James Campbell (Mick) MCCRACKEN


MCCRACKEN, James Campbell

Service Number: VX45756
Enlisted: 10 July 1940
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd/24th Infantry Battalion
Born: Ararat, Victoria, Australia, 6 April 1919
Home Town: Ararat, Ararat, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Executed, Italy, 15 April 1944, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Milan War Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial
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World War 2 Service

10 Jul 1940: Enlisted Private, SN VX45756, 2nd/24th Infantry Battalion
10 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Private, SN VX45756, 2nd/24th Infantry Battalion

Help us honour James Campbell McCracken's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Cherilyn McMeekin

James was the twelfth of 14 children born to John and Ada. Four of his siblings died in childhood.

His mother Ada died in 1939, the year before James enlisted. Five of his six brothers also enlisted.

James was a POW on board the Italian transport ship Nino Bixio when it was torpedoed by a British submarine in the Mediterranean on 17 August 1942. The Nino Bixio was transporting Allied POWs from Libya to Italy. He was one of the 122 Australian POWs to survive the incident. He and another three men died later by execution.


Biography contributed by Virtual Australia

Pte James McCracken was captured on 22 July 1942 during the attack by the 26th Brigade on German positions immediately north east of Tel el Eisa, probably around Trig point 25.

He was held in an Italian POW Camp in Italy, until he managed to escape after the Italian surrender in 1943.

In February of 1944 he joined an Italian partisan group fighting the Germans around Milan but on 15 April 1944 he was captured wearing civilian clothes along with two British soldiers, Corporal Brown and Gunner Miller (probably 847083 Fred Miller, 1 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery), and a number of other Italian partisans at Varallo, north east of Milan.

The three soldiers and the other partisans were lined up facing a wall with their hands tied behind their back and shot in the back by members of the 63rd Tagliamento Battalion (Italian fascists). Before he was executed Pte McCracken was allowed to write a letter to his family in Bendigo: "Just a line to tell you that I will not see you again as I am going to be shot...".

Pte McCracken's body was recovered from the Varallo cemetery and is now buried in the British Military Cemetery in Milan.


Courtesy of AWM image and information  - P03866.001