Lieutenant James Howie Frederic Stephen

Biography of Lieutenant James Howie Frederic Stephen

James Howie Frederic Stephen was born on the 10th May 1894 in Glasgow. He attended Cargilfield Prep School and Kelvinside Academy before becoming a student at King’s College, Cambridge. He was admitted into the college on the 7th October 1913. Though he had entered college intending to read Economics, he eventually selected French options.

The Stephen family owned a successful shipyard business called Alexander Stephen and Sons and James intended to return to work at the shipyard after University. His brother Alexander, also a Cambridge alumnus, survived active service having served as a Major for the Royal Garrison Artillery. He became director of the company 1922 and then succeeded his father as chairman in 1932. In 1946 he was knighted.

Both James and his twin brother John Graeme Stephen had enlisted in the Highland Light Infantry in October 1914 receiving the commission of 2nd Lieutenant for the 3rd Battalion. James was sent to France to join the 1st Battalion of the Regiment. On the 12th December 1915, both he and his brother were promoted to Lieutenant. John survived the war and worked with Alexander in the family business.

James went to Mesopotamia with his Battalion in December 1915. The Highland Light Infantry Chronicle of July 1916 listed James as wounded though it did not give an exact date. His record at King’s College, however, stated that he was wounded in April 1916, so it is possible this was during the Battles of the Hanna and Fallahiyeh which occurred between the 5th to the 8th April 1916.

Following the surrender of Kut, there was a pause in operations from July 1916, but the fighting had restarted by December 1916. Lieutenant James Howie Frederic Stephen was killed in action on the 11th January 1917. The Highland Light Infantry Chronicle reported in their April 1917 issue that ‘When war broke out he was a student at Cambridge University and was home on vacation. He at once enlisted and so he had seen service for two and a half years. He was 22 years of age and was to have entered the shipyard on leaving the University’.

James did not attend the University of Glasgow but a note of his death was kept on record, as his father, Frederic John Stephen, was a graduate of the University and had given £50 towards the building of the Memorial Chapel.


Lieutenant James Howie Frederic Stephen
Rank: Lieutenant
Regiment: 3rd Bn. attd. 1st Bn. Highland Light Infantry
Degree: N/A
Awards: N/A
Comments: Killed in action, 11 January 1917.
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/896
Photo ID: N/A


Papers of Sir Alexander Murray Stephen, 1892-1974, Chairman of Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, available on the Archives Hub.

Highland Light Infantry Chronicle, Vol 15, No 1, January 1915; Highland Light Infantry Chronicle, Vol 16, No 2, April 1916; Highland Light Infantry Chronicle, Vol 16, No 3, July 1916; Highland Light Infantry Chronicle, Vol 17, No 2, April 1917.

Mesopotamia, 1914-1918, First World War, see and

Baker, C., The Highland Light Infantry in 1914-1918

'Mr John Graeme Stephen, Clyde ship builder', The Herald, July 10th, 1970, p.8.

The Friends of the Glasgow Necropolis

Memorial Place: Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Find War Dead

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