(L to R) 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; 1939-45 War Medal
We don't know anything about James' family or early life.
He served in the Manchester Regiment during the Second World War, although we don't know his service number. We believe he originally joined the 2/9th Battalion of the Regiment. This had been formed in 1938 by duplicating the 9th Battalion, based in Ashton-under-Lyne. The 2/9th Battalion did not serve overseas, and it was converted to the 88th Anti Tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery in December 1941.
We don't know whether James left them before or after the conversion, but he also served with the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This had been sent to India on the 11th April 1942 and trained there until April 1944 when they were rushed to the town of Kohima to try to relieve the British troops besieged there. This attempt was successful and the Japanese advance into India was stopped.
The 2nd Battalion rested after Kohima before joining the advance into Burma in January 1945. By March they had reached Mandalay. The 2nd Battalion was a machine gun unit that used its Vickers Machine Guns and 4.2" Mortars to support infantry battalions. In action it was split up to support a number of different units. For this reason we don't know exactly what James did or where he served.
After the war James lived at 36 Lismore Road in Dukinfield, then part of Cheshire. In mid 1950 the Regimental Gazette reported that he had been 'having a rough time of it, but by the time these notes appear should have turned the corner'. We don't know if this means he was having financial problems, if he was ill, or something else.
James appears to have lost touch with his old comrades. In mid 1963 he is listed as a 'lost sheep at last returned to the fold'. At this time he lived at 62 Chester Avenue in Dukinfield.
The rest of James' life remains a mystery. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 2003. It is very likely that James was also awarded the 1939-45 Defence Medal for his Army service.