James was born in Preston, Dorset, but when he married his wife Kathleen, they lived in Magdalen Lane, West Allington. They had a daughter, Bertha, who was 6, at the start of the Great War.
After the declaration of war, James served as a stoker on board the destroyer HMS Paragon.
On March 18th 1917, HMS Paragon engaged with destroyers from the German fleet , who were attacking the Dover barrage in the English Channel. Paragon was hit by a torpedo and gunfire and the ship broke in half. Within eight minutes she sank . . . some of her own depth charges exploding as survivors tried to escape. James survived the explosion, but died later from his injuries.
His body was brought back to Bridport and he is buried in Bridport Cemetery.