James Albert Duffy was born on 21st May 1888 in the town of Monaghan, Ireland. The son of Francis and Elizabeth Duffy, he was one of ten children. Francis was a policeman, but James took up plastering when he left school; by the time of the 1911 census, the family had left Monaghan and moved to Belfast.
War was coming, and James received his call up in March 1916. He joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class; his service record shows that he stood 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall and had fair hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.
After two months’ training at HMS Pembroke in Chatham, Kent, Stoker Duffy was assigned to HMS Chatham, a cruiser that served in the Mediterranean. He spent eighteen months on board, and was promoted to Stoker 1st Class for his service.
At the end of 1917, James returned to Chatham Dockyard. While there, he fell ill, and was admitted to the Naval Hospital in the town. Sadly, while in hospital he passed away, having suffered a cerebral abscess. He died on 29th January 1918, aged just 29 years old.
James Albert Duffy was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, not far from the dockyard at which he had been based.