The Baynham, Cale, James and Majumdar family history
Reece Cale James

Reece Cale James

My Great Great Uncle

Born 15 Feb 1886
Tregare, Monmouthshire





Family Stories

Reece Cale James
15 February 1886 - 19 October 1968

The following story and information was kindly provided by Graham Clive James the grandson of Reece Cale James.

My grandfather Reece was born at Tregare in the County of Monmouthshire. His parents were farming at West Farm and he was the youngest of six children, one sister and four brothers. In 1901, aged fifteen, he decided to join the army. This was with some encouragement from two of his brothers who were already in the Grenadier Guards. At this time the South African, or Boer War, was still raging and he wanted to play his part in this. However, there was one small snag, his age, so he decided to add on three years!

Left to right Watson of the Balck Watch, Reece of the Welch Regiment and Lacey of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914 -1918On the 12th March 1901 Reece found himself in Cardiff at the Barracks of the Welch Regiment, where he was passed fit for service. Fourteen years later found him at Devenport, joining the 1st Battalion of the Welch Regiment, where he received his training over the next fourteen months. On the 27th May 1902 he was posted to South Africa, and set sail aboard the S.S. Britannia on the 28th May. Whether Private 6759 James saw active service against the Boers is not known. He was then transferred to North India on the 23rd December 1902, why this took place seems to be rather futile, as officers and men of the 2nd Battalion were being sent from India to South Africa to join the 1st Battalion still on active service. The 31st January 1903 saw his arrival at Umballa, then Subathu two months later, only to be sent to the Fort at Quetta. During his transfer to India he was in the 2nd Battalion, under the command of Lieut. Colonel W.V. Dickenson (William Vieris). The Fort at Quetta was an important site on the borders of Baluchistan and Afganistan, from which rebellious Afghan Tribes could be dealt with. During his stay in India he collected many photographs of the local tribes people and their environment and also various verse and poems written by soldiers.

In October 1905 Reece sat, and achieved, his E.R.I. Second Class Certificate of Education by the authority of the Director of Military Education in India. March 1906 was a great occasion for the Regiment who were visited by the Prince (later to become King George V) and Princess of Wales. For this visit all troops were given the words to the tune 'God Bless the Prince of Wales', which was sung during the Prince's parade inspection.

On the 5th October 1906 Reece was on board R.I.M.S. Dufferin, with the Battalion bound for South Africa. He was stationed at Bloenifontein in the Orange Free State. The same year he was made Lance Corporal (unpaid), which was confirmed with pay on 2nd November 1906. September 1907 found him in Kopjes. September 1908 saw him promoted to full Corporal. The only blot on his career in the army was in 1905, when he was charged with 'Gross Neglect of Duty', whilst Mess Waiter in the Officers Mess. This 'crime' remains a mystery, but cost him 10 days C.B, dispensing with trial, and the forfeit of one 'Good Conduct Badge' (which was restored one year later). At this stage in his career he had served in the Officer's Mess for five and a half years, obtained his crossed rifles as a 'First Class Shot', was 39th from top of Rolls of N.C. Officers. He was described as a 'very good character' and given the descriptive marks of a 'snake round back' and R.J. on his left forearm in the form of tattoos.

Reece was discharged on 1st March 1909, receiving a letter of reference from Major Span to help him gain employment at home. A Book entitled 'The 2nd Batt. The Welch Regiment', published in 1905, shows Reece in 'G' Company seated far left on the second row with a small dog to his right. He was transferred to the Army Reserve on the 11th March 1909 for four years. Final discharge was Gosport on 11th March 1909.

Reece Cale James in Monmouthshire ConstabularyAfter a period of three months, during which we assume Reece was taking a well earned rest after eight years in the army, he joined the Police Force. With his yearn to be back in uniform and the need to find the nearest thing to army life, he joined the Monmouthshire Constabulary on 1st June 1909. For whatever reason this was short lived as he resigned in September of that year, a career of only 122 days. His police record gives his age as being 26 years old, upon joining, when infact he was only 23 years old. This concurs the extra three years added to his age when he joined the army. His army records show that he was a miner before he entered the army, so with the opening of Oakdale Colliery in 1908 (first shaft sank) he went to work for the Tredegar Iron and Coal Co. in 1909 (closed 1989).

