When the Census was taken in 1901, 3 year old James was living at the home of his grandparents, William and Mary Trevor, then a couple in their late fifties. Also in the house were two of their daughters, 33 year old Isabella and 25 year old Annie. It is not known if one of them was James' mother. He had been born in Salford, on 17 April 1897, but had been living in Reddish since he was a young boy. He had attended Aspinall (Gorton) Wesleyan Sunday and had been a member of the Boys' Brigade. Locally, he had been educated at North Reddish Council School. He retained his link with the school and became a member of its Old Scholars Association and would be the first member to be killed in the War.
He enlisted into the army on 25 August 1914, at the age of 17 and presumably, must have lied about his age as the minimum was then 19. He had previously been employed at the engineering firm of R Hornsby & Sons Ltd, Reddish Road, Reddish.
In late 1915, British troops were besieged in the city of Kut-al-Amara by Turkish troops. The South Lancashires formed part of the army being assembled to relieve the garrison. They would have to fight a number of engagements in their move up the River Tigris, to even get close to the city. One of these was the Battle of Bait Aisa.
On 17th April, Brigades of the Indian Army captured the main Turkish positions in a ferocious attack. At 4.30 pm, the South Lancashires were ordered forward to re-enforce the 9th Brigade at a position called "Twin Pimples". They arrived at about 8.30pm with two companies going into the front line to re-enforce the 47th Sikhs. Another company supported an attack by the grenade throwers (bombers) of the 9th Brigade, who had been ordered to advance up a communication trench towards the new Turkish positions. The Battalion's War Diary records "Considerable opposition found in pushing barricade forward up communication trench and progress slow owing to lack of bombs". One wonders if James had time to celebrate his 19th birthday.
"By early morning, we had driven enemy out of communication trench and established barricade where trench ended and small depression began running 200 yards to A4 (note; a map position). At about 3.30, attempt made to occupy remainder of communication trench up to A4, but owing to inability to get in touch with East Lancashires who were bombing from A3 to A4, attempt failed."
It would seem that, about then, Turks deliberately flooded the communication trench to delay the British attack. At about 6.45, there was a heavy bombardment by Turkish artillery, followed by retaliation from the British. This heralded a general British infantry advance and two companies of the Lancashires advanced up the flooded trench. However, they failed to get in touch with the neighbouring unit of North Staffordshires and had to withdraw back to the area of the trench barricade.
The Battalion was relieved from the front line on 20 April. Two days later, the men spent the night digging new communication trenches. There is no mention of casualties but James was probably killed by shellfire. Few men from the campaign to relieve Kut now have known graves.