James Edward Ormerod


Private 1336
32nd Battalion, Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

James was born in Accrington, Lancashire, the son of James and Emily Ormerod, and attended the Church of England School in Accrington.

At the time of the 1901 Census he was living with his parents and siblings at 12 Rosebery St, Todmorden. The details of his family at the time of this census were as follows.


35 Higher Antley St

Census Place:

Accrington, Lancashire, England


PRO Ref RG13; Piece 3859; Folio 58; Page 3









Lancs Shuttleworth





Iron Turner Machine (Worker)





Lancs Southport







Lancs Accrington







Lancs Accrington



James moved to Australia when he was eighteen years old, and worked as a farm labourer.

At the time that James enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, on 15 July 1915, his father, James, was living at 150 Beaufort St, Perth, Western Australia.

James was posted to the 32nd (South Australia and Western Australia) Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force. This Battalion formed part of the 5th Australian Division, 8th Infantry Brigade.

James was initially posted to Egypt, and whilst there was transferred to the 30th (New South Wales) Battalion (13 May 1916). It was with the 30th Battalion that he arrived on the Western Front in June 1916.

James was wounded in the arm by shrapnel on 28 July 1916 and evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station. He rejoined his unit on 4 August 1916, but in November 1916 he again had to be evacuated to hospital, this time suffering from trench foot.

His condition was serious enough for him to be evacuated to the 1st Southern General Hospital, in Birmingham, England, and he did not rejoin the Australian Forces on the Front until 6 September 1917. Rather than rejoining the 30th Battalion, James was posted to the 32nd Battalion as a reinforcement, and it was with the 32nd Battalion that James was fighting when he was killed in Polygon Wood, in the Ypres Salient, Belgium, on 30 September 1917.

At the time of his death James' father was living in Freemantle, Western Australia, and much of the later correspondence between the Australian authorities and James' father show that he was resident at the Federal Hotel, Freemantle.

 A war pension was paid to James' mother, Emily, whose address is noted as 20 Lower Antley St, Accrington, Lancashire.

James has no known grave, and his name is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

James is also remembered in the Greater Accrington Roll of Honour - his entry reading "ORMEROD, Pte. James Edward, 1336 (32nd Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.); s. of James and Emily Ormerod; native of Accrington; d. 30th September 1917 (23); comm. Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper."

As the circumstances of James' death were unclear, an investigation into this was conducted into this by the Australian Red Cross Society, who opened files on thousands of Australian service personnel who had been reported missing or wounded.

As part of this investigation various soldiers from the 32nd Battalion were contacted, and the statements they made are recorded below:

"He [James] was an original B. Coy man, was wounded at Flers on [sic] November, 1916, went to hospital and was transferred into the 32nd Battn which he was with at the time of his death. I saw him not long before his death. He informed me that he was trying to get a transfer back to the 30th Battn. He should be listed under the 32nd Battn." (Sgt 539 W.G. Smith, B Coy, 32nd Battalion, A.I.F.)

"I knew Pte Ormerod of C. Co. from West Australia, an Englishman, but joined in Western Australia. I was about 20 yards from him at Passchendaele about the 30th Septr or early in Octr 1917 when he was killed instantly by shell, and I helped to bury him in a sap behind our front line. I put a rough cross with his name and number in indelible pencil. I could point out the spot." (Pte 3647 H.F. Brown, VIII Pltn, B Coy, 32nd Battalion, A.I.F.)

"I did not know him well; he came from Lancashire. I knew his numb... On September 30th we were holding the line at Polgon [sic] Wood. He was in the front line trench when a big shell exploded and killed him. He was buried in the trench. He was a young man." (Pte 25853 J. McEvoy, 32nd Battalion, A.I.F.)

"It was in Polygon Wood, three days after the hop-over and we were in Supports, early in the morning and sheltering in shell holes. Ormerod was in a shell hole, 15 yards away from me, and the shelling was very heavy, when we got out that evening there was nothing but a mess in the shell hole Ormerod and another man had been in and he was never seen again. There is no doubt, another shell, or more, dropped clean in their shell hole, and you will never learn more than that. He was a very fine fellow was Ormerod. He came from W. Australia. Ormerod was transferred from 32nd Battn to 30th Battn in June 1916, but got back to the 32nd when he was at Hurdcott in April or May 1917." (L/Cpl 1407 A.G. Bullock, IV Platoon, D Coy, 32nd Battalion, A.I.F.)

Polygon Wood in 1917

The records for James, held at the National Archives of Australia, show that he was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. A Memorial Plaque and Memorial Scroll were sent to James Ormerod, James' father.

A digital copy of the personal records held for James at the National Archives of Australia can be viewed online at the National Archives of Australia Website (NAA: B2455, ORMEROD JAMES EDWARD).

A digital copy of the Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau File relating to James (AWM: 1DRL/0428, 2060502F, Ormerod, James Edward) can be viewed through the Australian War Memorial Website.

James' name commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres

The old rifle butte in Polygon Wood, surmounted by the memorial to the 5th Australian Division

The memorial to the 5th Australian Division in Polygon Wood