Private James Hutchison Shearer

Service number 7047
Birth Date 09 July 1883
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Maclean
Death Date 27 August 1975
Final Rank Private
Service Australian Imperial Force
  • 15th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 15th Australian Infantry Battalion
Place Maclean
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918
Gazettes Published in London Gazette in 1917-12-17
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-05-02

James (Jim) Hutchison Shearer was born at Maclean in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales on 9 July 1883 to William Geddes and Isabella (née Kirk). He moved to the Darling Downs with his family in 1901, where he farmed a property at Cambooya in a family-run operation before moving on to a property at Clifton with several brothers. In 1915 Shearer and two of his brothers, John and Bruce, established Australian Co-operative Fertilizers Limited (A.C.F.), a company that operated a mixing and bone crushing plant at Runcorn south of Brisbane.

Shearer enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 29 September 1916, followed several weeks later by his older brother, Donald Sinclair Shearer. After a short stint in camp, he entrained for Sydney, and several days later embarked with reinforcements attached to the 15th Infantry Battalion aboard HMAT Beltana on 25 November 1916. Following a period of training in England, he served as stretcher bearer in France and Belgium during a number of major operations on the Western Front.

Shearer was awarded the Military Medal (gazetted 17 December 1917) for conspicuous gallantry and devition to duty during the Battle of Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917. His recommendation noted he “…did marvellous work rescuing and carrying in wounded under an intense barrage and enemy machine gun fire which cost us fifty per cent of our stretcher bearers.” He went on to render similar service during the Battle of Hamel in July 1918 and the Battle of Amiens in August of the same year. He left France on 29 April 1919, and spent almost two months in England before embarking for Australia.

Shearer returned to Australia aboard the liner Miltiades, disembarking at Sydney and “welcomed with sunshine and cheering crowds” on 8 August 1919 before entraining for Brisbane. Following his return home, he resumed work with A.C.F. The company merged with Shirley’s Fertilizers of Sydney in 1928, and subsequently experienced a period of rapid expansion with Shearer acting in a number of senior roles including company director. He remained with A.C.F. (later renamed North Queensland Fertilizers and Chemicals) until his retirement in 1954, but continued to serve on the company’s advisory board.

Shearer married Muriel Audrey Weiske at Christ Church of England in Bundaberg on 20 May 1931. The couple relocated to Cairns during the 1930s, and remained there for the rest of their lives. Following retirement, Shearer devoted greater attention to his long-standing association with Legacy, the Returned Services League and the Presbyterian Church in Cairns.

James (Jim) Hutchison Shearer died on 27 August 1975. His obituary observed: “Born of a staunch Presbyterian family, with a very high standard of business ethics, all through his life he maintained these high ideals.”



Date of birth 09 July 1883 Maclean, New South Wales
Date of enlistment 29 September 1916
Date of embarkation 25 November 1916
Date of recommendation honour or award 01 October 1917
Date returned to Australia 19 June 1919
Date of death 27 August 1975 Cairns, Queensland