James Sylvester CULLA


CULLA, James Sylvester

Service Number: 235
Enlisted: 29 December 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 12th Machine Gun Company
Born: Charleville, Queensland, Australia, 9 July 1895
Home Town: Ipswich, Queensland
Schooling: Christian Brothers College, Ipswich
Occupation: Shop Assistant
Died: Died of wounds (Friendly Mortar Fire), France, 20 March 1917, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Ipswich Soldier's Memorial Hall Great War, Ipswich Western Suburbs War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

29 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 235, Brisbane, Queensland
2 May 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 235, 12th Machine Gun Company, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
2 May 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 235, 12th Machine Gun Company, HMAT Hororata, Sydney
18 Mar 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 235, 12th Machine Gun Company, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, Accidental (friendly fire)

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The above is a portrait of the late Pte. James Sylvester Culla, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Culla, of Tiger-street, Sadliers Crossing, who died on March 20th, as a result of a bomb wound. Lieut. H. W. Crouch writes to Mrs. Culla, under date 23rd March, 1917, as follows:-

"It is with very great regret I write to tell you of your son's death (235, Pte. Culla, J. S.). A most unfortunate accident happened last Sunday, the 18th instant, your son with two of his comrades, was watching has mates play football. A long distance away a trench mortar demonstration took place, and one extraordinary shot overcarried, and your son was hit, causing a badly broken leg. A medical officer was playing football, and your son was at once attended to, carried on a stretcher to the dressing station, and soon after evactaled to a casualty clearing station. We received advice that he was doing well, and he wrote a very cheerful letter to one of his mates saying he would soon be going to 'Blighty.' It would seem that they had to amputate, and he apparently must have died from shock. The casualty station at which he died was a field hospital near ---, about two miles from ---, and it is very probable he would be buried there. I can assure you his death is a severe shock to me. He was a nice boy, most plucky, a couragious soldier, and always cheerful. The medical officer tried to cheer him by saying it wasn't a bad break. Your son shook his head, and smilingly said, 'You can't tell me that is not a bad break. I know it is.' He was quite cheerful while his leg was being dressed and set, he had the best medical attention and skilled surgeons attended him. But it was to be that he was not to pull through, and he died. l think, yesterday. Official advice as to where he was buried, &c., will be sent you by the hospital people. Please accept my sincere sympathy, and let me assure you, as his commanding officer and friend, that I miss him, and feel his loss keenly. His accident and death are a very severe shock to me. I was not actually present at the accident, and the demonstration was in no way connected with this unit. An offlcial inquiry has been held."

Nurse Ida O'Dwyer writes to Mrs. Culla:-

"I am writing to let you know about your son, Pte. J. C. Culla, 235. He was brought into the hospital on the 18th of March, suffering from a very bad wound in the leg. It had to be amputated, and he was in a very low condition. Everything possible was done to save him, but he gradually sank, and died yesterday afternoon. He was very pleased when I told him I would write to you, and let you know he was wounded, but he did not want me to say he was bad at all, in case it would worry you. He sent his love, and said he would write himself as soon as he was well enough. Father McAuliffe, our army chaplain, saw him several times, and your boy received all the last rites of the Church and seemed quiet and contented at the last. He thought he was going to sleep when he died. All his personal belongings are taken over by the War Office, and they will be sent to you as soon as possible. Pte. Culla will be buried this aftertnoon in a little military cemetery quite near here, where numbers of our Australian boys have already been buried within the last few weeks. There will be a cross with his name on it to show the exact spot, and it can quite easily be found at any time." - from the Queensland Times 23 Jun 1917 (nla.gov.au)