James Godden was born in Bridgwater in October 1879 to Charles and Mary Godden. Charles was a labourer born in Southampton, and in 1881 the family lived in Queen Street. His siblings were Henry, Robert and Beatrice.
In 1891 the family had moved to 32 West Quay. In 1901 James was recorded as working as a hairdresser. In 1906 he married Hester Jane Addicot and by 1911 he had set up home in 10 West Quay and they had had a son and a daughter, Leslie and Ruby and had taken in a family of lodgers.
He died in Britain on 29 April 1917, at the time he was attached to the training centre of the Army Cyclist Corps. At the start of the War he seems to have served in the Somerset Light Infantry, but then transferred to the Army Cyclist Corps. On 1 September 1915 the Bridgwater Mercury ran an article entitled 'SUCCESSFUL ARMY CYCLIST - PTE. J. GODDEN IN FORM', which detailed how Godden had won four prizes in the cycling events at an army sports day. It is not yet known what he died of, as he was based at a training station he may have died as the result of a training accident.
More about the Army Cyclist Corps can be read about here.