James BRUCE MC, DCM

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BRUCE, James

Service Number: 21
Enlisted: 3 January 1916, West Maitland, New South Wales
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 34th Infantry Battalion
Born: Oxton, Berwick, Scotland, 5 November 1879
Home Town: Pelaw Main, Cessnock, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Miner
Died: Killed in Action , Sailly-Le-Sec on the Somme, France, 17 July 1918, aged 38 years
Cemetery: Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery
Plot VIII, Row C, Grave No. 8
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

3 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 21, West Maitland, New South Wales
2 May 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 21, 34th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
2 May 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 21, 34th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Sydney
30 Sep 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 34th Infantry Battalion
16 Jul 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, SN 21, 34th Infantry Battalion, GSW right cheek
7 Oct 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 34th Infantry Battalion
7 Nov 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Company Sergeant Major, 34th Infantry Battalion
9 Nov 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 34th Infantry Battalion
11 May 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN 21, 34th Infantry Battalion, GSW Shoulder
14 May 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 34th Infantry Battalion
17 Jul 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 34th Infantry Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"
25 Jul 1918: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, 2nd Passchendaele , He was Captain Clarence Jeffries' Company Sergeant Major during the second battle at Passchendaele. When Jeffries was killed by machine gun fire, and after all remaining officers were killed, Bruce organised the remaining members of the battalion and ordered them to dig a new defence line which was held till the order to withdraw was given.
27 Nov 1918: Honoured Military Cross, Villers-Bretonneux, For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an attack of the enemy. He led his platoon with great dash, rushing an advanced enemy machine gun position and killing the crew, and capturing the gun. Later, he rushed a trench, taking ten prisoners, killing the remainder and capturing two more machine guns. And again, later, seeing a party of the enemy moving round his flank, he organized and led a party and wiped them out. He set a magnificent example of courage and coolness, and his services were eminently valuable

Lieutenant James Bruce MC DCM.

From Sandgate Cemetery Newcastle Site

James Bruce came to Australia from Scotland when still a child. He eventually married and settled at Pelaw Main, where he worked in the coal mines. He enlisted in The Wallabies recruiting march at Kurri Kurri on January 3rd, 1916 and was drafted into the 34th Infantry Battalion. He left Australia for the battlefields with the rank of Corporal in May, 1916 He was Captain Clarence Jeffries' Company Sergeant Major during the second battle at Passchendaele. When Jeffries was killed by machine gun fire, and after all remaining officers were killed, Bruce organised the remaining members of the battalion and ordered them to dig a new defence line which was held till the order to withdraw was given. For his gallantry he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. For further gallantry at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918 he was awarded the Military Cross.

He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant but during a battle at Sailly-le-Sec on July 17th, 1918, he was killed when a German artillery shell exploded.

Officially Lieutenant James Bruce, MC DCM, he was known by the enemy as "The Ginger Haired Devil". He was 39 at the time of his death and was survived by his wife, Louisa, and their children.

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Biography

"LIEUT. BRUCE KILLED

Mrs. James Bruce, of Pelaw Main, has been advised that her husband, First Lieutenant Bruce, D.C.M., M.C., was killed in action in France on July 17. He went away with the 34th Battalion, was awarded the Military Cross, and promoted to the rank of first lieutenant, for gallantry on the field at Villers-Bretonneux. Lieut Bruce was awarded, when a sergeant the D.C.M., at Passchendaele, on October 12, 1917, for conspicuous gallantly and devotion to duty. The news of the bestowal ot the Military Cross was received by Mrs. Bruce only last week." - from the Newcastle Sun 31 Jul 1918 (nla.gov.au)

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François BerthoutAustralia and New Zealand in WWI

Today, it is with great affection but also with deep gratitude that I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Lieutenant James Bruce MC, DCM who was nicknamed "Der Rothaarig Teufel" (The Ginger Haired Devil "by the Germans and who fought in the 34th Australian Infantry Battalion and who was killed in action 102 years ago,on July 17, 1918 at the age of 40 on the Somme front.

James Bruce was born on November 5, 1879 in Oxton, Berwick, Scotland and was the son of William and Ann Bruce. At the age of 5, James moved to Australia, he was educated at Kegworth State School, Leichardt, Sydney, New South Wales. Later he married Louisa Gertrude Lilian Bruce and lived in Pelaw Main,Cessnock, New South Wales and worked as a miner and Before the war, James served as a Bugler in the 4th Regiment of the Citizen Military Forces.
Enlisted in the Wallabies recruiting march at West Maitland on January 3, 1916 at the age of 38 in the 34th Australian Infantry Battalion, he embarked with his unit from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A20 Hororata on May 2, 1916 and sailed for England where he was disembarked on June 23, 1916 in Plymouth and received his training and embarked for France.

