James (Jimmy) LARKINS

LARKINS, James

Service Number: 2161
Enlisted: 18 May 1915, Liverpool New South Wales Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Quipolly New South Wales Australia, 7 May 1894
Home Town: Werris Creek, Liverpool Plains, New South Wales
Schooling: Werris Creek Primary School
Occupation: Cordial Manufacturer
Died: Natural Causes, Werris Creek New South Wales Australia, 12 December 1951, aged 57 years
Cemetery: Werris Creek General Cemetery
Memorials:
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

18 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2161, 2nd Infantry Battalion, Liverpool New South Wales Australia
16 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2161, 2nd Infantry Battalion,

embarkation_roll: roll_number: 7 embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Karoola embarkation_ship_number: A63 public_note:

6 Aug 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2161, 2nd Infantry Battalion, The August Offensive - Lone Pine, Suvla Bay, Sari Bair, The Nek and Hill 60 - Gallipoli, Wounded in action at Lone Pine - GSW left thigh - VSI - evacuated via Malta to the UK
6 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2161, 2nd Infantry Battalion, The August Offensive - Lone Pine, Suvla Bay, Sari Bair, The Nek and Hill 60 - Gallipoli
1 Sep 1916: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2161, 2nd Infantry Battalion, Medically unfit due wounds

Help us honour James Larkins's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography

James Larkins was born on the 7th May 1894 in the small settlement of Quillpoly in northern New South Wales, into a large Irish-Catholic family headed by William Patrick (b1860)  and Margaret Larkins. James was the fourth of six sons in a family of 16 siblings, two of whom did not live to adulthood.

He grew up in Werris Creek and is listed on the Primary School Memorial.  He was known universally as "Jimmy".

Jimmy was the only one of the Larkins brothers to enlist.  He did so against the wishes of his father according to family anecdote.  His father had very strong Irish republican views and did not want his sons to be fighting for the ' King of England'.

Jimmy travelled south to Liverpool on what was then the outskirts of Sydney and enlisted on the 18th May 1915.  This marked the start of a brief and traumatic career in the AIF.  He embarked with the 6th reinforcements for the 2nd Battalion drawn from Northern New South Wales on the 16th June 1915 aboard the HMAT 63 Karoola.  This was less than a month after enlistment so his initial military training was abbreviated at best.

The Karoola disembarked its manifest of reinforcements in Alexandria.  There was no time to lose though and James Larkins and the rest of the 2nd Battalion reinforcements  landed on Gallipoli and were taken on strength by the 2nd Battalion on the 6th August 1915.

Later that very evening, the 2nd Battalion was committed to the attack on Lone Pine.  Jimmy Larkins and his newly arrived colleagues would barely have met the men they were going into battle with.  He didn't get much of a chance to get to know them either.  He was severely wounded early in the course of the attack.  Many others did not survive.

Jimmy's experience is related in a remarkable letter home to his parents, published in the local newspaper in November 1915.

It is remarkable for several reasons;

This letter was not in the possession of the family as far as is known.  It was discovered in the Mitchell Library archive by my brother John who was researching a visit to to Werris Creek in 2009.

His description of the fighting is vivid and uncensored.  It is possible the letter was posted for him by a nurse perhaps in a nearby post office thus missing the attention of the censor.

Jimmy names his rescuer as  the Commanding Officer of the Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Robert Scobie described as 'Captain' Scobie by Jimmy); he appears not to have realised it was the Commanding Officer.  This is hardly surprising, as he had only arrived in the battalion the day prior.  The letter details the actions by which he was rescued and evacuated to the beach after laying severely wounded on the battlefield overnight.  He also describes Scobie's subsequent fate.  The 2nd Battalion had lost their original CO (Lieutenant Colonel Braund),  within nine days of the landing.  Scobie had himself been seriously wounded having been wounded in the face and was evacuated to Egypt before returning and being appointed Commanding Officer, serving thus until he too was killed at Lone Pine.

Jimmy describes a colleague 'young McLellan" (presumably 2173 Private Reginald John McLellan of Werris Creek) being brought in wounded and his subsequent burial at sea en route to Malta and then Jimmy's own eventual hospitalisation in the UK.

Following his treatment recuperation and rehabilitation in hospital in the UK between September 1915 and April 1916, Jimmy embarked on the HMAT Thermistocles on the 8th May 1916 just short of 12 months since he had enlisted and  was returned to Australia.  He was discharged medically unfit on the 1st September 1916 as a result of his wounds.

His letter is reproduced below:

 

James later married Lilly Victoria.

He died on the 12th December 1951 at the relatively young age of 57.  Lilly died on the 3rd June 1979 aged 85 years.  Both are buried in the Werris Creek cemetery.  Interestingly having been baptised a Roman Catholic Jimmy is buried as an Anglican reflecting his wife's religious persuasion.  It seems unlikely that this would have endeared him to his father although by then he had long since passed away having succumbed to the influenza epidemic in 1919, himself relatively young (by contemporary standards) at 59 years of age.  Jimms father was one of tens of thousands of people who died as a result of the epidemic in Australia, and the more than 40 million worldwide, eclipsing by far the losses in the Great War.


Medals:

1914/15 Star  5755

British War medal  12949

Victory Medal  12756

 

Steve Larkins January 2013

Read more...