James HICKEY (1888-19..)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF


James Hickey


Private: 2337 James HICKEY.

Born: 1888. Bungulla via Tenterfield, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:36360/1888.

Married: 1922. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Marriage Cert:.

Wife: Alma Maud Hickey. nee: Chorley.

Died: New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:

Father: John Hickey. (1848-1929) Born in Ireland.

Mother: Martha Hickey. nee: Pearce. (1860-1929). Born in Ireland.


James Hickey enlisted with the 4th Reinforcements 33rd Battalion on the 15th May 1916 at Tenterfield before going to Camp at the Armidale Race Course where he commenced training before being entrained to the Rutherford Camp on the 25th of August. James embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A30 "Borda" from Sydney on the 17th June 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth, England on the 9th of January 1917. The 3rd Reinforcements were marched to the Durrington Army Camp at Larkhill where they settled down to hard training, which included Route Marching, Trench Digging, Bomb Practice, Musketry and General Camp Routine.

James proceeded overseas for France on the 5th of April 1917 via Folkstone and was Taken on in Strenght with the 33rd Battalion in the Field on the 28th of April 1917 where he was allocated to A Company at Armentieres.

7th June 1917.


The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General: Alexander JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John CARROLL 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had made little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

Field Dressing Station, Messines 07/06/1917


James was Wounded in Action at Messines during this Major push by the 9th Infantry Brigade where he received a Gun Shot Wound to his Left Forearm and was treated by the 9th Australian Field Ambulance before being evacuated to Boulogue where he embarked for England onboard the Hopsital Ship "St David" on the 11th June 1917.

Hospital Ship St David

Hospital Ship "St David"

James disembarked in England was was admitted to the London War Hospital at Epsom with a Gun Shot Wound to his Left Forearm whre he remained until he was discharged and again proceeded overseas for France via Southampton on the 15th of August 1917 and rejoined his unit on the 26th August 1917.

On the 13th March 1918, James and his company were marched out to the Front Line at Cachy.

30th March 1918.

CACHY Orders were received during the early hours of the morning that the Battalion was to move its position in BOIS D'AQUENNE in order to launch a counter attack if required. Either in the direction of VILLERS BRETONNEUX or CENTELLES. The Battalion moved off to the wood at 10:30 a.m. and arrived safely. Rain came on but Companies were served with a good hot meal during morning, thus keeping the men warm and in good spitits. At 2:15 p.m. the order came that the Battalion was to move up and take the line (as per Operation Orders) The B Teams were to be left behind. The 34th Battalion was to be in reserve. Everybody was bust getting ready for the next half hour and then the Companies were formed up in mass and the C.O. spoke to them. 5 minutes afterwards at 3:14 p.m. the Battalion started off in great spirits for the scene of action.

The Battalion had the support of 4 squadrons of Cavalry who moved up with them, and it was a "Never to Be forgotten" sight to see the long column of infantry with the Cavalry on their right moving up together. Gradually the Cavelry outpaced the infantry and on their arrival at the BOIS D'HANGARD founf the British Infantry retiring. They at once dismounted and advanced taking the retiring infantry with them drove the advancing Bosche back and re-established the line thus clearing the un names wood east of BOIS D'HANGARD before the infantry came up. In the meantime the Battalion came on in a column of threes (the visibility being bad) and deployed when they got behind BOIS D'HANGARD at 3:50 p.m Here they rested till the attack was launced at 5:00 p.m.

33rd Battalion War Diary

James was Wounded in Action; 2nd occassion during this action where he received a Gun Shot Wound to his Left Leg and Calf and was treated at the 10th General Hospital at Rouen before he was transfered to the 72nd General Hospital. After James was discharged from Hospital he was marched in to the 1st Australian command Depot at Harve on the 22nd of April 1918 befor being marched out to Rouelles where he was marched out to the Front on the 13th of May 1918.

James rejoined his unit on the 16th of May

8th August 1918.

The approach was made in two stages. The 33rd Battalion moved from VIEW SECTOR on the night of August 6th/7th to AUBIGNY and rested there for 24 hours. On the night of August 7th/8th the Battalion passed the starting point at C.3.C.70.20 at 10.20pm. "A" track was used. The marking of the route was not sufficient, consequently it was picqueted by 30 men, including the band, under an officer. The march was made without incident or interuptions and we suffered no casualties. the head of the column reached the jumping-off line at 1.10 am. The march discipline throughout was excellent.

