James is one of many soldiers who did not die as a result of enemy action but through illness. He probably caught flu during the worldwide epidemic in 1918 and this turned to the pneumonia that finally killed him. He was probably a patient at No. 12 Canadian General Hospital at Bramshott.
He had been born on 21 March 1885. His parents were William and Isabella and it's thought that she died between July and September 1896. When the Census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 5 Canal Street, Stockport. William, then 58, worked as a cotton spinner. His children, living at home, were recorded as Janet (25), William (19, a railway engine stoker), Elizabeth (17), James (15), Isabella, (13) and Catherine (8).
Nothing is known of James' life in Stockport but, by 1916, he had emigrated to Canada and had married. He and his wife, Winifred, lived at 116 St George Street, Brantford, Ontario. He earned his living in the printing industry as a stereotyper.
On 17 February 196, he enlisted into the army, having had previous part-time service with the Territorials. His attestation papers can be read on-line at the Canadian National Archives. He was of average height for the time at just over 5 feet, 7 inches and he had a chest measurement of 35.5 inches. James had a dark complexion with grey eyes and black hair. He recorded that he was a Methodist.
James was originally assigned to the 125th Battalion, which had been raised in Brantford. The 125th came to England but did not go on active service. All its members were reallocated, as reinforcements to other battalions. Taking into account the time that James would have spent in training, it is likely that he reached the Western Front in the autumn of 1916
After the War, when the War Graves Commission was collating its casualty information, Winifred had moved and was living at 80 Arthur Street, Brantford.