James Michael NOWLAN

Poppy

NOWLAN, James Michael

Service Number: 1763
Enlisted: 27 May 1915, Bruthen, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 23rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Carisbrook, Victoria, 18 February 1897
Home Town: Ensay, East Gippsland, Victoria
Schooling: Bullumwaal Public School
Occupation: Orchardist
Died: Died of Illness (pyrexia), At sea (HS Devanha), 11 November 1915, aged 18 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Bruthen War Memorial, Ensay War Memorial, Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing
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World War 1 Service

27 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1763, 23rd Infantry Battalion, Bruthen, Victoria
16 Jul 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1763, 23rd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
16 Jul 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1763, 23rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Demosthenes, Melbourne
30 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1763, 23rd Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
11 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1763, 23rd Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli

War Diary of James written before his death at Gallipoli. (see actual diary in documents)Transcribed by Colin & Barbara Greenwood.


Diary of James Nowlan
– World War 1, 1915





James M Nowlan
Regiment No. 1763
23rd Battalion





Diary of Notable Events:














Transcribed by Colin Greenwood, Barbara Greenwood
Final check 19th March 2007 – Colin Greenwood and Joanne Greenwood
Additional Research by Joanne Greenwood
(Page 1)
Sept. 1st 1915

Diary of Notable Events:
I, James M Nowlan, enlisted for Active Service on May 19th, 1915. My parents did not like my going as I was in their eyes too young, my age being 18 years. I passed all exams easy and soon found myself in Broadmeadows Camp. When I arrived there it was in a frightful state for mud.

After two weeks of this camp we were shifted up to a place called Seymour on account of mud making it well nigh impossible to drill.

(Page 2)

(Note inserted at the top of page 2):
I received Mum’s and Lily’s letter dated 26th July, the day we left camp for the front. 29-8-15.


I was by this time in 21st Company.

We left for Seymour on a Friday. Our new camp was a better site than the old one. After about one month here we were taken to Melbourne by train (now being in 2nd-23rd Reinforcements) and put on board HMTSS Demosthenes (?) otherwise known as transport A64.

We left Pt Melb at 4 o’clock on Friday 16th July, 1915. Just as we steamed off, crowds of people crushed on to the pier. We called in at Fremantle then went straight to Port Suez. We had a lovely trip across – a few storms in the tropics but nothing to speak of.

(Page 3)

(Note on top of Page 3 inserted at a different time)– Dr Bond looks terrible old since last I met him. He has his own Charlie on another bed with us.

We disembarked at Pt Suez and after passing through fumigation we went overland to Zertonn (?) a distance of 180 miles across desert. It was about 11pm when we got into camp that night. It was more free in this camp than at Seymour. Scenery about camp was picturesque old buildings of Ancient Egypt.

Unexpectedly, one evening about 8 days after our arrival we were detailed into the 23rd battalion, we had 2 days musketry practice and then on Sunday 29th –8-1915 we moved by train to Alexandria.

(Page 4)

(Note inserted at the top of page 4.) - “If ever I reach home again I may compose a book of my adventures of war”.


In the morning we got on board transport B8/8 otherwise known as Harveyford, an American liner. We left port on 30th/8th and crossed the blue Mediterranean……

All this was written on Sept. 1st, 1915, the day I bought this book.

Sept. 1st 1915
Lovely weather, passed island of Crete (?) a rugged place. Cannot see our other ship. Have met Doctor Bond, Jack Enright, Ron Hynes, Sandy Rays and H Clues, all of whom are on board of this ship. Expect to land tomorrow.

(Page 5)

(Note inserted top of Page 5) - Have had our 150 round of ammunition issued as also our emergency rations.

September 2nd – 9 – 1915.

Five marines, four other transports insight expect to land at Lemnos about 12 noon. Passing several small islands I suppose they are south of Greece. Have been keeping strict watch for enemy submarines. But, as we are 250 miles out of its last course we are pretty safe;

About 10 o’clock we have first experience of war. One of our other transport ships Southlander, had been struck by a torpedo. It was not long before two or three destroyers and cruisers were around.

(Page 6)
The loss of life was slight mostly all being saved by life boats. The ship was then taken into an island that lay close by. Although this had happened, we cannot yet realise what war is.

It is now 4 o’clock and we are pretty well at Lemnos. We can see the camp in the harbour. There are various battle ships very formidable – they look burnt all painted iron grey sea grey colour. It is a rugged island. There are over a dozen ships here. The 21st Company Battalion were on the wrecked ship.


(Page 7)
Small sketch map of a harbour, island and hilly terrain in top margin.

Continuation of September 2nd.
The destroyers and battle cruisers of this unnecessary occasion were called up by wireless.

We did not land. I hear that we are to stop on board for 3 days. Wrecked ship came in last night (Notated CMO). Seen some Turkish prisoners too.

September 3rd – 9 – 1915
Still in harbour, our first morning in Lemnos. I would not care to climb some of the hills here, there is no green stuff growing at all just barren yellow ranges.

