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I didn’t know Jimmy, or James Bellamy to give him his full name. He was my great uncle and died 100 years ago. However, I cannot recall my grandma and great aunt, his sisters, ever mentioning his name or even talking about him. In those days one didn’t, it seems. Jummy first came to my notice years ago when I first started to trace my family past. I had seen the name, Jimmy Bellamy, and noted he had died in the Great War, but looked no further.

Then the events of a few days ago, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele and the commemorative service held to honour the fallen, roused my curiosity. I realised Jimmy might have been there so I turned to the internet. Slowly, one step at a time, I am now finding Jimmy.

I even found a photograph posted on a website. (I had not seen his picture before)

wp0a7e37e2_05_01Jimmy

Jimmy Bellamy joined the 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) soon after the war broke out.

 

 

 

Snippets from a local newspaper, The Grantham Journal, revealed more:-
25th September 1915 – (Jimmy Bellamy) “Visiting friends and relations in the last week or two.”
There was more.
4th March 1916 – “Corp. Bellamy of the Notts and Derbys has been home for a brief spell of leave before departing for the front. His many friends sincerely wish him “God-speed” in doing his bit, and a safe and quick return home.”

Then in Army records I came across a hand written witness statement dated 18th November 1916. It read:-

“Sir
On the night of 18th November 1916, I was in charge of a Patrol which was sent out from the trenches in N Sub Sector Arras. Nothing of importance happened whilst out, until our return.
Whilst creeping through our own wire opposite Bay 93/1 we were fired on by the sentry and no 42199 Pte Leadbitter and one of the Patrol was wounded in the left leg.
I did not hear anyone challenge until after three shots had been fired.
I then jumped up on to the parapet and told the sentry 24118 Pte Handley 15th Btn Sherwood Foresters to stop firing as it was our own men returning from Patrol…”
A little while later The Grantham Journal carried the following news:-
16th December 1916 – “Corp. Bellamy has again been wounded in action, this time badly in the right hand by shrapnel.”

And :-
24th March 1917 – “Corp. Bellamy has also spent three months in Hospital suffering from wounds. He is now completely convalescent, and has been spending a few days at home.”

Jimmy was having an eventful war, as the saying goes. He was clearly on the front line in the trenches and in the thick of the fighting.

The next entry in the newspaper was longer:-
6th October 1917 – “We regret to state that on September 16th, the death took place in action of Sergeant J. Bellamy, son of Mrs. Bellamy, of Dry Doddington. The deceased was only 29 years of age and the only surviving son of a widowed mother. He joined the Forces soon after war broke out, and had been wounded twice. His is another noble life laid down in the cause of liberty and freedom, and in preservation of the women and children of the Motherland. Sergt. Bellamy is the third member of our local roll of honour to fall in the field, and to his young wife and little child, and to the widowed mother, who has lost her only two sons within the brief space of seven weeks, the truest sympathy goes out. The bell tolled in the village when the news of his death came, and memorial hymns were sung in the little grey Church last Sunday.
The following sympathetic letter has been received by his wife from the Second-Lieutenant of his Platoon, and a very kind one from a fellow Sergeant: – B.E.F., September 25th.
Dear Mrs. Bellamy,
It is with very deepest regret, that I have to inform you of the death of your husband, Sergt. J. Bellamy. He was my platoon sergeant, and, in my estimation, the best sergeant in the Battalion. He was killed by a direct hit from a shell in the front line trenches. In his case, death was absolutely instantaneous and he suffered no pain. I always found him an excellent N.C.O., who always did his duty and was very popular with the men. His loss leaves a deep gap which it will be hard to fill. I wish to express my profoundest sympathy with you and your family in your bereavement. He was killed on the 16th, and buried the next day. These are all the details I am able to give you.
I am, yours truly,
J. Greville, 2nd-Lieut.”

He is ‘Remembered with Honour’ on a panel at the Tyne Cot Memorial. There is no grave.
Jimmy, a hundred years on, I have found you.

 

NIK_15291 - Copy

 

Footnote: I followed up the reference, ‘who has lost her only two sons within the brief space of seven weeks’. William Bellamy, aged 38, died from pneumonia in late August 1917 ‘at Chesterfield on Government work’. A former Police Constable, he had been working as a miner.

Words and photographs Copyright 2017 by Antony J Waller

 

 

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