486 Private James Brown aka  James McGill – 6th Light Horse Australian Imperial Forces

There are some conflicting facts in this story

On the 14th September 1914 James Brown enlisted in Sydney with the 1st Reinforcements, 6th Light Horse, Australian Imperial Forces (AIF). Military papers note that James had been born in Auckland and that his next of kin was
Mrs W J McGill, Home Farm, Huntley, New Zealand[i].

Private Brown left Australia on 22nd December 1914 joining up with the main Australian Forces in Egypt. Like
New Zealand Mounted Regiments the Australian Mounted Regiments were initially not used during the 25th April 1915 landings at Gallipoli but as casualties’ numbers increased some of these mounted units were sent to Gallipoli to be used
as infantry. The 6th Light Horse arrived at ANZAC Cove on the 20th May 1915 and was mainly used in defensive positions[ii].

On 7th October 1915 the Auckland Star reported on a number of New Zealanders serving with Australian Forces who had been wounded or killed.[iii]

‘Trooper James McGill is the youngest of two sons now at the front of Mr and Mrs J McGill,
Home Farm, Huntley and late of Millerton (Westport, South Island – Ed). Born in Newcastle,
NSW, 23 years ago he followed the occupation of butcher. At the outbreak of war he was
among the first to enlist, going to Sydney and joining the 6th Australian Light Horse.
His brother J M McGill, was recently severely wounded, after seven months fighting in the
trenches in Flanders.’

On the 15th October 1915 the Auckland Star carried a photo of Trooper McGill
noting that he was wounded and in Malta. It is possible the wounds suffered
were severe enough for Private McGill be returned to Australia and then
to make his way back to New Zealand.

Trooper James McGill 

On 11th June 1917 the New Zealand Herald carried the report of the death of
an ex-soldier:

An inquest concerning the death of James McGill, an returned soldier,
who died at the Porirua Mental Hospital on June 5 was held today,
before MR W.G. Kiddell, coroner. Dr Henry stated that on June 4, in
response to a telephone message, he went to the Lambton Quay
police station, and saw McGill there. He had symptoms of cerebral
irritation, and was insensible to his surroundings, his appearance being
that of a man who had the beginning of an acute disease. Witness was
informed that McGill had been refused admission to the Wellington
Hospital . . . . . .’

James McGill had been taken to the Wellington Hospital and also to the Alexander Barracks but refused admission
and was finally taken to the Porirua Mental Hospital where he died that day. While the coroner noted that McGill’s
condition did not appear to be different from that of any epileptic form of mania but recorded a verdict of death due
to meningitis.

The report of the case was widely distributed in New Zealand:

‘It was a scandal and shame to say that the unfortunate man had been carried for one place
to another. It was plainly a case for treatment at a mental hospital not an ordinary hospital,
as it would have disturbed the other patients.’

James McGill is listed as 24 when he died.

The James McGill may have been 486 Private James Brown who enlisted in 1914 however James Brown is listed by one researcher as returning to Australia in Nov 1918.

The James McGill may have been 486 Private James Brown who enlisted in 1914 however
James Brown is listed by one researcher as returning to Australia in Nov 1918.

J M McGill would have been with the British Army if he had spent, by October 1915,  seven months in the trenches in Flanders.

First World War Enrolment Rolls: The Australian War Memorial
6th Light Horse Regiment (Australia): Wikipedia
Paperspast online

Trooper James McGill: Auckland Star
A 6th Light Horse Trooper c1915: Australian Museum 

[i] First World War Enrolment Rolls 
[ii] 6th Light Horse Regiment (Australia)
[iii] Wounded and Killed, 7th October 1915, Auckland Star



Trooper 6th Light Horse c 1915