Rank: Gunner
Number: W/2045
Unit: X, 38th Trench Mortar Battery ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 15 February 1917
Age: 37
Cemetery: Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Elverdinge, Belgium

James was born in New Mills and was living still there in 1901 with his widowed mother, Ann, and his younger brother, Samuel. He’s believed to have moved to Stockport by 1905, when it’s thought he married Lucy Price at St Mary’s Church. Over the years, they lived at 25 Hatherlow Street and had four children together. As with many local men, James worked locally at the mill of the Vernon Cotton Spinning Company, Mersey Street, Portwood.

Trench Mortars were a new weapon of War developed shortly after commencement of hostilities in 1914. They were used in a variety of situations – from targeting enemy machine gun posts to cutting the barbed wire strung across No Man’s Land. Situated a little way behind the front line, the greatest danger to the men was from enemy shellfire. A shell exploded between James and another man, killing them both. His lieutenant wrote to Lucy “We have the satisfaction of knowing that his end was quite painless, being almost instantaneous. As a soldier and worker he was excellent and as a man he will be missed and mourned by both officers and men. You may rest assured that the grave will be cared for and a cross erected.”

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