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James was born in Blaby, in Leicestershire, in 1886, the son of James Dunlop and Martha Marr. By 1891 they were living in Wolverhampton, at 25 Montrose Street, together with James’s sisters Jessie, Isabel, Helen and Marian and brothers William and Archibald. They were at the same address in 1901.

By 1911, James was serving with the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (service number 8444). Once the War broke out, he disembarked on 4 October 1914, but died of wounds received on 17 January 1915. He is buried at Merville Communal Cemetery, and commemorated on the roll of honour in the Lady Chapel at St Peter’s Church, alongside his brother Archibald, who also fell during the War.