The AIF Project

James Murray AITKEN

Regimental number625
Date of birth--/02/1891
Place of birthBendigo, Victoria
SchoolKalgoorlie Central State School, Western Australia
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationAccountant
Address8 Keenan Street, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation23
Height5' 10"
Weight156 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs B Aitken, 8 Keenan Street, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Previous military serviceServed in the School Cadets.
Enlistment date4 September 1914
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll18 August 1914
Place of enlistmentBlackboy Hill, Western Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name11th Battalion, F Company
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A11 Ascanius on 2 November 1914
Rank from Nominal RollLieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll11th Battalion
Promotions

2nd Lieutenant


Unit: 11th Battalion
Promotion date: 12 March 1916

Lieutenant


Unit: 11th Battalion
Promotion date: 15 June 1916


Unit: 3rd Train Btn

Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Military Cross


Recommendation date: 22 July 1916

Military Cross


Recommendation date: 30 July 1916

Military Cross


Recommendation date: 3 June 1918

Mention in Despatches


Recommendation date: 6-7 October 1917

Other details from Roll of Honour Circular'He enlisted Aug 10th 1914, in Camp 17, and except for leave was never off duty for 4 years with 11th Battn and all promotions earned on the field. Received the Military Cross.' (details from mother)
FateKilled in Action 10 August 1918
Place of death or woundingFrance
Age at death27.7
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
61
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Bessie and James Murray AITKEN.
Medals

Military Cross

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in handling his own platoon with great skill and determination, and by his dash and initiative controlling platoons on his flank. Single handed he attacked an enemy machine gun post which was enfilading the company, and captured the gun and twelve prisoners. This saved many casualties, and cleared the right flank of the attack. He did splendid service.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 23
Date: 12 February 1919

Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Embarked Alexandria to join the Mediteranean Expeditionary Force, 2 March 1915.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 11 July 1915; promoted Corporal, 15 August 1915; Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 1 September 1915.

Disembarked Alexandria from Lemnos, 7 January 1916 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Promoted 2nd Lieutenant, 12 March 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 29 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 5 April 1916.

Promoted Lieutenant, 15 June 1916.

Wounded in action, 22-25 July 1916; remained at duty.

Seconded for duty with 3rd Training Bn, England, 2 March 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 18 September 1917; rejoined 11th Bn, in the field, 25 September 1917.

Performed duties of Acting Adjutant, 16 April-1 May 1918.

Wounded in action (slight), 3 June 1918; remained at duty.

Killed in action, 10 August 1918.

Note, Red Cross File No 00402028: 'Buried Memorial Plot Heath Cemetery. Sheet 62D.Q29.d.5.4. Plot 7. Row 1. Grave 4. Cert by Captain Spedding's List 23.7.19. Sheet 133.' Grave subsequently lost.

Medals: Military Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, AITKEN James Murray
Red Cross File No 00402028

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