James Hill was born in Portsoy, Banffshire, on 26 June 1892 where his father, James John, was in the Coastguard Service, having previously been a Royal Navy Stoker. Both James John and his wife Emma originated from the village of North Bovey in Devon, and the family returned there after James (father) finished his Coastguard service, subsequently taking a job as a ‘stationary engine driver for electric light’ at the local manor house. In 1901, James (son) and his two brothers are recorded attending the local school in North Bovey.
James Hill joined HMS IMPREGNABLE at Devonport on 27 January 1909 as a Boy 2nd Class. After training he served in the battleship HMS MARS where he was rated Able Seaman in August 1911, and then in the new battleship HMS ORION. After a spell back at Devonport Barracks he joined the battleship HMS TEMERAIRE for three months before being drafted to the submarine depot ship HMS FORTH in January 1914. His subsequent drafting to the submarine depot ships ARROGANT and BONAVENTURE is consistent with the transfer of HMS C16 between the Third, Fourth and Sixth Submarine Flotillas during this period. AB James Hill died on 28 March 1915 when he fell overboard from HMS C16 while securing to a buoy.
The Western Times of 6 April 1915 reported Mrs Hill’s receipt of telegrams reporting her son’s death, and that he had written to her from Wallsend three weeks before his death, and also mentions that her other two sons were serving in the Royal Navy, one in the cruiser HMS CUMBERLAND and the other (as a Leading Signalman) in the mine carrier RFA LADY CORY-WRIGHT. Her husband, as a Reservist (Leading Stoker), was stationed at the RN Barracks Devonport.
He is buried at North Bovey (St John the Baptist) Churchyard, near Moretonhampstead, Devon.