Former Leader staffer Bernard James Hartigan sends news from Palestine. He says he is “as right as pie, getting well nursed and looked after” after having “stopped one”. He then describes his trip to the Holy Land: “it is lovely, green sprinkled with red poppies and white daisies, with little streams of water trickling down the sides of the mountain, making a very pretty picture.” Our Soldiers – Trooper Bernard Hartigan His Narrow Escape From Death
James John Fleming was born in Orange in 1886. His parents James Patrick and Ellen Letitia Fleming lived at Eulalie in Stuart Town and James snr worked as a miner.
On 16 July 1917 James jnr enlisted for war service at Albury; he was 31 years of age. His younger brother Hughy had enlisted in Queensland in January 1916. James proceeded to Liverpool camp and embarked for overseas service on 31 October.
Private James Fleming disembarked at Devonport on Boxing Day 1917 and was marched in to the 1st Training Battalion at Sutton Veny. Two weeks later he was admitted to the Group Clearing Hospital suffering from mumps.
James was discharged from hospital on 22 January 1918. He returned to the 1st Training Battalion for a further three months before proceeding to France on 23 April. James’ brother Hughy was killed in action in Belgium one month earlier, on 16 March. It is unclear whether James was aware of his brother’s death.
On 30 April 1918 James was taken on strength with the 3rd Battalion. On the evening of 20 June 1918 he was serving in the trenches at Strazeele in northern France when an enemy shell fell nearby, instantly killing Fleming and two others.
When James enlisted he nominated his father as his next of kin (his mother having died in 1902). He named his cousin Rachael Charlton of Dubbo as executor and beneficiary of his will.
James snr had died in Stuart Town on 8 May 1918, just six weeks before James jnr’s death in action. The coroner returned the verdict:
The deceased died from the effects of poisoning self-administered.
James snr had committed suicide by ingesting strychnine, presumably after learning of Hughy’s death.
In February 1919 Rachael received James jnr’s personal effects. Both James’ and Hughy’s war medals were issued to their brother Ambrose.
James John Fleming is commemorated on panel number 36 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Austro-Hungarian troops launch a renewed attack on the Italian line in the north-east along the River Piave. Fighting continues to 24 June and results in a decisive victory for the Italian Army. The Battle of the Piave River
We had advanced about 800 yards when a bullet struck my bayonet and splattered all over me, and a piece went into my chin, but all I knew about it was the blood dripping all over my rifle and hands. I never felt even a sting from it. Another rush forward of about 25 yards, and down to open fire again, and my rifle got knocked out of action between bullets and mud. We remained lying there for a while till we got wind enough to go forward again, and, as it was raining all the time, you can imagine that it was heavy going. The next rush forward I was just about to go down when I was knocked down instead. The bullet entered my tin hat in the front, and, travelling from right to left, came out of the side after entering my old, “top piece” above the eye and leaving above the temple. It only ploughed a way for itself for a distance of about two inches—the depth of a bullet. I thought a house had fallen on me when I got hit, and saw stars and other funny things, and it just spun me round like a skittle and down I went.