French hospital ships in harbour look well lighted up last night.

(Page 8)
The lads have this morning been given the order to have a swim if they cared about it. As regards yesterday’s occurrence we now hear that there are 22 missing.

Our ship stopped to pick up some of the other boat crew but I was talking to the wireless operator and he told me that the order was very imperative to proceed immediately on our journey. There are about 20 of the other crew on board now. I believe two crewmen were caught lowering a boat to save themselves and the captain called upon them to stop but they defied him, he soon put two bullets through them. It is like a lovely spring day (at) home now.

(Note – Page 9 and Page 10 do not exist – have been removed through censorship)
(Page 11)
(Minute sketch of Lemnos Harbour here)

Nothing else barring the sister ship to the “Lusitania” is now in harbour with 5000 troops aboard of her. She is a fine boat with 4 funnels.

Food on our ship is scarce. We will have to move I think soon on that account. Our Brigadier, Colonel Linton is dead owing to mishap related to in former pages.

Can see the boat my cousin Perc is on quite close to us at present time.

September 4th – 9- 1915.
Still in port, expect to leave for front about one o’clock today. Weather still keeping good, dusty on land at present.

(Page 12)
September 4th – 9- 1915.
Left Lemnos at 4 in evening in small boats. Was landed at front about midnight.

September 5th, Sunday.
Had to sleep on hillside, rifles, bullets and shells flying all around. In the early morning the big guns were going.

A description of Turkey “Where we are now lodged is about the place where the first lot of Australians lobbed, it is marvellous how they took the hill they did. From the edge of the sea it runs straight up about 700 feet. The place must have been alive with Turks.

(Page 13)
We are just behind that hill now on another one in what is known as dug-outs in the hillside. We are keeping out of view of snipers who are firing consistently. We can hear their bullets whistling over our heads. We are in full view of the sea too. It is a great place for war, plenty of hills for troops to hide.”

We had our first view of an aeroplane here, very high up though. It just looked like a bird or even some paper floating about. A lot of the lads are exploring about, finding shells and Turkish bullets which are pretty abundant.

(Page 14)
September 5th
Last night coming across in the barges we were under fire, as the sparks from the funnels attracted the enemy. Although they came close, no-one was hit. Although we all felt a little queer as you must remember this is a big war and not a tin pot one.

It is well to see the battleships playing their searchlights and firing. Had our first experiences of watching star shells going off. Went to firing line this afternoon. Something awful to see dead bodies, big attack expected tonight. German aeroplane passing over dropping bombs on boats.

(Page 15)
September 6th
Aeroplane passed again this morning, one of our own though. Nos. 1-2 Platoons went into the trenches this morning, we follow tomorrow. Our food is mostly tinned corned beef and biscuits. The troops are allowed to bathe down at the beach, that’s a good thing too as some chaps I have been talking too say that they haven’t had their clothes off for 7 weeks. As regards Army Medical, they had to go back on account of no landing place.

Are now in the trenches but not in the firing line till morning.

(Page 16)
September 7th
Lovely day, the little houseflies nearly eat you here. We are not yet in the firing line although we are in trenches. Firing is always worst at night as the enemy sleeps of a daytime, although they have some always firing. They have explosives bullets – where they hit they explode.

Have shifted to trenches, firing line this afternoon about 4 o’clock.

September 8th
Nothing much doing in trenches; smell is abominable. These trenches are captured Turks trenches. Last night I had to sleep on a dead Turk’s grave and we eat our meals on top of graves as there is no room anywhere else.

(Page 17)
September 8th – 9 - 1915

Have also heard that the 21st Battalion; who were on the ship ‘Southlander’ which was torpedoed in Aegean Sea on September 2nd have now arrived in ports. They also ought to be here soon.

One of the German aeroplanes was cruising around a while ago, but it did no damage at all.

One of my former Seymour tent-mates (Neil Kidd, the chap with dark hair in that group photo) was disfigured for life by a bomb. One side of his face was blown practically off, while the sight in one eye is pretty well gone. I and a couple of other chaps were looking at the Turk’s trenches through a periscope. It attracted their fire and a few shells were not long in getting near us.

(Page 18)
I have a bit of shrapnel from one of the shells, hoping to take home with me. I take post at 8 o’clock tonight.

Every second day we get stew also bread and I may say that it is a welcome change from the hard dog biscuits.

The 23rd casualties are light.

September 9th – 9 -15.
Had a rough night on duty, had 4 hours on, 2 off. Had a narrow escape from being shot. Had my rifle poked through the loophole and fired. Just as I fired the enemy fired and knocked the woodwork of my rifle off to the band.

(Page 19)
If the rifle had of been out I would have undoubtedly been killed outright as you have always your head to the hole observing. Are now off duty for 48 hours. (24 on, 48 off).

