James Bodell was born in Salford in 1891, the son of Peter and Alice. He had nine siblings, Lily b1882, Peter b1884, Florence b1886, Edward b1887, Lucy b1889, John b1894, Alice b1897, Frederick b1899, Dorothy b1904 and Bessie b1907. James was educated at Daresbury school. The family lived at ‘Laybye Cottage’, Acton Grange. This cottage was on the north side of the Ship Canal, near Moore Lane swing bridge.
In 1911, he was a steam crane driver, employed by Messrs Richard Evans & Co. Ltd, at the coal wharf which was on the far side of the ship canal, just over Moore Lane Bridge.
He married Mary Evelyn Green in 1908 and they had two daughters, Alice b1910 and Brenda b1915 and two sons, John b1911 and Peter b1913. It seems that the children were baptised in the Roman Catholic church, but Brenda at least, was received into the Anglican church at Daresbury on 20 November 1932.
James initially served with the Cheshire Regiment but transferred to the Royal Berkshire regiment in January 1917 and went to the front in March.
In 1918 his wife received a letter from his commanding officer saying that after his home leave in March, James had returned to the front and sadly, nothing had been heard of him since. He was posted as missing in June 1918. It was not until September 1919 that he was officially pronounced ‘dead’.
However, further information came to light after this, but we do not know when the family was informed. He was actually killed in action on 21 March 1918 and initially buried in a small cemetery, his grave being marked with a cross bearing his name. After the armistice graves were brought in from a wide area around the battlefields of the Somme and James was reburied in Fouquescourt British Cemetery.
After his death, his widow married again in 1921. Her husband was Joseph E Purkiss. They lived at ‘Conway’, on Runcorn Road and had a daughter, Josephine b1925.