James Edmund Stone
Served with Essex County Constabulary from Dec 8, 1914 and died on Aug 2, 1916.
James Edmund Stone was born in Poplar, London in 1894. He was the son of Charles and Eliza Stone who later moved to Norman Road, Mistley, Essex. A single man, James enjoyed sport and was the vice captain of Manningtree Football Club. He joined Essex Constabulary on December 8, 1914, as Police Constable 139. Just five months later, at Grays, on May 31, 1915, he volunteered for Military Service and enlisted with the Royal Horse Artillery as Gunner 101869 of 'B' Battery 15th Brigade.
The Royal Horse Artillery, part of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, was organised into Brigades of two batteries, each of which had six guns and twelve wagons and an ammunition column. Whilst other weapons forming part of the Royal Artillery armoury were horse drawn, the Royal Horse Artillery was required to be more mobile than the Royal Field Artillery and was primarily concerned with the close support of cavalry. They were initially armed with the thirteen pounder quick firing gun which was somewhat lighter in weight than the eighteen pounder used by the Royal Field Artillery. During the period of trench warfare the Royal Horse Artillery served in a similar capacity as the Royal Field Artillery, for most of the time giving support to the infantry.
Following his enlistment James joined 15th Brigade in Gallipoli. 15th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and 17th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery formed part of the 29th Division and in March 1916, the Division moved to the Western Front in France in preparation for the major offensive that would take place on the Somme.
Prior to the commencement of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916, a total of 1,537 guns and howitzers were assembled along the battle front giving a combined density of one field gun per twenty yards and one heavy gun to fifty eight yards. This was the greatest artillery power the allies had assembled up to that date but still less than what was later assembled for the great battles of 1917.
The intention was that the German defences, artillery and communication systems, would be destroyed by a continuous bombardment conducted for seven days prior to the commencement of the battle. Barbed wire would be cut by this action, strong points demolished and the enemy's morale destroyed. This would allow the infantry to march forward, protected by a moving barrage, sweeping into the enemy's trenches.
In the event, whilst some success was achieved by the artillery, the bombardment did not achieve its objectives and infantry losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme resulted in 993 officers and 18,247 other ranks killed, 1,337 officers and 34,156 other ranks wounded, with 2,152 missing, never traced.
James Stone took part in the initial bombardment with 'B' Battery of 15th Brigade Royal Horse Artillery. Their guns were positioned facing Beaumont Hamel near Auchonvillers. He remained with 'B' Battery, in this position, till July 6, when he was seriously wounded. After treatment at a casualty clearing station he was removed from the battle area making the slow and painful journey to a field hospital located on the outskirts of Rouen some eighty miles to the south-west. He died at the hospital on August 2, 1916. He was twenty-two years old.
James Stone is buried in grave B. 36. 11. St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France. The inscription on his headstone, inscribed at the request of his family, reads:
'LORD WITHIN THY TENDER CARE THOU OUR LOVED ONE KEEPEST'.
The cemetery is a large communal cemetery situated on the eastern edge of the southern Rouen suburbs of Le Grand Quevilly and Le Petit Quevilly. The cemetery has a small chapel located in the grounds and contains 3,083 Commonwealth burials of The Great War.
On December 16, 1916, the Chief Constable reported to the Police Authority - 'Constable Stone died from wounds on 2nd August, 1916. He was single.'
They left the fury of the fight,
And they were very tired.
The gates of Heaven were open, quite
Unguarded, and unwired.
Captain T P Cameron Wilson
(Killed 23rd March, 1918.)