September 10th – 9- 15
Last night had a demonstration to frighten the enemy. German aeroplane passed over. Our shrapnel followed it but did no damage.

Slight change in weather. A bit of a change is a drop of rain. Shrapnel is flying at present. Had a bath today, we were sniped down there but they hit no-one.

(Page 20)
September 11th -1915
Lovely weather, will soon be having winter, the nights are now very cold. We have been on fatigue work carrying bombs all morning.

September 12th, Sunday.
Large mail is just being sorted. I think I will get one. Went into trenches this afternoon but up till now very quiet. On the post that I am now on there were two chaps killed instantaneously and two wounded that was last night.

So far I have not received any mail but I hear there are more to be sorted.

(Page 21)
September 13th -9-15
Two or three light casualties so far, have to stop till tomorrow.


September 14th
Leaving trenches this morning about 8 o’clock for our 48 hours rest in Brown’s dip. I must have a swim today as I have not had a wash now for several days. A few more casualties last night. We get bacon for breakfast. Are also getting our second issue of smokes today. Rum was issued last night; those who did not take rum could have a strong lime juice. I had lime juice myself as I am not a strong drinker.

Must see if I can see my cousin Perc today as I have some clothes of his with me.

Issued with smokes today. Seen Harry Clues for first time.

(Page 22)
(Page written in very detailed fine writing in horizontal double pages, continuing in this format until the end of the diary)

September 15th, 1915.
Rained last night. We have just heard about the Russians surrounding Warsaw again. We are eagerly watching the prophecy of an American that the war would end about October. So far everything he has prophesied has come true.

Saw a man struck with shrapnel. We are all digging trenches this morning. What luck we had bread this morning.

(*Further notes written on 15-19-1915 are at the end of the diary)

September 16th -9-1915
Lovely morning, not a cloud in the sky to be seen. We are going in to the trenches again this morning, on Saturday morning we will be out.

There was another mail last night I hope I have the luck to get one. 250 Turks surrendered on the beach last night. We have also heard that the Narrows are forced, but I think that it is hardly possible. Also on Bulgaria’s joining our forces, it means the cutting off of all goods as she commands all the railways going through her territory to Turkey.

An aeroplane this morning sailed up above a cloud, the next thing we knew it had dropped 4 bombs while hidden from view. It was belonging to the enemy. We attended a burial service this morning. 2 killed by bombs.

The worst gun around here is the 75. The Turks captured it from the French in the Balkan war. It is a deadly weapon you can sweep a whole regiment of troops down. Rifle fire is not near as bad as the 75 or also the bombs.

(Page 23)
Sept 17
Last night we had a demonstration. Perhaps I had better explain same. Well at 10.15 we got the order to fire 3 to 5 rounds rapid fire. Those who were not in firing line at the time had to wave their bayonets above the parapet, the main object of it all was to see where the enemy lines lay. While the bayonets were flashing, 6 skyrockets were sent up to glitter the blades to make it look like a mock charge. It answered the purpose as for a solid half an hour after the Turks kept up continuous fire.

On duty again tonight. We get relieved tomorrow morning.

September 18th
Leaving trenches at about half past eleven this morning. Things were very quiet last night. Received letter from Jack Hayward dated 16th July, also got two Bairnsdale papers from home. Was wanting something to read too.

Turks gave a demonstration last night, sent a bit of shrapnel about. 10 wounded I hear.

Sept. 19 (Sunday)
Went to church this morning, posted four letters – one to Mum, Lily, Dad and Grandma also Jack Hayward.

Two just brought down wounded. Aeroplane just passed over – one of the enemy’s. I suppose that means some shells soon.

Sept. 20
Very cold morning, hospital ship in very close getting wounded aboard. I am going into trenches again this morning.

Just received two letters from Dad dated 16th July and 4th August, also one from Grandma, all of which should have been delivered whilst in Egypt. Still I am glad I have got them even so late. Did not go into trenches till following morning.

(Page 24)
September 21st.
Went into firing line this morning, coming out again tomorrow. Nothing doing at all, hardly a shot fired by either parties. One of our own bombs exploded before the chap threw it away and killed 2 besides wounding 3. Now yesterday the same thing happened – 3 killed and 7 wounded. We should not be allowed to touch bombs till we thoroughly understand them.

Sept. 22
Received Age and letter from home. Are now out of trenches.

Sept. 23rd
Still in reserve trenches, at present shells are flying at some pace. Very cold last night, nearly froze. Heavy artillery fire all morning.

We have just been inoculated again, that’s the fourth time already, at that rate we should soon be fever proof.

Sept 24th.
I have been put on Sapping – everyone gets a turn at it. Been bad with diarrhoea all day. Artillery at it again.


Sept 25th.
Bad again all day. Nothing doing at all.

Sept 26th.
Met my cousin Perc. Intend to see doctor.

Sept 27th.
Nothing important. Better now. We have just heard of Russia’s success. Things are very shaky here now. Turkish artillery put one of our guns out of action for a day or so.

