John was born in Coventry in 1884, the son of Walter and Clara James. By 1901, they were living at 21 Cannock Road, Wolverhampton, along with John’s siblings William, Walter, Mary and George. John was a grocer’s porter. In 1908, he married Mary Jane Lewis in Wolverhampton, and they had a daughter, Edith Hannah, in 1910. By 1911, the three were living at 21 Lawyers Field, Wolverhampton, and John was a brewery labourer. The couple had another two children, Clara E. (1913) and John W. (1915). At some point, he worked for W. Butler & Co. Limited
John enlisted as a Private in the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 20267), before transferring to the 10th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment (number 40929). He was killed in action on 28 April 1917. He is remembered at the Arras Memorial, as well as on the M & B Springfield Brewery Works Memorial.