http://hn James Donovan was born in Pittsworth on October 13 1883 and died on 17th of August 1960  In 1916, John James Donovan, also known as Jack Donovan, felt he should leave the stability of his life and fight for his country. Jack was a grazier and a butcher. He lived in Pittsworth near Allora in Queensland. It was only a small township accessible by dirt track. Horse and Buggy was the main mode of transport with motor cars beyond the reach of most inhabitants. Along with his brother Paddy or to give him his due Patrick Thomas Donovan, they took over the farm run by their father Thomas Donovan. Jack remained single.  They grazed cattle and a ready market for wheat which was sold in bushels per quart domestically and overseas.  Jack had good friends. Frank was also a farmer, gregarious, rambunctious. When Jack lived at Pittsworth he and Frank would pen their cattle, mainly Herefords at the local saleyards. Then there was Mick the local baker who was quick witted and like Jack and Frank hard working and not afraid to speak his mind. Jack and his mates would attend at the local pub on a Saturday night where local grain prices and the cost of flour were exchanged. But Jack was restless. To him he owed a duty not just to himself but to his country. Frank and Mick were enlisting. Jack was 32 years and five months old when he enlisted. Of average height, he stood five foot seven  inches high fair hair blue eyes and brown hair and being Irish by descent he was Roman Catholic. When he enlisted in the first AIF on the 4th of April 1916 at the Downs Central Recruiting Depot. Toowoomba. Patrick Thomas Donovan, his brother was recorded as his next of kin.(1)In the previous week 57 had presented  themselves for enlistment with 49 fit and 8 unfit(2)Jack enlisted in the 6th reinforcements/9th brigade(3) The recruiting depot was busy that day. Jack and Paddy saw a young married man with his wife and three children standing in the queue waiting to enlist. The wife timidly approached the recruiting officer and said it was not right for her husband to enlist. She would lose his income . She had a two-minute conversation with her husband and he then came forward and asked that his name be struck off (4) He was seconded as a driver to the 9th battalion. In those days drivers rode horses and pulled ambulances and in Jack Donovans  case artillery wagons. Usually a wagon had teams of six horses. Unlike the infantry that were issued with puttees, he was issued with boots and spurs. His identity number shown on his identity disc was 30111(5)  He embarked on the Benalla A24 on the 9th of November 1916(6). The scene on the harbour was chaotic with friends and family there to say goodbye. Tugs and ferries blew their whistles. The boat was crowded with soldiers with them lining the rails of the ship. There was no one there for Jack who had said his goodbyes in Pittsworth and to his brother Paddy at the enlistment depot.   On the boat he was fed sausages and onion for breakfast, rabbit for dinner and tripe for tea. The soldiers also had lectures in driving and battery manoeuvres (7)  The Benalla arrived at Davenport on the 9th of January 1917.  When he drove the artillery wagons, carrying howitzer bombs, the work was long, hard and thirsty both for him and the horses. The artillery were efficient weapons of war. The terrain though largely flat was filled with mud. Jack was used to mud having lived on the land but not like this. It was always raining. And as Jack said when it is not raining it is snowing and blowing.  And as Jack remarked: Oh for a week of Queensland Sun (8). It was slow going for the horses and the wagons as he sat astride the saddle Though the Wailers were suited to these conditions the sweat of the horses combined with the dust made for a pungent odour. Some of the horses died through shellfire  Driving the artillery wagons there was missiles flying around. On the way home when the Germans started shelling his horse took the full force and was killed. When a horse got killed they would bury them in the latest shell hole(9) Jack was stationed in France. “ Artillery Inflicted the most casualties and battle space damage and instilled the most fear among opposing forces” The work was also dangerous attracting the attention of the enemy (10)  To him his horse was just like a soldier, a friend, someone he could rely on. Jack was fined for drunkenness in the war; 2 shillings and sixpence a time. To be merry was an opportunity too scarce to miss. Unfortunately for Jack he contracted influenza before the signing of the armistice. Of course, it is well known that influenza epidemic killed millions. He felt frustrated and lonely as he had to convalesce for many months at Devonshire in England. There were some Canadians and he asked his brother Pat to lend him a copy of Banjo Petersons books so he could convince them that Australia poetry is hard to beat. He received letters every 8 weeks unlike the front where it took upto 4 months to receive them. (9) It was thought that after he convalesced he would return to France. However his convalescence took longer than expected. He was discharged from the army on the 6th of the June 1919 seven months after the end of the war. Jack Donovan in the later years of his life became a butcher in Dalby. He never married and to his mates and his family Jack was committed, independent and loyal. Jack Donovan was awarded three medals, the 1914-1918 star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.                                                  BIBLIOGRAPHY (1) National Library Of Australia- John James Donovan  Enlistment Papers (2) The Brisbane Courier(QLD_1864-1933)Monday 20 March Page 18-National Library of Australia (3) Australian Imperial Force-Nominal Roll-Australian War Memorial (4) The Sun (Sydney NSW 1910-1954) Sunday 16 January 1916 (5) National Library of Australia-John James Donovan _Enlistment Papers. (6) Dvr Claude H Ewart Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) and 4th Field Artillery Brigade and 2nd Division, Australia Army and 10th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) (1915) Diary- Driver Claude Ewart World War One, Nov 1915-August 1917. Museum Victoria  (7) The  Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser Queensland 1892-1917 Thursday 22nd of February 1917 (8) See (6) (9) RSL Virtual War Memorial -John James Donovan (10) The Capricornian Rockhampton Queensland 1875-1929 Saturday August 10 1918 page 21


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