Lance Corporal Jesse Lamb, PLY/17/S, Plymouth Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Jesse Lamb was born in Kings Norton, Birmingham in summer 1876, one of eight children born to Jesse Lamb and Harriett Peach who married in Kings Norton in 1867. On the 26th December 1900 at Kings Norton Parish Church, Jesse junior, a metal cleaner aged 24, married 26 year-old spinster Frances Ann Talbot of South Ossett. The couple had four children: two sons and two daughters, between 1902 and 1909, and by 1911 the family were living at 8, Wharf Road, Kings Norton.
Jesse, a labourer, enlisted in Dewsbury with the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RNLI), Plymouth Division on the 14th September 1914, just six weeks after Great Britain declared war on Imperial Germany and its allies. Confusingly his RMLI service register shows that he first enlisted with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) on the 8th September 1914 and transferred to the RMLI on the 16th September. The register also records him as being 33 years of age and has his date of birth as the 27th January 1881, rather than his registered birth date in summer 1876. Perhaps he told an untruth to enlist? Jesse was 5’ 9” tall with blue eyes, dark brown hair and no marks, wounds or scars.
He was part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (M.E.F) between the 6th February 1915 and the 5th August 1915, but then contracted influenza and was invalided to the UK. He appears to have returned to duty by the 15th September 1915 and served with the Plymouth Division between late October 1915 and late June 1916. He moved to 1st Reserve Battalion Blandford (a.k.a. "Victory") serving in late June 1916 and returned to Plymouth Division in early December 1917, remaining there until the 8th March 1918. He then transferred to the Royal Marine Engineers at Southwick until late March 1919. He was demobilised on the 23rd April 1919 (elsewhere 21st May 1919).
The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) was part of the British Army during World War One that commanded all Allied forces at Gallipoli and later Salonika. Its headquarters was formed in March 1915. The MEF was originally commanded by General Sir Ian Hamilton until he was dismissed due to the failure of the August Offensive. Command briefly passed to General William Birdwood, commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, but for the remainder of the Gallipoli campaign it was General Sir Charles Monro who led the MEF.
Throughout almost five years of service Jesse Lamb’s general character was always reported as "Very Good". His RMLI service register records his next of kin as his wife, Frances Ann, of 5, Radley Street, The Green, Ossett. It seems likely that his absence from his wife and four children for almost the whole of WWI caused them to move to Frances’s Ossett home and since he enlisted at Dewsbury in 1914 it seems likely that the family had moved from Kings Norton around that time or earlier.
Sadly less than ten months after his demobilisation, Jesse Lamb died in February 1920 and was buried at Holy Trinity Church on the 17th February 1920. His address was 5, Radley Street, Ossett. He was posthumously awarded the British and Victory War Medals and also the 1914-15 Star, indicating that he had served overseas in a theatre of war and that he had done so in Europe before 1st January 1916.
Jesse Lamb is not listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but he is recorded in the Great Britain, Royal Naval Division Casualties of the Great War 1914-1924. Until now he has not been remembered on any Ossett War Memorial or Roll of Honour.
1. Great Britain, Royal Naval Division Casualties of the Great War 1914-1924.