James was the son of Thomas and Sarah Hargreaves of 74 Emperor Street (later 52), Portwood, Stockport. He had an older sister, Annie and a younger brother, Willie, listed on the 1901 Census. His grandfather, Joseph Bowden, had fought in the Crimean War.
Since he was about 14 or 15, James had worked for Halliday & Co – a local firm of bleachers and dyers at Bankfield Mills, Sandy lane, Heaton Norris. He enlisted into the Marines shortly after War was declared in August 1914 and went overseas on active service in February 1915. He would not see his sweetheart, Eveline, again.
Although the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records James’ unit as the Plymouth Battalion, other records indicate he was probably serving with the Marines’ Deal Battalion whilst he was at Gallipoli and, certainly, the Plymouth Batatlion was no longer in existence as a separate unit by September 1915.
James and his comrades were amongst the first to land in the invasion of the Turkish peninsula on 25 April. The men of the Deal Battalion were attached to the Australian and New Zealand forces and would fight with them throughout the campaign. Unlike most fighting units, no separate War diary appears to have been maintained by the Deal Battalion and it is now not possible to know what happened to James.