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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916


CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916


Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916


Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916


Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

2nd Lieut James McCosh Sproat (MC)


  • Age: 20
  • From: Rock Ferry, Cheshire
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 17th Btn
  • K.I.A Tuesday 11th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
    Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.

2nd Lieutenant James McCosh Sproat, 17th Battalion KLR. 

James McCosh Sproat was born in the December quarter of 1895 in Rock Ferry, Cheshire, the second son of Thomas Sproat, a solicitor born in Scotland but practising in Liverpool, and his wife Mary Caroline. nee Hicks, the daughter of Captain Edward Hicks R.N.. 

In 1901 the family lived at 14 Rock Park, Rock Ferry, and Thomas was obviously doing well as he had his own practice and the family employed a cook and a nurse.

By 1911, James was a pupil at Rugby School which he attended as a boarder from 1909 to 1913; while his elder brother, Gerald Maitland Sproat, was at Winchester College. Thomas and Mary were still living at 14 Rock Park.

After studying at Rugby, James began to study medicine at Liverpool University.

On 31st August 1914 at St George's Hall, Liverpool James enlisted joining the 17th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment as Private 15032. He went to France in November 1915 and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in March 1916. He was killed by shellfire at Trones Wood during the night of 10th/11th July 1916.

The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties which is why many of the 17th Battalion losses have been bracketed as killed in action between 10th – 12th July 1916.The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II. 

The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary.  The place was a Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,   the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible.

James McCosh Sproat ‘s Military Cross award was not notified to Battalion HQ until 27th July 1916, sixteen days after his death, and it was formally announced in a supplement to the London Gazette, of 25th August 1916.

“Conspicuous gallantry on patrol. Previous to our assault he entered the enemy lines on three separate nights with a small party and brought back most useful information”. 

It is not clear from the Citation exactly when this patrol took place, but it is possible that the assault mentioned is the Trones Wood action. Captain Brinson of the Battalion, was commended by the Brigade Commander, for his part in that action and notification of the award of the Distinguished Service Order to him, was also made to the Battalion HQ on the same day as Sproat’s Military Cross.

James has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, as is his brother, Gerald who was killed in action on  1st July, 1916, aged 22, as a Lieutenant with the 17th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. The Manchester Regiment were also involved in the successful attack on Montauban alongside the Liverpool Pals. It is highly likely that James and Gerald were within a few miles of each other on the day Gerald was killed. The family, therefore, had to deal with the loss of two sons within a fortnight.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

 

On 01st August 1932 the Prince of Wales and the President of France inaugurated the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy. The inscription reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”

 

James is commemorated in the Memorials-of-Rugbeians-who-fell-in-the-Great-War-Volume-III

SECOND LIEUTENANT J.M. SPROAT, M.C.

by H.C. Bradby

17TH(SERVICE) BATTALION

(1ST CITY) THE KING'SREGIMENT) JAMES McCOSH SPROAT

Was the second son of Thomas Sproat, Solicitor, of Liverpool and Rock Ferry, Cheshire, and of Mary Caroline his wife, daughter of Captain Edward Hicks, R.N.

He entered the School in 1909 and left in 1913, when he became a Medical Student at Liverpool University.

He enlisted in The King's at the outbreak of War, and received his Commission in September, 1914. He went to France in November, 1915, and, finding his true vocation in a soldier's life, was gazetted to the Regular Army in March, 1916. He took part in the Battle of the Somme, and was killed instantaneously by shell fire in an attack upon Trones Wood on the night of July IIth, 1916. Age 20.

He had previously been recommended for the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry. The official record of the award of this on August 25th, 1916, was as follows :-

"For conspicuous gallantry on patrol. Previous to our assault he entered the enemy lines on three separate nights with a small party and brought back most useful information."

His Colonel said of him :-

He was specially picked out by me, and I have twice recommended him for honours. He was well-deserving of a V.C."

Other Officers wrote of him :-

“ A more gallant boy never lived.”

"He had done many brave and valiant deeds and was absolutely fearless. "

One of the men of the Regiment, in a letter to his own father, said :–

"This was when Mr. Sproat met his death. He was a true gentleman and one to be proud of."

His eldest brother, Lieutenant Gerald Maitland Sproat, Manchester Regiment, of Winchester and Magdalen College, Oxford, was also killed in the Battle of the Somme, before Montauban, on July 1st, 1916.

James is commemorated on the following memorials:

Hall of Remembrance, Liverpool Town Hall, Panel 40

Liverpool University

St Peters C of E Church in Rock Ferry along with his brother Gerald. 

Dealty and Barrs Prep School now housed in the Royal liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake. (brother Gerald is also recorded) 

Rugby School, Memorial Chapel

He is also remembered on the family headstone located  in Christ Church, Bebington, Cheshire. 

 

We currently have no further information on James McCosh Sproat, If you have or know someone who may be able to add to the history of this soldier, please contact us.

 

Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
34 years old

(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old