James Ling was born in Wolverhampton in 1878, the son of William and Maria Ling. By 1901, he had became a baby carriage maker and was living with his family at 11 Bilston Street. Along with his parents, James was joined by his brothers Albert, Arthur, Frank, John and William, sister Doris, and a servant, Eleanor Whittingham. James married Gertrude Hughes later that year, and they went on to have four children. They moved to the back of number 1, Ewins Street, Stafford Road.
In November 1914, he enlisted with the 8th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 15624). He was killed in action on 25 August 1915 at the age of 37. An article in the Express & Star on 24 September 1915 stated that he had been “shot through the heart just behind the trenches. Death was quite instantaneous.” He is commemorated at the Voormezeele Enclosure No 3 in Belgium.