. 470 Kippochhill Road, Glasgow.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 23rd October 1915:
LAVERY – In loving memory of James S Lavery, killed in action in France, 21st October 1914, eldest son of William J and E Lavery, Oldtown, Cookstown.
‘Your King and country need you. He answered the call
To meet the cruel foeman, to conquer or to fall
In the blood red field of battle, he calmly took his place
And fought and died for Britain and the honour of his race.
How hard it was to give him, but he went at the call of One,
Who gave for him and others, His own beloved Son.'
1916
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 21st October 1916:
LAVERY – In fond and loving memory of James S Lavery, who was killed in action on 21st October 1914.
‘He answered the call and surrendered all,
And we meet not on earth again.
His duty done, he was welcomed home,
By the Man who died for men.
Oh! Hard was the blow, but he died for the right
And strong is the chain of love
That binds us together, heart to heart,
Till we meet in god’s home above.’
Inserted by his little son, James Cecil Lavery. 470 Kippochhill Road, Glasgow.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 21st October 1916:
LAVERY – In memory of James S Lavery, killed in action,21st October 1914, eldest son of W J and E Lavery, Oldtown, Cookstown.
‘Until the day dawn and the shadows flee away’
He is buried in plot 8, row O, grave 3 at Strand Military Cemetery, Belgium.
In his Will, he left all to his wife, Edith Lavery. She was living with the Gildea’s in Millburn Street.
Last Will and Testament of Private James Lavery dated 7th August 1914:
James Sterling Lavery: Handwritten Will
James Sterling Lavery: Will Information
In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my wife living at c/o Mrs Gildea, Milburn Street, Cookstown, Co Tyrone, Ireland. Signed Private James Lavery, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 7 August 1914
James Sterling Lavery grave
James Sterling Lavery grave
Lieutenant J P Lavery M.C. (brother)
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th October 1914:
Mr John Perry Lavery, second son of Mr W J Lavery, has received a commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was educated at Cookstown Academy, and had a brilliant intermediate career, taking Exhibitions in all three grades, and so high a place that he was awarded the Nutting Exhibition of £100. He entered Trinity College and obtained a mathematical scholarship in 1912 and graduated with Moderatorship last Christmas. Since then he has been mathematical master in Banbridge Academical Institution. When the call for men was made he determined to offer his services, and his father. (who has another son in the fighting line) did not see his way to object. He applied, in the first place, for a commission in any branch of the service, and the War Office, having regard for his mathematical career, and the fact that he had been a cadet of the Officer Training Corps, allocated him to the Royal Artillery as a second lieutenant.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 1st January 1916: Lieutenant J P Lavery
Newspaper Report
Lieutenant John P Lavery, R.G.A., writing from Flanders, to his father Mr W J Lavery, Oldtown, Cookstown on Wednesday, says he is at present in a rest camp some miles from the firing line, after a tough spell in the trenches. He expects the rest to last for a month, which will be passed in doing parades. The rest camp is in a little French village about the size of Tullyhogue, where he and his comrades are having a good time. Previous to leaving the firing line they had a very trying time and got share of a gas attack which however had no worse effect than to make his eyes water. He acknowledges the receipt of Christmas parcels including one from Abbey Street Presbyterian Congregation, where he worshipped when at College, being a member of the choir. He says he expects soon to visit the place where his brother James, who was killed in action about 14 months ago, is buried.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 4th March 1916:
Newspaper Report
Mr John Perry Lavery, second son of Mr W J Lavery, Clerk of Markets, Cookstown, who volunteered for service with the Garrison Artillery and was given a commission, has got his first step the promotion to lieutenant’s rank dating from 1st January. He has also been in the western firing line since 1st August last, and in charge of a trench mortar battery since November. He paid his quarterly visit home two weeks ago.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 11th March 1916: Lieutenant J P Lavery
Lieutenant J P Lavery, Royal Garrison Artillery, son of Mr W J Lavery, clerk of markets, Cookstown, has been admitted to a Red Cross hospital in France suffering from a sprained ankle. He was serving with a trench mortar battery.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 3rd April 1916:
Lieutenant J P Lavery, Royal Garrison Artillery, of Cookstown, reported wounded, is now in Queen Alexandra’s Hospital London, and is out of danger. A shell fragment indented his helmet so severely as to raise concussion. He has undergone two operations.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 19th April 1916: Lieutenant J P Lavery Recommended
Mr J P Lavery, clerk of markets, Cookstown, has been officially notified that his son, Lieutenant John Perry Lavery, Royal Garrison Artillery, who was recently wounded and is at present in hospital in London, has been recommended for the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in the field. Lieutenant Lavery, who was struck on the head by shrapnel, his life doubtless being saved by a steel helmet, has undergone three operations for the relief of aural and optic nerves, and is now reported to be progressing favourably.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 20th May 1916: Lieutenant J P Lavery
Lieutenant John Perry Lavery, Royal Garrison Artillery, who has been awarded the Military Cross, is a son of Mr W J Lavery, clerk of markets, Cookstown. This officer, who was wounded some time ago, is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 22nd April 1916: Lieutenant Lavery Recommended for Military Cross
Newspaper Report
