Written by Norman Cramp, Director Darwin Military Museum.
The First to Enlist
James (Jimmy) Cain was a ‘Territorian’ who enlisted in the 1st Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) in 1915. He was among the first Territorians to enlist, along with Albert Borella, Robert Dingwall Butters (real name Buttercase), James Park and Frank Thompson shown in the photograph on the right.
L-R standing: Albert Borella, VC., MM., MiD., Lt. Robert Butters (Buttercase), James Park. L-R kneeling: James Cain and Frank Thompson. (Source: NT Library)
A Favourite Son
Jimmy was one of four brothers, Joseph, Cyril, and Norman who all served in the Great War. The family arrived in Darwin on 29th June 1898 aboard the S.S. Changsa. He was a popular young man, well-known in the town and ‘whose singing was such a feature of all musical entertainments and social evenings’.
Paying His Passage
At the time he enlisted he was thirty years and four months old, single and working as an ‘Engineer’. He recorded that he had served a 5-year apprenticeship in the Northern Territory Railway workshops and listed his father, of Hergott Springs, SA, as his next of kin. Jimmy stood 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 9 stone and 7 pounds and boasted a chest measurement of thirty-four to thirty-six inches. He was of a ‘Fresh complexion”, with grey eyes and grey hair.
Gallipolli to Egypt
He was discharged from the Convalescent Camp and transferred to light duties in Cairo on 5th October. He remained on light duties until 7th January 1916 at which time he re-joined his battalion at Tel-el-Kebir prior to being transferred to France.
A Life Cut Short
Final Resting Place
James Laurence Cain was 1 of 63 Territorians who lost their lives during the Great War. While his remains lay forever in peace in a quiet corner of France, his name is inscribed on the Darwin Cenotaph, The Esplanade Darwin, with his spirit being forever within that ‘empty tomb’.