Private James Baldrick was born in 1892 to Mrs Martha Baldrick. Of the little recorded about him, we know that he lived at Number 15.1 in Glendermot Road (Waterside, Londonderry) he was schooled and was the only one of his family who could read.
Baldrick subsequently moved to Gortmore House in Omagh, leaving Glendermot Road, his mother and siblings; William, Isabella and James behind. While in Omagh he worked as a shop porter and enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joining the 3rd Reserve Battalion.
Upon the outbreak of war on 4th August he was called up for regular service and transferred to 2nd Battalion. The battalion would be attached to 12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division, III Corps of the British Expeditionary Force.
Baldrick and the Inniskillings after landing in France on the 22nd and 23rd August were sent almost immediately into action at the Battle of Le Cateau as British Forces retreated from Mons. There the 4th Division, including Baldrick and the 2nd Battalion were nearly surrounded and annihilated by the attacking German Forces. Only the arrival of a French Cavalry Corps allowed the 4th Division to escape.
The Inniskillings and 4th Division fought on through the British retreat until the Allies finally stabilised their battle line towards the end of September. The following month the Allies would go on the offensive in the “race to the sea” as they sought to outflank the oncoming German army.
Tragically, Private Baldrick was killed in action on 20th October 1914 aged 23, his name appears on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium and he is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial located on The Diamond in the centre of Derry County, Londonderry. Erected in 1927 the memorial is dedicated to the men of the city who lost their lives in World War 1.
On the first anniversary of Private Baldrick’s death, his uncle and aunt, Hugh and Maggie Baldrick, had the following verses placed in a Derry newspaper:
'Little we thought when we said good-bye
It was his last farewell;
Sad indeed was the parting
From him we loved so well.
Nobly for King and country
He answered the bugle's call,
And there at the post of duty,
On the plains of France he fell.
Buried by loving comrades,
Oh, that a friend were nigh
To soothe his aching forehead,
Or hear his dying sigh'.