South Staffordshire War Memorials

Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the South Staffordshire area who died during the two World Wars.

James Egan

This name appears on the memorial in St Mary's Catholic Church, Brewood, as a casualty of the South African War.

The Egan family lived in Brewood in the 1870s and 80s before most of its members moved to the Walsall / Bloxwich area.

James Egan was born in Brewood in 1879. He was the son of Fanny Egan, a charwoman who lived in Stafford Street. He enlisted in the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment in December 1897. He was killed at Springs, near Johannesburg, on 9th April, 1901 while serving with the Staffordshire Mounted Infantry. The following extract from a news report in the Walsall Advertiser of 29th June, 1901 seems to describe the circumstances of his death:

BRAVE WALSALL SOLDIERS WHO FELL [Report of account given by two wounded soldiers who had returned from South Africa. There is no record of a William Egan killed at Springs but the details fit James Egan, killed at Springs on 9th April, 1901.] It will be remembered that the Stafford mounted men in April last had a severe outpost action with the enemy at Springs, near Elandfontein, in which they lost nine men killed and wounded. Of these three were Walsall men viz.:- .... Private William Egan, shot through right hand, and afterwards, whilst gallantly covering Lieutenant Hamilton, also wounded, shot dead. .... The disaster to the Staffordshire Mounted Infantry Company was one of the many instances of Boer treachery which have occured during the war. Four Boers who had been cornered had hoisted the white flag, and were being removed as prisoners, whilst a patrol of the Staffords were proceeding to an adjacent kopje to bring in other Boers who had shown the white flag; but when the patrol got within easy range of them they took up their rifles again, with the deadly result narrated above. Private Egan behaved with great gallantry in covering his wounded officer in a hail of bullets after he himself had also been wounded; and Corpl. Clarke has little doubt that had Egan been fortunate enough to survive the action his bravery would have been duly rewarded. But the poor fellow found a soldier's grave after giving an example of that heroism which has ever been the proud characteristic of the British soldier. [Walsall Advertiser 29 June 1901]

Private James Egan, 5233, was awarded the Queen's South Africa (QSA) Medal with Clasps: Wittebergen, Cape Colony, Transvaal, South Africa 1901

This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg.