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John Stewart LATHAM

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 628 28y11m 2 Sep 1914 26 Feb 1919 1

John Stewart Latham (1885 - 1964)

Latham Brothers Booklet

 The Latham Family of Murgon

John Stewart and his wife Jane née Duncan were amongst the pioneering settlers at Bald Hills in 1857.  Earlier in that year, excessive flooding in the Hunter River area of New South Wales had caused them to seek new holdings.  The virgin soil near two hills to the north of Brisbane was recommended to them.  The Stewarts and Duncans were Scottish families who within six years built there a Presbyterian church of simple slab construction.  

John and Jane Stewart’s children, one of whom was Jessie attended the little Bald Hills School, the fourth state school in Queensland.  A young man called Samuel Latham, a farmer, came to Australia from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England and in 1883 married nineteen year old Jessie Stewart of Bald Hills.

The family of Samuel and Jessie Latham numbered eleven, the eldest of whom, Annie and her brothers John Stewart and William Alfred were born at Bald Hills.

Samuel and Jessie Latham and family later took up farming in the Murgon District.  Mrs Jessie Latham died there in 1921 and Mr Samuel Latham had reached the age of 84 years when he died at his Murgon residence called Redgate in 1943.

 This is the story of their son, "Jack" Latham. 

Early life

John (Jack) Stewart Latham was born on 9 October 1885 at Bald Hills, first son of Samuel Latham, a farmer, and Jessie née Stewart.  Jack’s family lived at Murgon but when he was old enough to earn a living he moved to Brisbane.  He was living at Riverview Terrace, Toowong in 1908 while working as an ironmonger.  His occupation in 1913 was traveller.  In 1914 when war broke out Jack Latham had returned to live at Bald Hills and was employed as a grocer’s shop assistant.


Then aged 30 years and still single, he enlisted in Brisbane to serve in the Australian Imperial Force on 5 September 1914.  Private Jack Latham was allocated to the 2nd Light Horse Regiment with regimental number 628.  He gave his father’s name as next-of-kin and his religious denomination, Presbyterian. His unit embarked from Sydney on board HMAT Boorara on 20 December 1914.  For a time, the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, one of three regiments of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, camped at Madi in Egypt to the south of Cairo.

The regiment left their horses in Egypt and arrived at the Gallipoli Peninsula on 12 May 1915, the day Chaplain Ernest Merrington  landed at Anzac Cove, joining the allied forces there as reinforcements. Assigned to the New Zealand and Australian Division, the regiment fought around Anzac Cove and during the Battle of Sari Bair.

Private Jack Latham suffered a bullet wound to his cheek in September and was transferred to hospital at Malta.  On recovery in late January 1916, he travelled back to Egypt where his regiment, having withdrawn from Gallipoli and still with the 1st Light Horse Brigade, became part of the ANZAC Mounted Division, responsible for the defence of the Suez Canal from raiding Senussi Arabs. 

On 4 August 1916, they fought in the Battle of Romani against the Turks before being withdrawn to rest and refit. During these campaigns however, Private Jack Latham spent several periods of time in hospital for treatment of serious health problems including inguinal hernia repair, malaria, appendicitis and a non-diagnosed fever.  He rejoined his regiment while not in hospital and took part in battles at Gaza, Beersheba, Tel el Khuweilfe, Burqa and El Ramleh.  He began his last spell in hospital at 14th Australian General Hospital in Port Said in September 1918 and prepared for early return to Australia.  He was discharged from the AIF on 26 February 1919.  The 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal were awarded for his services in the Australian Imperial Force.

Post war 

In civilian life Jack Latham became a land ranger in the town of Cunnamulla in Western Queensland. 


He married Kate Gladys Mackie, a typist, at St Paul’s Church Taringa on 11 September 1920. A baby girl was born at Cunnamulla in July 1921 but the young wife and mother died at Cunnamulla a couple of weeks later.  1921 was a sad year for Jack Latham as his mother also died at the age of 57 years in February at Murgon.

On 22 December 1922, Jack’s second marriage took place at Park Presbyterian Church Brisbane.  He had met Marian Joan Briggs, a teacher who had been transferred to Cunnamulla State School.  Their children included John Stewart Latham junior born in 1923 in Cunnamulla and Charles William known as Bill.  Jack worked as lands commissioner in Cloncurry and Hughenden in the 1940s before retiring to Moonmarra in Westbourne Street Highgate Hill.  Jack’s second wife died on 5 February 1962.

In 1963 Jack Latham married a third time. He was 78 years old when he married Helen Elizabeth Chisholm.  Jack died in Brisbane on 30 May 1964 and was buried at Pinnaroo Lawn Cemetery.

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military records, World War 1
• Australian War Memorial - Unit Histories, First World War Embarkation Rolls
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
• New South Wales Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
• Bean, C E W, Anzacs to Amiens, Penguin Books, Melbourne, 2014
• Ancestry on line
The Brisbane Courier, 25 Sept 1920, page 6; 12 Aug 1921; 10 Sept 1921, page 4; 
The Courier Mail, 12 May 1934, page 10; 20 June 1953, page 7
Brisbane Telegraph, 6 June 1953, page 9; 20 June 1953, page 9; 
• Australian Electoral Rolls
• Brisbane City Council Cemetery Records
• John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland - cited images

Compiled by Noel E Adsett, Brisbane.   June 2016 ©



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