James was born at 19 Cranleigh Drive Leigh on Sea, Essex on 24th September 1897 to William and Annie, one of 6 children. In 1901 the family were recorded living at Mid Hill House, Leigh Hill, James’ father working by his own account as a butcher.
On the 1911 census James was noted as 13 years old - his father had changed profession to that of a fisherman along with James’ brother Harold. After leaving school James also went into this line of work and continued until he joined the Navy on 4th October 1915 as an Ordinary Seaman. Due to already having maritime experience he spent just 10 days at HMS PEMBROKE I before leaving for his one and only ship, the Battleship HMS VANGUARD on 15th October 1915.
Noted as being 5'3" tall, with light brown hair and brown eyes, James rose to Able Seaman on 9th November 1916, after participating in the Battle of Jutland. He was killed in the explosion aged just 19 - he is remembered on the cenotaph at Southend and also on the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent.
(#79 - 815/843)
1901 & 1911 England Census - Ancestry.com
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 - ADM 242/010
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 - The National Archives of the UK ADM 188; Piece: 1100
Photo source ~ leighsociety.com
Chatham image ~ Wendy Sadler