Sept. 28th.
Think the Turks are or have some new replacements in trenches, had a demonstration last night but Turks did not answer at all.

(Page 25)
Sept. 29th.
Enemy has had two flags flying this morning, one red one and a yellow one don’t know what it means. After this all quiet. Posted four letters home.

30 Sept
A sea plane passed over, enemies played machine guns on it but did no good. A lot of sickness kicking about.

OCTOBER

1st Oct.
Nothing doing at all, ought to soon be another mail in. Getting another machine gun ready, also fixing up winter quarters. Heavy bombardment on hill 971 in evening.

2nd October.
Have heard the Turks threw a message over this morning to our trenches saying that in 5 days they were going to surrender, but I don’t think it true as we often hear these yarns going about. Issued with bread this morning but it was not fit to give to pigs.

3rd October
Midnight last night the Turks started a demonstration, did not last long though. Another big Australian mail. There are a large number of naval boats outside at present. Every night lately we always have heavy artillery fire.

4th October
There was a rumour that a number of Turks were to have surrendered but have heard nothing more to say it is correct. Our aeroplane frightened a Taube away last night. The weather is still keeping warm. Houseflies are terrible bad, I have never seen them as bad ever in my life in Australia. We had a very severe attack from the enemy’s artillery fire several being killed and many wounded.

(Page 26)
(Hand writing incredibly small on these pages compared to earlier entries. Approx 2mm high)
5th October
Turks are now seeming uneasy they made a desperate attack on our bomb pit but it was no good at all. They made their charge in the daytime that for one thing is against their policy as they like to come about daybreak.

We received some gift chocolate, sardines, and various other articles for first time.

6th October
Hardly a shot from either side this morning. I don’t think the enemy has too much ammunition to spare. The navy still bombards Achi Baba (?) also hill 971 but the former is no doubt a second Gibraltar to take, that strongly fortified.

Hill 971 is strongly fortified too and is taking some capturing. Was issued with tin milk this morning for the first time. Received letter and paper from Dad dated August 22nd.

7th October
We are getting bread and fresh beef again this morning. Lately we are getting fed well must be preparing for coming charge. We have had good news about the Allies in France also by John Frenchs report that we are waiting for a final victory.

Had a demonstration in evening about 8 o’clock. The enemy answered well.

8th October
Bread and meat for tomorrow has just come in, blew one sap up, got a Turk or two, we are going to have a wet night.

Sept (October) 9th
Nothing important, rained last night and blew fairly solid, have to go to work at 8 tonight till 12.

Sept 16th (Sunday)
(Handwriting has deteriorated badly, and he has obviously confused the dates of the month)
Very quiet, we have just put in for a new rig out of clothes for winter.

(Page 27)
October 11th
Still quiet, our aeroplane was around a lot today. Enemy’s air gun played on it but did no damage. Thunderstorm today.

October 12th
We all got 10/- (shillings) pay in English notes. Our reinforcements landed last night, fairly heavy artillery fire at present.

October 13th
Nothing doing I am going to send to Embros for some goods as the canteen here is practically useless.


Oct 14th
Mornings and nights are fearfully cold.

October 15th
Very quiet. Private Pat Hickey killed this morning. We sappers are on from 12 o’clock till 4 night and day. We are all losing hope of the war ending soon now, it will be a long time yet.

October 16th
Early this morning we had a demonstration but it was no earthly good whatever. I have sent over to Lemnos for various articles.

War boats are still shelling the Narrows, goodness only knows how they are getting on! In Australia today is the Caulfield Cup.

October 17th Sunday
Turks blew up one of our Saps. Bomb killed one or two chaps. Our chaps had it charged days ago then they took it out again it was the engineers officers fault as they should have blown it up first time.

(Page 28)
18th October
Nothing important, still bombarding the Narrows.

19th October
Nothing important. Had very heavy artillery fire from enemy. I have not been getting any mail lately, must have gone astray somehow.

20th October
Turks have been having a festival time from 17th till today, artillery fire still continues. We have not heard of our goods yet from Lemnos. We blew up both No. 8 and 13 Sap. The former is the one the Turks blew up a few days ago.

October 21st
The weather now is getting damnable cold. There will be many a poor chap go under in this severe test of winter. Enemy’s aeroplane passed over our lines this morning. Bit of a disturbance at LP8 Sap again last night. No one hurt barring receiving severe shock.

22nd
Weather bad, raining now and looks bad.

23rd
Nothing important.

24th Sunday
We are now on the 12 to 4 shift. It’s a poor shift, too much broken sleep. Our tucker is getting poor now.


James Nowlan died of pneumonia, November 11th, 1915.



(Entry on a page later into the blank section of the diary)

September 15th. Just some opinions.
Now things are progressing very slow, it looks like another winter campaign, but mind you, honestly speaking I don’t think the Turks are anxious for another one by any means. They are holding a strong position but the Allies are hemming them in on all sides. In my mind I reckon on a big charge to take place shortly. Where we are, all we have to do is hold the place, while on the left they are slowly getting men round. The main fighting strength is all in the left.

