Bullecourt, 11 April 1917

James (Corrie) Wheeler, from Rockhampton, enlisted in Townsville 18 January 1915. Assigned to the 15th Infantry Battalion, he joined his company at Gallipoli in May 1915.

August 1915, at Lone Pine

June 1916 saw Wheeler reunited with the 15th now in France, where he was again severely wounded, this time at Mouquet Farm during the Battle of Pozieres, 9 August 1916.

He returned once again to his unit in March 1917 and just before the fight on April 11th 1917 his mate Arthur Dove asked him

“What are you going to do this time, Wheeler?”

On the eve of 10 April the Battalion prepared for an attack on the Hindenburg Line south of Riencourt, the next morning. The unit diary for the time states:

“Only four Officers who were in the assault were brought in, they were wounded before reaching first wire. None of the Officers who reached objective returned and of the troops who took part in the assault only 52 have returned.”

Wheeler was reported missing after the battle, later he was found to be a prisoner of the German army, taken at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917.

Image source: Gold Museum Ballarat

James Corrie Wheeler survived his time in the German prison camps, and returned to Australia early 1919. He took up a selection north of Boulia on the Burke River, which he named “Corrie Downs”. One of the western-most homesteads in Queensland, he lived there as a grazier for the next 50 years, raising sheep for wool. He married Storm Murray in April 1950.

His collection of reminiscences are held at the State Library of Queensland

Further Reading:

Marg Powell

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