Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Belfast, Antrim, Ireland, United Kingdom

General information

Last known residence:
Belfast, Antrim, Ireland, United Kingdom

Army information

Ireland, United Kingdom
British Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment place:
Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
 —  Royal Irish Rifles, 7th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Potsdam, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Tyne Cot Memorial
Panel: 138 A

Distinctions and medals 3

1914 Star
Medal — 07/11/1914
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Points of interest 4

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 Enlistment place
#4 Place of death (approximate)

My story

James Agnew was born in 1896 and lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was married to Annabella Agnew. From the first year of the war, James served with the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was later assigned to the 7th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, part of the 48th Brigade of the 16th (Irish) Division. In 1917, the division was deployed at the Battle of Passchendaele, specifically in the Battle of Langemarck on 16 August 1917.

On 16 August 1917, it was to attack the German positions west of Zonnebeke with the 48th and 49th Brigades. In anticipation of the attack, the battalions of both Brigades occupied positions on the Frezenberg. The 7th Royal Irish Rifles occupied the division's right flank and attacked at 4.45am. On their way to Potsdam, they came under machine-gun fire from bunkers on the railway between Ypres and Roeselare, especially from Borry Farm and Potsdam. The crossfire immediately caused heavy losses and all officers became casualties before the first objective was reached. Some bunkers along the railway line were taken, but the attack stalled. Reinforcements were to no avail and the 7th Royal Irish Rifles had to dig in before Potsdam. In the afternoon, the Germans launched a counterattack and the men of the 16th (Irish) Division were forced to retreat to Frezenberg. Losses were high: four officers were killed, seven wounded and six missing, 39 other ranks were killed and 269 wounded or missing.

Gunner James Agnew, 21, was one of the missing and was reported killed a few days later. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cott Memorial, panel 138A, along with his namesake (no 42470) of the 14th Battalion who also fell on 16 August 1917.

Connection to other soldiers 1

James Agnew 
Same name and same date of death. Both served in the same regiment and both appear on panel 138 A of the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Sources 7

7 Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), British Army war diaries 1914-1922, WO 95/1975/2).
Sources used
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), WO 372).
Sources used
Falls C., The History of the First Seven Battalions, The Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War, (Aldershot, Gale&Polden Ltd. Wellington Works,1925), 108-111.
Sources used
McCarthy Chris., Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account (London, Unicorn Publishing Group, 2018), 52-55.
Sources used
Soldier' Effects Records (National Army Museum, Chelsea (NAM) 1901-60; NAM Accession Number: 1991-02-333).
Sources used
UK, World War I Service Medal and Awards Rolls, 1914-1920(The National Archives, Kew (TNA), WO 329).
Sources used
War Office: Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims, First World War (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), WO 364).
Sources used

More information 3