James Henry Cartmell DFC CdeG was born at Harrison Mills, British Columbia. On 8 July 1941, Cartmell enlisted in the RCAF in Vancouver. He received air crew instruction at various training schools in Canada and in June 1942, was commissioned and graduated as a pilot, from No. 7 Service Flying Training School at MacLeod, Alberta.

After arriving in the UK and receiving further training he was posted to No. 140 Squadron, Fighter Command. By the end of WW 2, Flight Lieutenant Cartmell had completed 55 reconnaissance and photography missions (110 operational hours), most of which were flown during the period between D-Day and the crossing of the Seine River. After that tour of operations, Flight Lieutenant Cartmell was recommended for decoration with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). The recommendation reads, in part, as follows:

"Since joining No. 140 Squadron this officer has carried out a total of 55 operational sorties. He is an extremely fine pilot and his work has always been of a high standard. His exceptional keenness and interest in his work, and the zest and vigour with which which he carried out his duties have been unequalled. As an example, on one occassion, three night sorties in 24 hours. He has always subordinated personal considerations for the benefit of the squadron and set a fine example for his colleagues. To that recommendation, the Group Captain commanding No. 34 Wing added the following:

"Flight Lieutenant Cartmell is a pilot of exceptional skill who has tackled his specialist work with extraordinary enthusiasm and resource. At all times he has shown an iron determination to surmount all obstacles in order to carry out his alloted task. He has displayed the greatest interest in the development of the operational technique of Night Photography to which he has made a valuable contribution with ideas and experimental flying. Flight Lieutenant Cartmellís flying ability combined with his exceptional courage and determination has been a most inspiring example and incentive." The DFC was awarded to Cartmell May 6, 1945.

Cartmell was also awarded the Croix de Guerre, by the government of France. The citation for that award reads in part, as follows:

"Almost all operational sorties flown by this pilot were during the period between D-Day and the crossing of the Seine. Many of these sorties involved low flying in heavily defended areas, notably in photographing the enemy attempts to retreat across the Seine. His operational sorties hve been exceptionally successful and he has shown coolnes and determination of a high order".