Newspaper Report
Mr W J Lavery, Clerk of Markets, Cookstown, has received the following letter with reference to his son, Lieutenant John Perry Lavery, the writer being a Trinity student prior to joining the Army:- ‘Dear Mr Lavery, I was glad to get news of your son, as were all who knew him. We learned to appreciate his true worth and are very proud and fond of him. It was a great disappointment to all of us that he was not present when the remnants of the valiant little battery, which he had so ably commanded, came back without him at their head. The general commanding the division came round the morning after the return of ‘41’ and addressed the remains of the battery in terms expressive of his admiration at the good work they had done and of his distress at their great losses, mentioning especially among the lot that of their gallant commander. Your son should indeed rest at ease regarding the ‘honour to old Trinity’. Any college might well feel proud at having produced so brave a pupil. He has set the rest of us an example we value very highly, and guard most jealously. It has become a byword that we should act up to the reputation of 41; and the men of the 9th Divisional French Mortars are proud to boast of their connection with your son’s battery. I have been officially notified that your son has been recommended for the Military Cross, and I sincerely hope he gets it. WE all take a great interest in his welfare, and would be very grateful if we could hear from time to time how he progresses. Yours faithfully, E J Egerton Boyce, Captain.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th June 1916:
Newspaper Report
The 'Irish Life' for 9th June contains another supplement giving portraits of ‘Our Heroes’ – Irish officers and men who have gained distinctions or fallen at the front. Our readers will be interested in the following, of whom portraits and biographies are given in this order:- Lieutenant J P Lavery, Cookstown (Military Cross).
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 15 July 1916: Lieutenant Lavery Decorated (brother of James)
Newspaper Report
His Majesty the King held an investiture at Buckingham Palace on Saturday, when Lieutenant John Perry Lavery, R.G.A. (attached to the 9th French Mortar Battery), was invested with the Military Cross. The distinction was obtained, as set out in the London Gazette, under the following circumstances:-
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He set a fine example of coolness and courage to his command during prolonged operations. A shell which burst in his dug-out deafened him in one ear and caused him sever physical pain, but he stuck to his command under constant shell fire until he was relieved, without receiving any medical attention.’
Lieutenant Lavery, who in being thus honoured, beings honour to his native town, is a son of Mr William J Lavery, clerk of markets, Cookstown. He is an Arts graduate of Trinity College Dublin and before the war was in the teaching profession in Banbridge. He was a brilliant pupil of Cookstown Academy, and the popular headmaster (Mr Rutledge B.A.), and the boys, past and present, are justly proud of this high distinction having been gained by one who so recently was one of themselves. Cookstown Academy has a fine record, probably the highest in Ulster in proportion to its size, for the number of boys who have responded to the call of King and country. No less than eighteen are holding commissions, and are helping to maintain the honour of Ulster and the Empire. Lieutenant Lavery (who was severely injured and had to undergo four operations for ear trouble brought about by the wounds) is now convalescent, and has been at Brighton for some weeks. He hopes to be able to visit Cookstown at an early date, when he is assured a hearty welcome.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 16th September 1916: Cookstown Hero’s Homecoming
Lieutenant John Perry Lavery, Royal Artillery, who has undergone several operations fir some months for aural shock, and received from his Majesty’s hands the Military Cross at Buckingham Palace some weeks ago, has arrived home in Cookstown. A large crowd surrounded the Great Northern Railway station and the platform was packed. A large number of fog signals indicated the arrival of the train, and on Lieutenant Lavery stepping on the platform, he was warmly welcomed Mr McKinney, chairman of the Urban Council, on behalf of the town. A motor car covered with Union Jacks conveyed the popular young lieutenant through the streets of his father’s home, and along the route the car and its occupants were repeatedly cheered. Lieutenant Lavery is to be the recipient of a valuable piece of plate from his friends in Cookstown on an early date. It is to be feared that he will not be able to take up duty for a considerable time.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 16th September 1916:
The presentation to Lieutenant Lavery, M.C., from Cookstown friends, in recognition of his bravery which won the Military Cross, will take place on Thursday next (21st September), in the Courthouse, at 3 o’clock. We are asked to say that in addition to the subscribers, all members of the Army or Navy, who are in the neighbourhood, are invited to be present. Some members of the committee are now providing tea at the close of the function.
James' wife Edith later remarried, becoming Mrs. Wright. The CWGC records Edith Wright as living at 470 Keppochill Road, Springburn, Glasgow.
James S Lavery is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph and on Second Presbyterian Roll of Honour (Molesworth) Cookstown.
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Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Union Street Cookstown Central Census listing in Union Street 54.647996 -6.742097
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists Lavery family 1901 census lists James as 11 years old
2 1911 Census lists Lavery family 1911 census does not list James as living with his parents at Oldtown St, Cookstown
3 FindaGrave.com Photo of James Lavery's Gravestone
4 National Archives of Ireland Last Will and Testament of James S Lavery
5 National Archives UK Medal card can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2018