James Thomson MM

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James Thomson MM
Personal Information
Date of Birth c1892
Place of Birth Preston Kirk, Haddington shire, Scotland
Age at Enlistment 23 years, 5 months
Description 5'6½" (1.69m) tall ; 140lbs
63.503 kg
; medium complexion ; blue eyes ; dark hair
Occupation Labourer
Religion Presbyterian
Address none stated
Next of Kin Father , Mr Alexander Thomson
Military Information
Reg Number 3124
Date of Enlistment 7 Jul 1915
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 11th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement, transferred to 51st Battalion
Date of Embarkation 13 Oct 1915
Ship Embarked On HMAT A32 Themistocles Fremantle to Suez
Date of Return 1 May 1919 ‒ 1 Jun 1919
Ship Returned On SS China Devonport to Fremantle
Fate WIA 23 Jul 1916 Pozières
WIA 24 Nov 1916 Flers
Awarded Military Medal 12 Oct 1917 Broodseinde
Returned to Australia
Monument Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Gosnells Ward Honour Roll
Medals Military Medal
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

War Service

Entered Blackboy Hill camp, and following some basic training he was allocated to the 10th reinforcement draft for the 11th Battalion. He travelled with them to Egypt, where at Tel-el-Kebir on 7 Jan 1916 he was taken on strength by the battalion and posted to D Company.

For the next two months they undertook training in the canal zone, and during this time, a half of the Battalion was separated and renamed the 51st Battalion. James remained with the 11th at this time, although he required medical attention from the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station from 20 - 24 Feb 1916 after which he spent a short time with the 2nd Field Ambulance before returning to duty on 4 Mar 1916. Following further training they received their orders to proceed to France and so on 27 Mar 1916 they entrained for Alexandria where they boarded HMT Corsican with the 12th Battalion on 28 Mar 1916. They sailed on 30 Apr 1916, and arrived in Marseilles, southern France on 5 Apr 1916.

During the period 22 - 25 Jul 1916 the 11th Battalion was heavily involved in fighting around Pozières. At 30 minutes after midnight 22/23 July, James was a member of one of the early waves of attackers tasked with capturing German positions south of the Pozières village. In doing so he received a gunshot wound to his left leg. Seen first by the 2nd Field Ambulance, he was passed back to the 1/1st Southern Midlands Casualty Clearing Station on 23 Jul 1916 before being placed on an Ambulance Train for Rouen where on 24 Jul 1916 he was admitted to the 1st Stationary Hospital.

Evacuated to England aboard HMHS St Andrew on 29 Jul 1916 from Rouen, the following day he was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth. When his recovery was advance enough, he was sent to the 3rd Training Battalion. Following training he was transferred to France on 7 Oct 1916, where on arrival he found himself being reallocated, this time to the 51st Battalion, who he joined on 20 Oct 1916 as they came out of the line at St Eloi, about 5 kilometres south of Ieper (Ypres).

After a period of relaxation in the Vignacourt / Buire area, the battalion was providing working parties to the front line area near Flers on 24 Nov 1916. Late in the afternoon the Germans had flung a few shells into the battalion area causing one casualty - James who suffered a shell wound to the head. Passed back through the Casualty Clearing System he was admitted to the 10th General Hospital in Rouen on 27 Nov 1916, and then on 6 Dec 1916 evacuated to the UK aboard HMHS St George. On arrival he was admitted to the VAD Hospital in Exeter with severe concussion nd a wound to the head.

Released from hospital he enjoyed some furlough before reporting to the No. 1 Command Depot in Perham Downs where he was reclassified before being sent back overseas through Folkestone on 25 Feb 1917 aboard HMT Golden Eagle. After some time in the 4th Division's Base Depot, James was able to rejoin his battalion on 20 Mar 1917 at Buire where they were training.

James distinguished himself during the operations near Broodseinde on 12 Oct 1917. The Australian's had launched what was to be a pointless and unsuccessful attack on Passchendaele Ridge, but were unable to hold any ground gained. The 51st Battalion suffered 250 casualties during the next few days and when withdrawn, the battalion numbered less than 200 men fit to continue.

James was granted leave in Feb 1918, rejoining the battalion on 25 Feb 1918. On 16 Jun 1918 he reported sick with influenza to the 12th Field Ambulance, remaining with them until fit to return to his unit on 21 Jun 1918. He was sent to a rest camp for several days to rebuild his strength. Between 9 and 29 Jan 1919 he was absent from his battalion, enjoying leave in England. On 13 Mar 1919 James left France for the last time, travelling to Weymouth to be processed for return to Australia. During the voyage home, James required treatment for impetigo from the ship's hospital.

Discharged by the 5th Military District on 24 Jul 1919.

Award Comment

Military Medal

In operations near BROODSEINDE on 12th October, 1917, these men did splendid work as stretcher bearers in going to the assistance and collecting wounded men under very heavy shell fire and at great personal risk. It was entirely due to their gallantry and devotion to duty that casualties were cleared quickly and many lives saved.'[1][2]

Post War


  1. London Gazette dated 4 Feb 1918
  2. Commonwealth Gazette' No. 95 dated 27 June 1918.

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