William Abel JAMES

JAMES, William Abel

Service Numbers: Not yet discovered
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: Medical Officers
Born: Cumbran, Monmouthshire, Wales, 5 April 1880
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Doctor
Died: Bondi, New South Wales, September 1938, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, New South Wales
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World War 1 Service

2 Jun 1915: Involvement Captain, Medical Officers
2 Jun 1915: Embarked Captain, Medical Officers, HMAT Botanist, Adelaide
17 Jul 1918: Involvement Captain, Medical Officers
17 Jul 1918: Embarked Captain, Medical Officers, HMAT Borda, Sydney

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Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

 Excerpt from Blood Sweat and Fears: Medical Practitioners and Medical Students of South Australian who Served in World War 1. Courtesy of the Authors

William Abel James was born on the 5th October 1880 at Cumbran, Monmouthshire, Wales. The son of a schoolmaster, William John James and his wife Elizabeth Ann, nee Brown. While studying medicine, James served for seven years in 3rd Bn South Wales Borderers, and reached the rank of lieutenant.  After graduation in 1906 James obtained a position as a ship’s surgeon with the White Star Line. In the course of his service on the Olympic, he met a 28 year old Australian woman, Evelyn Marsden (1883-1938) who was employed by the Company as a stewardess and nurse. Marsden had been born at Stockyard Creek, Dalkey SA and was the daughter of the stationmaster there. Evelyn Marsden was working on the Titanic on her maiden voyage. After the ship sank, Marsden spent the night in a lifeboat until being picked up by the liner Carpathia next morning. She was the only Australian female survivor. Marsden and James were married on her return to England and left for South Australia, arriving at Semaphore in November 1912.  James obtained the position of medical officer at the Adelaide Hospital, and they moved into a new apartment in Ruthven Mansions on Pulteney Street, Adelaide. Later they moved to Wallaroo, South Australia, living and working there for 15 months before finally moving to Newcastle and then Bondi in New South Wales where James set up practice.

James enlisted on the 1st March 1915 at Mitcham and named his wife as his next of kin care of W H Marsden of Yacka, South Australia. He was 34 years old, 5ft 7ins, and weighed 184lbs, and was of fair complexion, fair hair and brown eyes. He was commissioned and sailed from Sydney for the Middle East on the 11th February 1915 with the reinforcements for 1 AGH. He was transferred to 1 AAH on arrival. He served until May 1916, at which time he contracted amoebic dysentery, and was admitted to 3 AGH. He was twice discharged to convalescence, and twice re-admitted. He was sent back to Australia for three months rest in July. He was declared fit for home duty in November, and posted to 7 AGH at Keswick South Australia. He was discharged from the AIF in May 1917, but remained in the AAMC. He was promoted major in March 1918.  Notwithstanding all that had happened, James volunteered a second time in June 1918, and was passed fit for overseas service. He reached England in September 1918, and was posted to 2 AAH at Southall. He returned to Australia in May 1919, with his appointment terminated on the 28th August 1919 in the 4th MD. He was issued with the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

James resumed his practice in New South Wales and lived in Bondi. William Abel James and his wife Evelyn both died in September 1938 and were buried in the Waverley Cemetery. They had no children.


Likeman R., 2012, From the Tropics to the Desert, Slouch Hat Publications.


Photo; SLSA

Recorder Port Pirie 24 April 1937 ‘Personal Reminiscences’.

The Sydney Morning Herald 08 and 10 Sep 1938