Crimea Medal with clasp 'Alma'
We don't know anything about James' early life or family. He joined the Army and served in the 63rd Regiment of Foot. We don't know his service number, so we can't say for certain when he enlisted.
In June 1853 the 63rd Regiment moved to Dublin in Ireland. They were still here when the Crimean War broke out that October. Britain and France joined this when they declared war on Russia in March 1854. By this time James had reached the rank of Sergeant, so he must have been a soldier for some time.
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. The regiment set sail from Cork on the 21st July, and arrived in the Crimea, then in Russia but today part of the Ukraine, on the 14th September.
It rained heavily on the regiment's first night in the Crimea. The men had no access to clean water and very little shelter, so they were soon soaked. Cholera bacteria can live in contaminated water. It is a highly infectious disease, and it soon broke out amongst the members of the 63rd. Two members of the regiment died from the disease on the 17th, and one on the 19th.
On the 20th the British and French fought the Russians at the Battle of the Alma. The 63rd Regiment spent most of this day marching towards the battlefield. They arrived in time to play a small part in the battle, and lost just one man.
The next 2 days were spent burying the dead and evacuating the wounded. Eight more men fell victim to cholera on the 22nd. James was one of them. We don't know where he was buried.
James' medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in around 1960.