James had been born in Compstall and his parents still lived there at 85 Thomas Street. James and Mary Wood had lived there for many years and, by the time of the 1901 Census, were the parents of seven children, of whom 7 year old James was the fourth. Nothing else of known of his life, except that, at some point, he married Ethel and they went to live in nearby Marple Bridge. After the War, her address was at Rose Hill House.
Many of the original members of the 16th Battalion of the KRRC had been members of the Church Lads Brigade and James’ relatively low service number certainly suggests he might have been an original recruit. The Battalion went overseas in November 1915.
On 1 December 1917, James and his mates started another tour of duty in the front line, taking over a sector of the trenches on the Passchendale Ridge, not far from the Belgian town of Ypres. A raid on the enemy positions was planned by neighbouring units and it would take place in the early hours of the 2nd. As was usual, the British artillery would shell the Germans with the intent of making sure they kept their heads down, allowing the raiders to get across No Man’s Land in relative safety.
The barrage started on schedule at 1.55am and, only two minutes later, the German artillery retaliated along the whole of the sector. The shelling continued on and off all night and throughout most of the day. There were heavy British casualties amongst the Rifles, the brunt of the counter-barrage falling on “A” Company. James was one of several men to be killed. He has no known grave.