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James was born in Wolverhampton on 11 February 1890, the son of John and Annie Law. In 1901, they were living at Upper Green, Tettenhall, along with James’s siblings Amy, Henry, Doris Mary, Ethel, Katherine, Frances Victoria and William Donald. They were living at 255 Newhampton Road East, Wolverhampton, by 1911. James was a file cutter. At some point, James emigrated to Canada.

On 4 December 1915, James enlisted in the 7th Battalion, British Columbia Regiment in the Canadian Infantry (number 183752). His trade was given as mechanic. Unfortunately, he was killed in action in France on 8 April 1917. He is buried at Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt, France