James Hodgen was born in 1897 at Rockdale in Sydney and was a clerk before the war. His older brother, William David Hodgen, enlisted in August 1914. James was 18 when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 11 March 1916 and joined the 14th Machine Gun Company. On 2 May, he embarked at Sydney aboard HMAT Horoata and arrived in England on 8 August 1916. In May 1917, Hodgen was taken on strength with his company at Ligny Thilloy, France.
On 26 April 1918, the company was in the area of Aubigny, France, and was being heavily shelled. Hodgen suffered wounds to his face, from which he took several weeks to recover before being discharged from hospital on 29 May. He fell sick and was admitted back into hospital on 3 August and was discharged by 6 August.
By December he was posted to Administration Headquarters in London. It was also around this time that he was redesignated as part of the 5th Machine Gun Battalion.
On 28 March 1919, Hodgen embarked for Australia on HT Karoa, arriving in Sydney on 5 May. He was discharged from the AIF four months later.
After the war Hodgen continued his profession as a clerk. He died in Sydney on 15 January 1983 and is buried at Woronora Cemetery, New South Wales.