James, a son of James and Louisa Doust, was a Sheep Station Overseer at Macintyre Park, Bukkulla, when he underwent a medical examination at Inverell for army enlistment in 1916. He was twenty-eight years old and a single man at the time. His family lived in the Wellingrove district, near Glen Innes. In early April 1916 he was given a ‘Send Off’ at Bukkulla Hall and presented with a wrist watch. At the end of the month, just a few days after his marriage, he was one of twelve men given a Citizens Farewell at Inverell Town Hall and presented with the Inverell Medal and socks.
James joined the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 22nd Reinforcement and sailed from Australia for Egypt on HMAT A13 Katuna in November 1916. After arrival he became ill, was sent to the isolation camp for three weeks until re-joining his unit. He was wounded in action at Beersheba in November 1917 and admitted to hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his back. Six months after returning to his unit in December, he contracted malaria and was ill for some weeks.
James returned to Australia and was medically discharged in August 1919. During the 1930s he and his wife lived at Stonehenge, near Glen Innes. He died in 1956 and was buried at Glen Innes.
James has his name recorded on the Inverell and Ashford Honor Rolls.