James Percy Ray
From Our Contribution
|Date of Birth||1 Feb 1911|
|Place of Birth||Bedington, England|
|Death||8 Mar 1976, aged 65|
|Place of Death||Byford, Western Australia|
|Age at Enlistment||28 years, 8 months|
|Description||5'9½" (1.76m) tall ; ; fair complexion ; brown eyes ; brown hair|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Address||Byford, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Father , John William Ray|
|Date of Enlistment||7 Nov 1939|
|Unit/Formation||2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||20 Apr 1940 ‒ 19 May 1940|
|Transport Details||HMT Y3 Nevasa Fremantle to Kantara, Egypt|
|Journey Dates||10 Apr 1941|
|Transport Details||SS Pennland Alexandria to Pireas, Greece|
|Journey Dates||25 Apr 1941 ‒ 26 Apr 1941|
|Transport Details||SS Thurland Castle Greece to Crete|
|Journey Dates||8 May 1945|
|Transport Details||plane Germany to England|
|Return to Australia|
|Journey Dates||30 May 1945 ‒ 7 Jul 1945|
|Transport Details||J10 Liverpool to Sydney|
|Post War Details|
Wounded in Action Crete 1 Jun 1941 |
Returned to Australia
|Monument(s)||ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)|
|External Monument(s)||The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat, Victoria|
1939-45 Star |
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
Electoral Roll entry: 1936 Byford, brickmaker
Enlisted at Subiaco on 7 Nov 1939 and was the next day taken on strength by the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion. On 30 Nov 1939 they relocated to NSW to undertake training with other elements of their Brigade. On 8 Dec 1939 James was admitted to the Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney with an injury to his back, remaining in their care until 3 Jan 1940. With the unit he returned to Western Australia, and from 26 Mar until 1 Apr 1940 he enjoyed pre-embarkation leave. The battalion boarded HMT Y3 Nevasa on 20 Apr 1940 and sailed for Egypt where they landed at Kantara on 19 May 1940.
The battalion trained in both Egypt and Palestine, with James spending from 20 - 31 Jan 1941 in the 2/2nd Australian General Hospital suffering with lumbago. On discharge he was sent to the 19th Australian Infantry Training Battalion. Following the completion of his training he entered the AIF (ME) Staging Camp on 22 Feb 1941, and returned to the 2/11th Battalion on 14 Mar 1941, having missed their involvement in defeating Italian forces in Libya. On 10 Apr 1941, along with the rest of the battalion he embarked on SS Pennland in Alexandria for Greece.
The 2/11th were deployed to assist in the defence of Greece from the invading German forces who had come to retrieve the situation from their Italian allies. The Allied forces were unable to hold them back. The 2/11th withdrew from its initial positions at Kalabaka and remained on the move until it occupied rearguard positions at Brallos Pass a week later. It fought a fighting retreat through the pass, slowing the Germans there on 24 April before continuing its withdrawal to Megara on the coast. The following night they boarded SS Thurland Castle for Crete, landing there on the morning of 26 Apr 1941.
On Crete the battalion, along with the 2/1st Battalion were tasked to defend Retimo airfield. They then fought tenaciously for ten days following the landing of German paratroops on 20 May. On 1 Jun 1941 James was wounded in action by a grenade, receiving shrapnel wounds to his legs. German successes elsewhere on Crete, however, made surrender inevitable. Many 2/11th soldiers attempted to escape from Crete but only a relatively small number ultimately succeeded. Most were taken prisoner.
Held in Stalag XIIIC, with POW Number 10143 from 17 Aug 1941 until 1 Sep 1941, then Bishupshine from 1 Sep 1941 until 31 Dec 1941 and finally Seubrigshousen from 31 Dec 1941 until 1 Apr 1945. On returning to England he said that he had been used to do farm work, from 14 to 15 hours per day, receiving 18 German Marks per month. While he recived his mail regularly, he did not receive Red Cross parcels regularly.
On 8 May 1945 he arrived in England from Germany by plane having been freed earlier by advancing allied troops. He was granted Proficiency Pay from 24 Apr 1945. On 30 May 1945 he boarded J10 in Liverpool for Sydney, arriving there on 7 Jul 1945. Placed on a train for Western Australia, he arrived there on 15 Jul 1945. Following some leave he was admitted to 110th Australian Base Hospital on 1 Aug 1945 for assessment and treatment, until 26 Aug 1945. On 7 Sep 1945 he was admitted to the 109th Australian Convalescent Depot, and returned to 110th Australian Base Hospital on 22 Oct 1945. he was released to the 109th Australian Convalescent Depot again on 19 Nov 1945 until 12 Dec 1945, and was discharged on 13 Dec 1945.
Married Violet Winifred ?? died 6 Jan 1987 aged 78.
Electoral Roll entries: 1949 - 1972 Byford, brickmaker