Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private James Sleator



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James Sleator was born on 10 April 1895 at Eden Street, Enniskillen, son of sawyer James Sleator and his wife Elizabeth (nee Courtenay). By 1911 he was living with his family at Iskeymeadow, Keady, County Armagh, and working as a drapery assistant.

Sleator enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 15 November 1915 (No.1870). On 25 August 1916 he embarked for France with a reinforcement draft. He was posted to A Squadron, which was then part of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, joining it in the field at Humbercourt on 23 September.

In September 1917 the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment was dismounted and most of its officers and men were transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – which was renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. They were joined by a number of surplus men from the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. Private Sleator, one of the latter, was transferred to the battalion on 20 September. He was issued a new regimental number – 41418.

In November and December 1917 the 9th Battalion played a role in the Battle of Cambrai, first going into action in the attack on the village of Moeuvres on 22-23 November. The battalion war diary for those days reads as follows:

[22 November] The Battn moved up at 6.30 a.m. to a position N. of Bapaume & Cambrai Road arriving at 8.30 a.m. Here the Battn waited for an order to attack Inchi when Moeuvres was taken by the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. At 11.45 a.m. the 12th R. Ir. Rifles captured village of Moeuvres. It was unable to clear trenches East of village. At 5.30 p.m. Battn moved up to support 12th R. Ir. Rifles in the village of Moeuvres. At 5.45 p.m. 12th R. Ir. Rifles reported driven out of village. At 8.30 p.m. Battn less 'D' Coy counter attacked village of Moeuvres but was driven back to trenches immediately south of the village, where it took up a defensive position for the night.

[23 November] Battn attacked Moeuvres at 10.30 a.m. At 11 a.m. Battn reported in village. At 11.45 a.m. enemy counter attacked from trenches West of village. 12.15 p.m. counter attack driven off. At 4.30 .p.m village evacuated by Battn on account of supports not coming up. 5 p.m. 'C' & 'D' Coys took up position on Sunken Road South of village and 'A' & 'B' Coys went back to trenches North of Bapaume & Cambrai Road.

Casualties for 22nd & 23rd: Officers killed 1. Officers wounded 6. ORs 82 casualties.

Sleator was one of the 82 casualties, though whether he was killed on the 22nd or 23rd is uncertain.

As he has no known grave, Private Sleator is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France, Panel 10. If his body was recovered by the Germans after the battle, it was probably buried in the German extension to the Moeuvres Communal Cemetery, and after the war re-interred in the British extension, in which lie 263 unidentified casualties.


Sleator's younger brother Henry also served during the war, as a sapper in the Royal Engineers, together with a large number of other relatives (see article below).


Larne Times and Weekly Telegraph, 5 August 1916


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Memorial images Copyright © Phillip Tardif with all rights reserved as set out in this Use of Material policy. Image of Private Sleator from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 2 January 1919, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).