James Heasman was born in Rotherfield on 02/05/1883 and baptised there on 10/06/1883, the son of James and Esther Heasman, nee Smith. He was the eldest of four children born to the couple.
James snr worked for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, initially as a porter at Rotherfield but later as a signalman at Lewes. James’ mother died when he was just nine years old, and his father married Naomi Vaughan in late 1892. Naomi had been previously married and was thirteen years older than James snr.
By 1901 the family, which included Naomi’s daughter from her first marriage, were living at 9 Abinger Place. James jnr was listed as a general labourer.
James married Mary Lydia Phillips in Brighton in early 1901 and a son James John Leslie was born later the same year, also in Brighton. By 1911 James was working as a baker and he and his family were boarding in a house in Southampton. James John was his only child.
James army papers are no longer available but from other sources we know that he enlisted as a private in the 7th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment in Hove, sometime during 1915. He was numbered G/4798, the ‘G’ indicating that this was a general service battalion.
The 7th Battalion had been formed in August 1914 but continued recruiting. From James’ number it would seem that he enlisted in the second week of January 1915. In March 1915 they were training in Aldershot ready for overseas service.
They landed in Boulogne on 1st June 1915 and first saw action at the Battle of Loos. They were engaged in the battles of the Somme in 1916 and the battles of Arras and Cambrai in 1917.
James was killed during the battle for Cambrai and has no known grave. His date of death is presumed as 25/11/1917.
He is remembered on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval on panel 7, in addition to the St John sub Castro Memorial, the Lewes War Memorial and the Roll of Honour of the Royal Sussex Regiment held at Chichester Cathedral.
James was entitled to the War and Victory medals and these would have been sent to Mary, along with his effects. At the time of his death his father and stepmother were living in Sun Street.