James MCCONNELL MM, DCM

Poppy

MCCONNELL, James

Service Numbers: 886, 2853
Enlisted: 14 July 1915
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 3rd Pioneer Battalion
Born: Galashiels, Scotland, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Eaglehawk, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Publican
Died: Killed In Action, France, 22 August 1918, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Beacon Cemetery, Sailly-Laurette
Plot V, Row J, Grave 1 Headstone Inscription "IN MEMORY OF MY DEAR HUSBAND AND OUR LOVING FATHER REST IN PEACE"
Memorials: Camberwell War Memorial, Eaglehawk St Peter's Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

14 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 886, 29th Infantry Battalion
10 Nov 1915: Embarked Private, SN 886, 29th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Melbourne
10 Nov 1915: Involvement Private, SN 886, 29th Infantry Battalion
9 Nov 1916: Involvement Private, SN 2853, 3rd Pioneer Battalion
9 Nov 1916: Embarked Private, SN 2853, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, HMAT Benalla, Sydney
28 Jul 1918: Honoured Military Medal, The Battle of Amiens, Military Medal 'At MORLANCOURT on night 28/29th July 1918. Conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. During our attack and capture of the enemy system of trenches this N.C.O. displayed splendid work in controlling the advance and great dash and vigour in dealing with enemy posts, setting an inspiring example to the men of his Platoon, by brushing aside all opposition and personally killing three of the enemy with the bayonet.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 36 Date: 14 March 1919
9 Aug 1918: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, The Battle of Amiens, Distinguished Conduct Medal for work at Vauvillers on 9 August 1918.' 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When the platoon commander was badly wounded he took command, although wounded himself, and handled the men with skill in a difficult situation. On being checked by machine gun fire from a flank he personally went out to the flank with a machine gun, and by his fire drove the enemy back. He showed coolness and judgment throughout the kept his men on the move forward.' Recommendation date: 11 August 1918 Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 36 Date: 14 March 1919
22 Aug 1918: Involvement Lieutenant, 3rd Pioneer Battalion

Help us honour James McConnell's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Daryl Jones

Son of John and Martha McCONNELL; husband of Jeannie McCONNELL, of "Belmore," 20 Boronia St., Canterbury, Victoria, Australia. Native of Galashiels, Scotland.

Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

James McCONNELL

Distinguished Conduct Medal  & Military Medal  

 

Distinguished Conduct Medal

'Work at Vauvillers on 9 August 1918.'                                         'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When the platoon commander was badly wounded he took command, although wounded himself, and handled the men with skill in a difficult situation. On being checked by machine gun fire from a flank he personally went out to the flank with a machine gun, and by his fire drove the enemy back. He showed coolness and judgment throughout the kept his men on the move forward.'

Recommendation date: 11 August 1918                                   Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 36 Date: 14 March 1919

 

Military Medal

'At MORLANCOURT on night 28/29th July 1918.

'Conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. During our attack and capture of the enemy system of trenches this N.C.O. displayed splendid work in controlling the advance and great dash and vigour in dealing with enemy posts, setting an inspiring example to the men of his Platoon, by brushing aside all opposition and personally killing three of the enemy with the bayonet.'

Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 36 Date: 14 March 1919

 

For many soldiers with responsibilities and commitments, pulling up stumps and enlisting was a major disruption to their lives. The Bendigo Independent on July 27, 1915 reports the following:-

‘At the Licensing Court on Monday, Mr. E. N. Moore, P.M. granted the transfer of the license of the Town Hall Hotel, Eaglehawk, from James McConnell to his wife, Emily McConnell. The applicant stated that her husband had enlisted for service at the front’.[1]

When James McConnell enlisted in 1915, his wife Emily would have to take over the running of the Town Hall pub in Eaglehawk through the war.

James wrote home from France, to his mother (Mrs. E. McConnell, of Tarrangower, near Maldon) in March 1917 describing the conditions and war effort.   

“From Albert to Bapaume our troops have had to fight every inch of the way, and endure hardships of winter in this region, which is devoid of everything in the shape of shelter.

For miles and miles all that meets the eye is shell craters, shell holes and heaps of ruins, indicating the whereabouts of villages. What a sight will meet the eyes of the inhabitants of this region, when, later on, they return to look for farms and

homes which they left in haste when the invader came two and a half years ago ! It is a sad sight, but it is war, and war is a grim business. I went out the other day to get a pair of German jack-boots, but lo, when I picked them up the shins of a deceased German dropped out of them, and that finished the hunt for jack-boots…….

This combined British and French advance should wake up the people of Australia to the fact that there is a war on, and to win it they will have to find means other than squabbling among themselves as they have been doing. While the remainder of the Empire is winning the war by concerted effort, Australian politicians are fighting and wrangling among themselves. What if other parts of the Empire did the same?"[2]

 In 1918 the news of Jame’s first brave deed would reach Bendigo and Eaglehawk: -

BRAVERY REWARDED - SGT. J. McCONNELL, M.M

Mrs. J. McConnell, of Simpson's Road, Eaglehawk (late of Town Hall Hotel), has been advised that her husband. Sgt. Jas. McConnell, has been awarded the military medal for conspicuous bravery on the battlefield, and has also been promoted to the rank of company sergeant-major.

Sgt McConnell enlisted in June, 1915, and sailed on November 9, the same year, with the 29th Battalion. He has been twice wounded.[3]

SERVICE RECORD DETAILS:  

Regimental No. 886

Place of birth: Sandhurst, Eaglehawk, Bendigo, Victoria

Religion: Church of England

Occupation: Publican

Address: High Street, Eaglehawk, Bendigo

Marital status: Married

Age at enlistment: 30

Next of kin: Wife, Mrs Emily McConnell, High Street, Eaglehawk

Enlistment date: 14 July 1915

Unit name: 29th Battalion, C Company & 32nd Battalion

Embarked: HMAT A11 Ascanius on 10 November 1915

Final Rank: Sergeant

Fate: Returned to Australia 13 April 1919

 

BATTLES WERE CITATIONS RECOMMENDED: 

'Work at Vauvillers on 9 August 1918

On 9 August the 29th Battalion was involved in the capture of Vauvillers in France. This followed the successful planned battle the prior day known as the ‘Battle for Amiens’ in which Australian, Canadian and 1000 American troops routed the German defence in 93 minutes.

'At MORLANCOURT on night 28/29th July 1918.

The Battles of Morlancourt took place over a number of weeks where Australian troops fought to take back territory in the Somme captured by Germany during the Spring Offensive of 1918. The town of Morlancourt was eventually taken back by British forces in August 1918. 

 

[1] The Bendigo Independent July 27, 1915.  Page 4
[2] The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)  Mon 4 Jun 1917 Page 6
[3] The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)  Wed 6 Nov 1918  Page 6
[4] The Australasian Newspaper Sat 25 Oct 1919. Page 66

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