Hollister James (Jim or Jimmy) DEAN MM

DEAN, Hollister James

Service Number: SX5282
Enlisted: 14 June 1940, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Kadina, South Australia, 14 September 1908
Home Town: Minnipa, Wudinna, South Australia
Schooling: Minnipa School, South Australia, Australia
Occupation: Butcher
Died: Killed in Action, New Guinea, 2 October 1943, aged 35 years
Cemetery: Lae War Cemetery
U. B. 8.
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Minnipa War Memorial Oval Arch Gates
Show Relationships

World War 2 Service

14 Jun 1940: Enlisted Private, SX5282, Adelaide, South Australia
14 Jun 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Corporal, SX5282, 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion
2 Oct 1943: Involvement Corporal, SX5282, 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion, New Guinea - Huon Peninsula / Markham and Ramu Valley /Finisterre Ranges Campaigns
Date unknown: Involvement
Date unknown: Honoured Military Medal

In His Brother’s Footsteps with the 43rd

James (Jim) Dean was born in Kadina on the 14th September, 1908 to Alfred and Sarah (nee Hill). He was the 6th of eight children, Amelia, Elise, Lewis, Alfred, Hedley and two younger sisters, Dorothy and Iris. Initially the family had lived in Unley, then Port Pirie. However, when Jim was a youngster, he and the younger members of the family moved to Minnipa, a small country town on the Eyre Peninsula, known for its grain growing. Jim attended the local school, proving to be a natural and popular sportsman in wide ranging sports including football, cricket and tennis.
Post school Jim was a member of the Citizen Military Force, working and playing football in Wudinna where his sporting prowess was admired as was his cheerful disposition. Jim also became a butcher, following in his father’s and older brother’s footsteps. Part of his work was to receive large carcasses which he would then expertly cut, trim and prepare for sale to families. Jim also had exceptional personal qualities that endeared him to those with whom he came in contact. There was a strong sense of camaraderie amongst the young men of the area, but so many were aware of the struggling farmers in the region hit by drought and also the effects of the Depression.
With the outbreak of WWII, Minnipa was particularly proactive in instituting a Patriotic Digger Competition. Staff of Goldsborough Mort and Company Ltd, for whom Bryan Holmes worked, were particularly supportive at their livestock markets, where the auctioneer procured top prices for sheep and pigs donated by returned soldiers from WWI. At the same time in July 1940, nine men from Minnipa enlisted early in July when recruiting sergeants were appointed to many of the country areas, including Wudinna. These included Gordon Broad, Harry Chesson and Bryan Holmes, all of whom were drafted into the 2/48th Battalion. At that initial stage medical examinations were a pre-requisite. James was in Adelaide at the time and also enlisted on the 14th June, 1940, prior to his 32nd birthday, becoming SX5282 and a member of the 2/43rd Battalion. Almost immediately Jim began his early training at the Wayville Showgrounds in the Motor Pavilion. Training then moved to Woodside in the Adelaide Hills.
Jim was following in the footsteps of his older brother by ten years, Harold Lewis Dean. Coincidentally, 35 years previously, Lewis had served in the 43rd Battalion during WWI, having enlisted as an 18-year-old, 3rd Reinforcement on what would become the historic day of remembering, the 11th of the 11th in 1916. Lewis was more than lucky to survive, sustaining gunshot wounds to his right leg, head and thigh. The latter wounding in action also included serious gas burns to his left eye, all by the time he had just turned 21 years of age. Lewis was recorded as sustaining ‘Effort Syndrome’, a quaint quasi-acknowledgement of the trauma such a young man had endured in less than three years.
While on pre-embarkation leave in December, Jim returned to Minnipa where very quickly a tradition of the community organising a farewell social at the Minnipa Institute had quickly been established. With its backdrop of flags and hunting decoration it provided a fitting backdrop for the formal farewells as Private Dean was accompanied to the stage through a guard of honour formed by members of R.S.A. So many locals contributed as the ‘West Coast Sentinel’ reported. Some arranged bowls of beautiful Gladioli and flowers on pedestals decorating the stage. Jim’s mother, Sarah was presented with a sheath of flowers and his father, Alfred with a buttonhole for his coat. The evening began with the singing of the National Anthem before the formalities and speeches were given. Gordon Broad’s uncle, Councillor Harold Broad was one of the speakers who “commented on the fact that one volunteer was worth three conscripts, and thereby drew comparisons between the relative strength of the allied and enemy forces.” Harold had known Jim as a footballer frequently on the receiving end of applause for his reliable marking, adding that “the same bursts of applause of "Good old Jimmy'' so often heard then as Jim scored a mark could be voiced still louder on this occasion. He. would say with all sincerity "Good old Jimmy." Mr. Williams, a local resident added that he had known Jim since he was a schoolboy, and had played cricket with both Jim and his father, Alfred. Tributes were paid to both Jim’s parents, who were held in high esteem in the town. Poignantly, but sadly not prophetically, Mr Williams added the wish that “Jim would be spared to return safely.”
