James Brunton Gibb was born at Balmain, New South Wales, on 13 January 1897 to parents James Gibb and Mary Gibb (née Brunton) and educated at Sydney Boys’ High School. Gibb was working as a clerk before he enlisted, and had served in the 31st Infantry Militia. The eight companies of this militia unit were located in the suburbs surrounding and including Drummoyne, Sydney, where his parents lived.
Gibb enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as James Thomas Gibb, at Liverpool, New South Wales on 28 July 1915. He embarked from Sydney aboard the troopship Osterley in January 1916 with the 14th reinforcements of the 1st Field Ambulance. He was taken on strength in the 7th Field Ambulance, based at Moascar, Egypt in March 1916. In the same month, Gibb embarked for France and remained on duty for the 7th Field Ambulance in France until January 1917. At this time, he was detached for temporary duty with the 1st Anzac Headquarters and the “Anzac Concert Party”.
Programs of performances by the Anzac Coves concert party reveal Gibb was the monologist. He maintained a diary which describes their rehearsals and performances in some detail. On 21 February 1918 the Anzac Coves performed at the Jubilee Hall, Weymouth, England, and Gibb performed in two items on the program: “Burglar’s Sketch” with Fred Reade and “Singing Soldiers”. Gibb remained with the Anzac Coves until March 1919, when he was transferred to the 5th Field Ambulance and then relocated to England in April 1919 for return to Australia.
Gibb embarked from England for Australia in May 1919 aboard the troopship Rio Pardo, arriving in July 1919 and he was discharged on 19 September 1919.
On his return to Australia, Gibb changed his name to James Brunton Gibb. He married Ethel Isabel Lang in September 1923 and the couple had four children, three of whom became accomplished in their own right in elocution, radio and on the stage. His wife, known professionally as Ethel Lang, was a notable actress, starring in radio programs including “Blue Hills”, “The Lawsons” and “Aunt Jenny” and in numerous stage roles. Gibbs’s skill and experience in monologues during his time with the Anzac Coves led him to establish an elocution and acting school in Sydney. During the Second World War he reprised his Great War concert party activities by organising entertainment and concert tours for the troops, and also raising funds for war widows, soldiers and orphans.
Gibb enlisted in the Second World War on 17 September 1942, with the rank of Captain, and was discharged on 2 April 1946.
James Gibb died at Burwood, New South Wales in June 1968 at the age of 71; his wife died in November 1995 at the age of 93.