India General Service Medal (1854) with clasp 'Samana 1891'
James was born between January and March 1865 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. His father was called William and his mother was Hannah. He had 3 older siblings; Elizabeth Ann, John William and Fanny, and 2 younger; Jessie and Thomas. The family were members of the Church of England.
James was born with a hare-lip, but this was corrected with an operation when he was young. He grew up living at 4 St Mary's Walk in Scarborough. In 1871 William was a tailor and Hannah was a dressmaker.
Hannah died in late 1879. By 1881 Elizabeth had left home. In this year William worked as a general labourer. James was a plumber's apprentice.
By late 1886 James was a plumber himself, but he must have wanted more from life. On the 4th November he joined the Army. James joined the Manchester Regiment at their Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester. He was given the service number 1672.
When he enlisted James was 5 feet 6 1/4 inches tall and weighed 126 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. He had 'J.Y.' tattooed on his left forearm.
James began his service with 3 months of training at the Depot. He was posted to the 1st Battalion on the 8th February 1887. They were based in Aldershot, Hampshire when he joined them.
James served with the 1st Battalion until the 8th September 1888, when he was sent to join the 2nd Battalion in Agra near Delhi in India. He earned the 4th Class Army Certificate of Education on the 7th May 1887.
On the 28th March 1890 James began to receive an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay. During April the 2nd Battalion moved to Sialkot in what is now Pakistan. That September James forfeited his Good Conduct Pay.
Next year James went to war. The 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment was one of the units ordered to put down a rebellion in the Miranzai Valley on the North West Frontier with Afghanistan. James was one of the 300 Manchester Regiment soldiers who took part in this campaign, called the Miranzai Expedition. It lasted from the 3rd to the 25th May 1891. Samana is the name of the mountain range that rises out of the Miranzai Valley. The British fought hard to capture it.
After the expedition ended James rejoined the rest of the 2nd Battalion at Sialkot. His Good Conduct Pay was restored on the 12th September, but he forfeited it again on the 10th November.
In late 1892 the 2nd Battalion moved to Meerut near Delhi. They moved north to Chakrata on the edge of the Himalaya Mountains in March 1893 and then east to Dinapore (now Danapur) that November.
James was awarded 1d Good Conduct Pay again from the 4th December 1892. This time he did not forfeit it.
On the 14th November 1894 James left India and the 2nd Battalion. He was transferred to the Army Reserve when he arrived in the UK. He had originally enlisted for 7 years in the Regular Army followed by 5 as a Reservist, but because he had served more than 7 years as a Regular his time in the Reserve was shortened to match. He was now free to find a home and a job, but he could be called back to the Army in an emergency. His time in the Reserve ended on the 4th November 1898.
James had returned to Scarborough when he left the Regular Army. By mid 1899 he lived at 51 William Street and worked as a labourer for the Scarborough Corporation, an early form of local council.
On the 8th May 1899 James joined the Yorkshire Militia Artillery. This was a unit of the Militia, meaning that he kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier for a short period every year. He was given the service number 3125. He was measured at 5 feet 7 inches and 135 pounds.
A month after he enlisted this unit became part of the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA). The RGA manned artillery pieces in fortresses, heavy siege artillery, and guns used for coastal defence, which was James' job. The artillerymen would fire on enemy warships if they attempted an invasion or attack.
On the 6th July James also joined the Militia Reserve. This meant he was willing to be called up for service with a unit of the Regular Army as an individual, rather than only serving with the rest of the Yorkshire RGA.
James was embodied, or called up for service, on the 1st May 1900. He was released on the 12th October. We don't know what he did during this time. The Boer War was raging in South Africa at the time, but we don't believe James fought there.
James attended his annual training in 1901 and 1902, and was discharged on the 7th May 1903 at the 'termination of engagement'. The next day he rejoined the Yorkshire RGA. He was given the service number 8. He now weighed 144 pounds.
By this time James lived at 16 St Sepulchre Street. He worked as a labourer for Mr Nettleton, a bath chair proprietor. Bath chairs were wheeled chairs with hoods that were used by the elderly or sick. They were pushed by hand.
Later that year, between October and December, James married Catherine Ward in Scarborough. She was 10 years older than him, and they would have no children.
James served in the Militia for another 4 years and was discharged in 1907. He was not called up.
By 1911 James had returned to working as a plumber. He and Catherine lived at Linton Cottage in Weatherby between Leeds and York.
The rest of James and Catherine's lives are a mystery. They both died in Scarborough. Catherine died between October and December 1942 aged 88. James was 78 when he died between July and September 1944.
James' medal came to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment during the Second World War.