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James was born in 1890, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Dooley. They were living at 33 Bridge Street, Portobello, Willenhall, in 1901, along with James’s siblings John, Margaret or Maggie, Rachael and Thomas. They were at the same address in 1911, and had an additional daughter, Annie. James had become a brass caster. He married Mary Jane Green in 1912, and the couple had three children – James T. (1914), Jennie (1916) and Thomas (1918).

James enlisted as a Driver in the “B” Battery of the 54th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (service number 90751). He first served in the Balkans from 23 October 1915. He died in the 64th General Hospital in Salonika on 11 October 1918. He is buried at Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery, and remembered on the Portobello memorial.