The sporting clubs also added their praise of Jim as an all-round sportsman and outstanding footballer who was fair-minded and always ready for a challenge. In the latter sport Jim was a delegate who supported end of season surplus money-in-hand be donated to patriotic purposes. The belief was that Jim’s “fair-minded, undaunted spirit that had predominated his sporting career in the past, would stand in his favor when he met the enemy on the other side—in fact he would not give much for the enemy's chances.” The latter sentiment certainly proved to be predictive.
Private Dean was the recipient of many presentations including a parcel of comforts from the Wudinna C.W.A. plus a gift from the residents of that town, and a wristlet watch from the residents. The record attendance to farewell Jim reflected the high esteem in which he was held with all attendees then enjoying the dancing that followed in his honour. In his sincere but modest response, Jim was most appreciative of the gifts and comments on his sporting abilities. He added “he had always played for the love of the game, and the same applied to his enlisting. He "just took on the job." That was all that he expected.”
Whilst Jim was travelling to the Middle East, the very active C.W.A. had organised a Tree Planting Tribute at Minnipa. Again, Councillor Harold Broad was instrumental in the decision to plant an individual tree as a tribute to each of the men who had enlisted from the district. A protective guard was provided for the young trees by the C.W.A., and eventually each tree would have a name plate attached. Sarah planted a tree on behalf of Jim.
While overseas, Jim wrote a particularly descriptive letter, published in the ‘West Coast Sentinel’ in April ’41 which aptly captured the spirit of adventure for the Aussies travelling overseas for the first time.
“A line to let you know that everything is going O.K. and still having a wonderful trip. We had a few hours' leave at Colombo and had a really interesting time. As soon as the boat pulled in, we were surrounded by the natives with boatloads of fruit and souvenirs. They yelled and jabbered and wanted to charge about twenty times as much as anything was worth. The lads had quite a lot of fun bartering over the prices. One chap wanted £3 for a set of elephants, but one of the boys got it for 5/- after about an hour's arguing.
"When we went ashore, it was, of course, very different from what we had ever seen. The place is a mixture of the ancient and modern. The traffic is all mixed up with motor cars, oxen waggons, bikes and rickshaws all hooting to get through. There are some very beautiful places out around the outskirts of the town. The racecourse is a wonderful place. The stands are all painted white and against the green turf and lawns it looks extra good. The gardens of tropical flowers set in and around the lawns are very pretty. The flowers seem to have every conceivable color and shape. Victoria Park is another beautiful place, with flowers and ferns of every shape and colouring. We were shown through the house of a very wealthy man, and it was worth going a few miles to see it. Painted pure white with towers and spires, it was set in the middle of lawns and gardens. In any other country I suppose it would cost a fair bit per week to run, but with the coolies, I should say that labour there is about the cheapest in the world.
"We were taken through a Buddhist Temple, and that was well worth seeing. We saw gods carved from solid gold, also trees from gold with golden coins hung on the branches to represent leaves. These trees are a wonderful piece of work. Every branch was of pure gold and so arranged to look very natural. We saw a fruit dish made up of thousands of pieces of wood, about an inch long and a quarter of an inch wide. There were no nails or glue to hold it together. Every piece of wood was cut and fitted into each other, and I wouldn't like to guess how long it took to make. A bible we saw was 1300 years old and had all the printing (or characters) on palm leaves about I5 inches long and two inches wide. There was some wonderful tapestry work all done by native women. This was very beautiful; also lyre birds that had been mounted. "Down some of the streets you can walk in comparative comfort and view the bigger shops, but immediately you turn into a side street you are surrounded by hawkers and children. The children have that real professional beggar touch and the right expression on their faces. They may do all right when the ordinary tourists are about, but I don’t think they got on too well with our lads.
