James Allan Flood was born in Exeter, Devon, in 1879, and was the oldest of six children to James and Emily. James Sr was a bricklayer, and, according to the 1881 census, the family lived at 2 Stepcote Hill, sharing the house with two other families.
When he left school, James Jr also fell into labouring work. By this time he had met Amy Hobbs, a hotel worker’s daughter who had been born in London. Her father had moved from Devon to the city in the 1870s, but had brought his family back to his home county by 1885.
James and Amy married in the village of Wolborough in December 1899. They set up home in nearby Newton Abbot and went on to have five children.
The storm clouds of war were beginning to hover over Europe and, when the conflict broke out, James was keen to play his part. He enlisted within days of war being declared, joining the Devonshire Regiment as a Private. His service records show that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall, and weighed 112lbs (51kg). He had a tattoo of a crown and heart on his right forearm.
Private Flood found himself in France by Christmas 1914 and stayed there for more than a year. During this time, he was promoted to Lance Corporal, although, as a result of missing a role call, he reverted back to Private again a couple of months later.
After a brief two months spent back on home soil, James returned to France again, spending a further ten months on the Western Front. In March 1917, he was transferred across to the Labour Corps, and came back to home soil again.
This transfer appears to have been connected to James’ health; he continued to work as part of 621st Agricultural Company for the next eighteen months, before being discharged from the army on medical grounds in September 1918. Sadly, the cause of his discharge is lost to time.
At this point, James Allen Flood’s trail goes cold. The next time he appears in documentation is nearly a year later: he passed away on 17th August 1919, aged 40. He was laid to rest at the Newton Abbot Cemetery.