60th Battalion parading in snow in a field in France

ANZAC Day 2024

Today my daughter was playing in the school marching band as part of the Melbourne ANZAC Day parade so I found myself waiting with the band amongst the groups of people representing many of the different groups of Australia’s military forces through history. I noticed a small group representing the 58th Battalion – the Essendon Rifles – and it reminded me of some genealogical research I had been doing on my grandmother’s brother, who died in the war. He had been a member of the 58th Battalion. I remember my Gran saying to me one day when we were watching TV and there was a news item about the dedication of the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Australian War Memorial – she said “that could be my brother”. Gran’s brother, my great uncle, was named Jim Davis.

James Henry Davis enlisted in the ‘Australian Imperial Force’ on July 12, 1915. His age on his enlistment document is stated as 18 years and 1 month, but in fact he was actually 17 and 1 month. After travelling to Egypt he was sent to the Western front, disembarking in Marseille on June 29th 1916. He was initially assigned to the 60th Battalion and then transferred to the 58th and then back to the 60th. As part of the 60th Battalion James took part in the Battle of Fromelles. The battle was the début of the AIF on the Western Front and the Australian War Memorial described it as “the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history”. In a single day, on the 19th of July 1916 the 60th Battalion was virtually wiped out, suffering 757 casualties. Jim Davis was one of those casualties. He was reported missing on 19th July 1916 and was deemed to have been killed in action nearly a year later. The following notice appeared in the Age on September 1 1917.

And here are the descendants of the 58th Battalion preparing to march in Melbourne.






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