James was born in the Stockport area in the late spring of 1891, making him 25 or 26 when he died. The website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission wrongly records his age as 29.
His parents, Thomas and Emily originated from Staffordshire and were living in Birmingham when their first son, John, was born in about 1879. Four years later, the family was in Birkenhead when William and Joseph were born. By 1887, when Joseph was born, thye were living in the Stockport area. BY 1901, when the Census was taken, harry, Albert, James , Ernest and Nellie had all been born and the whole family was living in four roomed accommodation at 9 Hatherlow Street, Portwood.
James worked locally as a cotton spinner at the Portwood Spinning Ltd, Marsland Street, until he nelsited into the army in August 1916. Taking account of the period that he must have spent in training, james cannot have been with his Battalion for many weeks before he was killed.
On 12 February 1917, The Battalion's War Diary records that they started another tour of duty in the trenches near Le Touquet - a small hamlet some 10 kilometres south of the French town of Hazebrouck. This was a very quiet time in this particular sector and there seems to have been little report in the Battalion's War Diary over the following couple of days and there is no mention of casualties.
However, the local Stockport newspaper reported that he had been wounded by a bullet and had died later the same day. At the time, two military field hospitals (3rd and 44th Casualty Clearing Station) were based at Puchvillers and James is buried in the adjacent Cemetery. However, these hospitals were over 100 kilometres away from where the Battalion was in the trenches. This is much too far away and James cannot possibly have been serving with the Battalion at the time. He may have been on a temporary attachment to another unit or away at, perhaps , a specialist training unit (such as those for machine gunners). However it is now impossible to know exactly what happened to him.