James Roach was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, on the 6th December 1890, the son of John and Margaret Roach. On the 11th May 1913, he married Elizabeth Beswick in Liverpool, and they lived at 5, Mile End, Everton, Liverpool.
He served as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania and he was killed when she was sunk. He was aged 24 years.
His body was one of the first to be recovered from the sea afterwards and it was landed at Queenstown where it was given the reference number 49, before a positive identification was made. After this had been done, however, it was buried on 10th May 1915 in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, in Mass Grave C, Sixth Row, Upper Tier, where it remains today. It was on this day that most of the victims of the sinking were buried following a long funeral procession from the town itself.
Although he has an identifiable grave site, this was not originally known by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and as a consequence he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
However, once this information was given to the Commission by the author, it agreed to erect a permanent memorial to him at his grave site at some time in the future and also stated that should it ever be necessary to renew the panel at Tower Hill, which bears his name, it would be omitted from the new one.
He is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour in the basement of the town hall in the City of Liverpool.
Elizabeth Roach gave birth to their only child, a son, on the 11th November 1915 – over six months after the sinking of the
Lusitania. He was named James, after the father he would never know.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 334.