"The rickshaws came in for a lot of attention, and did a very brisk business. It was not unusual to see a nigger perched up on the seat and the lads pulling it along. The rickshaws are only made to carry one, but the lads would double bank on one, and then the old coolie would earn his money, especially if going up hill.
There are some very clever magicians among these people, but the best I ever was a lad who looked about twelve years old. He was very clever and beats anything I’ve seen in Aussie. All the rickshaw boys finished up with names of trotters such as Dusty, Hanover, Black Hope etc. The people arranged free bus trips about the country side for us, but my three mates and I went to the Anzac canteen for a cup of tea about, two o’clock, and lady asked us if we had been around the outskirts. When was said ‘No’ she called her car driver and told him to take us around for a drive. So, we sort of did it in style. These native drivers love to speed along, but they can drive a car. I wouldn’t be too sure of driving through the rickshaws myself.
I suppose it will be a long time before you get this letter and some time before I get any from you all over there, but I suppose we will get some mail eventually. We had a Xmas hamper from the Comforts Fund the other day and it was a very god parcel with tinned fruit, a plum pudding, tooth brush and paste, box of lollies and dried fruits, a tin of shaving cream, chewing gum and soap. They are all very acceptable, believe me."
The following month this typically thoughtful son again sent his mother, Sarah, Mother’s Day greetings, reporting he was well and still smiling.
Jim gained promotion to A/Corporal in July ‘42 but within a month had reverted to Private. However, by September he had been awarded the Military Medal for his outstanding courage in action. Jim’s parents, Sarah and Alfred were quite touched when news of the award reached Minnipa. The Home Guard marched to the front of their home where the officer in command made a speech on behalf of the company congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Dean on the bravery of their son. Officially, his action was reported: “On July 17, during a battalion attack, his section met fierce resistance for 2000 yards of their advance. Dean silenced one machine-gun post with his Bren gun. When all the rest of the section had been killed or wounded, he carried on single-handed, keeping the flank secure. Later he took part in a daring raid on enemy field-gun batteries, during which three guns and 16 prisoners were captured.”
Jim’s official recitation states that ‘In the El Alemeine sector on 17 July 42 Pte DEAN displayed extreme courage and devotion to duty. He was a member of the left section of the left forward coy in the Bn attack on ridge which section met fierce resistance for 2000 yards of their advance. Pte DEAN silenced one machine gun post with his Bren and, after all the remainder of the section had been either killed or wounded carried on the work of the section single handed keeping the left flank secure. Only after a further 500 yards had been traversed did he again rejoin his pl. He later took part in a daring raid on enemy field gun batteries in which three guns were destroyed and the crews of 16 captured.’ At a similar time, another young soldier known in Minnipa as a commercial traveller, Sergeant Jacka had also earned a Military Medal. These were the third military medals to be won by men with West Coast attachments: the first was won by Sgt. Tom Charlton in 1941.
Jim was again promoted in November. With the men returning from Tobruk, Minnipa locals were looking forward to seeing Jim, Bill Crowther and Bryan Holmes back home on leave in March of ’43. It provided a time for precious memories. Tropical training followed in Queensland, then Jim travelled from Cairns to Milne Bay on the ‘Manoora’ in August that year. Tragically, within two months he was reported as missing in action. This report then officially became ‘Killed in Action’ on October 8th 1943. Jim was aged 35. Initially he was buried at Staltelburg before finally being re-buried at the Lae War Cemetery.
In March of 1946, Parents Sarah and Alfred travelled to Government House, Adelaide to receive Jim’s Military Medal from His Excellency the Governor, Sir Willoughby Norrie. The ‘Port Lincoln Times’ fittingly summarised the parents’ loss:
“The whole nation congratulates the parents on the achievements of their son and join with them, in mourning the loss of a gallant soldier and son, but at the same time rejoice in being able to honour one whose gallant deeds of bravery and devotion to duty are an inspiration to those who follow. Though he be dead still his spirit lives.”
Each year, tributes flowed in remembering and honouring Jim. A selection is included:
