Service Number: 4250
Enlisted: 9 October 1915, Perth, Western Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 12th Infantry Battalion
Born: Port Lincoln, South Australia, 23 March 1881
Home Town: Port Lincoln, Port Lincoln, South Australia
Schooling: Port Lincoln Public School
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Mouquet Farm, France, 19 August 1916, aged 35 years
Cemetery: Courcelette British Cemetery
Plot VII, Row D, Grave 12, Courcelette British Cemetery, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Port Lincoln & District Honor Roll WW1, Port Lincoln Garden of Remembrance
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World War 1 Service

9 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4250, Perth, Western Australia
29 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 4250, 12th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
29 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 4250, 12th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Runic, Fremantle
19 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 4250, 12th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 4250 awm_unit: 12th Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1916-08-19

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Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Name incorrectly entered on Honour Roll in Port Lincoln Town Hall as *WEATHERSTON, J.S.

James Watherston: 4250 Rank: Private Unit: 12th Battalion (Infantry) Date of death: 19 August 1916 Place of death: France Cause of death: Killed in action Cemetery or memorial details: Courcelette British Cemetery, France Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army See service record. http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=8375612

James Watherston was the oldest of four brothers: Cyril Anderson Watherston (KIA 10th Battalion, Fleurbaix May 1916), Edward Alexander Watherston (KIA 10th Battalion, Pozieres July 1916 ) and Frank Patten Watherston (KIA 11th Battalion, Gallipoli) . All four brothers thus laid down their lives in the service of their nation in the space of just 13 months. A cousin, Sidney Alfred Watherston was also killed late in the War in August 1918. This is surely one of the most profound examples of family loss experienced by South Australian families in the service of the nation. Another cousin, Jack Somerville Watherston, MM (4th MG Battalion) survived the war and returned to Port Lincoln in 1919.

The Watherston family had lived on Boston Island in the spectacular Port Lincoln Harbour, where they ran a successful sheep property.  The family was singly marked for grief.  Their parents had died in a boating mishap in 1896.  One of the boys was rowing his parents out to their cutter for a short leg over to Port lincoln township.  The dinghy capsised and while James survived, his parents did not.  Their bodies were pulled from the surf by their children who had been standing watching on the beach.

The loss of so many men from one family appears to be a sombre record of the sacrifice made by the Australian community on in a war fought on behalf of people on the other side of the world.

The Watherston brothers are not all listed on the SA National War Memorial becasue some, including James, were working interstate when the war broke out in 1914.

The Watherston family story is to be documented in a forthcoming book by Port Lincoln historian, Lee Clayton.


The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1889 - 1931) Saturday 18 November 1916


News has been received by the Misses Watherston that their brother, Private James Watherston, is reported missing from September 19 last. Another brother, Lance-Corporal E. A. Watherston, is also reported missing from July 20.



Sunday Times (Perth, WA: 1902 - 1954) Sunday 31 December 1916



Reported missing between September 19-20. Wife and family reside at Victoria Park. Has two brothers killed and two missing. 



Chronicle (Adelaide, SA: 1895 - 1954) Saturday 21 July 1917


Word has been received by the Misses Watherston, of Cuming-street, Mile-End, that their brother, Lance-Corporal E. A. Watherston, was killed in action in France on July 23, 1916. He had previously been reported missing. He was a member of the original 10th Battalion and took part in the landing at Gallipoli, where he was wounded. They have also been informed that another brother, Private James Watherston, of Western Australia, was killed in action on August 19, 1916, in France. He had previously been reported missing. Both were sons of the late Mr. James Watherston, of Port Lincoln. Two other brothers have made the supreme sacrifice. All four enlisted early in the war. Private James Watherston left a widow and two children.