(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
We don't know anything about James' family or early life.
The First World War broke out in August 1914 and James joined the Army in around March 1916. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 34611.
Shortly after the end of the war the National Publishing Company began an attempt to print a roll covering every man who had served in the First World War. They invited veterans or their families to send a short account of his or her service, for a fee. Not all veterans took up this offer, and the details they included were not checked for accuracy. James or his family sent this biography to the Company. It was published in Section XI, Manchester, of the National Roll of the Great War:
Shelmerdine, J., Private, 1st Manchester Regt.
He joined in March 1916, and on completion of his training, was drafted to Mesopotamia in the following September. During his service in this theatre of war, he took part in the relief of Kut, and the capture of Baghdad, Tekrit and Mosul. Later he marched to the Relief of Baku in the Caucasus, but returned to Kantara in Egypt. He returned to England via Italy and France, and was demobilised in May 1919, holding the General Service and Victory Medals.
88, Stockton Street, Moss Side, Manchester.
The rest of James' life remains a mystery. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in June 1989.