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James Price was born in 1894 in Wolverhampton, the son of John and Caroline Price (nee Baines). By 1901, his mother had been widowed, and they were living at 1 Court Bagnall Street, together with his brother Sheridan and sisters May and Matilda. By the 1911 census, James is listed together with his mother, and brothers William and Harry at House 5, No 2 Court, Montrose Street. In total, his mother had 12 children, although four of them had died by 1911.

James Price enlisted on 31 August 1912 into the 4th South Staffordshire Regiment (number 9003). This number was later changed to 203451. By this date he was down as a news vendor. Following his training, James was posted on 8 October 1914 to serve in France. According to his service records, his next of kin are given as his mother and brothers Joseph, William, Shedran [sic], Edward, and Harry.

Due to his common name, there are a few possible marriages for him, but either way he appears to have survived the war.