James Leslie SAUNDERS

Year of Birth:  1890

Place of Birth:  Roma, Queensland

Date of Enlistment:  20 February 1915

Date and Place of Embarkation: 24 May 1915, Brisbane, Queensland

Ship:  HMAT Ascanius A11

Rank:  Company Sergeant Major

Unit(s): 26 Infantry Battalion

Regimental Number:  182

Died:  1 February 1916


Photo – courtesy of RSL Virtual War Memorial


James Saunders was born 8 February 1890 in Roma Queensland the eldest child of William Saunders, a chemist and Edith Postlethwaite. James’ siblings were Frank (1894-1894), George (1894-1894), Francis (1895-1895). Laurence Henry (1898-1978 in Hampshire England)

James attended Chillagoe State School, later Brisbane Grammar. Member of the Chillagoe Rifle Club

He enlisted in Cairns at the age of 25. James had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was 5 feet 11 inches and weighed 140 pounds his occupation was a miner.

At the time of his enlistment his next of kin is listed as William Saunders, father of Queens Street, Chillagoe. Later his father is listed as deceased and his mother Mrs E. Saunders C/o Mrs Pink, Mabel Street, Atherton is listed as next of kin. A letter from Mrs Saunders states her husband died in July 1917.

Previous service was 45 days Naval & Military Expert; 99 days 5th Light Horse 2nd Exped. Force enlisting on the 17 September 1914, enlistment number 86 and was discharged due to temporary illness.  While serving in the 5th Light Horse he was promoted to Acting Corporal on the 1 November 1914.

He also served in the 2nd A.N & M.E.F. the Far North Queensland Kennedy Regiment, known as the Dirty 500,which he joined on the 14 August 1914 landing on Thursday Island on 16 August 1914 from the troopship “Kanowna”, to take part in the capture of German New Guinea. An incident on board the “Kanowna” involving the firemen forced the immediate return of the troops to Townsville on 18 August 1914.

James was promoted to Company Sergeant Major on the 16 June 1915 and served at Gallipoli in the MEF. Contracted cerebro spinal meningitis and transferred to hospital in Egypt.

James Saunders died 1 February 1916 at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt of cerebro spinal meningitis at the number two Australian Station Hospital. He was buried at Tel-el-Kebir Cemetery, Egypt which is located about 50 miles north, east of Cairo. Also listed on the Mareeba Cenotaph.




Cairns Post 22 June 1916 page 1


Cairns Post

Online Resources

Photo: RSL Virtual War Memorial

NAA B2455: James Saunders, National Archives of Australia

Australian War Memorial

Queensland Births, Deaths, Marraiges and Divorces

Trove Digitised Newspapers, National Library of Australia

Cairns Post 22 June 1916 p4

Cairns Post 28 August 1917 p1


Other Sources

The First Expeditionary Force: the Thursday Island Expedition: a collection of reference documents. Denis Bird, 2015 [CDFHS Library]

Pioneers & Settlers Register : Far North Queensland to 1920. Cairns & District Family History Society, 1995. page 40


If you have a photograph or further information about this soldier you would like to share and add to his biography, please add a comment or contact the Society projects@cdfhs.org


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