William James DUNBAR

DUNBAR, William James

Service Number: 1889
Enlisted: 14 September 1915
Last Rank: Captain (Chaplain 4th Class)
Last Unit: 11th Light Horse Regiment
Born: Orange, Orange Municipality - New South Wales, Australia, 30 July 1880
Home Town: Orange, Orange Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Orange Public School, Newington College
Occupation: Clergyman
Died: Killed in Action, Palestine, 7 November 1917, aged 37 years
Cemetery: Gaza War Cemetery, Israel and Palestine (including Gaza)
XII. E. 3.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Coonamble Municipality and Wingadee Shire HR, Coonamble War Memorial, Kyogle Methodist WW1 Roll of Honor, Orange Cenotaph, Orange St John's Uniting Church Roll of Honour, Orange WW1 Honour Board, Urbenville Memorial Gates
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World War 1 Service

14 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
19 Sep 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1889, 12th Light Horse Regiment, Third Ypres, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '3' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Anglo Egyptian embarkation_ship_number: A25 public_note: ''
19 Sep 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1889, 12th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Anglo Egyptian, Sydney
1 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 1889, 12th Light Horse Regiment, Third Ypres,

Chaplain - Captain 

12 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 1889, 11th Light Horse Regiment, Third Ypres,

--- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: 4th Class att 11th Australian Light Horse awm_rank: Chaplain awm_died_date: 1917-11-07


Attached as Chaplain - Captain 

7 Nov 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class)

Another of our younger ministers has fallen in war


With deepest sorrow we have learned that another of our younger ministers, the Rev. W. J. Dunbar, has fallen in war. He enlisted for active service a considerable time ago and went into camp for training. Some time afterwards he was sent into hospital for a surgical operation, and when he was well recovered was sent forward for active military service. A cable was received by his aged father, Mr. W. J. Dunbar, of Orange, that he was wounded and missing, and now there has come the sad news that he was killed in Palestine on November 8th. Mr. Dunbar entered the Methodist ministry in 1908 and was first appointed to the Manning River Circuit as second minister. There he worked with characteristic zeal and buoyancy, and commended himself particularly to the vigorous type of young man found throughout that wide district. Eager to fit himself for a life of largest ministerial usefulness, he requested to be given a college course, and the Conference appointed him the next year to the college, where he, stayed for two years. During that period arrangements were made whereby he gave Sunday evenings, and one night a week to the Balmain Mission for special work in a branch mission. A very fine work was accomplished amongst rough lads and young men. His work in the open air in the streets and workshops commended him to all whom he sought to bless and save. He was loved by scores of young men who found in him a minister and a comrade. Evil enough many of them were, but they followed Dunbar when they turned away from others who wanted to help them. Some were brought out of thick darkness by this man's brotherly sympathy, and his devotion and self-sacrifice shamed numbers of other who had lost their way. It was always regarded as a great achievement that he secured the attendance of these men upon the Sunday evening services in the little Mission Hall. Long after he had left for country circuit work his name was freely mentioned amongst the people of the neighbourhood, and his work abides to this day. He was a man specially adapted to this unique type of work, and those who knew him best believed that some day he would find a sphere in which he would have scope for work amongst lads and young, men who, unfortunately are found night after nightfall around street corners or wandering about in groups with no good aim in view. After his college term Mr. Dunbar was appointed to the following circuits in turn: — Coonamble, Gilgandra (one year), Kyogle (three years) , lastly, Cobargo and Tilba Tilba, whence, after a few months since, he enlisted. In all these places he scorned delights and lived laborious days. The church mourns the loss of a good true man and a minister who lived to serve God and his fellow-men with all his heart. We can ill spare him.

The Methodist Saturday 01 December 1917 page 6


"One of us ought to go" he said to his brother

"One of us ought to go," said the Rev. W. J. Dunbar to his brother, Robert Dunbar, of the Parkes Public School, early in the history of the present war. Both were exempt from service, one by reason of his being a clergyman, the other because he was a married man. "You are married, Bob," said the rev. gentleman; "I'll go." Thus it was that some two years ago he offered, was accepted, and appointed to the 11th Light Horse which subsequently proceeded to Egypt. Here he saw much service, and steady promotion until when, in March of this year, he received the appointment of chaplain, carrying with it the rank of captain. In this capacity he was not expected to be in the forefront of his regiment, but the fighting spirit was in him, and more than once, according to letters which he wrote to his brother, he was found there, and ordered to the rear by his colonel. ''But I could not help it," he stated, "I had to be up among the boys." And evidently that spirit was dominant with him when he met his death. The first information received by his parents , Mr. and Mrs. W. Dunbar (two of the oldest residents of our town) was to the effect that their soldier son was wounded and missing, the suspense which they and many friends were under was ended late on Saturday night, by the sad intelligence that he had been killed. The deceased was the elder of two sons and a daughter, who, with their parents, mourn their loss; but treasure the memory that he fell in the great cause of the world's freedom.
Born in Orange 36 years ago, the subject of this notice received his early education at the public school, and later took up the calling of a bootmaker. In his early manhood the work of the church appealed to him and he decided to join the Methodist ministry. He received a couple of years' training at Newington College and subsequently had charge of the Coonamble, Gilgandra, Kyogle, Central Tilba, and other circuits. Wherever he went he created an exceptionally favourable impression by his simple, earnest Christian life. His sermons were always of a homely, thoughtful and practical character, and his associations with his people pleasant to a degree. The church of his choice could ill afford to lose him, but he has been called hence, and his remains rest in Palestine in a soldier's grave, while his memory will ever be cherished by a large circle of friends throughout the State.

Leader (Orange NSW) Wednesday 28 November 1917 page 4

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Attached to 11th LHR as Chaplain- Captain on 12 May 1917. He was still attached to this Unit when he was Killed in Action.


Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal


Son of William and Victoria Matilda Dunbar, 88 Lord Street, Orange, New South Wales.