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James Laurence Kavanagh

Warrant Officer Class II

Serial No:
Serial No. 374

1st Machine Gun Company


James Laurence Kavanagh - Information

James was a member of an Ingleburn family, whom lived on the property of Boronia. James was born on the 3rd of April 1897 in Ingleburn to Alexander and Ellen Winifred Kavanagh. He grew up in the area with his three sisters and little brother. When he was older, James worked as a farmer while continuing his studies. Sadly in 1914, he lost his father when he passed away in Lewisham. Then at 19 years of age, he enlisted in the AIF in Randwick on the 17th of April 1916. Upon signing up, he was assigned to the machine gun reinforcements. He continued his training in Seymour, Victoria and in June was allocated to the 1st Machine Gun Company as a Private. He departed Melbourne on the 19th of September 1916 onboard the HMAT Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth sailed into Plymouth Harbour in mid November. A week later, he was marched into the Machine Gun Training Depot. In late April, he left Folkestone for the Western Front in France. The following month, he was taken on strength to the 1st Machine Gun Company. James was introduced to the horrible conditions of trench life. He reported sick on the 27th of June, and was evacuated to England on the 20th of July with trench fever, a disease contracted by body lice. He was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital for treatment. After he recovered, James was shipped back to France in late November to return to his unit. Throughout 1918, James provided vital machine gun fire cover for operations; halting the German advance at Villers-Bretonneux and pushing them back towards the Hindenburg Line. He was then wounded in action on the 21st of September shot in his left thigh. He was invalided to England to the Edmonton Military Hospital in early October. He was still in hospital when the war ended. On the 21st of December, he was invalided back to Australia.

James returned to his civilian life in Ingleburn. He became a member of the Liverpool Branch of the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society. He then fell in love with Margaret McDougall, tying the knot in Muswellbrook in 1920. James and Margaret began their family, and by 1932 were living on a property called Ballina on Clarke St in Narrabeen. Surprisingly, with the advent of the Second World War, James decided to enlist in the army again. He signed up on the 19th of August 1940 (N78450). He was appointed Warrant Officer Class 2 to Staff Headquarters. After he was discharged in September 1945, he returned to his family. James passed away on the 25th of August 1963 in Wentworth Falls.