James was one of two brothers to fight with the Lancashire Fusiliers during the War. His older brother, William, is believed to have survived.
When the 1901 Census was taken, they were living with their parents, Joseph and Sarah, in two rooms at 2 Shepley Buildings, Marple (later moving to 49 Upper Hibbert Lane, Hawk Green).
James will have been conscripted into the army when he became 18 and will have had to leave his job as a piecer at the local Goyt Mill. He was originally assigned to the King's (Liverpool) Regiment, with 86867 as his service number. He never served abroad with the King's and was, no doubt, transferred to the Fusiliers when he had completed his training.
By late September 1918, the War still had several weeks of hard fighting left, but this was a time of constant advance for the Allied armies. The Fusiliers were near the village of Joncourt, perhaps 35 kilometres east of the French town of Peronne. Their orders were to attack German positions in the village. They advanced at 8am supported by artillery fire and by several tanks. The Regimental History notes that the Australian troops, on their left, were held up by heavy machine gun fire and could not secure their objectives, which would have allowed a relatively easy advance by the Fusliers. "The Battalion made repeated determined efforts to enter the village without success."
The History continues "Captain P E Townsend, although wounded early in the attack, on seeing his leading platoon held up, advanced over very exposed ground to it, but found it had suffered such heavy casualties that it no longer had any offensive value. He promptly went back and brought up some supports. When he was leading them forward, he was again hit twice in the leg and was unable to walk. Even this did not deter him for he crawled back to his Company HQ organised his reserve and handed over to his next senior before he would allow himself to be carried down to the Regimental Aid Post. The day had not been in vain for the Battalion succeeded in establishing itself on the outskirts of the village, in touch with the units on its flanks and inflicted many casualties on the enemy."
Further information about James, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.