The AIF Project

James BENSON

Regimental number1
Date of birth7 May 1879
Place of birthBundaberg, Queensland
SchoolBrisbane Grammar School, Queensland
Other trainingTrained as an electrician.
ReligionProtestant
OccupationLineman
Address2nd Avenue, Cheltenham, South Australia
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation36
Height5' 9"
Weight160 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Florence Lilian Benson, 2nd Avenue, Cheltenham, South Australia
Previous military serviceServed for 18 months in the Queensland Mounted Rifles (3rd Queensland Contingent) in the Boer War. Wife states he was awarded the DCM, but there is no record of such an award.
Enlistment date5 July 1915
Place of enlistmentKeswick, South Australia
Rank on enlistmentCompany Sergeant Major
Unit name32nd Battalion, A Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/49/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A2 Geelong on 18 November 1915
The 32nd Bn (Headquarters, Signallers, A, B, C, and D Companies) embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on two ships, HMAT A2 'Geelong', on 18 November 1915, and HMAT A13 'Katuna', on 24 November 1915. The Embarkation Roll does not distinguish between these ships, and it is therefore not possible from the Embarkation Roll to ascertain on which ship an individual embarked.
Rank from Nominal Roll2nd Lieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll32nd Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularWas the first to join the 32nd Bn (Regimental Number 1), and at the time of death was a 2nd Lieutenant.
FateKilled in Action 20 July 1916
Place of death or woundingFleurbaix, France (Battle of Fromelles)
Age at death37
Age at death from cemetery records37
Place of burialPheasant Wood Military Cemetery (Plot I, Row C, Grave No 10), Fromelles, Nord, France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
118
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Wife: Florence Lillian BENSON, Second Avenue, Cheltenham, South Australia. Native of Bundaberg, Queensland
Family/military connectionsCousin: 335 Pte Horace Alfred WEATHERALL, 8th Light Trench Mortar Battery, returned to Australia, 5 March 1919.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Adelaide, 18 November 1915; disembarked Suez, 13 December 1915.

To be Second Lieutenant, 13 March 1916.

Sent to hospital from 32nd Bn, Ferry Post, 10 April 1916; admitted to Anglo-American Hospital, Cairo, 11 April 1916 (foreign body in neck gland); transferred to Citadel Hospital, Cairo, 12 April 1916 (not yet diagnosed); rejoined 32nd Bn, Ferry Post, 27 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 17 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 23 June 1916.

Admitted to No 8 Field Ambulance, then transferred to No 12 Casualty Clearing Station, 1 July 1916 (incarpulation of grass seed in throat); to No 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, 1 July 1916 (foreign body pharyanx); discharged to duty, 4 July 1916; rejoined 32nd Bn, 8 July 1916.

Posted missing, 20 July 1916.

Placed on Seconded List, 9 August 1916.

Previous report of missing now, 10 August 1916, to be reported as 'Wounded and Missing, 20 July 1916'.

Struck off strength, 20 October 1916.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 12 August 1917, pronounced fate as 'Killed in Action, 20 July 1916'.

Statement, 3165 Pte T. JARRETT, C Company, 32nd Bn (patient, 4th Northern General Hospital, Lincoln), 2 August 1916: 'I had it on the best authority from several of his own men that Lieut. J. Benson was killed in the charge on July 20th about 1 mile to the right of Fleur Baix (sic). There was a heavy bombardment at 2 p.m. and we went over the parapet between 5 and 6 p.m. We got to the second line trench and then Fritz let go and we had to retreat. The second line was lost that day. I don't know whether it was afterwards retaken.'

Second statement, 416 Sergeant P.A. OHLSTROM (HQ Orderly Room Sergeant, 32nd Bn (patient, 3rd Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne), 31 August 1916: 'Informant who keeps a very interesting Diary says, "Lt. Benson got into the first line German trenches, was wounded in both hands, and sent back to get them dressed. He was seen to be going to cross No Man's Land, about midnight. Must have been killed as he was never seen again. There was very heavy fire across that ground. We retired from that German trench, about 6 a.m. next morning. The Germans did not follow out of their trench, and didn't go on, on to No Man's Land. His Platoon Sergt Cutts (afterwards wounded) was with him when he started back to be dressed."'

Third statement, 81 Pte R.J. DALY, 48th Bn, 29 August 1916: 'E. Rose stretcher bearer of the 32nd Battalion told me that as soon as Benson got on to the parapet near Armentieres he got shot as he seized a rifle. This is all I know.'

Note on Red Cross File No 350502: 'No trace Germany. Cert. by Capt. Mills 10-10-19.'

Fourth statement, 424 Pte W. SAUNDERCOCK, B Company, 32nd Bn (patient, Devon Nook Hospital, Chiswick, England), 23 August 1916: 'On 19th July at Fleurbaix we followed A. Company out of the trenches to attack the German trenches. I passed close by Lieut Benson who was sitting in a shell crater holding his wrist which was wounded and he was evidently otherwise wounded for he was unable to move. I think it most probable that he was after wards killed by a shell for the shells were falling very thick round him and he could not move. I was wounded shortly afterwards.'

Fifth statement, 102 Pte C. HAINES, 32nd Bn (patient, No 4 General Hospital, Etaples), 8 November 1916: 'I saw him wounded by several m.g. bullets just over pur front line. He started to go back but I have heard nothing more of him.'

Sixth statement, 3116 Pte H.C. GRIEVES, 32nd Bn (patient, No 2 General Hospital, Havre), 19 November 1916: 'It came through in battalion orders that he was killed at Fromelles on the 19th July. His body was not recovered.'

Seventh statement, 308 Sergeant W. ADDISON, 32nd Bn (patient, 2nd London General Hospital, Chelsea, England), 26 December 1916: 'On 19th July we had bombarded for four hours and then we attacked in the evening about 6 o'clock. Our objective was two lines of trenches at Fleurbaix, and we took four. Lieut. Benson was leading his company and a machine gun killed him instantly. He was shot in four places and can have suffered no pain. They brought him back and buried him at the first dressing station, where there are three large cemeteries. He was a bonsor (sic) ( - real good) fellow and everyone loved him.'

Originally listed as 'No known grave'; remains identified following discovery of a mass grave in 2009.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BENSON James
Red Cross File No 350502

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