DONNOLLY, James M Acting Co. Sgt. Major 11/7154

James M. Donnolly was the oldest man to join the Chorley Pals, being 52 years and 2 months old upon enlisting in Chorley on the 16th September 1914.

He was given the serial number of 11/7154 and the rank of Private. Two days later, on the 19th September, he received two promotions in one day; firstly to Acting Colour Sergeant and then to Acting Company Sergeant Major. James was promoted again on the 29th January 1915 to Acting Warrant Officer II, being transferred to the 12th (Reserve) Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment on the 3rd September 1915 with the rank of Acting Company Sergeant Major.

He left the Army at his own request on the 18th February 1916.

James Donnelly was born in Glasgow in 1862 and his 1914 enlistment papers showed that he had served for 25 years with the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He had been awarded a Good Conduct Medal and served abroad in a campaign during 1884 and 1885 under General Tanner, probably fighting the “Fuzzy Wuzzys” in the Sudan. There is no record of him serving in South Africa during the Boer War.

The 1901 Census, taken in April that year, had him living at 92 Devonshire Road in Chorley and James was described as “Army Colour Sergeant”. He had married Clara Peacan (born Ireland, c1875) at Our Lady’s & St. Patrick’s R.C. Church in Walton-le-Dale, near Preston on the 12th September 1895; a Sgt. Henry Barnes being one of the witnesses.

The Donnelly’s had four children – Wilfrid (born Preston c1897), Clara (born Preston 18th March 1898), Kathleen (born 9th October 1901) and Mary May (born 9th October 1905). The 1911 Census had James living with his four children at 12 Garfield Terrace in Chorley and working as a General Labourer.

His enlistment papers in 1914 indicated that he was living apart from his wife and that he only had two children – Kathleen and Mary (they were being looked after by their Guardian, Mrs. A. Inge at 16 Anderton Street, Chorley).