James was born in Dudley in 1882. In 1901, he was staying with his uncle, Ambrose H. Smith, in Leicester. James was an ironmoulder. On 11 February 1907 he married Alice Brown at Dudley Registry Office, and they went on to have three children – James Harold (1907), Lilian (1908) and Mary (1910).
On 16 January 1915 he enlisted as a Gunner in the Royal Regiment of Artillery (service number 82621), by which date his address was given as 10 Evans Street, Cinder Hill, Bilston. His trade was slag breaker. He served in France, until he received a gun shot wound in his left thigh and left arm in August 1917. On 6 August 1918 he was discharged as being physically unfit. On 29 July 1918, he was awarded the Silver War Badge (number 430074). I have not been able to confirm further details of his life.