James was born in Burnley and volunteered for the Royal Navy at the age of 16.
As Leading Seaman he served on nine ships and submarines in the later stages of the war. He was awarded four British (including a spray of oak leaves for being Mentioned in Dispatches) and two Russian medals. James also served in World War ll as an instructor on deep sea diving and submarines.
James Andrew, his son, was lost at sea serving on a submarine in 1943.