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JAMES, Francis


Number VX38952

Battalion 2/22nd Infantry Battalion

Place of Birth Numurkah 29 March 1919

Next of Kin Albert Ernest James, his father. He was the son of Albert Ernest and Lucy Elizabeth James, of Leongatha, Victoria

Date and place of enlistment

26 October 1940 at Royal Park

Location on enlistment Leongatha

Occupation motor mechanic

Date and place of death 8 March 1942 on the beach at Gasmata, New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Location of grave or memorial His name is on the Rabaul Memorial, the Leongatha Memorial and the memorial at Leongatha Secondary College (formerly Leongatha High).

Relationship to Woorayl Shire

He lived with his family in Leongatha and attended Leongatha High School.

Frank was a well-liked young man who played football for Leongatha.

Military History

Frank was placed in the 2/22nd Battalion and trained at Mt Martha before going to Trawool near Seymour. The battalion then marched on foot from Trawool to Bonegilla near Albury for further training. He was in A Company with many other men from Leongatha and district and his commanding officer was Major Bill Owen.

Soldiers of the 2/22nd Battalion were given a few days leave to see their families and friends before returning to Bonegilla and going away to the war. The battalion travelled to Sydney by rail and then headed of by sea. They sailed in to Rabaul on Anzac Day 1941.

The men continued training and found themselves in a waiting game. Would the Japanese attack? Bombing started in late 1941 and the situation became very serious. The undermanned force was in serious trouble. The Japanese landed with a large force and quickly over ran Rabaul on 23 January 1942. Frank together with others from A Company escaped into the jungle. The men were on the run until early March. We do not know how they became prisoners at Gasmata. Unfortunately, Frank and the other men in this group were all executed by the Japanese on 8 March 1942.

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