The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1971) Private Arthur James, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War

Accession Number AWM2017.1.359
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 26 December 2017
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Jana Johnson, the story for this day was on (1971) Private Arthur James, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War

Film order form
Speech transcript

1971 Private Arthur James, 9th Battalion, AIF
KIA 2 July 1916

Story delivered 26 December 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Arthur James.

Arthur James was born in 1873 in Winnipeg, Canada. Little is known of his early life, but by the outbreak of the First World War he had immigrated to Australia and had settled in the town of Ayr, about 90 kilometres south of Townsville in Queensland.

Here he worked as a farm labourer and was living with his friend and fellow employee Percival Clayton. James told Clayton that his parents were dead, and that he was the only living member of his family.
James enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Cairns on 26 February 1915. After his initial training, he was allotted to the 5th reinforcements to the 9th Battalion, leaving Brisbane in mid-April aboard the transport ship Kyarra, bound for Egypt.

James was in the training camps in Egypt for a month before being sent to Gallipoli, where he joined his battalion in late June. In mid-July he was evacuated to Malta, suffering from eczema.
By September he had been returned to Egypt and was detached for duty with the Overseas Base Details transport. He returned briefly to Gallipoli in early December as a member of a working party and then rejoined the 9th Battalion on Lemnos.

The 9th Battalion returned to Egypt in early January 1916. As the AIF went through a period of expansion and reorganisation, some members of the 9th Battalion marched out to form the 49th Battalion, while those that remained, such as James, were tasked with training the new reinforcements for the fighting on the Western Front. In late March the battalion sailed for France, and by May were in the “Nursery Sector”, a
relatively quiet part of the front line near Armentières where units were introduced to the rigours of trench warfare.

In June, James volunteered to take part in a trench raid being organised by Captain Maurice Wilder Neligan. The men trained for several weeks and made numerous night–time forays into no-man’s land to familiarise themselves with their plan of attack.

The raid took place on the night of 1 July. Private James, who was in the centre party, was fighting off German troops as they counter–attacked the Australians when he was killed. As the raiding party withdrew his body had to be left behind. Today he has no known grave.

Arthur James was 43 years old.

After the war, his name was added to the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

His name is also listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Arthur James, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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