"A" track was laid to our left flank, consequently a tape line was laid to the centre of the Battalion front. "A" and "B" Companys weeled in single file to the right, and "C" and "D" Companys to the left. As shown in the attached map, the jumping line was in rear of our outpost line in places. There was plenty of room in the front line (BARRABOOL TRENCH) for the whole Battalion to be under cover. The original plan was to remain in this trench until zero minus 5 minutes. But the situation was so quiet that the Companies were able to take up their dispositions in their ordered formation, and so rest in the open.

This assembly was completed at 2.10 am. We had no casualties before zero hour. Lieutenant: 129 Walter Gilligan MASON. (A Company Scout Officer) had charge of laying the tapes and did this work very well. Six direction tapes each 100 yards long were laid, one on each flank of the Battalion and one in the centre of each platoon front. These proved of the greatest value owing to the fog. The 33rd Battalion Scouts relieved those of the 38th Battalion who were holding the sector at 10.00 pm. At 10.30 they encountered an enemy post at P.21.B.30.20; the enemy threw bombs and wounded five of our men. Ten minutes later the 38th Battalion had an Officers patrol in NO MAN'S LAND but no further trace of the enemy could be found.

The Assault at about 4.00 am, as a dense fog arose, so dense was it that it was impossible to see more than 10 feet ahead. The whole artillery opened fire with great precision, and the barrage was very accurate. The fog made it extremely difficult to keep direction and to maintain formation, consequently the advance resolved itself into small parties moving on their own initiative. Only the first of the special ACCROCHE WOOD Signals could be seen, the smoke accentuated the fog. Even the barrage could not be seen.

ACCROCHE WOOD was strongly garrisoned and contained an abnormally large number of machine guns, but the garrison offered no resistance and readily surrendered. The attack was quite unexpected, and the fog was certainly to our advantage. The enemy remained in his dugouts during the bombardment. He gave us very little occasion to use bombs as he readily came forward with his hands extended above his head, one would almost think this was one of his favorite P.T. exercises.

Most of the guns in LONE VALLEY got away they were aided by the fog and all that we could do was to open fire on them. We captured only three guns in this valley, three 4.2s south of RAT WOOD. HAZEL WOOD was captured without difficulty. The GREEN LINE was reached according to schedule and consolidation immediately commenced. On the left protective barrage at 8.20 am when the 4th Division passed through us to the second phase of the attack, this line was re-sited and ranfrom Q.25.B.40.80; to Q.20.A.40.10; We were in touch with the 35th Battalionon our left and the 18th Battalion who did not occupy their allotted front. The sector was organised into four Company Sub Sectors each with two Platoons in the front line and two in support. Battalion Headquarters were established at P.23.D.50.50; The re-organisation and refitting of the Battalion was carried out without delay.

The barrage was excellent, not a single short being reported. All ranks are most enthusiastic in thier appreciation of the exceedingly fine work of our artillery. The movement forward of our batteries to assist in the second phase was splendidly carried out. Special memtion too must be made to the good work of the 10th and 9th A.L.T.M. Batteries and the 5th and 6th A.M.T.M. Batteries. One expected to see many more enemy dead in the area, not more than 50 were seen. The enemy's resorting to deep dugouts and his good form in athletics accounted for this.

The enemy's artillery was suprisingly feeble. At no time was his fire effective. When he eventually did learn something of the situation he lost no time in beating a hasty retreat. In the early stages the tanks were no assistance, being behind our troops most of the time. When the visibility allowed the tanks to go forward they did excellent work. Only one tank reached the green line with our troops. When they did get in front they were handled to great advantage. Their effect on the enemy's moral greatly delighted our men. The supply tank formed our dump 300 yards in rear of our line. The value of getting such large supplies forward so early and saving of infantry carrying parties cannot be overestimated.

The work of our machine guns could only be heard. Their fire appeared to be well concentrated and undoughtedly must have been accurate. Only one means of communication was possible, namely runners, and they had very great difficulty in finding their way; On the fog lifting visability and telephonic communication was established. The liaison patrols with the 5th Brigade on our right did not function.

