James was an older brother of George Cleaver. On volunteering in October 1917 he stated that he was a 29 year old married miner’s blacksmith from Sandy Bay. He had also been working as a miner at Lottah and would bring with him many useful skills when allotted to the 2nd Tunnelling Company.
He departed Australia on 26 November and finally reached England on 2 February 1918. In early March he proceeded to France and was taken on strength with the 2nd Tunnelling Company on 24 March 1918.
Post war he returned to mining, both on the west coast and at Matthina. He had been working at Butler’s Gorge when he got work at the Launceston City Council Quarry. He had been there only a few days when according to The Examiner he died on site.