Advertiser Thursday 28 October 1943, DEAN.—A loving tribute to Cpl. H- J. Dean, M.M. Jim. killed N.G, Oct. 2. A loving smile, a happy face, a broken link that we can never replace. lnserted by his friends, Stan and Kathleen White. DEAN.—A tribute of love and honor to Cpl. H. J. Dean, MM., killed N.G., Oct. 2. Deep in my heart a memory is kept of one I loved and will never forget. lnserted by his true friend, Pattie White. DEAN.—In honor of our friend, Cpl. H. J. Dean. MM. (Jim), killed N.G, Oct. 2. We will always remember. His pals, Jim and Brian.
Advertiser Friday 29 October 1943, DEAN-Killed in action. October 2; N.G., Cpl H. J. Dean (Lester), M.M. Resting In a soldier's grave, honored with Australia's brave. Loved brother of Harold, Cora, uncle of Ronald and Murray Keswick. Dearly loved brother and brother-in-law of Laurel and Doug, uncle of Shirley. Barry and Jimmy.
West Coast Sentinel Thursday 4 November 1943, DEAN, Cpl. H. J. (Jim) Dean, MM, killed in action New Guinea, on the 2nd October, loved brother of Dorothy (Mrs. Bohn), brother-in-law Bill, and uncle of Marjory, Bill and Betty. His duty nobly done.
Advertiser Monday 2 October 1944, DEAN.—In loving remembrance of our dear son. CpL H. J. Dean. MM, killed in action, Finschhafen. October 2, 1943. He sacrificed himself for all that was dear to him in life, and for his King and country. lnserted by his loving mother and father. DEAN.—In memory of our dear friend. Cpl H J. Dean. (Jim), killed at Finschhafen, October 2. 1943. The rose that is the fairest and the rarest is the rose that is killed by the frost; and the friend that to us was the dearest is the one we loved and lost. lnserted by Mr. and Mrs. Stan White. Patricia. Jim and DEAN. Cpl. H. J. (Jim). M.M. A tribute to the memory of our dear uncle and brother killed in action. Finschhafen, N.G. October 2. 1943. Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Remembered always by his sister Dorothy, brother-in-law Bill and Marjory. Royce and Betty. DEAN, MM—A tribute to the memory of our beloved brother and uncle Jim. who made the supreme sacrifice. New Guinea. October 2, 1943. Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved, Ever remembered by Hedley, Olive and children-DEAN. CPL H. J. (Jim). M.M.—In proud and loving memory of our dear brother and uncle, killed in action, Finschhafen. N.G, October 2 1943. Greater love has no man than this. His duty nobly done.—Remembered always by his sister Laurel brother-in-law Doug, niece and nephews, Shirley, Barry and Jimmy. DEAN, Cpl. H. J., MM.—ln loving memory of our dear brother and uncle Lester (rtd. M_E.). killed N.G, October 2. 1943. Father In Thy gracious keeping leave we now our hero sleeping. lnserted by May, Stan, Ross, Colin Pritchard (Pt. Pirie), also Valmai (Sydney). DEAN.—In loving memory of our brother and uncle. CpL H. J. (Jim) Dean. M.M. 2/43rd Battalion, killed in action. New Guinea. October 2. 1943.—Ever remembered by Harold. Cora, Ronald and Murray.
Port Lincoln Times Thursday 5 October 1944, DEAN, Cpl. H. J. (M.M.). A tribute to the memory of our beloved brother and uncle, Jim, who made the supreme sacrifice at Finschafen, October 2, 1943. Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved.— Ever remembered by Hedley, Olive and children, Meryl, Allan, Gwenneth.
Port Lincoln Times Thursday 4 October 1945, DEAN. A tribute of honor to our friend CpL H. J. Dean, M.M., killed in action, October 2nd. — Remembered by Dulc and Alex. DEAN (M.M.). — A sincere tribute to the memory of our beloved brother and uncle, Jim (late 2 /43rd Battalion), who made the supreme sacrifice, New Guinea, on October 2, 1943. The journey is ended, the summit attained. — Ever remembered by Hedley, Olive and Meryl, Allan and Gwenneth.
Advertiser Tuesday 2 October 1945, DEAN. In loving memory of our brother and uncle. CpL H. J. Dean. MM, killed in action, Finachhafen. October 2. 1943. Remembered by Harold, Cora, Ronald and Murray, Keswick DEAN. Cpl H. J. MM— In loving remembrance of our son. Jim, late famous 9th Div_ who was killed in action, Finschhafen. N.G. on October 2. 1943. He was in the battle of Tobruk, and fought at El Alamein; Then returning to Australia. Was sent from us again. Will always be remembered by his father and mother. DEAN. A tribute to our friend. Cpl H. J. Dean, MM (Jim), killed Finschhafen. October 2. 1943. A leaf in our book of memories Is gently turned today. lnserted by Patricia. Jim and Brian White. DEAN. Cpl- H. J. ln loving memory of our dear brother and uncle Lester, killed New Guinea, on October 2, 1943. May the sunshine you missed on life's pathway be found in God's garden of rest. lnserted by May, Stan, Valmai, Ross and Colin (R-A.N., Pacific). DEAN, MM. A tribute to the memory of our beloved brother and uncle, Jim. late 2/43rd Batt who made the supreme sacrifice. New Guinea. October 2. 1943. He will walk beside us through the passing years. Ever remembered by Hedley, Olive and Meryl. Allan, Gwenneth. DEAN. SX5282, Cpl- H. J. (Jim). MM. late 2/43rd Battalion, returned, killed in action, New Guinea, October 2, 1943. We cherish the years we called him ours. A tribute of love and remembrance from Laurel, Doug, Shirley, Barry and Jimmy. DEAN.—In loving memory of our dear friend. Cpl. H. J. Dean. MM. (Jim), killed Finschhafen, October 2. 1943. A thought for today, a memory for ever. Ever remembered by Kath and Stan White.
