Nothing is known about James, other than Regimental records published after the War indicate he had been born in Stockport and was living in the town when he enlisted.
His service number is low enough to indicate he was a regular soldier or an ex-regular who was still on the reserve list when War was declared and who was recalled to the colours. It has not been possible to identify him on the 1901 Census. This might be because he was serving abroad with the army at the time. If this was the case, then he must have been a man aged at least in his mid-30s when he was killed.
There is some discrepancy about his service number. The War Graves Commission and the Regimental records published as "Soldiers Died in the Great War", both record it as 7595. However, his entry on the medal entitlement rolls at the National Archives record it as 9595. The former is probably correct.
James landed in France on 9 November 1914 joining the 1st Battalion of the Shropshires. Being overseas this early meant he was regarded as one of the "Old Contemptibles". The Battalion had been on the Western Front since September so it is probably more likely that James was a reservist rather than a serving regular soldier (although he may, of course, have been on sick leave).
The Third Battle of Ypres is better known as Passchendaele. It started on 31 July 1917 and fighting was still continuing as summer had turned to autumn. The part of the battle in which James would be killed was later called the Battle of Polygon Wood.
The Shropshires would not form part of the leading attacking units in their sector but would hold back in support, ready to overlap and carry the attack forward. Zero hour was 5.30am and the leading units had captured their objectives by 7am. The Shropshires now moved forward and took up the attack. They captured the second line of German trenches on the western slope of Hill 40, taking 70 prisoners, 8 machine guns and a 77mm gun. An enemy counter-attack was later repulsed. Later in the day, another counter-attack forced back the troops on both flanks of the Shropshires but they were able to hold their ground.
As with so many other men, James' body was never recovered and identified.