James is commemorated locally on the Heaton Mersey War Memorial but his connection with the immediate area is unknown and it may be that a brother or sister arranged for his name to be inscribed.
When he enlisted into the army, 11 December 1915, he was living with his older sister, Margaret, at 380 Buxton Road, Great Moor and was working as a labourer. His service papers still exist at the National Archives and they show him to have stood just under 5' 6" - about average height in those days. His parents, William and Mary, were living at The Nook, Dunham Town, Altrincham (and would later arrange for his name to be inscribed on the Dunham War Memorial). James had been born in Newtown, Monmouthshire and his oldest brother, Thomas, still lived in Cardiganshire and his oldest sister, Susan , in Montgomeryshire. Other brothers included 35 year old David, living at Islington Road, Stockport and John, George and William, living in Altrincham. Sarah and Clara Griffiths lived elsewhere in Cheshire.
James' services were not immediately needed by the army and he returned to Stockport until 5 February 1916, when he was mobilised for training. He went overseas on 20 July and was posted to the 9th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment whilst at base camp in France. Still at the camp, he was transferred to the Borderers on the 27th. Less than a month later, he was dead.
On the day he was killed, James and his new comrades were near Bazentin-le-Petit. Overnight, "A" and "B" Companies were digging a new trench but they were spotted by the enemy and were shelled heavily by the German artillery. In the late evening of the 24th, the whole Battalion moved up to take over a sector of the front line. There was, again, a heavy artillery barrage causing casualties. James has no known grave and may, literally, have been blown to bits.
In the chaos of the Battle, it is hardly surprising that official documentation could not keep up and his official commemoration by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission remains as a Cheshire Regiment soldier.