Advertiser Wednesday 2 October 1946, DEAN, SX5282. Cpl. H. J. In proud and loving memory of our dear brother and uncle Jim, killed In action, Finschhafen, N.G Oct. 2nd, 1943, after glorious service with Ninth Div. M.E.—Remembered always by Dorothy, Bill and children. DEAN, M. M. ln fond remembrance of our beloved brother and uncle, Jim, who made the supreme sacrifice, New Guinea, October 2, 1943. Memories linger on. A tribute from Olive. Hedley and children. DEAN. In memory of our dear friend. Cpl. J. H. Dean. M.M. (Jim), killed Finschhafen, October 2, 1943. Close in our hearts a memory is kept of one we loved and will never forget. Always remembered by Mr. and Mrs. Stan White, Patricia, Jim (R.A.N.) and Brian. DEAN. In proud and loving memory of our brother and uncle, Cpl. H. J. (Jim), M.M.. killed in action, Finschhafen, October 2, 1943. Remembered always by Laurel, Doug., Shirley, Barry and Jimmy. DEAN. In loving memory of our brother and uncle. Cpl. H. J. Dean, M.M., killed In action, Finschhafen, October 2, 1943. Remembered by Harold, Cora, Ronald and Murray.
Port Lincoln Times Thursday 3 October 1946, DEAN, M.M. A tribute to the memory of our beloved brother and uncle Jim, who made the supreme sacrifice at Finschhafen on October 2, 1943. Fond memories cling. Ever remembered by Hedley, Olive and children.
Port Lincoln Times Thursday 2 October 1947, DEAN, M.M.— A tribute to the memory of our beloved brother and uncle Jim late 2/43 Batt, who made the supreme sacrifice. New Guinea, October 2, 1943. The journey is ended. Ever remembered by Hedley, Olive and Meryl, Allan, Gwenneth, Raelene.
Advertiser Thursday 2 October 1947, DEAN. M.M. A tribute io the memory of our beloved brother and Uncle Jim late 2/ 43rd Batt. who made the supreme sacrifice New Guinea October 2, 1943. Ever remembered by Hedley, Olive and children. DEAN. In loving memory of our dear son. Cpl. H. J. Jim Dean. MM., killed in action. Finschhafen, October 2, 1943. late 2nd/43rd Batt. Always thoughtful, true and kind, a beautiful memory to leave behind. lnserted by his loving mother and father. DEAN. M.M. —In loving memory of my youngest brother James Hollister, killed in action New Guinea October 2, 1943 At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember you. lnserted by May and family. Pt. Pirie. DEAN. A tribute to our dear friend Cpl. B. J. Dean MM Jim killed Finschhafen. October 2 1943. Dearest memories are always ours. Ever remembered by Mr. and Mrs. S. White, Patricia, Jim (R.A.N.) and Brian. DEAN. In loving memory of our brother and uncle Cpl. H. J. Dean. MM. killed in action Finschhafen. October 2 1943. Remembered by Harold, Cora, Ronald and Murray, Keswick.
Advertiser Saturday 2 October 1948, DEAN. In loving memory of our dear friend Cpl. H. J. Dean. M.M., killed Finschhafen. October 2, 1943. Memories live longer than dreams. Inserted by Mr. and Mrs. Stan White and family. DEAN. M.M.—A tribute to the memory of our beloved brother and Uncle Jim who made the supreme sacrifice October 2. 1943. The Journey is ended, the summit achieved. Ever remembered by Hedley, Ollie and family. DEAN. In loving remembrance of our son and brother Cpl. H. J. (Jimmy), MM., killed in action Finschhafen. October 2, 1943. after glorious service Middle East 9th Division. He died that we might live. Always remembered by his mother, father, Dorothy, Bill and family, Minnipa. DEAN. M.M. In loving memory of Lester, killed in action. New Guinea, October 2, 1943. Though absent from among us, for ever in our thoughts. lnserted by his loving sister May and family, Port Pirie. DEAN. In loving memory of our brother and uncle, Cpl. H. J. Dean. M.M. killed in action Finschhafen. October 2, 1943. Remembered by Harold, Cora, Ronald and Murray, Keswick.
Advertiser Saturday 1 October 1949, DEAN. In loving memory of our son Cpl. H. J. Jim, M.M., killed in action Finschhafen. New Guinea, Oct. we shall meet with many a loved one who was torn from our embrace. We shall listen to their voices and behold them face to face. Always remembered by his mother and father. DEAN. In loving memory of our brother and uncle Cpl. H. J. (Jim) Dean. MM 2/43rd. killed in action Finschhafen. October 2 1943. Remembered by Harold, Cora, Ronald and Murray. Keswick. DEAN. MM In loving memory of my dear brother Hollister James, killed in action Oct. 2. 1943. Not dead to those who loved him, nor has he travelled far, just stepped Inside his heavenly home and left the gate ajar. Inserted by his sister May and family. DEAN. In loving memory of our dear brother and uncle, Cpl. H. J. Dean killed in action. Finschhafen Oct. 2, 1943. Your life was one big sacrifice, your heart was true and tender, You toiled so hard for those you loved and left them to remember. Ever remembered by sister Laurel, brother-in-law Doug and Shirley, Barry, Jimmy.

Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133 2/48th Battalion


The Jimmy Dean we knew...

One of my truly lasting memories of World War II is of the raft of Aussie Diggers who stomped through our house in the Adelaide 'burbs, as we were sort of an unofficial Drop-In Centre for a parade of young blokes in uniform, all with big boots and singing voices of assorted quality. Some were relatives, some were from back in our old home town out in the bush or both, and all of them had mates, and everyone seemed to arrive with endless cigarettes and a bottle of beer.

One of these was Jimmy Dean.

When he was no more than a boy Jimmy Dean (his actual name was Hollister James Dean, so probably no wonder he called himself Jim) came to live and work out in the western wheat-and-sheep town where my parents lived and where my elder brother and I were born, and in time became one of the district's top footy and cricket players. Jim worked for the town butcher, and made deliveries around town by bike, and my mum told my elder brother Mick how Jimmy used to pick him up and put him in the basket on the handlebars with the packages of meat, and they'd do the rounds of the town together.

Along with so many of those young farmland men, when the shooting in Europe and the Middle East clearly wasn't going to end by any Christmas soon after all, in June 1940 Jim (by then at 31 not a kid any more), joined the Army and was assigned to the 2nd/43rd Infantry Battalion. Couple of months training, a big send-off 'do' for him and the others by the good folk of what had become his home town, onto the ship, and by Jan 1941 he found himself in the thick of it in the Middle East.

