James Alan MURRAY

MURRAY, James Alan

Service Number: 2717
Enlisted: 21 April 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Stepney, South Australia, 11 April 1895
Home Town: St Peters (SA), Norwood Payneham St Peters, South Australia
Schooling: Norwood State School
Occupation: Plumber
Died: Killed in Action, Noreuil, Picardie, France, 2 April 1917, aged 21 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Commemorated at Villers-Bretonneux Memorial No known grave (buried in the field but his grave was lost in subsequent shelling of the area), Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Norwood Primary School Honour Board, St Peters Heroes War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

21 Apr 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2717, 10th Infantry Battalion, Keswick, South Australia
2 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2717, 10th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Anchises embarkation_ship_number: A68 public_note: ''
2 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 50th Infantry Battalion
12 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2717, 50th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm
11 Sep 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 50th Infantry Battalion
20 Mar 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 2717, 50th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
2 Apr 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 2717, 50th Infantry Battalion, Noreuil, KIA AWM WW1 Roll Of Honour: imported - 1 Mar 2020, Roll: Roll of Honour, NAME: Murray, James Alan, CONFLICT: First World War, 1914-1918, SERVICE: Australian Imperial Force, UNIT: 50th Australian Infantry Battalion, RANK: Corporal, CAUSE_OF_DEATH: To Be Determined, DATE_OF_DEATH: 1917-04-02, PLACE_OF_DEATH: France, AGE_AT_DEATH: 22, SERVICE_NUMBER: 2717, ALIAS: , PANEL NUMBER: 151, PLACE_OF_ASSOCIATION: St Peters, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, CEMETERY_MEMORIAL: Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France, NOTE: , : , AWM WW1 Roll Of Honour: imported - 9 Jun 2022, Roll: Roll of Honour, CONFLICT: First World War, 1914-1918, NAME: Murray, James Alan, SERVICE: Australian Imperial Force, SERVICE_NUMBER: 2717, UNIT: 50th Australian Infantry Battalion, RANK: Corporal, DATE_OF_DEATH: 2/4/1917, CAUSE_OF_DEATH: To Be Determined, PLACE_OF_DEATH: France, AGE_AT_DEATH: 22, CEMETERY_MEMORIAL: Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France, PLACE_OF_ASSOCIATION: St Peters, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, ALIAS: , PANEL NUMBER: 151

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Born on the 11th of April 1895, James Alan Murray was one of a family of 10. They all shared a single fronted cottage at 6 Parsons Street Maylands. His parents were Fanny Murray and James Murray. Robert Gordon, the oldest child, was born on November 13, 1892. James Alan followed on April 11, 1895. His first sister, Helen Edith, was born on May 8, 1879. Jessie May Ann, his second sister, was born on April 23, 1899. His other brother, William John, was born on October 6, 1900. Roy Edward, the second youngest, was born on July 14, 1908; Donald, the youngest, was born on November 4, 1909. Murray studied at Norwood Public School and attended the Adelaide School of Mines, (now part of the University of South Australia). He graduated as a plumber and gas fitter with a first-class certificate and gold medal in lead work. He was a part of the Senior Cadets 79th Battalion for two years.

According to the Roll of Honour application filled in by his father after the war, Murray saved a person from drowning when he was only 9 years old.

Murray enlisted on the 21st of April 1915. He was originally enrolled to the 10th Battalion and given the service number 2717, then on the 27th of February 1916 he was taken on strength by the 50th Battalion and transferred to Tel-el-Kebri in Egypt for training. During his training the Battalion had to participate in a 44 km march from Tel-el-Kebri to Serapiam; this would have taken the soldiers up to 9 hours. During this march he saved a comrade from drowning who got out of his depths in the Suez Canal.
Around the 20th of March 1916 the 50th Battalion moved from their billet in Buire (their advance base) to participate in the great German Retreat. Murray then camped in huts at Mamety Camp just beyond the Somme Battlefield. Murray then moved on to Pozieres and Mouquet Farm. Murray fought for 6 months before being promoted to temporary Corporal on the 11th of September 1916. He fought at the Battle of Pozieres and survived but was later killed in action at Mouquet Farm on the 2nd of April 1917 aged 21. On this day in the early hours of the morning the 50th Battalion commenced an attack to take enemy lines, it is presumed this was when James Alan Murray died.

After his death he was buried in the Noreuil Military Cemetery, however, his grave was soon after destroyed by shell fire. Murray’s grave was subsequently one of the 83 graves destroyed by shell fire in late April 1917, almost all those graves were soldiers from the 50th infantry Battalion. The graves were never located. His name is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. This particular memorial records names of soldiers with no other known grave. 

The Murray family suffered further tragedy after they lost a second son Robert Gordon. He died of tuberculosis after being returned home from Egypt and died on the 3rd of February 1916 at age 23.
Both brothers’ names are recorded on bronze tablets at the Saint Peter’s Heroes Memorial, which was dedicated by then State Governor on ANZAC Eve 2019.