William Edward (Billy) JAMES MID, DSO, DSO*

JAMES, William Edward

Service Number: V4173
Enlisted: 1 May 1915
Last Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Last Unit: 24th Infantry Battalion
Born: Harcourt, Victoria, Australia, 12 April 1882
Home Town: Harcourt, Mount Alexander, Victoria
Schooling: Harcourt School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Orchardist
Died: Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia, 26 September 1954, aged 72 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Harcourt General Cemetery
Memorials: Harcourt War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

1 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain, 24th Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 24th Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Euripides, Melbourne
26 Aug 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 24th Infantry Battalion
4 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, 24th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
25 Oct 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Major, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT A38 Ulysses, Melbourne, Vic.
13 Mar 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Major, 24th Infantry Battalion, GSW to left leg, France. Evacuated to England.
17 Aug 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, Appointed commanding officer of 24th Battalion.
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge
7 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918
7 Apr 1918: Honoured Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, Broodseinde Ridge
7 Apr 1918: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, Awarded, and promulgated, 'London Gazette' No. 30706 (28 May 1918); 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 165 (24 October 1918)
19 May 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918
4 Jul 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, Le Hamel - Blueprint for Victory
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, The Battle of Amiens
1 Sep 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, Mont St Quentin / Peronne
5 Oct 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, Montbrehain
2 Apr 1919: Honoured Companion of the Distinguished Service Order and bar
31 May 1920: Discharged AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 24th Infantry Battalion, Appointment in AIF terminated.

World War 2 Service

3 Jul 1940: Enlisted Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Lieutenant Colonel, SN V4173

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Biography contributed by Robert Wight

In 1914 William Edward James was an area officer involved in the A.M.F.'s universal training scheme and was therefore discouraged from joining the Australian Imperial Force.

He eventually enlisted in the A.I.F. on 1 May 1915 as a captain and company commander in the 24th Battalion and embarked for active service a week later. After training in Egypt, where he was promoted major, his battalion reached Gallipoli on 5 September and moved into the trenches at Lone Pine. In November James contracted paratyphoid and was evacuated to Malta and then to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in May 1916. After recovering he embarked for England in October.

On 5 February 1917 James rejoined his unit at Fricourt, France, and that month was appointed second-in-command of the 24th Battalion which had experienced heavy fighting and losses at Pozières and Mouquet Farm. After being wounded in action on 3 March at Grevillers, he resumed duty in May and was promoted lieutenant-colonel commanding the battalion in July.

He showed fine leadership and courage in the 3rd battle of Ypres and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry when his battalion captured the key objective of Broodseinde Ridge. He earned a Bar to his D.S.O. for his conduct in the attacks on Beaurevoir and Montbrehain in October 1918, and was mentioned in dispatches twice in 1918-19. From February 1919 he commanded A.I.F. demobilization camps in England and returned to Australia in March 1920; his A.I.F. appointment ended in May.

Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography

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