Their bodies are buried in peace; but their names liveth for evermore.
Their Duty Done
A tribute to the men and women of the East Gippsland Region who Died as a result of their participation in World War One : 1914 - 1919
1763 Private James Michael Nowlan – Bruthen / Ensay / Bullumwaal Died of illness 11 November 1915
….. one of the best loved lads in the company
James Nowlan was an extremely popular well known lad in the district. He was born in Carisbrook but had come to Bullumwaal as an infant and it was here that five of his siblings had been born and that Jimmie went to school. When he was about fifteen years old the family moved to Bruthen. An orchardist by trade he was the son of Michael and Lillian Nowlan and at 18 years 3 months he enlisted on 19 May 1915 and left Australia the following month. In early September he was admitted to hospital on the Peninsula suffering from tonsillitis. It appears that he made good use of his time in hospital to write a lengthy letter home describing the landing about midnight on the 4 th , and the near misses that he had on the front line. I heard an explosion and saw a flash of light, and of course I pulled my gun in and found that the portion of the stock had been blown to bits. He describes the place it is a very rough place where we are now right on the side of what is known as Gallipoli Heights. You may have heard of them, as they are about where the first contingent of our boys landed and they must have had a job to take the hill they did. It was simply marvellous. He recovered from the tonsillitis and rejoined his unit on 25 October but ten days later he was transported to the hospital ship Devanha suffering a fever and pneumonia and died on what would become known as Remembrance Day, 11 November 1915 and was buried at sea. It is somewhat ironic that his letter to the Bruthen people was published in the local paper the same day. In March the following year, Srgt Prentice wrote an open letter of compassion to the family that was also published. He remarked how he was one of the best loved lads in the company. Always smiling, indeed to tease him we used to ask him to try and look straight and not smile. It is a pleasant memory for me to remember him with his blue eyes and curly hair as a bright light passing along my military life. Prentice had been with Nowlan for several months. Nowlan had first came to his attention when he, Prentice, was carrying heavy medical supplies and Jimmie had said to him let me take your bag for a spell and carried the supplies the rest of the way. Jimmie never knew his two sisters and brother that were born at Bruthen after his enlistment in 1915 but 100 years later his photograph is still on display within the family. He is named on several local Honour Rolls including Bairnsdale, Bruthen, Bullumwaal and Ensay. His uncle, Henry Worthington, of Ensay also served and returned home. It was Henry who accompanied Jimmie’s father to the Post Office in 1921 to collect his son’s medals.
Photograph courtesy of family member Colin Greenwood.