James was born 5 February 1888 in Belfast.
He was the eldest child in his family, and had 3 brothers and 3 sisters.
In 1901, James (aged 13) was employed as a Messenger – possibly working for his father who was a Master Tailor.
The Poag’s moved from West to East Belfast, at the start of the 1900’s, and lived on the Woodstock Road.
James initially joined the army around 1906 and served several years in India, later becoming an Army Reserve soldier.
On his return to Belfast, he lived at ‘Lucerne’ 2 Downshire Road, Cregagh and was employed as a Tram Driver.
He was married at Cregagh Presbyterian Church, to Mary McKinley, in December 1912, by Rev. D Stewart.
In September the following year, they had a son, Robert, who was baptised at Cregagh by Rev. D Stewart.
At the outbreak of war, James joined the Royal Irish Rifles and was transferred to the Western Front.
He was Killed in Action at Neuve Chapelle in Northern France, on 23 October 1914, aged 26.
His name is among those on Le Touret war memorial to soldiers with no known grave, in France.
James is on both the Cregagh and Westbourne Presbyterian Church Roll of Honour. He is also included on the Belfast City Council war memorial in the City Hall.
A War Gratuity of £5 was paid to James’s widow as a result of his death.
Two of James’s brothers also fought in the war –
Robert, who served with the Royal Garrison Artillary, was Killed in Action in France in September 1916;
William who served with the Royal Marines, was wounded at Galipoli in November 1915, but survived the war.