James Roughley Longhurst
Serial No. 492
James Roughley Longhurst - Information
James Roughley’s grandparents Edward and Sophia Longhurst immigrated to the colony of NSW from Kent, England. They arrived with their children between 1884 and 1887, and settled their large family in Parramatta. One of their children, Mark Longhurst, then began working as a builder in the Parramatta area with his brothers. Mark soon met Lilla Beatrice Eva Roughley who came from Dural. Mark and Lilla fell in love and married on the 16th of May 1888. They were similarly blessed with their own large family, including James Roughley, their second child, who was born in Parramatta in 1890. With a growing family, Mark decided to participate in an investment opportunity, and moved his family to the Campbelltown area in 1895. Mark and three of his brothers George, Robert and William, became the first settlers of Kentlyn, developing fruit orchards and farms. Here, Mark and his family resided on what they named Kent Farms. Mark and Lilla soon made a prominent life for their family, having more children and eventually moving to a property named Fairview on King St in Campbelltown. James grew up in the area with his many siblings, joining the Rifle Club Reserve, and finding work as a groom.
The First World War was to have a significant impact upon the Longhurst family. Two of James’ brothers-in-laws joined the AIF, before James decided to follow the example of his many brave relatives and friends. He signed up right in Campbelltown on the 3rd of January 1916. No doubt, this act would have inspired others, as his first cousins, Stephen and William Augusta joined the AIF just months later.
After training, James was sent overseas for war service. He embarked Sydney on the HMAT Beltana on the 13th of May 1916 as a Private with the 36th Battalion. He arrived at Devonport, England in early July. His unit was conditioned for the Western Front, departing Southampton for France in November. They arrived in time for the harshest winter of the war, with cases of trench foot and other illnesses significantly draining manpower. In 1917 the Germans facing a large part of the British line decided to conserve its troops by withdrawing to a new trench system, known as the Hindenburg Line. The Anzacs gave chase striking the new defence line at Bullecourt. Then, on the 7th of June, the 36th Battalion ran across No Man’s Land towards the German lines at Messines. It was one of the most successful attacks to date, allowing British High Command to shift operations to the Ypres Sector. Here, James and his mates took part in the Third Battle of Ypres. During these assaults, James proved himself a capable soldier. He was appointed Lance Corporal in the field on the 14th of September. He was subsequently granted leave in England at the end of the month. While on leave, James stayed with a distant relative in Kent. Marj Fuller was the sister-in-law of Louisa Longhurst, wife of William Longhurst (James’ aunt and uncle). James was very welcomed at Aunt Marj’s house, as were his cousins and other Campbelltown boys who were friends of the Longhurst family. Being able to rest in a comfortable bed and eat some good meals, was a far cry from muddy dug-outs and cold rations. James returned to the frontlines to the 36th Battalion on the 6th of October. His unit was still fighting the Germans at Ypres. Unfortunately, just six days after he rejoined the lines, James was killed in action on the 12th of October 1917 at Passchendaele. If or where he was buried is unknown. His name was subsequently added to the Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium.
This loss was tragic, and sadly, it was not the only one to befall the Longhursts throughout the war. James’ cousin, Stephen, son of George and Eliza Longhurst was killed in France in May 1917. James’ sister Alice Lydia lost her brother-in-law Walter Hagan. Then in September 1918, Mark and Lilla lost their son-in-law, when their daughter Beatrice’s husband Frank Nicol, was killed in action. The Longhurst family was left broken by the war. But they carried on, keeping the memory of the fallen in their hearts. James’ brothers, Roy and George, began a carrying business in Campbelltown in 1921, under the name the Longhurst Bros. which they operated for over fifty years.