Cecil was born in 1897 in Haslemere, the eldest child of Albert James (a golf links manager) and Rose Howlett. The family moved to Rose Bank, Enton, when Albert became the manager of the new West Surrey Golf Club, where he was the professional between 1912 and 1935.
On 18 November 1916 Cecil’s battalion took part in the battle of Ancre, the last battle of the Somme campaign. At 06:10 hours the battalion attacked Desire, Regina and Hessian trenches near Albert, moving forward with 7th Battalion East Kent Regiment (The Buffs). There was little light and it was extremely cold with snow on the ground followed by light rain. The Germans opened a heavy artillery barrage; the British counter-barrage was poor. Contact was lost with C and D companies and not restored until the next day. Captain de Buisson led B Company in an attack on Desire trench, meeting heavy opposition, and held it until being relieved at dusk on the 19 November. The battalion suffered two officers wounded and five missing with 10 other ranks killed, 75 wounded and 172 missing. Cecil has no known grave; his body may not have been recovered or not identified. Cecil was awarded the 1914/15 Star so would have been in France in 1915, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.