James PANWICK (1881-1958)


Victory Medal 41449 to LCPL J PANWICK 34BN AIF


Lance Corporal: 149 James PANWICK.

Born: 1881. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England



Died: 1958. Hamilton, New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:5482/1958

Father: Jessie Panwick

Mother: Annie Panwick. nee:.


James Panwick enlisted with the A Company 34th Battalion AIF and was an original member of the Battalion and left Sydney on board HMAT A20 "Hororata" on the 2nd of May 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth, England on the 23rd of June 1916. James was marched to the 9th Training Battalion where he remained before proceeding overseas for France on the 21st of November 1916.

James was Taken on in Strength in the field with the 34th Battalion and was Wounded in Action on the 7th of June 1917, receiving a Gun-Shot Wound to his Right Thigh at Messines Ridge and was treated by the 9th Australian Field Ambulance before being transfered to the No:2 Australian General Hospital at Boulogne.

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 A 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 mede 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 bug 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 looses their lives.

9th Infanry 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

(BEAN; History of World war 1 Vol IV p911)

James was evacuated to England on board the Hospital Ship "St-David" on the 12th of June and was admitted to the Herne Bay Military Hospital. James was granted Furlo from the 19th of July until the 2nd of August and was then marched to the 9th Overseas Training Battalion before proceeding overseas for France on the 5th of September 1917. He was once again Taken on in Strength in the Field on the and was marched to the front line in preperation for the Battle of Passchendaele.

9th-12th October 1917 saw the 3rd Division, 9th and 10th Infantry Brigade in action during the , which saw massive losses and suffering in the Australian ranks. The casualties numbered 3,199 men in 24hours during the height battle. The 34th Battalion lost every Officer that day, either killed or wounded including their Medical Officer, Major: Gother Robert Caslide Clarke and some of his staff were killed while dressing the wounded. The spirit of some of the wounded is illustrated by the case of Corporal: 3170 Winsleigh Alexander Murray 35th Battalion, (formerly a Methodist Minister from Newcastle) gave up his place in a queue waiting for stretcher bearers and was never heard of again.

The Battle of Passchendaele saw 60 Officers and 1,322 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infanry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 11 Officers 273 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 15 Officers 323 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 18 Officers 296 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 15 Officers 383 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 1 Officer 36 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. - Officer 11 Other ranks

(BEAN; History of World War 1 Vol V page 345)

James was treated by the 9th Australian field Ambulance for a Septic Foot on the 18th of October and after a short stay in Hospital rejoined his Company on the 26th of October. James was granted leave to England on the 7th of March 1918 and returned to France on the 12th of April. James was promoted to Lance Corporal in the Field on the 2nd of September 1918 and remained in France after the armistace and returned to England on the 26th of March 1919.

James left England on obard HMAT A30 "Borda" on the 11th of May 1919 and returned to Australia on the 28th of June, he was discharged on the 12th of August 1919.

James's Victory Medal:41449 to L/CPL J PANWICK 34BN AIF was acquired at Auction in January 2008 and is now in the collection. his medal's were first issued on the 6th of February 1925 and were sent to the Gunnedah Post Office.

Victory Medal 41449 to LCPL J PANWICK 34BN AIF

Victory Medal 41449 to LCPL J PANWICK 34BN AIF

Family Information

Jessie James Panwick was born in England (date unknown) and died in 1953 at Coffs Harbour, N.S.W. Death Cert:6950/1953. His brother James Panwick was born in 1881 in England and died 1958 at Hamilton, Newcastle, N.S.W. Death Cert:5482/1958. James was buried in the Sandgate Cemetery in an unmarked grave Section 21 Lot 56 in the Anglican Section.

Sandgate CemeterySandgate Cemetery

Unmarked Grave of James Panwick 2009. Grave Marker by Gary Mitchell, Sandgate Cemetery Project, October 2015.

Sandgate Cemetery Project

James Panwick had no children as far as I can find but there is a living niece who is my grandfather's sister. I have located his resting place being Sandgate Cemetery where he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave with two other unfortunates. A poor end for somebody who saw action at Passchendaele and Messines. He died in the 1950's after time in an old people's home in Dudley. His brother, Jesse Panwick, made no mention of James for some reason, to his family hence, he was unknown largely.

I visited recently with a relative who is two generations closer to James than myself and she was unaware of his existence in Australia even. The impression I am getting is that James was separated largely from his family as his brother Jesse never mentioned him to Jesse's daughter even up to her age of 23. I did find his grave when searching, a little disappointed and sad at the discovery too. I suppose that is what happens to the disconnected people in our community. I can only imagine that James did not declare his war history as he was indemise hence, the pauper multiple burial.

(Regards, Bob Doherty. Nudgee Beach Queensland. Australia.) 17th December 2009

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Under Construction 11/01/2008-08/10/2015.

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