There is very little hope of our taking Achi Baba at present; there is no doubt it is strongly fortified. The Allies can’t break the artillery either. The Turks would sooner give us a surrender than see Constantinople fall.

I believe Kitchener threatened them that on their using poisonous gases, that he would not take a surrender this side of this capital.

We have also heard news of the Russians surrounding Warsaw again, and the Allies in Flanders direction are gaining ground.

Germany’s power must be decreasing now she is losing men and her financial position is bad.

Then Bulgaria, she is inclined to strengthen our troops. All these things may terminate in the war not lasting too much longer. It is prophesised that the Dardenelles will fall either this or next month.

(A further addition to the opinions at the end of the diary)
As we are now nearing the end of September we are looking out for a change to come. According to paper, Turkey is getting very short of ammunition and owing to that she is likely to ask for a separate peace. Have now heard of Russian success also the Allies in French territory. Things here are very shaky at present. Allies are still progressing, gaining ground all the time.

(Page towards end of diary book)
2 tin pineapple – 2 shillings
1 bottle coffee and cake – 1 shilling
2 bottle pickles – 1 shilling and threepence
4 herrings in sauce – 2 shillings and fourpence
1 vinegar – sixpence
1 cocoa – tenpence
cake 2lb. – 1 shilling and ninepence
1 sardines – 3 and a half pence.



(At the back of the diary)
Forward this book to:

Miss Lil Nowlan
Bruthen
Gippsland
Victoria
Australia

If anything serious happens to me, but I don’t think I will get hurt, I have a feeling I am safe anyhow precautions are safest, so please forward to above address.


(Last page of diary includes calculations of pay)
Amount drawn to Lily to date is 10 pound, 4 shillings till 21st September.




Additional details and information sourced from:
Australian War Memorial – AWM 145 Roll of Honour Cards, 1914-1918 War, Army.
(Research by Joanne Greenwood 1998) - Medals Section, CARO/SCMA – GPO Box 393 D, Melbourne VIC 3000

Embarkation Details
Service No. 1763
Rank/Calling: Private
Unit: 23rd Infantry Battalion – 1 to 8, Reinforcements May 1915-January 1916.
Ship Name: HMAT Demosthenes
Ship Number: A64
Date of Embarkation: 16/7/1915
Place of Embarkation: Melbourne

AWM 8 – Unit Embarkation Nominal Roll
Regt No. 1763
Names: Nowlan, James Michael
Rank: Pte
Age: 18
Trade: Labourer
Married or Single: Single
Address at Date of Enrolment: Bruthen, Vic.
Next of Kin and Address: Father – Michael Nowlan, Bruthen
Religion: Congregational
Date of Joining: 27-5-15
Pay – Before Embarkation: Rate per Diem 5/- s.d
After Embarkation: Daily Rate excluding deferred pay 5/- s.d
Allotment in Australia per Diem 3/- s.d
Net Rate not including allowances or deferred pay 2/- s.d
Daily rate of deferred pay only issuable on completion of service with Expeditionary Force 1/- s.d.

Details of Death
Died on 11/11/1915 of Pyrexia and Pneumonia.

Details for the Roll of Honour
Name: Nowlan, Pte. James Michael, 1763. 23rd Bn.
Died of sickness at sea, 11th November, 1915.

Memorial Details
Burial: Lone Pine Memorial
Memorial Register No. 6, Lone Pine Memorial.
Memorial Panel: 100






Particulars for the Roll of Honour
Name: Nowlan, James Michael
Unit and Number: 23 Battalion, No. 1763 Private
Town: Ensay
District: Gippsland
State: Victoria
Birthplace: Carisbrook, Victoria
Date of Death: 11/11/15

Particulars for the Nation’s Histories
Employment: Orchardist
Age at time of Death: 18 years and 9 months
School: Bulumwall

Parent who gave information:
Nowlan, Michael – Father.
Ensay, Gippsland, Victoria

Other person to whom reference could be made by the Historian for other information:
Mr Horne, Orchardist
Bruthen, Victoria.





Read more...

