James William Darch : 1921-1944


The (Old) Rising Sun Inn is marked with a red dot – it is no longer an Inn.

James William Darch killed at sea – son of the publican of the Rising Sun Inn, Thorney

Gunner 904509, 6 Maritime Regiment, Royal Artillery

James William Darch was born in 1921 in Queen Camel, Somerset. His family came to live at The Rising Sun Inn, Thorney. His parents Edwin and Matilda are shown sitting in the inglenook fireplace of the Inn.

Edwin and Matilda married in 1917. The 1939 Register shows they were then living in Englands Lane, Wincanton. Edwin was a chauffeur, Matilda a housewife – recorded as Unpaid Domestic on the register. Margaret Derham was living with them, age 13, still at school – possibly a relative.

In the Second World War, James was a gunner in the Royal Artillery, allocated to the Merchant Marine. He was not married. In July 1944 he was serving on the merchant steamship Shahzada, a DEMS – Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship – en route from Mormago, Goa, to Suez. The ship had a cargo of groundnuts.

On the 9th July the Shahzada was hit by a torpedo from German U-boat 196. 45 crew out of 98 died in the attack. James was one of the 45 men who were killed. He was 23 years old. His body was not recovered.

James is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon, England. Panel 23, Column 2. His name is also inscribed on the War Memorial in St.Martin’s Church, Kingsbury Episcopi ; and on the 2018 Centenary Memorials Plaques in public access buildings in the Parish.

Edwin Darch, James’ father, became the licencee of the Rising Sun Inn, Thorney. In 1946 he applied for a licence to sell wine, in addition to beer and cider he was already licensed to sell at the time. The article from the newspaper in 1946 shows some humour at the licensing meeting.

In 2020, there are still people in the area who have happy memories of drinking at the Rising Sun Inn when Edwin and Matilda were running the pub. There are stories of customers sitting in the bar area with their feet in water, as the inn, being so close to the River Parrett, used to flood regularly in the late winter or early spring. Flood defences now make this less likely to happen.

This flower holder is in Kingsbury Episcopi cemetery. Edwin died in 1964, age 73. Matilda died in 1994, age 101.