Benjamin James BARRETT

BARRETT, Benjamin James

Service Number: 4431
Enlisted: 8 September 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 60th Infantry Battalion
Born: Northcote, Victoria, Australia, 31 December 1894
Home Town: Brunswick, Moreland, Victoria
Schooling: Brunswick Central State School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 19 July 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, City of Brunswick Honour Roll, V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial
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World War 1 Service

8 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4431, Depot Battalion
28 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 4431, 7th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '9' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Themistocles embarkation_ship_number: A32 public_note: ''
28 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 4431, 7th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Melbourne
19 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 4431, 60th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

James Benjamin Barrett, 60th Battalion AIF, from West Brunswick, Victoria, aged 22 years, was one of three brothers who died in WW1. He was killed in action on the 19th July 1916 at Fromelles, France. Like many other hundreds of Australian soldiers, he simply went “missing” on the 19 July and he was not until a Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 4 August 1917, pronounced his fate as 'Killed in Action, 19 July 1916'. Having no known grave his name is remembered on the VC Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France. His mother wrote upon his Roll of Honour form “He was just an ordinary honest working lad and responded to the call of duty and made the supreme sacrifice that others may live.”

Less than a week later, some 60 kilometres away, his older brother Alfred Ernest Barrett was killed in action at Pozieres. 

Albert Frederick Barrett, the 16-year-old youngest brother, also fought at Pozieres, with the 5th Battalion and was reported wounded in action on the 20 August 1916, although not seriously as he remained with his unit. Shortly afterwards, on the 28 September 1916 the eldest brother William John Barrett arrived in Belgium and joined the 21st Battalion. William survived less than two months on the Western Front being killed in action at Fricourt, France, on 24 December 1916, aged 32 years.

The surviving brother, 3706 Albert Frederick Barrett, 5th Battalion was returned to Australia 25 August 1917, for family reasons, after his mother wrote to Senator Pearce requesting he be sent home.