James George Joseph Fraser

September 9, 2015

FRASER, James George Joseph- – – – SPC 1896-1900

DoB:- 3 March 1888, Ballarat East, VIC

Fth:- John Fraser, printer

Mth:- Annie, nee Brewster

When James Fraser left St Pat’s, he worked as a printer in his father’s business in Albert Street, Ballarat. The College annuals were printed by Fraser’s for many years.

James was also a professional soldier, and by 1908 had attained the rank of Lieutenant. In the annual of that year, it was reported that he had -‘-¦ sent some very interesting letters on his travels in America, two of which have appeared in the -‘Star’ and -‘Courier’. He has taken several trips to San Francisco, Vancouver, Sacramento, New Westminster, and according to his latest letter was -¦ in Seattle -¦’

Like many of his school friends, James returned to St Patrick’s for the annual sports day, competing for the Old Collegians’ Cup. In 1909, James came third, being narrowly beaten by George Fraser (SPC 1897-1904) -“ George, who was no relation to James, also enlisted in the AIF.

James Fraser married Lucy Maidment in Sydney in early 1916, at the age of 28, and they lived at 176 Annandale Street, Annandale, NSW.

Service No:- –

Rank:- – 2nd Lieutenant, later Lieutenant

Unit:- – 33rd Battalion

James enlisted on 23 February, 1916, stating his occupation as soldier, having completed four years with the 7th Australian Infantry Regiment, and five and a half years with the Instructional Staff. He was five feet, seven and a half inches tall. He was appointed to the 33rd Battalion as a 2nd Lieutenant.

On 4 May 1916, James Fraser embarked at Sydney aboard the Marathon, arriving two months later at Plymouth, England. On 1 August 1916, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, and on 21 November proceeded to France via Southampton. He was posted to the No 1 Training Camp at Etaples for a month from 13 January 1917, then in mid-February rejoined the 33rd Battalion in the field.

Lieutenant Fraser was wounded in action at Messines on 7 June, and was evacuated to the 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge, suffering from a gunshot wound to his right calf and also gas poisoning. Over the next few months, Fraser was transferred to convalescent hospitals, ultimately being discharged to camp at Sutton Veny by 18 October 1917.

By 1 March 1918, Fraser was well enough to proceed once again to France, where he marched out from Rouelles to the 33rd Battalion in the field, reaching the unit by 9 March. The unit was involved in a skirmish in mid-April, in which Lieutenant Fraser was seriously wounded, suffering multiple gunshot wounds and a badly fractured tibia. Just over two weeks later, on 28 April 1918, Lieutenant James Fraser died of his wounds. Eye witness accounts gathered by the Australian Red Cross reveal further details of what occurred.

-‘-¦ we were at Villers Bretonneux. During the day we were at the railway station salvaging. Lieut Fraser was in charge of the party of which I was one. Fritz was shelling the place and he was hit. He was taken to the D/Station [Dressing Station], and I heard that he died at Hospital -¦’

-‘-¦ I knew Lt Fraser, he died of wounds on 28 April at BRC [British Red Cross] Hospital No 2, Rouen. Tetanus set in -¦’

-‘-¦ Died of wounds 28-4-18 -“ GSW multiple, amputated leg -¦’

-‘-¦ He was admitted to this hospital on 12 April 1918, suffering with bullet wound of the right leg, which involved the popliteal artery [a deeply placed continuation of the femoral artery]. On admission his condition was very grave, as gas gangrene has already set in. Immediately amputation was resorted to, and he rallied and slowly improved for about twelve days. But on the 26th he had a severe relapse owing to generalised infection, became rapidly worse, and died on the 28th -¦’

Lieutenant James George Joseph Fraser was buried at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France. He was 30 years old.- His personal effects were gathered together and sent by sea on the Barunga, which itself was destroyed en route to Australia. All the cargo was lost at sea. Four years later, on 5 March 1922, James’ widow Lucy wrote to the officer at Base Records in the hope that some artefact of her husbands had survived and could be returned to her. There was no indication that Lucy ever received anything.

A tree was planted in the Ballarat Avenue of Honour on 25 August 1917, by a Miss Fraser.

James George Joseph Fraser never got the chance to meet his only son, George Maidment Fraser who was born on New Year’s Day 1917. James’ wife Lucy did not remarry, and she died at the age of 75, on September 9, 1962 in the western Sydney suburb of Bassley park where she resided for some thirty years. George died at the age of 88, in 2005.

The College has been in contact with James Fraser’s great-grandson, Tim Fraser who has most generously provided further information about the family history.