My Mum was an avid letter-writer and parcel-sender, seemed to think that somehow warm socks and boiled fruit cake and words from home would help win the war, and when she died recently (aged 102) I inherited quite a collection of letters she kept from all of her mates at the front. They are absolutely brilliant. And Jimmy Dean wrote more than any of them, starting soon after he arrived at a place he could only describe "...as hot as Hell... and the flies are the worst I've ever struck... and treat any hand waving with silent contempt...", and while he wasn't allowed to say exactly where he was, he tells her all about his visit to The Pyramids and The Sphinx!

Going by his Unit's diaries, Jim was well amongst the desert campaign for two years, but other than the time he had to reluctantly let Mum know how her sister's husband died (fairly much right alongside of him) you'd be hard pressed to see any of it in his letters, sticking to the 'fun' bits, most of it laced with dry Aussie humour and not even close to being politically correct. But at all times the uncomplicated young buck from the bush comes through in the words - "...wandered off to Cairo... to Groppies Restaurant, one of the show places of the city and home of bright lights and soft music... and young Jim trying to do a line with one of the most beautiful girls he has ever clapped his eyes on. A lovely blonde dressed in pink and willing to talk but that's all!"

Another time he tells her about his set-to with an officer. It was one "...bright moonlight night in the desert..." and Jim's section was assigned to protect a group of sappers who had to clear a path through a minefield, and the officer in charge of them thought he saw enemy troops on the skyline, and unbeknown to Jim's infantry section, headed for home, leaving Jim and his patrol stranded. And seeing they were on their own, in the dark, far from camp, and in a minefield, "...I got a funny feeling in my tummy then..." is a masterpiece of understatement. When he got his men back he hunted down the officer and words were said. Which temporarily cost Jim his corporal stripe.

Jim also doesn't mention being awarded the Military Medal at El Alamein in July 1941. He and his section were covering the forward left flank on an attack on Ruin Ridge, and for more than a mile came under constant fire that either killed or wounded everyone but him, so Jim and his Bren-gun carried on alone and managed to keep the whole left flank secure, then joined in on an attack on three artillery positions where all three guns were knocked out and 16 prisoners taken. Jim'd had a busy day! But never wrote about it.

My brother told me recently that when Mum told him (Mick would've been 9 at the time) that Jim "...had won a medal and would be home on leave soon... (I) was beside myself with anticipation to see him walk in with his big gong pinned to his chest. When he arrived without it - he hadn't been presented with it at that stage - I was so disappointed."

As it turned out Jim never did get to see, or wear, his medal. Like all of those Battalions, the 2/43rd was pulled out of the desert in 1943 and reassigned to the New Guinea campaign, and after breezing through our place (without his medal on his chest!) on leave, Jim headed for the jungles of Queensland for re-training, and in August 1943 they embarked for New Guinea and that's when his letters to Mum end.

Jim's battalion became part of the Milne Bay defence, and in the early hours of 30th October 1943 they landed at Scarlet Beach, just north of Finschhafen, to stop the Japanese counter-attack at that time. The fighting was intense and thick with mortar fire, and just two days in to the battle SX 5282 Cpl Hollister James Dean MM was reported "missing in action believed killed".

Jim is buried in the Lae Commonwealth War Cemetery, and his Military Medal was eventually presented posthumously, to Jim's father, in 1946.

Like all of those young men who passed through our home between 1940 and 1944, Jimmy Dean was of a time, and of a style, the likes of which we will probably never see again.

Trev Edmonds June 2020


Newspaper Report

Mr. and Mrs. A. Dean, of Minnipa,
have received advice that their fourth j
son, Opl. H. J. (Jim) Dean, M.M., |
previously reported missingt believed
killed, is now reported killed during
operations in New Guinea on October
2. Cpl. Dean- fomght with distinction
through the .siege of Tohruk, and was
awarded the Military Medal for
bravery during the battle of Eli
Alamein. He returned to Australia
during the early months of this year.
Cpl. Dean .was 35 years of age and

Showing 3 of 3 stories