Date of birth: 5th August 1924
Parents: Albert John Harris-Turner and Ann Emily Turner
Wife: Edith Irene Turner (nee Jackson) of Watford, Hertfordshire
Address: 30 Priory Road, Warwick
Occupation: Worked at Warwick Hospital
James was born on 5th August 1924 at 1/73 Heneage Street, Birmingham, to Albert John Harris-Turner and Ann Emily Turner (nee Brown). Also living at this address were Albert’s parents, Samuel Augustus and Henrietta Turner.
James was the first of nine children, followed by Charles (1926), Harry (1928), Ann (1930), Frederick (1934), Samuel (1935), Margaret (1937), Clive (1939) and Jeanette (1945). Frederick died from pneumonia aged just one, in 1935.
1/73 Heneage Street, Nechalls, Birmingham was a three storey back to back building with an outside shared toilet. Albert’s brother Harry and his wife Rose lived across the road at 195, next door to Dora Anthony’s General Store. When Margaret was born in 1937, sister Ann stayed with Dora at no. 194 to allow room for the new baby. Also nearby was the “Tripe Shop” where you could buy tripe, faggots, peas etc. On the corner of Heneage Street was the coal yard, also in the street was the local pub, “The Shepherd and Shepherdess” and a Fish and Chip Shop.
Albert worked at W. Cannings & Co. in Birmingham. During the war years he was a Fire Warden here at night time. He use to cycle to work.
The family moved to 8 Fell Meadow Road, South Yardley, Birmingham on 16th July 1939. The 1939 Register shows that James’s grandmother, Henrietta was also living there. It also describes Jim as a “Tinsmith – Hearth Furniture.” In August 1940 this house was bombed causing slight damaged to the back of the house. Everyone survived but the foundations were damaged and the family had to move home.
The family moved to 2 The Lea, Lea Hall, Birmingham, which was near the railway line. On the night of 20th November 1940, when James was 16, the house was cut in half by bombing. Albert started to dig the family out, before help came. Earlier that evening 12-year old Harry (nickname “Dumplin”) had said “I hope we have a quiet night.” Harry was sheltering under the stairs with some of the family while other family members were under a table in the front room. Harry was found next door at no. 3 The Lea, at 9.30pm killed by the blast of the bomb. Baby Clive was found alive on the roof of no.3, having being torn away from his mother’s arms under the stairs.
Once again the family were forced to move, initially staying with friends and relatives, some of them temporally moving in with Albert’s brother Harry and wife Rose at 246, Witton Lodge Road. Albert stayed here with daughter Ann and son Sam whilst Ann took James, Charlie, Margaret and Clive to Warwick to live at 30, Priory Road.
When the rest of the family came to Warwick, Albert was the Air Raid Warden responsible for the Air Raid Shelter that was in The Priory Nursery, across the road from the family home – originally there was a brass plate signifying it was the Air Raid Warden’s house.
It was here where James tried to join up (being under age, he altered his birth certificate) but his father Albert stopped him. The reason James gave for wanting to join up was that he wanted to “get even” for what had happened to his brother Harry. After a short period working at Warwick Hospital he joined up and was placed with The Hallamshire Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment.
When James married Edith Irene Jackson in April 1943 in Watford, only his parents travelled to Watford see their son married.
James became a father on 4th May 1944 whilst waiting to go to Normandy, having been granted compassionate leave to see his wife and son, who was named James Edward Turner. James Edward was born at his grandmother’s home, 30 Priory Road and this remained the focal point of the family for many years. Jim’s nephew Eddie remembers “as a child, going to my Grandparents’ house on Saturday mornings in Priory Road, Warwick, and having “dripping” doorsteps served up by my grandmother Ann Turner. All the family at sometime would arrive here, two of my uncles and granddad studying form on the horses, among all of the family chatter.”
James was killed in fighting near Caen, Normandy in “The Battle of Vendes” on 16th July 1944. He was one of 19 soldiers from the Hallamshires who died on that day. He is buried in the St.Manieu War Cemetery , Cheux, France. The inscription on his grave reads “We loved him; we miss him. In our memory he is so dear. His loving wife and son.”
After the war, Edith married a friend of Jim’s and they lived in Watford. They had no children of their own. Jim Junior was still living in Watford at the time of writing this material (June 2020)
Rank & Number: Private, 4927158
Regiment/Service: The Hallam Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment
Date of death: 16th July 1944
Cause of death/Battle: Killed in action
Commemorated/Buried: Buried in St Manvieu War Cemetery, Cheux, Calvados, France. III. H. 10.
Commemorated locally at:
- With thanks to Jim’s nephew, Eddie Sadek and his mother Ann Sadek (nee Turner), for sharing the family’s story and photos.
- Unlocking Warwick Research Group
- Warwick Advertiser excerpts courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office