James enlisted in Citizen Military Force (Reserve) with service number N107131 on 21 Mar 1941 and transferred to the A.I.F. on 24 Oct 1941 whilst serving in Darwin. He was posted to 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion on the same day and transferred to Headquarters, Sparrow Force on 12 Feb 1942 for service on Timor.
James joined the unit on Timor from Headquarters, Sparrow Force, as a Private, after the fall of Koepang, approx March 1942. Later he was part of "H" Force, 2 Officers and eleven other ranks, which, in Jul 1942, was detailed to patrol the east end of Timor and protect the Northern Flank of the unit from a surprize attack from the Japanese and also to procure supplies from this productive area. After the campaign on Timor, he embarked with the unit, for Australia aboard the Royal Dutch destroyer “Tjerk Hiddes” on 16 Dec 1942.
He was transferred to 1st Australian Commando Training Squadron, as an Instructor on 14 Apr 1943 and was discharged on 18 Oct 1944.
He was entitled to the 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, War Medal and Australian Service Medal 1939-45, pictured below.