James ANLEZARK

Poppy

ANLEZARK, James

Service Numbers: 3446, 344
Enlisted: 27 September 1917, Kerang, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 37th Infantry Battalion
Born: Ballarat, Victoria, 26 June 1899
Home Town: Koondrook, Gannawarra, Victoria
Schooling: State School
Occupation: Driver/Baker's assistant
Died: Died of wounds, Daours, France, 11 August 1918, aged 19 years
Cemetery: Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, France
Plot 4 Row A Grave 4
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

27 Sep 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3446, Kerang, Victoria
22 Dec 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3446, 37th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
22 Dec 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3446, 37th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne
11 Aug 1918: Wounded Private, SN 344, 37th Infantry Battalion, Shell wound (abdomen)

Pte James Long Anlezark

From Ballarat & District in the Great War:

‘…A hero he lived, a hero he fell.
Though only a lad, he did his part well;
He gave his life for a cause that is true,
Fighting for country, for home, and for you.
Our dear Jim…’

James Long Anlezark was a mounted constable with the Victorian Police Force. He had been appointed to the force on 6 July 1896, and, after marrying Jessie Smith, from Colac, exactly two years later, he took up a challenging new posting at Ballarat. It was there that their first-born son, James, arrived on 26 Jun 1899.

Young Jim was not quite four years-old when his father was transferred to Serpentine in the north-west of Victoria in 1903. Once again, the family was to only spend a short time in the town before James was again transferred to a new post. This time he was sent to the small town of Goornong, north-east of Bendigo.

It was at the rural Goornong State School that Jim received his education. Although it was only a small school – numbering 80 students in 1907 – the children received a well-rounded education with special attention given to music and sport.

An extended posting in Goornong for James Anlezark, allowed the family to grow and settle in the area. When Jim left school, he was soon able to find work in the town. Even after his father was transferred 130 kilometres away to Koondrook on the Murray River, Jim retained his connection to Goornong. He eventually gained a position as a driver for local baker, William Lothian. Everyone agreed, he was ‘a well-conducted and well-liked lad.’

Shortly after his 18th birthday, Jim approached his parents seeking their permission to allow him to enlist. Obviously, James and Jessie were well aware of their eldest son’s ambition. To say they were not completely happy with the situation is an understatement. In response to a letter from Lieutenant Charles A. Dalton, who was required to ask if Jim’s parents were happy for him to go on active service before he turned 19, James Anlezark made his feelings abundantly clear. ‘…It is the lad’s wish & I do not want to stop him, but we should be able to do without sending Boys into the firing line. I am not going against his wish…’

Jim enlisted at Kerang on 29 August 1917. At just 18 years and 2 months of age, he was a substantially built young man. He was just an inch under 6-foot tall, weighed 10-stone 9-pounds and could expand his chest to 38-inches. Given that he had lived in areas exempt from the cadet scheme, Jim had had no military training. He swore to serve King and country by signing the oath on 27 September.

With his father’s approval for him to leave immediately for the Front, there was no impediment to Jim going immediately into camp. He joined the Recruit Depot at Broadmeadows on 8 October.

After a mumps outbreak in camp, Jim was confined to the Isolation Hospital in Ascot Vale on 21 November. He did not contract the disease, but merely being a “mumps contact” was enough to see him isolated for three weeks.

When he was released from hospital, Jim was given the opportunity to travel home to spend his final leave with his family. On 18 December, the people of Barham-Koondrook gathered at the School of Arts to welcome home Gunner Frank Nixon, who had returned home after being wounded in action. The locals took advantage of the gathering to give Jim Anlezark a special send-off.

Three days before Christmas 1917, Jim boarded the troopship Ulysses with the 7th and 8th reinforcements designated for the 37th Infantry Battalion, docked at Port Melbourne. The final thing he did before embarking was to complete his Last Will and Testament, which he lodged with the Officer in Charge at the Base Records Office. For Jim it was a very personal act – ‘I leave the whole of my property and effects to my mother.’

Jim finally arrived in England on 14 February 1918, having travelled via Suez in Egypt and Taranto in Italy. He had only been in camp a little over a week when he became ill and was admitted to the military hospital at Hurdcott suffering from influenza and bronchitis.

After recovering, Jim was discharged to a training depot on 11 March 1918, but it would be nearly three months before he was shipped to the Western Front. He marched into the Australian Infantry Base Depot at Rouelles on 6 June. Three days later he joined the 37th Infantry Battalion in the line near Villers-Bretonneux.

Early in August rumours began to circulate, and questions abounded – ‘everyone was asking “What’s doing”’ when it became apparent that a major battle was imminent.
‘…There is never smoke without fire and naturally enough when one sees Motor Transport working at full pitch for several nights in succession along all approaches to the forward area there is some reason for this question…’

The 37th was holding the newly captured line in front of Accroche Wood near Hamel on the 4 August. Orders to move into position by dawn on the following day alerted the men that ‘a stunt on a large scale was soon to take place.’
Two companies were detailed to clear and maintain Hun’s Walk – the Australian artillery barrage had exacted a massive number of enemy casualties with bodies littering the ground. Accroche Wood was presumed to be abundantly strong with machine guns. Large numbers of guns were captured in the wood, but the casualties resulting were extremely light…

The ‘large stunt’ the men had been anticipating, came late on 10 August. With three tanks, the 37th Battalion formed the advanced guard in the attack in the vicinity of the main Amiens-St Quentin Road towards Proyart. As soon as the tanks entered No Man’s Land, the advance came under immediate attack from anti-tank fire and flanking machine-gun fire. The men continued to push towards the German line, but were met by a ‘hurricane [of] machine-gun fire’.

The battalion suffered numerous casualties from anti-tank shells, machine-gun bullets and road mines – amongst those to fall was the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Knox-Knight, two highly decorated officers and a 19 year-old private from Victoria, Jim Anlezark.

The young soldier had been struck in the stomach by shrapnel from an exploding shell. He was still alive when the stretcher-bearers finally got to him. They carried him to the 5th Australian Field Ambulance, where he was admitted in the early hours of 11 August. Even though he was immediately transferred to the 53rd Casualty Clearing Station, it quickly became apparent that the wounds were beyond treatment. Jim died there later the same day.

On 13 August 1918, Chaplain F. R. Thurlow performed the burial rites for Private Jim Anlezark, when the lad was buried at Daours Communal Cemetery Extension.

Eventually, Jim’s belongings were returned to his grieving parents – painful reminders of a much-loved son.

In October 1919, James Anlezark retired from the police force and took up farming at Pyramid Hill. In what can only be seen as a tragic epilogue to this story, whilst sheltering under a tree during a storm, he was struck by lighting and killed on 7 October 1930.

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

James ANLEZARK was born on 26th June, 1899 in Ballarat, Victoria

His parents were James ANLEZARK and Jessie SMITH who married in Victoria in 1898

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"...3446 Private James Anlezark, 37th Battalion, of Koondrook, Vic. A driver and baker's assistant prior to enlisting in September 1917, Pte Anlezark embarked from Melbourne with the 8th Reinforcements on board HMAT Ulysses (A38) on 22 December 1917. On 11 August 1918, he died of wounds received in action at Peronne, France. Pte Anlezark was 19 years of age." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

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