An Old Coathamian – Not Forgotten

James Lindsay COUTTS, M.M.

No. 14464 Private, 9th (Service) Battalion,
Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).

Born 17 September 1895,
Died 7 July 1916, aged 20 years.

Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme,
France, Pier and Face 6A and 6B.

He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. He died during the Battle of the Somme. His name is one of over 72,000 on the Thiepval Memorial, being names of those of the armed forces of the United Kingdom and South Africa* who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and who have no known grave. The vast majority of these, Private Coutts among them, died between July and November 1916 in the four-month-long Battle of the Somme itself. *Other Commonwealth countries erected their own memorials elsewhere.

James Lindsay Coutts was the son of William and Anna Coutts of 12, Turner Street. Redcar. His father was a foreman blacksmith in Smith’s Shipyard. Both parents came from Scotland, where his elder siblings were born, although he was born in Thornaby. James first attended the Redcar Central Council School and his father paid the fees for him to attend Coatham Grammar School as a day boy. Aged 13, he joined Form III on 19 January 1909, and left in December the same year after three terms. He then joined the Mercantile Marine as an apprentice. The family had eight children, and James was the youngest of the five who survived into adulthood. In 1911, when he was 16, he had two older sisters Grace and Minnie, and two older brothers John and William, all still living at home. He is not listed in the family home on the 1911 Census night, probably because he was away at sea. Given the date of his death, he will have been a volunteer for the Army.