The AIF Project

James Douglas CUNNINGHAM

Regimental number5561
Place of birthDrum, Sligo, Ireland
SchoolSligo Model School, Ireland
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationFarm labourer
AddressKooweerup, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation18
Height5' 7.5"
Weight154 lbs
Next of kinFather, Samuel Cunningham, Drum Slingo, Ireland
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date26 April 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll1 August 1916
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name21st Battalion, 15th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/38/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A9 Shropshire on 25 September 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll21st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 9 October 1917
Place of death or woundingPasschendaele, Ypres, Belgium
Age at death19
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 23), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
93
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 25 September 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 10 November 1916. Proceeded overseas to France, 13 December 1916; joined 21st Bn, France, 17 December 1916.

Wounded in action, 3 May 1917 (gun shot wound, head), and admitted to 3rd Casualty Clearing Station; transferred to 1st Australian General Hospital, Rouen, 5 May 1917; to 2nd Convalescent Depot, 6 May 1917; to 11th Convalescent Depot, Buchy, 12 June 1917; to 2nd Australian Division Base Depot, Havre, 12 June 1917; rejoined unit, 24 June 1917.

Reported missing in action, Belgium, 9 October 1917; Court of Enquiry, 7 February 1918, confirmed fate as killed in action, 9 October 1917.

Statement by 7322 D'A SUTTON, 4 February 1918: 'I was in the same Lewis Gun team as Private Cunningham J.D. and when out in an advanced position near Daisy Wood on the 8th October 1917, I left the position to go back to the support line for panniers, and when I returned the gun and team were blown up. I saw five dead bodies but recognised none, but I am sure they were the team. Private Ketteridge F.W., Cunningham J.D. and Fisher C.D. were three of the team. I reported back to the front line to the officer in charge, telling him all particulars.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, CUNNINGHAM James Douglas

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