James Gilday was born on 4th March 1886, the son of Eliza and Bernard Gilday, a joiner’s labourer, of 8 Pool Street, Macclesfield. In 1891, at the age of 6, James was a scholar at St Peter’s School and living with his parents and siblings John, Elizabeth, Sarah, Thomas and Emily. On 29th January 1894 James was enrolled at St George’s Primary School, Sutton.
By 1901, the family has moved to 3 Waller Street and James was employed as a fancy trimmer, and in 1911 the four children remaining at home, James, Thomas, Emily and Ellen, were all employed as silk embroiderers, while their father was now a bricklayer’s labourer.
James was a well-known member of the Salford Harriers, having won many awards, and in 1915 won the 7th Cheshire's 200 yard championship at their training camp at Baldock, Hertfordshire.
James attested at Macclesfield, having already served 12 years in the Territorials and being re-called to the Regiment on the outbreak of war. After a period of training he was amongst those from the Cheshires who were drafted to the Dardanelles, landing on the 8th August 1915.
He survived five days: James was acting as a stretcher bearer and was shot on 13th August 1915 whilst leaving the trenches to bring in a wounded comrade. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier on 4th September 1915:
PRIVATE J GILDAY - Mr and Mrs Bernard Gilday, of 3 Waller Street, Macclesfield, have received the sad news that their son, Private Jas. Gilday, of the 1/7th Cheshires, was killed in Gallipoli on the 13th August. Along with his brother, Private Thos Gilday, the deceased had served in the Territorials and the Volunteers for about 12 years, and both being members of the band, they acted as stretcher bearers in Gallipoli. Writing home on the 15th, Private Thos Gilday states that his brother was shot while leaving the trenches in order to bring in a wounded comrade, and adds, "I was with him when he died. He had no pain at all. I saw that he was buried as comfortably as possible under the circumstances. We had the burial service read over him, all the stretcher bearers being present. We have been in the fighting line since we landed here last Monday, and it is Sunday today. There are some sad sights, and I shall thank the Lord when it is all over."
The deceased, who was 29 years of age, and a single man, residing with his parents, was a well-known member of Salford Harriers, and a successful competitor at many athletic sports in Lancashire and Cheshire, his numerous trophies being valued at between £60 and £90. On one occasion he won the Salford Harriers 300 yeards' championship medal, and had also enjoyed the distinction of competing, by invitation, with such noted sprinters as G A Walker and Applegarth, whilst during the present summer the deceased won the 7th Cheshires 200 yards championship at Baldock.
This is unfortunately the second son which Mr and Mrs Gilday have lost during the present war, Private John Wm Gilday of the 2nd Manchesters being killed whilst serving in France last November.
Private James Gilday has no known grave and he is commemorated on Panel 76 to 78 of the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for James Gilday, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private James Gilday is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael's Church and St Peter’s Church memorials. He is also commemorated in Macclesfield Cemetery on the memorial stone marking his parents’ grave, in plot no. Z.6650.
Brother of John William Gilday who was killed in action on the Western Front in November 1914, and of Thomas Gilday, who survived the war.
Research by Rosie Rowley, Macclesfield.