James was ten years younger than Eric Evans, and married with two children, but death was to bring them closer, in the same battle. James’ service number – 203860 – suggests that he was originally in the 4thBattalion Leicestershire Regiment, but by May 1918 he had been transferred to the 7th Battalion. Whether he had been in it for some time, or had been sent as replacement for the losses incurred in March and April down on the Somme, we do not know. His battalion, like Eric’s, was one of those sent to the Chemin des Dames, under the control of the French 6th Army, to rest and regroup after the heavy fighting. James would have had no idea, until perhaps the 25th May, of the massive onslaught he was about to face. It was then that the Leicesters noticed unusual enemy activity. The French general, Duchesne, had been warned of an attack by American Intelligence, but had disregarded these upstart newcomers.
James did not survive the attack on the 27th. The 7th Leicesters were outflanked, surrounded and overrun. The casualty list stood at 503, roughly two-thirds of the battalion.
James is buried in the British cemetery at Sissone. It is an area not so much visited by British tourists, as it is deep in the French sector.