His citation in the London Gazette reads:
For most conspicuous bravery in attack. When acting as Company Sergeant Major and seeing the platoon on the right held up by an enemy machine gun he immediately rushed the machine gun, regardless of his personal safety and captured it. He killed the crew with the exception of one man, who made his escape. Sergeant Ockendon however, followed him, and when well in front of the whole line killed him and returned to his company. He then led a section to the attack on a farm. Under very heavy fire he rushed forward and called upon the garrison to surrender. As the enemy continued to fire on him, he opened fire killing four, whereupon the remaining sixteen surrendered.
(The farm mentioned above is “t Goed ter Vesten Farm”)
James was born at 56 Albert Street, Landport on the 10th December 1890 to Alfred and Mary, he was one of nine children. He attended St Agatha’s School, following which he worked for Chalcraft’s, a drapers in Russell Street, Portsmouth. After working at the drapers for 5 years he joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1909 as a Private. He undertook his basic training at Victoria Barracks, Southsea and then served in India.
During WW1 he saw action at Gallipoli, where on 24th April 1915 he landed with his Battalion on V Beach and received a bullet wound to his forehead. Once he had recuperated he served in Egypt. While on leave he married Caroline at St Lukes, Portsmouth on 20th August 1917, soon after the wedding he joined the 1st Battalion on the Western Front where he was awarded the Military Medal on 28th September 1917 during the opening days of the Third Battle of Ypres. He was presented with the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace, by King George V on 5th December 1917. He received the Belgian Croix de Guerre in April 1918 the same month he was honourably discharged from the army on medical grounds.
He and his wife had four children and he worked as a crane driver in Portsmouth Dockyard and after he retired he worked at No.3 Training Battalion, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Hilsea. He also served in the Home Guard during WW2. He passed away at home on 29th August 1966.