James was born on 9th July 1878 in Dymchurch, Kent to parents George and Elizabeth and baptised 3 months later on 20th October.
Aged 2 James was recorded on the 1881 census living at Baden's Farm, Eastbridge, Romney Marsh with his parents, Grandfather and 3 siblings, Caroline, George and Harriet.
10 years later James was the eldest child of 5 living with their widowed mother in “the rural part of the parish” of New Romney as described in the 1891 census - Caroline and George had left home and James was big brother to Harriet, Mary, Lilly and Gertrude.
He joined the Navy, signing for 12 years, on 3rd February 1898 as a Stoker 2nd Class and recorded as 5'4" tall, with light brown hair, blue eyes and a scar on the back of his right hand.
His service follows:-
PEMBROKE II - 03/02/1898 - 12/05/1898
SANS PAREIL - 13/05/1898 - 03/10/1900 (rising to Stoker on 01/01/1899).
PEMBROKE II - 04/10/1900 - 31/12/1900
BLENHEIM - 01/01/1901 - 20/07/1904
PEMBROKE II - 21/07/1904 - 19/02/1906
SAPPHIRE - 20/02/1906 - 30/04/1907 (rising to Stoker 1st Class on 01/07/1906). He also married Beatrice Mary Lennard in the latter part of 1906.
BLENHEIM - 01/05/1907 - 25/04/1909
PEMBROKE II - 26/04/1909 - 03/05/1909
MAGNIFICENT - 04/05/1909 - 31/01/1910
PEMBROKE II - 01/02/1910 - 04/02/1910
He left the Navy on 3th February 1910 having fulfilled his 12 years service and signed up to the Royal Naval Reserve the following day, should the Navy have needed to recall him.
In the 1911 census James was recorded as a civilian, working as a general labourer to support his wife and new baby daughter of 1 month, Ruby May. The family lived at Clinton Lodge, Albert Road, Hythe, Kent - his signature taken from his form on the census.
James returned to the Navy at the beginning of the War, being recalled to PEMBROKE II on 02/08/1914 - 10/11/1914.
His second list of service follows:-
BLAKE - 11/11/1914 - 23/09/1915
VIVID II - 24/09/1915 - 11/10/1915
PEMBROKE II - 12/10/1915 - 25/10/1915
EAGLE - 26/10/1915 - 12/05/1916
PEMBROKE II - 13/05/1916 - 07/03/1917
VANGUARD - 08/03/1917 - 09/07/1917
If it wasn't tragic enough that James was killed just 4 months after transferring to the VANGUARD and being killed on his 39th birthday, he also never got to see or know his new baby son George who was born just two days earlier, on 7th July 1917.
James' Star, Victory and British War medals were awarded to his widow Beatrice following his death.
#247 - 832/843
1881, 1891 and 1911 England Census - Ancestry.com
Kent Archives Office - Baptisms
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
The National Archives of the UK; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, First World War. ADM 242 010 (1914 - 1919)
Commonwealth War Graves Register
TNA Series: ADM 242/10 Number: 1167
The National Archives of the UK; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; ADM 188 Piece: 461
The British Library - Kent Messenger and Ashford Examiner 21st July 1917