Gorey Family History

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James Daniel Gorey

James Daniel Gorey: 1894-1918

James Daniel Gorey was born at Whroo on November 8, 1894. 

He was baptised at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tatura on November 4, 1895 by Father J Ryan, probably at the same time his cousin Benjamin Gorey, son of Daniel and Emma, was baptised.

Little is known about his early life, although he attended the Angustown State School near Reedy Lake, 1.5 miles from his father's property.

Angustown School was opened in 1889 after a request by Angus Cameron, who owned a sawmill in the area. The families of the men he employed had 40 children.

Known at first as Bailieston North, attendance declined and the school closed in 1903 when James was aged nine. His education continued at Whroo. James' name appears on Education Department correspondence regarding the future of Angustown school when closure was being considered. He was identified as one of five children who would have to find another school.

As the youngest in the family, James was probably the only child still living with his parents when they moved from Whroo to Shepparton about 1910. The names of his brothers don't appear on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll with their parents after 1909.

Family tradition has it that James enlisted under age to serve in the First World War, but was pulled out by his father, Edward Gorey.

This story is supported by the details submitted on his attestation paper when he applied to join up in Melbourne on September 16, 1915. He used the name Daniel James Gorey and wrote his age as being 21 years and 10 months — an exaggeration by exactly one year. It shows how eager he must have been to enlist, given he could have waited another seven weeks and joined up without needing his father's consent. Or perhaps he wanted to prove a point, that he was indeed his own man.

James' occupation at the time was stated as marine fireman and he claimed to be Church of England, however these details may have been varied from his original application to avoid detection. He still provided his father's name as next of kin.

At the time of enlistment, James was 5ft 5in tall weighing 145 pounds. He had a "fresh" complexion, blue eyes and dark hair, with vaccination marks on his left arm and a mole on his right shoulder.

James served with the 2nd Pioneer Battalion and proceeded via the British Expeditionary Force in Alexandria in Egypt to Marseilles, where he arrived on March 26, 1916.

On February 14, 1917 he wrote to the Cobram and District Soldiers Committee. His sister Elizabeth was living at Cobram and presumably arranged for James to receive some parcels from home. His letter was published in the Cobram Courier on April 19, 1917:

"Just a few lines to let you know I received your welcome parcel and enjoyed the contents immensely. I did not receive it for Xmas, but got it about the middle of January -- better late than never.

"At present we are having very cold weather, and it has been freezing day and night for a month. Ice is up to nine inches in thickness, thr ground has frozen to a depth of a foot, and it flies like flint when picked.

"I have received your Newsy Items at various times, for which many thanks. It does one good to hear of Victoria occasionally. With best wishes and many thanks to the people of Cobram and district."

James was a talented writer with a sense of humour. He composed a poem called The Boozer's Lament, after the military authorities took it in their heads to close all the grog shops in France. Knowing it wouldn't survive the censor, he sent it home with a colleague who gave it to The Chronicle at Wangaratta for publication.

James was admitted to hospital twice with illness, the second time being for mumps on April 3, 1917. He attended divisional bombing school on May 27 and rejoined his unit on June 3. A year then passed without incident, although there is evidence that James fought in some of the war's bloodiest battles.

In the Shepparton Advertiser on June 6, 1918, Private S.G. Williams wrote giving news of five Shepparton men who were all serving in D Company, 2nd Pioneer Battalion. He said the soldiers, including James, were all in the vicinity of Ypres "which is a very hot place at present". He offered to let friends and relatives know particulars.

On June 16, 1918 James was transferred to the 2nd Australian Machine Gun Battalion — a move which probably cost his life as machine gunners suffered a high rate of casualties.

James went on leave to Britain from August 10 to August 28 and shortly after returning saw his brother Bill for the last time. In his diary, William records a meeting between the pair sometime between September 3 and September 26: 

"During which time, along with my brother Jim, we visit the great 15-inch gun. We also hold brigade and divisional sports while here, also company football matches," William wrote.

Soon after this diversion, James was back at the front as the Allies prepared for their major offensive. He was wounded in action on October 3, 1918, just 39 days before the Armistice. He sustained shell wounds to the right arm, head and back. Treated initially by the 5th Field Ambulance he was transferred to the 16th General Hospital at Le Treport on October 5 where he died on October 13.

News of his injury was conveyed to Edward Gorey on October 13 (the day James died). The telegram read: "I regret to advise you that Pte D.J. Gorey has been reported admitted to hospital, France, on 6/10/18 suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, dangerously ill."

Edward and Sophia Gorey were notified of their youngest son's death on October 18. The Shepparton News recorded his passing on Monday, October 21, 1918: "On Friday last, Mr E. Gorey of the High School Road, Shepparton, received word that his son, Private James Gorey, had been killed in action." A similar brief report was published the same day in the Shepparton Advertiser, adding that another son (Charles) had recently returned from the war.

James' personal effects at the time of death were: Cards, table cover, gift tin, metal watch (damaged) in leather cover, leather wallet (damaged), torch (damaged), tobacco tin (damaged) and a pair of socks. There were also letters and photographs, a pipe, one pocket book, unit colors and one franc 35 centimes. These possessions were forwarded to Edward on August 7, 1919. Sadly the letters and photographs have not survived.

James is buried at Mont Huon Military Cemetery in France, plot 7, row J, grave 11b. His father was sent a photograph of the grave on February 5, 1921. Edward also signed a receipt for a Memorial Scroll and King's Message on December 16, 1921.

Owner/SourceMichael Gorey
Linked toGorey, James Daniel

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