Two brothers from County Clare, Ireland, Michael and Edmund immigrated to Australia in 1850 to join the gold rush. With some success the brothers moved to South Australia to join their eldest brother and sister. Michael married Bridget and had children. They were a farming family.
James was born at Virginia in 1894. His mother was Bridget ran the local Post Office. James went to school locally at Virginia. He was a member of the local football and cricket clubs and for some time had been secretary of the ULU. He was a member of the Two Wells Light Horse and when war broke out he was one of the first to enlist. James, a farm labourer enlisted on 24 August 1914 at the age of 20 years.James was given a farewell by the community at the Wheatsheaf Hotel. The event was recorded in the newspaper.
On Thursday afternoon a farewell was tendered Private J. J Sheedy, who in, a day or two as leaving for the front. The event, which was hurriedly arranged, was held at the Wheatsheaf Hotel, and a good crowd assembled to bid farewell to the young man. Mr. Sheedy is a resident of Virginia, and is very popular. He has a large circle of friends, who will look forward to his safe return. On behalf of his many friends Mr. J. Richmond presented Private Sheedy with a purse of sovereigns and a case of pipes, and wished him Godspeed and a safe return. Mr. Sheedy suitably responded. The afternoon closed with the singing of "God Save the King".
Daily Herald Saturday 12 September 1914 p.5He was appointed to the 10th Battalion Infantry, as a cook. James left Adelaide on the Asconius on 20 November 1914.
The 10th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. The battalion was recruited in South Australia, and together with the 9th, 11th and 12th Battalions, formed the 3rd Brigade. The battalion was raised within weeks of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked for overseas just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving in early December.
The 3rd Brigade was the covering force for the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 and so was the first ashore at around 4:30 am. The 10th Battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the Anzac position, and served there until the evacuation in December.
He was sent to the Dardanelles and he was killed in action on Gallipoli on 27 April 1915.
The following is an extract from a letter written at Gallipoli on August 8th by Lieutenant AB Lodge to his mother at Hamilton, describing the fight in which Private J. J. Sheedy was wounded: — 'Jim Sheedy has had a bit of hard luck. He has been wounded in the head and in the leg. The wound in the head is not very serious, but his leg is bad. He has been sent to hospital, and is likely to be away for some time.
It appears the Turks were making an attack, and he, with about seven more of his section, were holding an advanced position. The Turks made a charge. He managed to bayonet one Turk, when another made a cut at Jim, and got him on the head with the bayonet. Jim promptly turned round and knocked out the other Turk with the butt of his rifle. Then the order was given to come back into the trench. Jim was the last to come back, and by some means or other he was mistaken for a Turk, and his own officer shot him in the leg. Hard, was it not? My word! the chaps tell me he was as game as anything. I hope he'll soon be better.
Advocate Saturday 11 September 1915 p 25His mother Bridget, living at Sea View, Virginia received his effects. They consisted of belt, balaclava, mittens, razor and strop, two fountain pens, three books, a letter, silver match box, cigarette case, spectacles, metal chain, two metal watches, diary, purse and religious medallion.
James is interned at the Lone Pine Memorial, at Gallipoli Turkey.
Lest we forget!
ReferencesJames’ image from the Chronicle Saturday 10 July 1915 p.42
Australian War Memorial 10th Battalion history.
Virginia the garden on the Plains