Biography of James Michael Nowlan

Biography of: James Michael Nowlan (ANZAC)

His story:
James Michael Nowlan was the first born son of Michael and Lilian at Carisbrook, Vic. He was the eldest in a family of eight and closest in age to younger sister Lilian.
The family lived through very hard times and his father Michael worked as a goldminer and labourer in the Castlemaine area . After James was born they moved from Carisbrook to Bullumwaal in Gippsland where he worked at the Beehive Goldmine . They lived there for many years during which time 7 children were born into the family. In those years they attended the Government school at Bullumwaal. The town had a population of about 2000 people.
James's sister Lilian was 1 year younger and they were close companions at home and at school. Lilian recalled that during this time James and the growing family lived in a modest timber & bark slab hut which had been constructed by hand by their father Michael. The house had a kitchen and three sleeping rooms with slab flooring and although very basic, had an impressive stove which she described as a 'colonial oven'. It was eventually sold for $1 when they left. She said, "the house had a beautiful garden and grew plenty of vegetables. The house was just in the bush!" It was located near a creek from which they fetched the water for all their needs. She recalled memories of the dusty floors, summer heat, of the cold winter nights, rain on the tin roof and the struggle she and James had when trying to do their school homework under candles and the light of a kerosene lantern. In her words; "It was dreadful!"
One summer a bushfire caused the family to move all their valuable possessions and bedding to the creek, as nearby, fires raged. The family struggled to make ends meet and there were no luxuries.
James was remembered by his sister for being the protective big brother on their long walk to school across the paddocks and crossing a creek. She had lifelong fear of snakes from those days and told how James would carry a big stick for protection ; and for good reason, as one sibling nearly died after a snakebite. They talked about their plans for their future and James spoke of his wish to become a journalist when he got the opportunity. He was a good scholar and had an excellent command of language and was remembered for his happy and pleasant nature.
The family struggled to make ends meet and the children had to help with a range of domestic chores. James's mother grew a vegetable garden, she knitted clothes for the children and was admired for her skill. They kept a cow so there were plenty of ways for James and his siblings to assist .His sister recalled, "We didn't have an abundance of food. Things were tough. We had almost nothing."
One interesting recollection of Lilian's revealed the way they felt about their situation. She said their school lunch was usually just a couple of slices of home baked bread with a spread of treacle and wrapped in newspaper, which dried it out. They were teased about it by other children, so she and James would frequently make the long walk home at lunchtime to have lunch away from the other children to escape the embarrassment.
James probably left school at the age of 14 after completing his merit certificate just as his sister did. This was usual in those days. He obtained work as a labourer and then found employment working as an orchardist for a Mr Horne at Bruthen.
There was an expectation that everyone had to help support the family in those times, and James and his sister Lilian would have seen that as their duty. Work at the Goldmine was diminishing and Michael (Father) was eventually laid off. By this time James and Lilian had obtained work in Bruthen. The family eventually moved there following a short period where they had shifted to Ensay following work. They settled at Bruthen and Michael obtained a job working on the roads and things were looking up.
There was more in Bruthen to interest James and his siblings and he liked the popular pastime of roller skating. His sister said they found it a lot of fun. His father was a very quiet but sociable man who played billiards. He was a keen shooter and had been a member of a rifle club at Bullumwaal, so it is highly probable that James would have followed his father's interests and learned how to shoot and handle a rifle - but this is only speculation.
The war came and documents revealed that James's parents only signed his WW1 enlistment papers with great reluctance. In his diary he wrote, "I, James M Nowlan, enlisted for Active Service on May 19th, 1915. My parents did not like my going as in their eyes I was too young, my age being 18 years. I passed all exams easy and soon found myself in Broadmeadows Camp".
James sailed for the war soon after his training at Seymour and Broadmeadows. He recorded some of his war experiences in the months before his death in a small pocket diary and also in a newspaper article in the Bruthen newspaper.
Sadly it appears he anticipated his own death based on his final comments in his war diary when he wrote:
October 21st
The weather now is getting damnable cold. There will be many a poor chap go under in this severe test of winter. Enemy’s aeroplane passed over our lines this morning. Bit of a disturbance at LP8 Sap again last night. No one hurt barring receiving severe shock. At the back of the diary) Forward this book to: Miss Lil Nowlan Bruthen Gippsland Victoria Australia. If anything serious happens to me, but I don’t think I will get hurt, I have a feeling I am safe anyhow precautions are safest, so please forward to above address.
*****************************************************************************
Postscript.
Following his death, his diary (at his written request) was given to his sister Lilian. His Gallipoli medal was also passed on to her by their parents along with the one remaining photo of her brother. She spoke fondly of her big brother and kept his memory alive till she died in 1996 at the age of 97. Before she died she gave me James's precious diary, medal and photograph and I wrote down her recollections of those early years in 1975. I have incorporated it into this biography and have included some helpful recollections by his niece Sylvia ( aged 92) who still remembers comments by her mother (Lilian) about James.
His diary has inspired many others who have appreciated just being able to hold and feel a piece of our Australian history. James's great -great niece used it as the inspiration for an article which won her an ANZAC scholarship and a visit to Gallipoli and friends and acquaintances were inspired to visit his memorial at Gallipoli with fresh knowledge of what James and others sacrificed so long ago. I have now given these possessions to my daughter Joanne who will carry his memory forward for future generations.
Perhaps it is also significant that his biography has been completed almost 100 years to the day when he died on 11/11/1915. Colin Greenwood 2015. ( Great nephew)