Seven officers, 500 other ranks were captured. This is a conservative estimate and much below the totals submitted by the Companies. 457 can be definitely accounted for these having passed through Battalion Headquarters. 4 x 4.2 Howitzers and 6 x 77 MM Guns. These were captured by Lieutenant: 3072 Frank Albert HUTCHINGS M.C. and party and were marked and tagged. This party worked in the Second Division's area and captured these guns just north of LA MOTTE-en-SANTARRE. On returning in the afternoon to ascertain the number they found, that the guns had been taken away. The remaining there were captured at LENA WOOD. 30 machine guns. Of these 16 have been sent to the HAMELET dump. We have not the numbers of the remaining 14, but the total of 30 is a low estimate. a number of our guns were removed by other units which did not take part in the attack. 1 x Anti-Tank gun. 10 light Minenwerfers, 2 medium minenwerfer, 1 horse, 2 typewriters, large quantity of shells, rifles, equiptment, documents and war material.

Casulties 10 Killed in Action, 50 wounded.

(33rd Battalion Unit Diary)

21-22 August 1918.

"Zero Hour, August 21st, at thick fog lay across the front. The allied 3rd Army's Guns were clearly audible to the north. As reports filterd to the waiting Diggers, they learned that the Germans had been suprised, all objectives had been achieved and 2,000 prisoners had been taken. Because of the comparative ease of the victory of that first phase, it was decided to extend the second phase of the objectives. Gellibrand issued orders to continue the assault if the British 47th, on the Australian left flank, were successful and Bray was cleared. Unfortunately these orders, being last-minute, did not arrive at all units.

For the Australians their first active envolvement in the action was planned for dawn on the 22nd August, at 4:45am. Zt 2:20am the Germans, possibly anticipating an attack, opened up with a barrage of artillery which went for an hour. The 33rd was being held in old trenches near Tallis Wood. It was a bright moonlit night, and officers and scouts laying tapes to mark the jumping off point could plainly see the advancing Battalions 800 yards away. A second enemy barrage fell at 4:00am. This time the 33rd were caught on the Meaulte-Etinechem Road where they had assembled. The men flattened themselves as shells landed around them on the road., continually showering them with dirt. For somr reason a forward German post asked their Gunners to lift their range, to the great relief of the 33rd, but it wasn't such a good move for the 3rd Division Machine Gunners who were formed up in the rear ready to cover the flanks, nor for the reserve 11th Brigade. Both reported casulties from the shelling. The 33rd had been lucky to receive only twenty casulties, the 35th a mere six.

The road, well behind the forward posts, had been chosen as the starting point for the simplicity's sake. These posts were withdrawn just before the opening barrage, which began on schedule. From there the 'creep' was slow, the barrage advancing only a hundred yards in four minutes. A number of phosphorous shells were dropped along the way to form a smoke screen, and this, combined with the dust and early morning mist, cut visibility to only ten yards. The enemy counter barrage was fired within two minutes of the opening, but before the area was taken the Germans had cleared out. The 33rd met with a few enemy Machine-Gun posts in the valley bottom, but these were quickly outflanked and subdued. A forward German Battalion Headquarters, of the 124th Imperial Reserves , was also captured, along with its commander, liaison officers, forty men and four Machine-Guns.

Shortly afterwards our own wounded commenced to arrive at the Dressing Station and the Regimental Medical Officer Captain: William Johnstone BINNS. and staff commenced to get busy. He was assisted by Battalion Pardre Chaplain: 12991 Walter Emra Kingscote BIRKITT who was an old field ambulance man. Lieutenant: 2559 Robert Horner FLETCHER- wounded by an aerial bomb - was the first officer to appear and he was able to give us some idea as how things were going. About this time word was received that Captain: Thomas William TOLLIS of C company and Lieutenant. Alfred Gordon FARLEIGH of B Company had been killed by shots from our own barrage".

(Never a Backward Step; Edwards 1996)


30-31st August 1918

On the northern flank the 3rd Division's attack had been arranged at short notice after a day exhausting to both infantry and artillery, and in the face of other particular difficulties. The timming of the attack was to be taken from the left where the 58th Division, somewhat further back than the 9th Brigade, started at 5:10am behind a very slow barrage to attack Marrieres Wood. The 9th Brigade using the 33rd Battalion, started at the time arranged, 5:40am, but the artillery had not yet received its orders and though it fired, the barrage was thin and machine-guns in the south-west corner of Road Wood stopped the 33rd.

One Company was late, but Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. had swung his Company into its place. Major: Cedric Errol Meter BRODZIAK. D.S.O. was now killed while referring to his map.But within twenty minutes the artillery greatly increased its fire. The 33rd were able to raise their heads. A private Private: 726 George CARTWRIGHT. V.C. stood up and from the shoulder fired at the troublesome German gunner and then walking forward shot him and the two men who took his place.

