James is remembered on the Stockport War Memorial but his initials have been transposed and he is recorded as D J Sykes. He was born in Bury into a successful middle class family. His father, William, was a braid manufacturer and, when the census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 174 Providence House, Chesham Road. William was married to Louisa Jane – this is possibly the marriage in Dewsbury, during the June quarter of 1883, between a man of the name and Louisa Jane Firth. James was the fourth of the five children listed on the Census. William’s business was sufficiently successful for them to employ two live-in servants – Lucy Corlett, a 22 year housemaid and Winfred Evans, 20, a general servant.
At some point, the family moved to the Stockport area, taking up residence at “Netherwood”, Davenport Park. James attended Stockport Grammar School and later captained the Old Boys Lacrosse team. He also played for Moorfield Tennis Club. After leaving school, he joined Thomas Smethurst & Co at their Manchester offices to train as a chartered accountant, passing his final examinations in June 1914.
Two months later, War was declared and James was quick to enlist, travelling to Preston to do so. 13th Division went overseas in July 1915 to go into action at Gallipoli and James will have been amongst its troops. At the same time, his younger brother William, was also at Gallipoli serving with the 7th Battalion, Manchester Regiment and would be wounded and evacuated back to a hospital at Rhyl.
After the failure of the campaign, the troops were withdrawn back to Egypt and 13th Division was redeployed to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) in February 1916. James was attached to the Divisional headquarters and was, no doubt, involved in what we would now call logistics work. He died of natural causes, as did many in this theatre of the War.