In the late autumn of 1892, William Hornbuckle married Lucy Williamson at St Paul's C of E Church, Portwood, Stockport. A few years later, James was born. He was probably not their first child. The family lived at 17 Lancaster Street, Portwood.
James enlisted into the army on 18 November 1915, leaving his job as a piecer at the cotton mill on Howard Street, Stockport. He originally joined the town's local Territorial Battalion - the 6th Cheshires and trained with them. James went overseas, in early July 1916, as part of a large draft of new recruits destined to replace casualties in the Cheshires. However, by that time, the 6th Battalion had not been in major combat and was almost fully up to strength. The new troops were split up and a party of 87, including James, was attached to the 1/5th Royal Lancasters on 24 July.
The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July and, in the south of the battlefield, there had been some success which continued throughout the month, albeit slowly. The men of the Royal Lancasters were not involved in major action at the beginning of August but, each day, the men were engaged in carrying up stores to the front line. The enemy continued to shell the forward areas and there were casualties on a daily basis.
Some time during this period, James was badly wounded. He will have been evacuated from the front to a Casualty Clearing Station (field hospital) some miles behind the front line and, once his condition was stable, he would have been moved again to a Stationery Hospital at Abbeville where he died.
It would appear that James had been killed so soon after being attached to the Lancasters that the paperwork never caught up and he remains, officially, a soldier of the Cheshire Regiment.