Crimea Medal with clasps 'Alma', 'Balaklava', 'Inkermann'
We don't know anything about James' family or early life. He joined the Army and served as a Private in the 63rd Regiment of Foot. He was given the service number 1627.
The 63rd Regiment was stationed in Dublin, Ireland when the Crimean War broke out in October 1853. Britain and France joined the war against Russia in March 1854. At first the 63rd Regiment was not intended to take part in this fighting, but in June it was ordered to prepare to go to war. James arrived in the Crimea, then in Russia but today part of the Ukraine, in September 1854.
James and the 63rd Regiment played a minor role in the Battle of the Alma on the 20th September. They then moved to Cathcart's Hill, where they joined the siege of Sevastopol. The Russians attacked these forces at the Battle of Balaklava on the 25th October. James took part in this battle, which ended in a Russian victory and led to a much larger battle on the 5th November, at Inkerman.
The Russians were again the attackers, but the 63rd Regiment were ordered to counterattack. After vicious hand to hand fighting the Russian attack was defeated and they were forced to withdraw.
As well as the dangers of fighting against the Russians thousands of British soldiers died during the winter of 1854-55 from sickness and exposure to the cold. We don't know which of these claimed James. He was taken to Scutari Hospital in the centre of Istanbul, but despite the best efforts of Florence Nightingale and her team of nurses he died there on the 8th March 1855.
James' medal was obtained by the Museum of the Manchester Regiment during the Second World War.