James Henry LYNCH


LYNCH, James Henry

Service Number: 838
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 49th Infantry Battalion
Born: Maryborough, Queensland, Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Gooroolba, North Burnett, Queensland
Schooling: Maryborough, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Farm labourer
Died: Pneumonia, France, 8 February 1917, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Gayndah District Honour Roll, Gayndah War Memorial, Gooroolba War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

5 Jun 1916: Involvement Private, SN 838, 42nd Infantry Battalion
5 Jun 1916: Embarked Private, SN 838, 42nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Sydney
8 Feb 1917: Involvement Private, SN 838, 49th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Ian Lang

#838 LYNCH James Henry  42nd Infantry Battalion / 49th Infantry Battalion
James Lynch was born in Maryborough, Queensland, to parents Edward and Mary Lynch. He attended school in Maryborough but the family then moved to Gooroolba on the Gayndah Rail Line to take up farming.
James and his friend, John Lowe, took the train to Brisbane to enlist, presenting themselves to the Adelaide Street recruiting depot on 31st December 1915. James and John were both from Gooroolba, 19 years old and perhaps had been mates since early childhood. They were allocated to “D” Company of the 42ndBattalion which was being raised at Enoggera to form part of the new 3rd Division.
James and John boarded the “Borda” in Sydney on 5th June 1916. The embarkation roll for the 42nd lists James and John with successive regimental numbers. Each had allocated 4/- of their daily pay to family back in Gooroolba. The Borda landed in Plymouth and the 42nd was transported to the 3rd Division Training Camp at Larkhill.
While the 42nd was making its way to England, the other four divisions of the AIF which had assembled in Egypt had been sent to the western front in France. The Battle of the Somme began on 1st July 1916 where the battalions of Kitchener’s new conscript army were decimated; 20,000 killed and 40,000 wounded on the first day. It was not long before the newly arrived battalions of the AIF were put into the fight also during July, August and September where they sustained 23,000 casualties at Fromelles, Pozieres and Mouquet Farm. Such losses could not be sustained and reinforcements were desperately needed to bring the Australian battalions up to something close to full strength.
Some of the recently arrived 3rd Division troops from Australia were reallocated to other divisions. James Lynch was transferred to the 49th Battalion; a Queensland Battalion like the 42nd but in a different division. James marched out to the 13th Training Battalion at Rollestone on 9th September. In all likelihood, James did not see his friend John Lowe again.
On 28th September, James boarded a cross channel ferry at Folkestone for a night crossing to France. He arrived at the huge British Training and Transit Camp at Etaples before proceeding to join the 49th on 16thOctober 1916. The 49th, as part of the 13th brigade of the 4th Division had sustained heavy losses at Mouquet Farm in September. During October, a total of almost 200 reinforcements were taken on strength yet the battalion strength was just a shade over 800. The 49th was transferred from support positions in the Ypres salient in Belgium back to the Somme. The battalion spent some time in the front line at Flers during November before being put into winter quarters at Delville Wood.
The winter of 1916/17 was particularly harsh with below freezing temperatures, snow, sleet and mud. The battalion war diary records that on 16th January 1917, 40 ordinary rank soldiers were sent to hospital; most of which were suffering from influenza or trench feet. James Lynch was one of those sent to the 12th Field Ambulance. He was transferred to the 45th Casualty Clearing Station where his condition deteriorated, dying of pneumonia on 8th February 1917, aged 21.
James was buried in the Dernacourt Communal Cemetery and in due course his mother received a package of his personal effects which included a wallet, photos, cards, a pen and a ring. When the Imperial War Graves Commission began erecting permanent headstones, James’ parents chose the following inscription: