Private James Rundle +
Pakenham State School Roll of Honour
Born: c. 1884 - Daylesford, Victoria
Enlisted: 24 September 1915 aged 31
Unit: 25th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement (SERN 4758)
Served: Western Front
Died of wounds: 14 November 1916 - near Albert, France
James was the son of Charles and Jessie Rundle of Five Mile, near Koo Wee Rup (1). At some stage, James attended the Pakenham State School. Later, he moved to Queensland, where he worked as a theatrical agent. James was aged 31 and married when he enlisted in Brisbane in September 1915. He was allocated as a private to the 25th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement and embarked for overseas from Sydney in April 1916. After a period in England, he was taken on strength with the 25th Battalion in France in August 1916 (2). This was just after the 25th Battalion had lost nearly 800 men at the Battle of Pozieres. James was wounded in action on 14 November 1916 when the 25th Battalion was in the front lines north of Fleurs. They had been ordered to attack the German trenches, going “over the top” at 6;45am. According to the Battalion’s War Diary, the “attackers left jumping off trench in splendid order - attack was unsuccessful” (3). The Australian lines were also heavily bombarded by the Germans. James was wounded in action and died while being carried to the 6th Field Ambulance (4). His body was buried in the Thistle Dump Cemetery, half a mile north-east of Bazentin-le-Grand near Albert (5).
Meanwhile, back in Australia, James’ mother and wife Margaret had not heard from him since he left Australia and were “very anxious about him”. When Margaret wrote to the Army seeking word of him, the reply stated he had not been reported as wounded, so it was to be assumed that James was with his unit (6). Margaret became even more concerned in January 1917 when she noticed a soldier with the same details as her husband listed in the Queensland casualty lists. She again wrote to the Army seeking confirmation of her husband’s well-being. Tragically, Margaret had not received the official notification of his wounding as she had moved to the Toowoomba district after James had enlisted. James’ death was only confirmed in February 1917 (7). News of his death was reported by the Dandenong Advertiser as follows: “the miseries caused by the War has been forcibly brought home to all of us by the death of Mr Rundle, who was so well liked and respected” (8). A memorial service was held for James at the Five Mile Church, at which the preacher reflected on the text: “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” (9). Amongst James’ personal effects returned to Margaret were his identity disc, two fountain pens, a money belt, some coins, a French book, notebook, some photos and postcards, letters and a copy of the Gospel of St John (10).
James’s service and sacrifice was commemorated on the Pakenham State School Roll of Honour, at the Koo Wee Rup War Memorial Hospital, and more recently on the Koo Wee Rup War Memorial and Avenue of Honour.
The assistance of Chris McKenna of the Berwick RSL is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) (8) & (9) Dandenong Advertiser 1/5/1917 p. 2
(2) (5) (6) (7) & (10) NAA B2455 RUNDLE JAMES
(3) AWM 4 23/42/15 25th Infantry Battalion War Diary November 1916 p. 3
(4) AWM Red Cross Wounded & Missing File - 4758 Private James Rundle