James Douglas Aitken

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James Douglas Aitken
Personal Information
Date of Birth 18 Mar 1925
Place of Birth Subiaco, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 18 years 2 months
Description 5'8"(1.73m) tall ; ; fair complexion ; green eyes ; dark hair ; tattoo on right arm
Occupation Labourer
Religion Presbyterian
Address Sixth avenue, Kelmscott, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr. James Aitken
Military Information
Reg Number W53291
Date of Enlistment 11 May 1943
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 26th Australian Employment Company
Post War Details
Fate Remained in Australia

Pre War

War Service

Enlisted on 11 may 1945 at Claremont and was posted to full time duty and allocated to General Reinforcements. On 24 May 1943 James was sent to 35th Australian Infantry Training Battalion, and at the completion of his basic training he was posted on 24 May 1943 to Western Command Recruit Reception & General Details Depot's General Details Depot for allocation to a unit. While there, on 29 Sep 1943 he was charged with "Losing by neglect equipment and clothing to the value of 5/8d ($0.56) for which he was admonished and his pay debited that amount. On 24 Oct 1943 he was again in trouble, charged with Using insubordinate language to his superior officer - fined 10/- ($1).

On 1 Nov 1943 he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Specialist Services Training Centre and on 3 Dec 1943 to 26th Australian Employment Company at Davilak (Cockburn). He had been granted proficiency pay on 11 November. On 6 Jan 1944 at Fremantle he embarked for a North West Port. He had been detached to Camp 302 where on 15 Feb 1944 he was again charged with using insubordinate language to his superior officer at 8:00am on 15 February. Officer Commanding North/West detachment fined him 10/- ($1). James returned to Fremantle on 1 May 1944. His next detachment was to Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp (Camp No 16), returning to home base on 3 Jun 1944. On 6 Jun 1944 he was detached to the Western Command Bulk Issue Petrol and Oil Depot outpost at Forrestdale, however it was then discovered that his vision was not up to the level required for driving a vehicle. Meanwhile he had again transgressed, on 6 Sep 1944 being charged with Failing to appear at a place of parade at Forrestdale held at 7:30am on 20 Aug 1944. For this he was awarded 7 days Confined to Barracks.

A Medical Board followed on 26 October and the next day he was discharged on medical grounds - defective vision.

Post War

During 1957 James married Dolores Margaret Jane Harris in Geraldton. Electoral Roll entries: 1949 at Sixth avenue, Kelmscott, farmer; 1963 at Wooroloo, farm hand; 1963 - 1968 at Coolup, dairy manager; 1972 Dolores at 34 Fandon street, Safety Bay and in 1977 she was at 20 Edgewater road, Safety Bay; 1980 at Lot 9 Anderson street, Bluff Point, construction worker??


During the period 1939 - 1945 some unit names changed more than once. In the case of Australian Employment Companies they were also known as Works Companies, Labour Companies, Labour Units, Labour Corps. For sake of consistency I have adopted the term Employment Company. The role they played did not change with title. They were established to ensure that the Australian Defence Force had a large force of soldiers dedicated to essential labouring tasks, providing the physical labour needed to maintain the war effort and support the fighting forces.

Of the total of 39 Companies, 11 were part or fully manned by non British citizens known then as 'aliens'. These alien companies were not issued with arms. The 26th was not one of them, being staffed with British citizens.

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