Shortly after, James joined the Belgian front and was Captain Clarence Jeffries's Company Sergeant Major during the second battle of passchendaele on October 12, 1917. In the 34th Infantry Battalion's advance that day, the first point of resistance encountered was two enemy concrete pillboxes east of Augustus Wood.Jeffries organized a bombing party and with James Bruce rushed one enemy strongpost and captured twenty five prisoners and two machine guns.With another party of twelve men, Jeffries and james then went forward under further heavy machine gun and artillery fire to the next objective when suddenly, Jeffries was killed by machine gun fire from another location. James then took over and succeded in capturing the remaining enemy obstacle as well as two more enemy machine guns and thirty prisoners.after that, when all the officers of the 34th Battalion had become casuallties in the ensuing battle and fighting at Passchendaele, Sergeant James Bruce organized the remnant of the battalion and gave the order to dig a new defense line wich was held until the battalion was ordered to withdraw in the afternoon.For Sergeant Jame's Bruce's courage, gallantry and leadership under extreme difficulties at Passchendaele, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.The citation for his act of conspicuous gallantry in the fields reads:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. When the centre of his company was held up by an enemy machine gun strong point he assisted an officer to organize a party, which rushed the strong point and captured four machine guns and thirty five men. After the battalion captured its objective he assisted an officer to organize a party to attack another machine gun emplacement, and, though the officer was killed, he captured the post, two machine guns, and thirty of the enemy. When all officers of the battalion had become casualties he organized the battalion and dug a new line."

it appears that after the death of Captain Jeffries in Passchendaele who was a very good friend of James, James wanted to avenge the death of Jeffries, he did countless ruthless and demoralising raids led by him into the opposing german trenches in search of prisoners for interrogation and intelligence gathering that the germans bestowed the nickname of "Der Rothaarig Teufel" (The Ginger Haired Devil ") upon him.it is also thought that a considerable sum of money, or bounty, had been offered by the huns for either his capture or death.
After Passchendaele, James Bruce fought with great courage at Villers-Bretonneux, Somme.in april 1918, for further gallantry and leadership while facing overwhelming numbers of the enemy, he was recommended for, and was awarded the Military Cross.The citation reads as follows:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an attack of the enemy. He led his platoon with great dash, rushing an advanced enemy machine gun position and killing the crew, and capturing the gun. Later, he rushed a trench, taking ten prisoners, killing the remainder and capturing two more machine guns. And again, later, seeing a party of the enemy moving round his flank, he organized and led a party and wiped them out. He set a magnificent example of courage and coolness, and his services were eminently valuable".
Unfortunately, shortly after, James Bruce was killed by a german artillery shell exploding in the 34th Infantry Battalion's trenches in the early hours of 17 July, 1918 at Sailly-Le-Sec on the Somme while on his way to breakfast, he was 40 years old and left behind his wife and child.

Today, Lieutenant James Bruce rests in peace with his friends, comrades and brothers in arms in the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and his grave bears the following inscription "He gave his life for his country."

Today James, it is under the peaceful sun and the silence of the Somme that I come to present my respects coming from the heart for you, to salute and honor your memory with deep gratitude. You who have done more than your duty beyond courage and bravery, beyond all that a man can give, courage, bravery, you have served and fought nobly for your country, for your family, for the French people, who, with me, stand with respect in front of you, you were an example of courage, for your men and for all the officers who fought by your side and who saw in you what we see while thinking of you and discovering your history, a hero, a man full of courage and devotion, you were the pride of your men and your battallion, the pride of your family and your country which suffered so much alongside the French soldiers.Today, the Somme remembers all that thousands of young Australian soldiers did and sacrificed for us, on these lands which are today yours and on which so much blood has flowed and so many lives were shattered, we do not forget what each of these men, men like you James, did for us. Through your acts of bravery, we pay tribute to all the Australians who fought and who fell here and who showed admirable bravery, indestructible loyalty.james, we will always be grateful to you, your name will live forever and your sacrifice will never be forgotten, you will never be forgotten, with me stand, respectfully the Australian people and the French people, united around you, cherishing your memory with love and the utmost respect. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him, we will remember them. In our hearts you will live forever.

I would also like to add a few words with all my heart, I want to thank very respectfully the grandaughter of James Bruce, Lorna who allowed me, with very great kindness to pay tribute to James and I want to wish her all my best wishes of happiness and offer her my gratitude. I would also like to say a deep thank you to my friend Pauline White and David Dial who helped me in my research to write this tribute, you are two very beautiful people. from the bottom of my heart, thank you.🌺

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