Topic: Private Ernest Robert James
A soldier of the Great war killed in action during the fighting around Vaucelles.
Private Ernest Robert James 26268
Ernest reported that he was born 14 June 1885 in Boughrood, Breconshire, Wales, fifth child of William and Hannah James. Interestingly he may have fudged his birthdate a little as his birth was registered in 1883 and he was recorded as aged 7 in 1891 census. His father was a farmer and by 1901 he was working as farm servant driving a waggon. Between 1901 and 1914 he came to New Zealand and by 1914 he was working in Brookside as a farm labourer. Before enlisting he was working as a teamster for W Mulholland in Darfield. However when listing a next of kin he nominated his friend Albert Bateman in Springston. He was 5ft 6in with a ruddy complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair.
Ernest enlisted on 30 May 1916 and was assigned to the 17th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company and embarked with them for Devonport on board the Pakeha on 23September 1916. He arrived in England on 19th November and then on to France on 9 December 1916. He joined the 2nd Battalion Canterbury Regiment in Rouen, France on 7 Jan 1917. He served with them through-out the fighting in France but was sent on leave to England on 3 January 1918, returning on 20 January. He was detached to join the Corps Lewis Gun section on 14 March 1918 rejoining the main Battalion on 27 March. On 23 June 1918 he was admitted to 12th General Hospital with Bronchitis being discharged to Base depot on 29 June and later in early July he was admitted to the 46th Stationary Hospital with dysentery so severe he was not released until 25 July 1918.
He was killed in action 2 October 1918 during the fighting around Vaucelles when the 2nd Canterbury occupied the whole of the new brigade front south of Les Rues des Vignes. The position of his body was recorded but could not be retrieved and Ernest is remembered on the Grevillers Memorial. The Memorial commemorates almost 450 officers and men of the New Zealand Division who died in the defensive fighting in the area from March to August 1918, and in the Advance to Victory between 8 August and 11 November 1918, and who have no known grave. In New Zealand Ernest is remembered on the Springston War Memorial.