Nothing is known of James' early life other than the army records his place of birth as Stockport. He does not appear on the 1901 Census, although an Annie Havakin, aged 32, was living in Stockport and was probably his mother, and who may well have been unmarried.
He is recorded by the army as having "died", which normally suggests that it was from natural causes (as opposed to "died of wounds"). Certainly Rouen was a major military hospital centre at the time.
In its edition of 6 September 1917, the Stockport Express published an "in memoriam" notice:-
"We never thought when we said Good-bye
We parted for ever and you were to die
The grief that we feel words cannot tell
That we could not be with you to bid you farewell
On his soul, sweet Jesus, have mercy - R.I.P.
From his loving mother, sister and soldier brother
5 Laurel Street, Heaton Norris"