Facts In Brief
Born: 1897. February . At Carisbrook, Victoria.
Family: Eldest son of Michael Nowlan & Lilian Frances( Rickhuss).
Eldest sibling of: Lilian, Cecil, Lionel, Ronald, Moira, Percival(Sam) & Rosalea.
Lived: Carisbrook, Bullumwaal, Bruthen.
Description: Height 5ft 8inches. Weight 140lbs/63kg . Hair Dark brown curly.
Occupation: Labourer, Orchardist and aspired to become a journalist.
Religion: Congregational (Parents were Catholic)
Enlisted: AIF 27/3/1915 23rd Battalion, 2nd Reinforcements. Served in Egypt/Lemnos/Gallipoli.
Died: 11/11/1915 Aged 18 years and 9 months. Hospital Ship Devanha. Buried at Sea Malta to Cape Matapan . Memorial Lone Pine Gallipoli

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Biography contributed by Colin Greenwood

Biography of:   James Michael Nowlan (ANZAC)

Facts In Brief

Born:                    18 February 1897 at  Carisbrook, Victoria.

Family:                 Eldest son of Michael  Nowlan & Lilian Frances (Rickhuss).

                            Eldest sibling of:  Lilian, Cecil, Lionel, Ronald, Moira, Percival (Sam) & Rosalea.

Lived:                   Carisbrook, Bullumwaal, Bruthen.

Description:          Height 5ft 8inches. Weight 140lbs/63kg . Hair Dark brown curly.

Occupation:          Labourer, Orchardist  and aspired to become a journalist.

Religion:              Congregational (Parents were Catholic)

Enlisted:              AIF 27/3/1915   23rd Battalion, 2nd Reinforcements.

Served:                Egypt/Lemnos/Gallipoli.

Died:                    11/11/1915 Aged 18 years and 9 months. Hospital Ship Devanha. Buried at Sea                                                   Malta to Cape Matapan . Memorial Lone Pine Gallipoli

His story:

James Michael Nowlan was the first born son of Michael and Lilian at Carisbrook, Vic. He was the eldest in a family of eight and closest in age to younger sister Lilian.

The family lived through very hard times and his father Michael worked as a goldminer  and labourer in the Castlemaine area . After James was born they moved from Carisbrook to  Bullumwaal  in Gippsland  where he worked  at the Beehive Goldmine . They lived there for many years during which time 7 children were born into the family. In those years they attended the Government school at Bullumwaal. The town had a population of about 2000 people.

James's sister Lilian was 1 year younger and they were close companions at home and at school. Lilian recalled that during this time James and the growing family lived in a modest timber & bark slab hut which had been constructed by hand by their father Michael. The house had a kitchen and three sleeping rooms with slab flooring and although very basic, had an impressive stove which she described as a 'colonial oven'. It was  eventually sold for $1 when they left.  She said, "the house had a beautiful garden and grew plenty of vegetables.  The house was just in the bush!"  It was  located  near a creek from which they fetched the water for all their needs.  She recalled memories  of the dusty floors, summer heat, of the cold winter nights,  rain on the tin roof and the struggle she and James had when trying to do their school homework under candles and the light of a kerosene lantern.  In her words; "It was dreadful!"

 One summer a bushfire caused the family to move all their valuable  possessions and bedding to the creek, as nearby, fires raged. The family struggled to make ends meet and there were no luxuries.

James was remembered by his sister for being the protective big brother on their long walk to school  across the paddocks  and crossing a creek.  She had lifelong fear of snakes from those days and told how James would carry a big stick for protection ; and for good reason, as one sibling nearly died after a snakebite. They talked about their plans for their future and James spoke of his wish to become a journalist when he got the opportunity. He was a good scholar and had an excellent command of language and was remembered for his happy and pleasant nature.

The family struggled to make ends meet and the children had to help with a range of domestic chores. James's mother grew a vegetable garden, she knitted clothes for the children and was admired for her skill. They kept a cow so there were plenty of ways for James and his siblings to assist .His sister  recalled, "We didn't have an abundance of food. Things were tough. We had almost nothing."

One interesting recollection of Lilian's revealed the way they felt about their situation.  She said their school lunch was usually just a couple of slices of home baked bread with a spread of treacle and wrapped in newspaper, which dried it out. They were teased about it by other children, so she and James would frequently make the long walk home at lunchtime to have lunch away from the other children to escape the embarrassment.

James probably left school at the age of 14 after completing his merit certificate just as his sister did. This was usual in those days.  He obtained work as a labourer and then found employment  working as an orchardist for a Mr Horne at Bruthen.  

There was an expectation that everyone had to help support the family in those times, and James and his sister Lilian would have seen that as their duty.  Work at the Goldmine was diminishing and Michael (Father)  was eventually laid off.  By this time James and Lilian had  obtained work in Bruthen. The family eventually  moved there following  a short period  where they had shifted to Ensay following work. They  settled  at Bruthen and Michael obtained a job working on the roads and things were looking up.  

