James was born on 7th August 1880 in Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent to Henry and Charlotte, the middle of three children, his siblings both girls. The family lived during the recording of the 1881 census at “Little Bells” - James was just 7 months old and Henry took care of his family working as a shepherd.
Within 10 years the family had moved to 127 High Street, Queenborough and Charlotte supported the family working as a draper as Henry had died in the Spring of 1884 aged just 35.
Charlotte remarried in 1894 to William Thompson; he looked after his new family as a general dealer owning a shop and Charlotte continued to work as a draper. They had stayed in the High Street in Queensborough, but had moved to number 105 by the time of the 1901 census. James was then twenty years old and worked as a blacksmith’s apprentice.
He decided to join the Navy in 1902, leaving his engine smith job and began training as an Engine Room Artificer, signing up for twelve years (initial) service. He was 5’5” tall with dark brown hair and brown eyes.
His service sheet follows:-
HMS PEMBROKE II - 27/10/1902 - 27/01/1903
HMS JUPITER - 28/01/1903 - 02/07/1903
HMS PEMBROKE II - 03/07/1903 - 14/12/1904, rising to ERA 4th Class in March 1904
HMS FISGARD - 15/12/1904 - 09/01/1905
HMS PEMBROKE II - 10/01/1905 - 30/03/1905
HMS DIADEM - 31/03/1905 - 08/04/1907, rising to ERA 3rd Class on 27/10/1905
HMS PEMBROKE II - 09/04/1907 - 15/05/1907
HMS PEMBROKE I - 16/05/1907 - 24/08/1908, James married Beatrice Alice Skinner in the June of 1907 while attached to shore.
HMS MAGNIFICENT - 25/08/1908 - 16/10/1908
HMS PEMBROKE II - 17/10/1908 - 30/11/1908
HMS MAGNIFICENT - 01/12/1908 - 03/01/1909
HMS LORD NELSON - 04/01/1909 - 01/02/1909
HMS PEMBROKE II - 11/02/1909 - 10/02/1909
HMS ROYAL ARTHUR - 11/02/1909 - 26/03/1909
HMS HYACINTH - 27/03/1909 - 02/06/1911, rising to ERA 2nd Class on 25/10/1909. During the 1911 census he was aboard the second class cruiser, situated in Bombay, East Indies.
HMS PEMBROKE II - 03/06/1911 - 05/02/1912
HMS CRESSY - 06/02/1912 - 01/09/1912
HMS GLORY - 02/09/1912 - 10/02/1913
HMS PEMBROKE II - 11/02/1913 - 05/12/1913
HMS VANGUARD - 06/12/1913 - 09/07/1917, rising to ERA 1st Class on 27/10/1914 and serving during the Battle of Jutland.
He was 36 when killed, just a year older than his father. His pension was claimed by his wife Beatrice to support their son Cyril James along with his Star, Victory Medal, British War Medals.
(#113 - 396/843)
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1881,1891,1901 & 1911
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 434
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 008 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 0936
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; WWI Pension Record Cards and Ledgers; Reference: 098/0451/HOD-HOD
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 105
Photo source - Brian Budge