James Dalton was born in Sydney in 1890. His father was Thomas Garrett (“Gatty”) Dalton MA, LLB, and Mayor of Orange in 1903, 1904 and 1905. His grandfather, also called James, built Duntryleague and founded Dalton Brothers Stores.
James was the first son and the third of six children born to Gatty and his wife Mary Helene Condon. He spent his childhood at Killiney in Kite Street, a house built in 1875 by his grandfather, and now known as Mena. He was educated at St Ignatius’ College at Riverview.
James served in the Senior Cadets for three years and in the 9th Light Horse Regiment, of the Citizen Military Forces for 15 months. When he enlisted in January 1915, James was employed as a clerk in the family business – Dalton Bothers Ltd.
James was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant to the 7th Light Horse Regiment, 4th Reinforcement, embarking from Sydney in April 1915 with the Third Expeditionary Force. James, also known as “Sonny Jim” returned to Orange to farewell his family and friends prior to embarkation. A large crowd gathered at the Steam Engine Hotel on 3 March 1915 to pay tribute to James. The Mayor, Ald. ET McNeilly, chaired the meeting and a number of other alderman proposed toasts and delivered speeches. The crowd joined in singing patriotic songs and at the end of the evening Ald. McNeilly presented James with a wristlet watch. A Soldier’s Farewell
Just two months later, in June 1915, James was promoted to Lieutenant. He served for the duration of the war, in Egypt, Gallipoli and Palestine.
In August 1918 Lieutenant Dalton was sent to Jerusalem rest camp, only to be hospitalised three days later, suffering from debility. He rejoined his regiment the following week, but was again hospitalised in December, this time with pneumonia. James died at the 28th Casualty Clearing Station in Salonika on 19 December 1918, less than six weeks after the armistice agreement was signed.
James is commemorated on St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of Lieutenant Dalton; it was donated by his uncle, Michael Francis Dalton. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
James’ brother Thomas Joseph Dalton also served in WWI; he returned to Australia in 1918.
Leader, 30 December 1918, p. 1.
Another Hero Gone