William Francis Green (1863-1921) and Florence Williams (1866-1948) had eight children, all of whom were born in Syston except the eldest child, William Henry, who was born in Nottingham but baptised later that year in Syston. William Henry (1886-1936), Ernest (1888-1956); James (1890-1917); Minnie (1893-1930); Blanche (1895-1979); Amy (1898-); Charles “Charlie” (1903-) and Florence (1905-) were all of William and Florence’s children were baptised at the parish church of Syston, St Peter’s – James on the 9th April 1891. The family lived in Syston until at least 1911, sharing a small house of six rooms. William Francis worked as an iron moulder and after they left school, the children worked in the shoe trade.
It is not clear when the Green family moved to Leicester, but they may have relocated to find work, which was very plentiful in Leicester during the First World War. Certainly they lived at 94 Bardolph Street in 1918, but not in 1914.
James, who worked as a shoe riveter, may never have lived in Leicester. He married Scottish woman Ellen Chawner Elks,known as “Nellie”, in Scotland, probably at Glasgow. He enlisted into the Seaforth Highlanders at Glasgow in 1915 and served first in the 1st Battalion, transferring to the 5th and finally the 2nd Battalion. He first arrived in France on 3rd November 1915. There is no evidence that either of his brothers joined him, though it is difficult to be sure as Green is such a common surname.
James lost his life during the Battle of Passchendaele, later described by Lloyd George in his memoirs as “one of the greatest disasters of the war….No soldier of any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign.” At zero hour, early on the 4th October 1917 the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, flanked by the 1st Hampshire Regiment on their right and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers on their left, attacked a German position at Langemarck, four miles north east of Ypres. It was raining and ground conditions were poor. The return machine gun fire was heavy and there were many casualties. The objective of taking 19 Metre Hill was achieved with difficulty but the Germans launched a counter attack later that day. James’ body was not found and he was later commemorated at Tyne Cot memorial to the missing, one of 132 men of his battalion to die that month.
James’ effects of £6 12s were sent to his widow Nellie in two instalments, June and October 1918. A War Gratuity of £10 10s was sent in November 1919. By this time Nellie had remarried a Mr G Hall and lived at 24 Mathieson Street, Glasgow.
William Francis and Florence remained at 94 Bardolph Street until at least 1925 but had moved by 1932. They died in Leicester in 1921 and 1948 respectively and were buried at Belgrave Cemetery.