James was born in Atherton, Lancashire and was living at 333 Tyldesley Road when the 1901 census was taken. His father, 52 year old James Westhead was a colliery under-manager and his 16 year old son had followed him into the pit. Also at home, was 53 year old Ann Westhead, the mother of their six children - Elizabeth, Edith John, William and, the youngest, James.
James Westhead was married to Annie and lived at 42 Station Road, Cheadle Hulme. The family history website records the marriage, in 1911, of James Westhead and Annie Barlow at the Baptist Church, Atherton. These may well be the same people. By 1914, James was in business as a fruiterer at Station Road, until he enlisted at Stockport. In 2006, 42 Station Road had become home to a pizza takeaway.
On 8 October, the 3rd Grenadiers were in reserve, ready to support an attack by 62nd Division. In the event, the Battalion was not needed.
The next day, it went into an attack, supported by a creeping artillery barrage, some 10 kilometres south east of the town of Cambrai. As James and his mates advanced, a number of British shells fell short causing "friendly fire" casualties. They took the German front line trench by 6.30am and moved on to the road running from Cambrai to La Targatte. They did not meet much resistance until after they moved on from here. Their final objective was the village of Igniel-dit-les-Frisettes and they were subjected to heavy machine gun fire, but the village was taken by No. 2 Company. By the evening they had consolidated and made the position secure.
James was one of only five Grenadiers who died on this day. He probably fell no more than a kilometre away from where he is buried at Forenville.
After the War, Annie had moved to13 Guildford Road, Pendleton, Salford.