James was born in Stockport, the son of Charles and Sarah. He was married to Lily and they lived at 124 Chapel Street, Edgeley. They worshipped at St Thomas' C of E Church on Wellington Road South. James was employed at the towel works of Barker & Co on Longshut Lane. In his spare time, he a member of the Loyal Good Intent Lodge of the Oddfellows.
He enlisted into the army at Stockport and his service number suggest this was towards the end of 1916.
It is believed that James took part in an attack, described here, on 10 August 1917. Either during the attack, or the next day, James was seriously wounded. He would have been evacuated from the battlefield and received treatment from the Battalion Medical Officer just behind the front line. Once stabilised, he would have been further moved to a Casualty Clearing Station at Brandhoek , some 10 kilometres away. There, military surgeons would have had to make an assessment of his chances of survival. If he had a good chance, they would have operated on him and, after initial recuperation, he would have been moved to hospital. Alternatively, if there appeared to be little hope, all that would have been done would have been to make James as comfortable as possible.
It cannot be known what actually happened to James, but the fact that he was at Brandhoek for three days before he died suggests that either nothing could be done or, after an operation, it was found he was too weak to move.