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James Caleb Spicer. Image courtesy Lyn Hudson-Williamson.

James Caleb Spicer. Image courtesy Lyn Hudson-Williamson.

James Caleb Spicer was the first of eight children born to James Spicer and his wife Margaret (nee MacElligott). James was 27 years old, single, and working as a miner when he enlisted in WWI in January 1916.

James attended camp in Lithgow for a week before being relocated to Bathurst. He was assigned to the 17th Battalion in March, but re-assigned to the 14th Battalion the following month. In late April James returned to Orange to farewell friends and family before he embarked for overseas service. The Lewis Ponds community held a celebration in his honour and presented him with a watch as a keepsake.

On 5 June 1916 Private Spicer embarked HMAT Kyarra in Sydney. He trained in England for a further three months, proceeding to France in October, where he served for over two years. In May 1917 Thomas sustained a gunshot wound to his right forearm, which saw him transferred to Northampton War Hospital in England, followed by a lengthy convalescence. He did not return to the Western front until April 1918, as part of the 5th Machine Gun Battalion.

Private Spicer was hospitalised a second time, in May 1919, as he was preparing to return to Australia. Indeed, he spent much of his return journey interned in the ship’s hospital suffering from tuberculosis. James disembarked in Sydney in August 1919 and spent much of the following year in Red Cross Convalescent Homes, firstly in Turramurra, and then in Randwick.

James passed away at the Woodville Red Cross Convalescent Home in Randwick in October 1920, aged 32. He is buried in Byng Cemetery and is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll.

James had two brothers who also served in WWI: Samuel and William. A cousin, Thomas Samuel Spicer, also enlisted in WWI.

Leader, 11 October 1920, p. 3.
James Caleb Spicer

James' headstone, Byng Cemetery. Image courtesy Lyn Hudson-Williamson.

James’ headstone, Byng Cemetery. Image courtesy Lyn Hudson-Williamson.


  • I have photo’s of his headstone and his mililary service records.

  • Lyn Hudson-Williamson says:

    There was young Jim and Samuel Spicer
    Who went away to war
    I remember what a great big dance
    There was to wish them aurio

    To serve their king and country
    Because they were very fit
    They said it was their duty
    To do their little bit

    They were a long time in battle
    I think about three years
    Our many thoughts were with them
    Also many tears

    Some times the fighting was real hard
    They were sleeping in the wet
    And had their meals at any time
    These things one don’t forget

    They both came to us again
    But their health it had to fail
    Sam did not look at all real well
    But Jim looked so very pale

    Then Jim grew so very weak
    He had no more to give
    He struggled on for many months
    And done his best to live

    But for his king and country
    His young life he did deny
    So he closed his weary tired eyes
    Too weak to say good-bye

    Sam lived for two or three years
    I really do not know how long
    But I always knew he suffered
    Not complaining right or wrong

    Yes I knew he always suffered
    And I am sure that God knows best
    And one morning after sunrise
    God called Sam home to rest

    They really were two fine young men
    It broke their loved ones heart
    To see them slowly fade away
    And from their families part

    Will Spicer also enlisted
    And got so far away
    They found that he was unfit
    And sent him home to stay.

    From The golden days of Lewis Ponds; Poems by Mary Spicer