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COLES, James Scouler (1888-1916) +

James Scoular Coles (Pegasus)

James Scoular Coles (Pegasus)

COLES, James Scouler (1888-1916)

James Scouler Coles was born on 1 July 1888 at Diapur, near Nhill, the son of George Coles and his wife, Elizabeth Malcolm Scouler.

His father had become a substantial retailer, operating stores at Geelong, Nhill, Diapur, and St James in Victoria, and Wilmot in Tasmania. James was enrolled at Geelong College from 1901 until 1903, and matriculated in seven subjects in his final year. In 1902, he was noted as earning second prize in French in the Middle fourth class.

At the time of his enlistment (No 11871) during World War I at Collingwood on 7 August 1915, he was in partnership with his brothers, Arthur and George in a general store at 288 Smith Street, Collingwood.

James embarked for Egypt with 3rd Reinforcement Group on HMAT A32 Themistocles on 28 January 1916, then proceeded to France in March.

He was killed in action at Pozieres on 10 August 1916, and his grave was marked with a cross bearing The Geelong College motto, Sic Itur Ad Astra. He was buried in Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers la Boiselle — Grave I.A.20.

On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 8 Division attacked Ovillers and the 34 Division, La Boisselle. The villages were not captured, but ground was won between them and to the south of La Boisselle. On 4 July, the 19 (Western) Division cleared La Boisselle and on 7 July the 12 (Eastern) and 25 Divisions gained part of Ovillers, the village being cleared by the 48(South Midland) Division on 17 July. The two villages were lost during the German advance in March 1918, but they were retaken on the following 24 August by the 38 (Welsh) Division. Plot I of the Cemetery was made by fighting units after 10 July 1916 and closed in September when it contained the graves of ninety-five soldiers, mainly Australian. It was called variously Gordon (or Gordon's) Dump Cemetery or Sausage Valley Cemetery, from the name given to the broad, shallow valley that runs down from it to Becourt. The remainder of the cemetery was formed after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the 1916 battlefields immediately surrounding the cemetery. There are now 1,676 Commonwealth servicemen of the Great War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. In this cemetery 1,053 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to thirty-four casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

His brothers, Arthur William Coles (1892-1982) and David Henry Coles (1894-1917) were also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. p20 (citing Walter Ives, 'Arthur William Coles: With Zeal and Integrity'; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Image, Pegasus December 1916.); Annual Report 1902.
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