James Clement (Jim) BURGES

BURGES, James Clement

Service Number: Commissioned Officer
Enlisted: 25 July 1916
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 34th Infantry Battalion
Born: Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, 8 July 1875
Home Town: East Maitland, Maitland Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: School Teacher
Died: Killed In Action, Belgium, 12 October 1917, aged 42 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Maitland High School Roll of Honour, Parramatta NSW Public School Teachers KIA Honour Roll, Parramatta NSW Public School Teachers Who Served Abroard Honour Roll, Petersham Fort Street High School Great War Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

25 Jul 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 34th Infantry Battalion
25 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Commissioned Officer, 34th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '17' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Beltana embarkation_ship_number: A72 public_note: ''
25 Nov 1916: Embarked 34th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Beltana, Sydney
12 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 34th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres

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Biography contributed by Michael Silver

The Maitland Mercury reported on November 1, 1917 that Mrs Mina Burges of Lawes Street, East Maitland received advice through Rev. Smith of the Presbyterian Church yesterday that her husband, Lieutenant James Clement Burges was killed in action on October 12. Lieut. Burges left Australia on November 25, 1916 with the 6th Reinforcements to the 34th Battalion. For sometime he was kept on staff duty and was also acting as Quartermaster, it being in August last that he succeeded after a number of applications in being sent to France.

He has always taken an interest in military matters, having held a commission before the introduction of the universal training scheme. When this scheme came into operation, he received an appointment and at the time of enlisting he was Captain, in charge of the 14th Battalion Senior Cadets which area embraces the Singleton and Maitland districts.

Lieut. Burges had charge of the squad cadets from the East Maitland High School which a few years ago twice won the brigade championship for the Northern district, and it was mainly due to Lieut. Burges’ instruction and ability that they succeeded in carrying off that honour.

For seven years he had been attached to the staff of Maitland Boys’ High School, East Maitland and held the position of French master. He came to Maitland from Bega and had previously taught at Bega, Fort Street (Sydney), Granville and Kempsey. Altogether he had been in the service of the Education Department for 26 years.

He was an esteemed townsman and took an active part in public matters and particularly patriotic movements right up to the time of his enlistment. He was one of the most prominent workers in the District Patriotic Fund, the Belgium Day appeal, Australia Day and others, in all of which he held one of the offices. He was secretary for several of the movements and for all of which he worked energetically. The late Lieut. Burges was one of the founders of the Maitland District Scientific and Historical Research Society and was vice-president from its inception up to the time of his death.

Lieut. Burges was killed in the first Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October, 1917.  Heavy rain and mud had made movement difficult whilst the troops were exhausted and morale had fallen. In recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty under the horrific conditions, along with two other officers of the 34th Battalion who were also killed, he was recommended for a mention in despatches by the CO of the 34th Battalion for his coolness and courage in leading his platoon forward in  the face of enfiled machine gun fire. The recommendation for recognition was not approved.

Lieut. Burge left a wife and three children - Eileen, Malcolm and Norman.

References: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122848471 and https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1626055