James John Bourlet
Serial No. 4494
James John Bourlet - Information
James John Bourlet was born and raised on the family property of Iona in Rossmore, a son of Frederick and Henrietta Bourlet. He worked with his father as a farm hand, and when he was 19 years old, decided to enlist in the AIF on the 23rd of October 1916 at the Royal Showground Camp in Sydney. He commenced his training there, and at Liverpool with the 28th Battalion. He was then posted to the 12th Reinforcements, 30th Battalion, and was sent abroad from Sydney Harbour on the HMAT Beltana on the 25th of November 1916.
James arrived in Devonport, England in late January 1917. He was then marched out the 8th Training Battalion in Hurdcott. After completing further exercises, he was sent to France in late April. He was then marched out of the Australian Division Base Depot to join the 30th Battalion in the field. James worked as a Runner, providing important messages for correspondence between frontline units and Battalion or Brigade Headquarters, often under heavy fire. On the 23rd of April 1918 at the village of Hamelet, there was an incident in which James was injured. On this day, the village, where Battalion Headquarters was located was being heavily bombarded by artillery and gas shells. James was in a building with other runners when the gas alarm sounded. The group failed to put on their respirator masks. When asked why they did not do so, they exclaimed that there was no gas in the room. He was poisoned nonetheless and rushed to hospital on the 26th of April. In early May, he was evacuated to England, admitted to the Military Hospital in Boscombe. He was not classified as wounded in action, however, reported as sick. He was subsequently charged with a military infraction, in that he disobeyed a standing order and removed a gas mask after the alarm had sounded. His Service Record states that he negligently self-inflicted his injury. He was later moved to hospital in Cosham. After recovering, he left Folkestone in August to return to France. James remained with HQ until the war ended. On the 9th of January 1919, he was appointed Driver with the 5th Divisional Train. He then reverted to Private in May, before going to England to be shipped back to Australia onboard the Wiltshire in early July. James returned safely home to his family in Rossmore.