There was more in Bruthen to interest James and his siblings and he liked the popular pastime of roller skating.  His sister said they found it a lot of fun. His father was a very quiet but sociable man who played billiards. He was  a keen shooter and had been a member of a rifle club at Bullumwaal, so it is highly probable that James would have followed his father's interests and learned how to shoot and handle a rifle - but this is only speculation.

The war came and documents revealed that James's parents only signed his WW1 enlistment papers with great reluctance. In his diary he wrote, "I, James M Nowlan, enlisted for Active Service on May 19th, 1915. My parents did not like my going as in their eyes I was too young, my age being 18 years. I passed all exams easy and soon found myself in Broadmeadows Camp".

James sailed for the war soon after his training at Seymour and Broadmeadows. He recorded some of his  war experiences in the months before his death in a small pocket diary and also in a newspaper article in the Bruthen newspaper.

Sadly it appears he anticipated his own death based on his final comments in his war diary when he wrote:

October 21st
The weather now is getting damnable cold. There will be many a poor chap go under in this severe test of winter. Enemy’s aeroplane passed over our lines this morning. Bit of a disturbance at LP8 Sap again last night. No one hurt barring receiving severe shock.  At the back of the diary) Forward this book to: Miss Lil Nowlan Bruthen Gippsland Victoria Australia. If anything serious happens to me, but I don’t think I will get hurt, I have a feeling I am safe anyhow precautions are safest, so please forward to above address.

                *****************************************************************************

Postscript.

Following his death, his diary (at his written request) was given to his sister Lilian. His Gallipoli medal was also passed on to her by their parents along with the one remaining photo of her brother.  She spoke fondly of her big brother and kept his memory alive till she died in 1996 at the age of 97. Before she died she gave me James's precious diary, medal and photograph and I wrote down her recollections of those early years in 1975. I have incorporated it into this biography and have included some helpful  recollections by his  niece Sylvia ( aged 92) who still remembers  comments by her mother (Lilian) about James.

 His diary has inspired many others who have appreciated just being able to hold and feel a piece of our Australian history. James's great -great niece used it as the inspiration for an article which won her an ANZAC scholarship and a visit to Gallipoli and friends and acquaintances were inspired to visit his memorial at Gallipoli with fresh knowledge of what James and others sacrificed so long ago. I  have now given these possessions to my daughter Joanne who will carry his memory forward for future generations.

Perhaps it is also significant that his biography has been completed almost 100 years to the day when he died on 11/11/1915.        Colin Greenwood 2015. ( Great nephew)

James Nowlan entry   11 November 1915

1763 Private James Michael Nowlan

Bruthen / Ensay / Bullumwaal

James Nowlan was an extremely popular well known lad in the district. He was born in Carisbrook but had come to Bullumwaal as an infant and it was here that five of his siblings had been born and that James went to school. When he was about fifteen years old the family moved to Bruthen. An orchardist by trade he was the son of Michael and Lillian Nowlan and at 18 years 3 months he enlisted on 19 May 1915 and left Australia the following month. In early September he was admitted to hospital on the Peninsula suffering from tonsillitis. It appears that he made good use of his time in hospital to write a lengthy letter home describing the landing about midnight on the 4th, and the near misses that he had on the front line. I heard an explosion and saw a flash of light, and of course I pulled my gun in and found that the portion of the stock had been blown to bits. He describes the place it is a very rough place where we are now right on the side of what is known as Gallipoli Heights. You may have heard of them, as they are about where the first contingent of our boys landed and they must have had a job to take the hill they did. It was simply marvellous. He recovered from the tonsillitis and rejoined his unit on 25 October but ten days later he was transported to the hospital ship Devanha suffering a fever and pneumonia and died on what would become known as Remembrance Day, 11 November 1915 and was buried at sea. It is somewhat ironic that his letter to the Bruthen people was published in the local paper the same day. In March the following year, Srgt Prentice wrote an open letter of compassion to the family that was also published. He remarked how he was one of the best loved lads in the company. Always smiling, indeed to tease him we used to ask him to try and look straight and not smile. … It is a pleasant memory for me to remember him with his blue eyes and curly hair as a bright light passing along my military life. Prentice had been with Nowlan for several months. Nowlan had first came to his attention when he, Prentice, was carrying heavy medical supplies and Jimmie, as Prentice called him, had said to him let me take your bag for a spell and carried the supplies the rest of the way. James never knew his two sisters and brother that were born at Bruthen after his enlistment in 1915. He is named on several local Honour Rolls including Bairnsdale and Bullumwaal. His uncle, Henry Worthington, of Ensay also served and returned home. It was Henry who accompanied James’ father to the Post Office in 1921 to collect his son’s medals.

I will find the clips of the two letters for you and send them in due course….

Thanks again,

Debbie

Debra Squires 

This is a link to a sample page on the website that we are creating ….

http://www.theirdutydone.com/index.htm

Bruthen & Tambo Times Nov 11 1915

 

 

 

 

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