James was born to James and Eliza Hines in 1899 in the Manilla district NSW. The family later moved to Gilgai near Inverell where he attended Gilgai Public School. He was nearly eighteen years old and working as a Labourer when, with the consent of his parents, he enlisted at Inverell in October 1916.
James joined the 33rd Battalion, 6th Reinforcement and sailed from Sydney on HMAT A72 Beltana on 25th November 1916. Just one day later he died of pneumonia and was buried at sea.
Private Hines has a memorial at Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton, England. His name is inscribed on the Gilgai Cenotaph, the Inverell Honor Roll and Inverell Cenotaph. In 1919 he was one of the men for whom a memorial tree was planted in Kurrajong Parade, Inverell.