James had been born within the parish of All Saints Church, Heaton Norris and his parents, Henry John & Margaret, lived at 69 Manchester Road,
His service number suggests he was probably a pre-war member of the Territorials and was mobilised when war was declared. An account of the Battalion's early months is here.
James was one of three soldiers to be killed on 21 October, probably by shellfire, on a day described in the regimental History:-
"A not very pleasant experience fell to the Battalion on October 21st. Orders were received to take up positions in Aveluy Wood and trenches in Schwaben Redoubt to reinforce the Battalions already there. Lieut. Cowpe gives the following account of this affair :-
"About 7 o'clock on Saturday night the Battalion got the order, ‘Prepare to move off immediately in Fighting Order (dress).' We fell in, and were moved to a place some distance behind the firing line; and settled down. As soon as we got settled down ‘A' Company was ordered to move up to the line at once, and was provided with a guide. This was about 8-30 p.m., and it was a fairly dark night. We trudged on and on, and the guide lost his way. We moved through mud knee-deep, which clung to your legs, and you had to use nearly all your strength to draw your leg out. It was a bitterly cold night, and we trudged on until 8 o'clock next morning. At that time we came across some old German dug-outs, and I put the men in, whilst went away to try and get in communication with Battalion H.Q. by means of telephone. At 1 p.m. we got the order to return to a spot behind the lines, and reaching there about 4 o'clock, we got our first food since moving off. After that we returned to our original billets. What a picnic, and how jiggered we all were!"