On 17th April 1911 Reece married Charlotte Lena Francombe at the Parish Church, St John the Baptist, at Miskin in Glamorganshire, his wife's home town. Soldiers Pay postcardReece was now living in Blackwood, Mon, as opposed to his discharge address of Berthllanderry, NR Raglan, Mon. It was whilst living at this address that he received a re-directed postcard from the Recruiting Officer of the 24th Regimental District, asking if he wished his name to be left on the recruiting register, dated December 1911. The card itself was very interesting, as it listed a soldiers pay on joining as 6/8d, after all stoppages, per week. He decided to leave his name on the register.

On February 25th 1912 Charlotte and Reece had their first child, a son, Trevor Cale James. One year on (12.3.13) he was back in his old regiment in the rank of Corporal. His regiment remaining at home. Whilst still stationed in this country he was promoted to C.Q.M.S. on the 14th September 1914. A letter card (dated 27.2.15) to his wife and son shows he was in Southerndown, South Wales, a march of 22 miles from his barracks. Some three weeks later he had a daughter Ivy (born 12.3.15).

In December 1915 he was transferred to the British West Indies Regiment. He was sent to Egypt on 9th February 1916 and disembarked at Alexandria on 21st February. He was appointed to C.S.M. in the field in January 1917, which was confirmed on the 29th April 1917. The last two days of 1917 enabled Reece to visit Jerusalem whilst on leave. This was the world's most holy and historical city. He was the only person in his Battalion, below the Rank of Commissioned Officer to do so. A separate hand written account of this, by Reece, is another story in itself. Having arrived in Jerusalem he found that only Commissioned Officers were allowed into the city with written authority. The newly appointed British Governor, who had served in the Welch Regiment, authorised his Deputy to issue Reece with the special passes required under the heading to 'Enter on Special Duty'. This was required as all places of Historical Importance in the Old City were under heavy guard.

Reece was due for demobilisation in 1918 but was 'Retained in the Service' under the Military Service Act of 1916. The 4th March 1918 saw him on board H.T. Kashgar at Port Said, bound for home, until his final discharge on 17th March 1919. He had by this time served the Regiment for 18 years and 6 days, including his time on the 1st Class Army Reserve. The 03.12.1919 saw the birth of his second daughter Vivien. After his service in the army, his career was wide and varied.

All statements, dates, etc., mentioned beforehand can be authenticated by various letters and army records.

An account of Reece Cale James' Career after he finished in the Army

Miner, working fir the Tredegar Iron and Coal Co. Letter of reference from above to attest this.

Steward for the Association Conservative Clubs. When he left the club, he was presented with a Gold Watch and Chain and a 'Steward's Pendant' for his services.

Licensee at the Butcher's Arms, High Street, Blackwood.

Worked for L.M.S Railways, not necessarily for the full duration.

Reece was now back in the same Conservative Club in Blackwood. On leaving he was once more presented with a 'Steward's Pendant with 'Bar' for five years service.

1954 For a time Reece worked for his daughter-in law's father (Gibbs Distribution) at Pontllanfraith and Pontypridd, before finally retiring.

Reece's army background and upbringing remained with him for the rest of his life. Personal appearance, health. hygiene and orderliness were all important to him. Some examples of this were: chewing his food for a set number of times before swallowing; brushing his hair for five minutes each morning; cleaning his shoes with polish and the customary army spit; hanging up his labelled garden and maintenance tools in his garage. More than a thought should be given to his wife Charlotte, who must have found it difficult during his army career.

Reece died at the age of eighty two years, his ashes were interred at St. Margaret's Church, Blackwood.

Various Addresses at which Reece Lived:

West Farm, Tregare, near Raglan. Bethelanderry Cottage
13 Woodville Terrace, Argoed
Butchers Arms, High Street, Blackwood
Willow Cottage, High Street, Blackwood

Copyright 2005 Gerald Majumdar