James was born on the 3rd February 1896 in Merthyr Dyfan, Glamorgan, South Wales to John and Emma Jane Smith. Emma died while James was still a baby, leaving John his father with three motherless sons, Richard, Walter and James.
Within a year John remarried a widow who had three children of her own but by the age of 8; James was an orphan, his father John passed away. James then was not happy at home and he vowed he would go to sea as soon as he was old enough. He left school after passing a special exam (called a Labourers Exam) which allowed him to do so at the age of 13 years and went to work. After applying for work with the Locomotive Shed of the Great Western Railway which had no vacancies, he did any odd job which came his way. Until – still 13 years old he obtained work at the Morfa Tinplate Works on the “Cold Rolls” for 18/= (about 90p) per fortnight, less 2d (about 4p) hospital and 6d (2 1/2p) doctor – compulsory stoppages from wages. In early February 1913 when he turned 17, he joined the Royal Navy. There he served for 10 years on many of His Majesty’s Ships – “Prince of wales”, “Exmouth”, “Vivid”, “Concord”, “Monarch”, “Pomone”, and “War spite”.
James served right throughout the 1st World War and after, though some of his ships were torpedoed and lost, he survived his many ordeals to serve again.
James met his future wife, Henrietta Elizabeth during the Peace Celebrations outside Victoria Station in London and they were married in 1919.
He emigrated to Australia in 1927 with his wife and 4 year old daughter.
During the 2nd World war in 1941, James enlisted in the Australian Army.
James passed away on the 29th September 1969 in Augusta, Western Australia, age 73 years old.

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