James Thomas MAGEE MM

Poppy

MAGEE, James Thomas

Service Number: 1444
Enlisted: 20 August 1914
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 1st Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, 1888
Home Town: Woodstock-on-Loddon, Loddon, Victoria
Schooling: State School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Driver
Died: Died of Illness, Plymouth, England, 25 October 1918
Cemetery: Plymouth (Efford) Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

20 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Driver, SN 1444, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade
20 Oct 1914: Involvement Driver, SN 1444, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade
20 Oct 1914: Embarked Driver, SN 1444, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade , HMAT Shropshire, Melbourne
27 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 1444, 1st Divisional Ammunition Column, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
15 Jul 1915: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, 1st Division Artillery, Howitzer Battery, Gallipoli
26 Jan 1916: Involvement Sapper
27 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, 4th Division Artillery , Egypt
15 May 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, France
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Battle for Pozières
13 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Mouquet Farm
24 Feb 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Bombardier, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, France
15 Apr 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Bombardier, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
20 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Bombardier, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Menin Road
30 Sep 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Belgium
4 Oct 1917: Honoured Military Medal, Broodseinde Ridge, Recommendation- ‘During operations at Westhoek on 4/10/17. Enemy shell caused a fire in a dump which rapidly spread owing to high wind - the flames preventing egress from several dug-outs in vicinity. This N.C.O. together with two others, although H.E. shell was in imminent danger of being encircled by the flames, showed great courage and coolness and methodically got the fire under. Had the shell exploded, men in the dug-outs near by would have been buried alive and the Battery position destroyed. This N.C.O. in consequence received slight burns.’
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Broodseinde Ridge
3 Nov 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Third Ypres, Gassed at Dickebusch, Belgium. Evacuated to UK, rejoined unit 13 March 1918.
20 Nov 1917: Honoured Military Medal, Third Ypres, Action at Broodseinde Ridge
14 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, German Spring Offensive 1918
7 May 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, France
9 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, The Battle of Amiens
25 Oct 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 1444, 1st Field Artillery Brigade

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

MAGEE, James Thomas (known as Thomas Magee)

Military Medal

 

Military Medal Recommendation-

‘During operations at Westhoek on 4/10/17. Enemy shell caused a fire in a dump which rapidly spread owing to high wind - the flames preventing egress from several dug-outs in vicinity. This N.C.O. together with two others, although H.E. shell was in imminent danger of being encircled by the flames, showed great courage and coolness and methodically got the fire under. Had the shell exploded, men in the dug-outs near by would have been buried alive and the Battery position destroyed. This N.C.O. in consequence received slight burns.’

The Bendigo Advertiser reported on November 13, 1918 DEATH OF AN ANZAC - Sergeant J. T. MAGEE. M.M.

Official notice has been received of the death of Sergeant J.T Magee, M.M, 22nd Battalion, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Magee of Woodstock on-Loddon. The deceased was one of the first Victorian volunteers enlisting from St. Kilda in August 1914 and left with the First Australian Division. He was at the landing and evacuation of Gallipoli and fought in Belgium and went to fight in France. He was slightly gassed in October 1917. He was returning home when he took ill in England and died from influenza and pneumonia on 25th October[1]

The Bendigo Independent proudly announced on Dec 14, 1914: - WOODSTOCK VOLUNTEERS.

About 300 people assembled at Cr. Ferguson's barn to honor, the Woodstock boys, five of whom, Messrs. T. Magee, A. Brown, W. Hamilton, T. Hamilton and S. Spencer, volunteered for the war’.[2]

James Magee (known locally as Thomas) would miss the farewell as he had already left with the first contingent.

Thomas was one of the few AIF soldiers who survived the eight long hellishing months, thirty-five weeks from the landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula on April 25 to the evacuation of all Allied forces on the evening of December 19.

Thomas along with his fellow survivors arrived back in Alexandria, Egypt on Boxing Day 1915. As part of the AIF reorganisation, James would be transferred to a number of different Artillery and Ammunition brigades over the next three months before leaving for France on April 1st, 1916. 

In 1917, Thomas was a Bombardier with the 101st Australian (Howitzer) Battery when in October he and two other Bombardiers, 162 Howard Cleary and 10329 Arthur Courtney would undertake their brave deeds to save the men in the dug out and Battery position.

A month later Thomas was wounded (gassed) in the November and evacuated back to England for treatment. He would gain promotion for his actions whilst recovering and be awarded the medal on November 20, 1917. He would not return to the front until March 1918. He would be promoted to Sergeant and serve through till August when he is granted Special Leave to return to Australia as a ‘1914 man’. 

He would disembark in Southampton on October 14, 1918 and die just ten days later in Plymouth.

His parents received by mail Thomas’s Military Medal on May 23, 1919. The Defence Department offered Mr & Mrs Magee the opportunity to have the medal presented publicly, however, sadly Thomas’s mother wrote to the Base Records that his father was still living however too old and sick to accept a public presentation of his medal as offered by the Department.

SERVICE DETAILS: 

Regimental No. 1444

Place of birth: Bendigo

Religion: Church of England

Occupation: Driver

Address: Woodstock-on-Loddon via Bendigo

Marital status: Single

Age at enlistment: 25

Next of kin: J. Magee, Mother – Mary. Woodstock-on-Loddon

Enlistment date: 20 August 1914

Place of enlistment: St Kilda, Victoria

Rank on enlistment: Driver

Unit name: Field Artillery Brigade 2, Brigade Ammunition Column & 1st Field Artillery Brigade

Embarked: HMAT A27 Southern on 20 October 1914

Final Rank: Sergeant

Fate: Died of disease 25 October 1918, influenza and pneumonia.

Place of death: England, Age 30

Place of burial: Efford Cemetery, Plymouth, Devonshire"

Medal Source: Commonwealth of Australia Gazette                 

2 May 1918 on page 1037 at position 23

Westhoek (Broodseinde) on 4/10/17 - The attack commenced at 6am October 4, 1917 after rain commenced falling the day before. Coincidentally, the Germans planned an attack for exactly the same time. At 5.20am the German artillery opened up and then at 6am the Australian artillery started, both in preparation for impending attacks. After both troops emerged from their trenches to commence attacking to their surprise they found the enemy doing exactly the same. The Australians managed to recover from the shock quicker than their opponents as the Australian machine gunners opened up and cut the German lines to pieces. The Germans broke and the Australians managed to capture the ridge. The triumph at Broodseinde presented the Allied High Command with an opportunity, perhaps in the upcoming spring, of breaking the German hold. The German tactic of immediate counter attacks had proved ineffective since the British never pushed beyond the range of their guns.

In all the fighting in the 3rd Battle of Ypres, in and around Passchendaele the 3 Australian divisions lost 6,500 men which represented 20% of its operational strength. It is believed that the Germans lost 25,000 men and 5,000 prisoners. The German High Command officially recorded October 4, 1917 as a "Black Day". Fresh German troops were put in the line opposite the Anzac troops on October 5 despite Haig's attempts to break the German lines.[3]


[1] The Bendigo Advertiser, Wed 13 Nov 1918  Page 6
[2] The Bendigo Independent, December 14, 1914  Page 5
[3] Australian Battlefields of World War 1 – France  http://www.anzacsinfrance.com/1917/

 

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