Next, covering his run by exploding a bomb shot of the trench, he rushed the gun and captured 9 Germans. The 33rd stood up and cheered him, and then advancing by two's and three's entered the wood. Private: 792 William Allan IRWIN. D.C.M an Australian half-caste, after attacking like Cartwright, was mortally wounded and Died of Wounds on the 1st of September 1918.

The 33rd was now considerably behind the 6th London (58th Division), having chased the Germans from Marrieres Wood, was held up by fire from Wary Alley which curved up the gully between the woods. Comming through the south Company Sergeant Major: 967 Louis John MATHIAS. D.C.M & Bar. cleared the Germans by fire from a Lewis Gun.

The 33rd now set to bombing up the old trenches leading up to the upper end of the 1916 Spur where the Peronne-Bapaume Road also ran through. On the nearer side of the road a German battery commander with his gun crews and some infantry was blazing with six field-guns into the Australian groups everywere they left shelter.

From the southward side Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL. and Lieutenant: William Alexander McLEAN. M.C. of the 33rd-the latter greartly helped by the leaders of the 10th Brigade Sergeant 1007 E E Walters. D.C.M, 39th Battalion and Corporal 5024 A V Grinton. D.C.M, 38th Battalion, worked up and presently rushed the guns, the German Battery Commander fighting to the last with his revolver. He was shot by Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL.

Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. reaching realised that the old quarry beyond it was a commanding position and accordingly took it and 40 German prisoners and placed a post on its eastern rim. He then went back to Wary Alley, and finding some of the 6th London Regiment, got Captain: S T COOKE M.C, and 20 men to garrison the quarry while the 33rd lined the Bapaume Road on the right.

On the 31st of August James reported to Hospital suffering from a Debility or Chronic fatigue syndrome, characterised by severe fatigue and exhaustion. James was treated by the 9th Australian Field Ambulance before he was transfered to the 37th Casualty Clearing Station where he was evacuated to the 3rd Stationary Hospital on the 1st of September 1918. James embarked for England where he was admitted to the London War Hospital at Exeter on the 6th of September until he was transfered to the 2nd Scottish General Hospital at Edinburgh on the 21st of November.

James embarked from England onboard the "Karoa" on the 28th March 1918 and returned to Australia on the 10th of May before he was discharged from the A.I.F. on the 17th of June 1919.

Family Information

James was a single Grazier from Bungulla, N.S.W. upon enlistment. His parents John and Martha Hickey were married in 1883 at Walcha, N.S.W. and had 15 children. Marth was aged only 20 when she had her first child and aged 45 years when she had he 15th child. Bridget Mary Hickey born 1873 and died 1876. John Joseph Hickey born 1875 and died 1951. Ellen Hickey born 1877 and died 1952. charles James Hickey born 1881 and died 1882 born 1883 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:30787/1883 and died 1891 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Death Cert:14478/1891. William Hickey born 1885 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:33260/1885 and died 1970 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Death Cert:17705/1970. James Hickey born 1888 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:36360/1888. Clara Hickey born 1890 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:34115/1890. Annie Hickey born 1893 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:35191/1893 and died 1977. Andrew Hickey born 1895 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:37324/1895. Walter Hickey born 1898 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:16430/1898 and died 1974, N.S.W. Death Cert:51756/1974. (Twins) Ethel May Hickey born 1901 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:7917/1901 and died 1902 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Death Cert:3245/1902. Florence L Hickey born 1901 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:7918/1901. Rowland Hickey born 1902 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:7485/1902 and died 1963 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Death Cert:34723/1963. Daniel Hickey born 1904 at Tenterfield, N.S.W. Birth Cert:37368/1904 and died 1978 N.S.W. Death Cert:106041/1978.

Hi David

My name is Karen and I am interested in the 33rd Battalion. I was wondering if you could help me or point me in the right direction. I am researching my great grandmother's brother Frederick Arthur Roper 1236 who was a private in D Coy 33rd infantry battalion 9th inf Bde. He embarked on the ship HMAS Marathon on 4 May 1916. KIA. Also my great grandfather James Hickey from Tenterfield HMAS Borda 17/10/16 service no 2337 33rd Battalion. Returned to Aus after being wounded in two different battles. Firstly am I on the right website Harrowercollection and if so that would be great if these two men could be included on the page. And I would be happy to give you further info and some photos.

Thank you

(Karen Roper. December 2015)Donations and Contributions

Family information supplied by Joan Hickey; Daughter in Law of James Hickey.

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