James Alexander RALEIGH

RALEIGH, James Alexander

Service Number: 688
Enlisted: 9 November 1915
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 42nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Coochin Creek, Beerwah, Queensland, Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Villeneuve, Somerset, Queensland
Schooling: Villeneuve Provisional School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Farm Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Warneton, Belgium, 1 August 1917, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane 42nd Infantry Battalion AIF Roll of Honour, Kilcoy Honour Roll, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient)
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World War 1 Service

9 Nov 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 688, 42nd Infantry Battalion
5 Jun 1916: Involvement Private, 688, 42nd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '18' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Borda embarkation_ship_number: A30 public_note: ''
5 Jun 1916: Embarked Private, 688, 42nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Sydney
1 Aug 1917: Involvement Corporal, 688, 42nd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 688 awm_unit: 42nd Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Corporal awm_died_date: 1917-08-01


James Alexander RALEIGH #688 42nd Battalion

James Raleigh was born at Coochin Creek, Beerwah. Soon after his birth, James’ parents Patrick and Amelia Raleigh moved the family to Villeneuve where James went to school.
James attended the Brisbane recruiting depot on 9th November 1915. He stated his age as 19 and occupation as labourer, presumably this meant farm labouring on the family farm at Villeneuve.

James was allocated as a private in the 42nd Battalion. The Australian War Memorial has in its collection a studio photograph of James which was probably taken prior to his departure for overseas. In the photograph, James is wearing a slouch hat at a very jaunty angle and he appears to be wearing a tunic which may not be his as it has two pips on the epaulette (indicating the wearer is a 1st Lieutenant).

James travelled to Sydney with the rest of the battalion and embarked on the “Borda” in Sydney on 5th June 1916. The battalion arrived at Southampton on 23rd July and marched into camp at Larkhill where the units that would make up the 3rd Division under Major General John Monash were being assembled and trained. The 3rd Division crossed the Channel to France in November 1916 and took up positions in the area of the French Belgian border at Warneton and Ploegsteert.

The first major action for the 3rd Division, and the one for which it had been specifically trained, was at Messines. The battle of Messines began on 7th June 1917 with the blowing of 19 underground mines under the Messines Ridge. On 14th June, after the 42nd had been withdrawn to the reserve trenches, James was promoted to Lance Corporal. A month later he was promoted to Corporal.

On 1st August 1917 at Warneton, Corporal Raleigh and two other men were sheltering in a shell crater during a heavy artillery barrage when a high explosive shell landed in their midst. Witnesses nearby reported that all three were “blown to pieces” and buried by subsequent shell fire.

A court of inquiry on 18th August determined that James Raleigh had been killed in Action on 1st August 1917. No remains were ever recovered. James Raleigh is commemorated on the tablets of the Menin Gate Memorial. His name is included along with 30,000 other British and Dominion troops who perished in Flanders and have no known grave.

That sacrifice is remembered each evening at 8:00pm when the traffic through the Menin Gate is halted and a ceremony incorporating the laying of wreaths and the playing of the last post is conducted. The citizens of Ypres (now Iper) have maintained this tradition since the construction of the memorial in 1928, with only a brief pause from 1940-1945.

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