James Munro By Joseph Stevens
“I, James Munro, swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Australian Imperial Force from 18.08.1914 until the end of the War…So help me God.” (Enlistment Oath)
As I look in the near distance my heart skips increasingly faster as Gallipoli closes in on us. The boats of the first brigade still floating there as a reminder that we’re not alone. As we rock from side to side, the oars continue to splash water along the side creating the extra sound effects needed to break the airy silence. No-one knows what to expect. Death, victory?
James Munro was one of many who experienced the start of the Great War. Being one of the many Victorians to make up the 7th battalion he was a part of the 2nd brigade, 1st division; the second wave of soldiers to land at Anzac Cove.
Born in December 1892, in St Germains, 18 kms from Kyabram, Munro grew up with his 2 brothers, Colin and George on the family property in Nathalia. Colin and George both followed their brother and enlisted in the war. These brothers all went out to protect and serve their country but none of them returned. They didn’t get the chance to marry and father the next generation of families and farmers in the district’s future but instead they represented us and our country so we can live as we are.
James, a labourer at the time, enlisted on the 18th of August 1914 at age 22 and embarked from Melbourne on his journey on the 19th of October 1914. Munro’s interest with shooting and guns wasn’t all spontaneous and dreamy like many people, but was genuine, with Munro being a member of the Mooroopna Rifle Club.
From Melbourne, Munro travelled to Western Australia, and then proceeded on to Egypt. Munro then caught the Galeka to Gallipoli. The Galeka was initially positioned north of Anzac Cove and the 2nd Brigade was to land immediately behind and to the north of the covering force (3rd Brigade). When the first four boats carrying part of the 7th Battalion came ashore near the Fisherman’s Hut, the troops in them were killed and wounded by machine gun fire from the area of the Hut by Turkish forces. Munro’s was one of the many lives lost in the landing.
Munro’s body was later buried in the No.2 Outpost Cemetery in Gallipoli, Turkey, alongside the other men of the 7th and 12th Battalions who landed in this area on the same day. Of the 86 buried, 28 of the Australians were members of the 7th Battalion from Victoria.
Back at home, James’ father had requested James’ items be returned to them, being the only things to remember him. Despatched on the 16th November 1915, one paper parcel arrived – all that remained of James’ life. Listed contents: a silver matchbox, wallet, postcards, letters, photos; his legacy to his family.
His gravesite is thousands of kilometres away, but his legacy to his district and our country will be remembered.