John Bernard Graham

September 6, 2015

GRAHAM, John Bernard- – – – SPC 1912

DoB:- – 1898, Rochester, VIC

Father:- – Richard Graham

Mother: – Katherine, nee Lynch

In 1912, John Graham was in the Sixth Class at St Patrick’s, aged 14 years. He gained Distinctions in Dictation and Arithmetic.

Service No:- 5943

Rank:- – Private, later Lance Corporal

Unit:- – 22nd Battalion

When John Graham enlisted in the AIF on 16 February 1916, he was a single man, living with his parents at 36 Walpole Street, Kew. He was 18 years old and worked as a clerk in the State Trustees Office. He was five feet, six and a quarter inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. As he was under the age of 21, John’s parents had to sign a letter of consent to allow their son to enlist.

Private Graham underwent training at Royal Park in Melbourne, and later in the town of Seymour, before embarking from Melbourne on 2 October 1916, aboard the Nestor. He disembarked at Plymouth, and completed further training in England. On 4 February 1917, John Graham proceeded to Etaples, France, arriving at his unit four days later.

In March 1917, Private Graham was at the camp hospital for treatment or investigation into -‘external strabismus’, a condition that interferes with binocular vision by preventing a person from directing both eyes simultaneously toward the same point. Basically, the eyes do not properly align with each other. John remained at the hospital until the almost the middle of the following month, when he was returned to duty.

His service record shows that John was plagued with bouts of diarrhoea over September and October 1917, and he was frequently admitted to hospital at Rouen. Early the following year, in February 1918, after a bout of scabies that forced his hospitalisation for ten days, he was once again able to march in to his unit via Havre, and rejoined the battalion on 20 April 1918. A month later, Private Graham was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal.

During action on 13 June, 1918, Lance Corporal John Graham was wounded, receiving a gunshot wound in his neck. He died later that day as a result. John was 20 years old at the time of his death. He was buried at Vignacourt British Cemetery, eight miles north-north-west of Amiens.

John Bernard’s father, Richard Graham, filled out the Australian War Memorial’s roll of honour certificate. He noted that his son was first cousin to Gunner Graham Paul Reade (#5174), MM, who was killed in the same action as John on 13 June 1918. John was also first cousin to Lieutenant Colonel Michael Henry Downey, DSO and three times Mentioned in Despatches. He was also related to Lance Corporal John Lynch (#6629), DCM.

John’s father Richard received his effects from the field, which amounted to one pipe, two rosaries, one pencil, one souvenir locket, one tobacco pouch, photos, cards, letters, and religious medallions.