Wyndham History

James Iver McIver Chirnside M.C. (1878-1940)


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James Iver McIver Chirnside M.C. (1878-1940)






Wyndham City Libraries





World War One Veterans Item Type Metadata


James Iver McIver Chirnside, M.C.

Birth Date

Service Number


Enlistment Date

Next of Kin

Robert B. Chirnside,
Little River.

Address at time of Enlistment

Mount Rothwell , Little River.

Marital Status


Death Date

Place of Burial


Biographical Text

Captain James Iver McIver Chirnside M.C.
Robert Bell Chirnside [father] (1830-1902) married Margaret Jane Forbes [mother] (?-1950 at Berwickshire in 1868 (Certificate No 756/1868). The 10 children of the marriage were:

  • Robert Bell Chirnside Jnr - born 1869 in Victoria. Died 1918.
  • Helen Forbes Chirnside - born 1871 at Wyndham
  • Peter Newham Chirnside - born 1873 at Wyndham
  • Margaret Hilda Chirnside - born 1874 at Little River
  • Thomas Chirnside - born 1876 at Corio
  • John Albert Chirnside - born 1877 at Little River. Died at Mt Rothwell in 1877.
  • James Iver McIver Chirnside - born 1878 at Little River
  • Mary Chirnside
  • Lilian Cecillia Chirnside - born 1882 at Sale
  • Charles Rothwell Chirnside - born 1883 in Victoria
  • Agnes Rose Chirnside - born 1885 at Little River

Pre War
According to a report in a local newspaper from 1895, Master Ivor Chirnside was out riding in a paddock one day and found two foxes up a tree. He immediately galloped home to get his rifle, returned to the tree, and shot both foxes.
Bacchus Marsh Express, 22 June 1895, p.3.

In 1907, James Iver McIver Chirnside was conferred as a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery by the Chancellor of Melbourne University.
The Australasian (Melbourne), 13 April 1907, p.38.

Dr. Chirnside decided to be a candidate in the Council elections.
Geelong Advertiser, 5 August 1910, p.2.
At the Corio Council elections in 1910, James Iver Chirnside was declared the winning candidate for the Peak Riding, in the Shire of Corio.
Geelong Advertiser, 26 August 1910, p.1.

The Victorian Electoral Roll for 1915 shows James Ivor Chirnside as a Grazier, living at Little River.

War Service
At the age of 37 years, James Iver Chirnside enlisted in the A.I.F. on 20 November 1915, and was appointed to the 8th Australian Army Medical Corp. He embarked with the rank of Honorary Captain, as a member of the Australian Dermatological Hospital (A.D.H.), at Sydney on 22 December 1915, per H.M.A.T. A81 Kanowna.

In 1916, the Commonwealth Gazette published a list of appointments with the Australian Expeditionary Forces. Included in the Army Medical Corps section, for promotion to Captain, was James Iver McIver Chirnside.  This list was reproduced in The Australasian (Melbourne), 5 February 1916, p.38.

On 20 March 1916, Captain Chirnside was transferred from the 1st A.D.H. at Abbassia, to the Ras-el-Tin Convalescent Depot at Alexandria.

Two months later, on 25 May 1916, he reported to the Diarector of Medical Services in Cairo.  He had been struck off strength with the Australian Army Medical Corp.

Several days later, on 31 May 1916, Captain Chirnside was taken on strength with the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment at Tel et Kebir, Egypt.

After serving there for three months, he was than detached to the 4th Light Horse Details, on 29 August 1916.

On 26 November 1916, he was officially transferred to the 4th Light Horse Regiment, and on 26 January 1917 he was attached to the 4th Light Horse Regiment on the front line at Ferry Post, as their Medical Officer.

He became ill on 22 December 1917, and he was admitted to the 44th Stationary Hospital suffering with Pyrescia N.Y.D. (not yet diagnosed), and suspected Malaria.  Needing further treatment, on 31 December 1917, he was transferred to the 14 A.G.H. Abbassia with Malaria.

He was discharged from hospital on 17 January 1918, and then attached to the 14th A.G.H. (from the 4th Light Horse Regiment).

On 9 April 1918, Captain J. H. Chirnside received a telegram while he was stationed at Salmineh, advising that his older brother Robert had died, and that he and his other brother Thomas were the executors and beneficiaries of the estate.  He then applied for immediate leave to return to Australia, and for six months leave. His reasons for returning home were:

  1. His eldest brother Robert had been managing six family businesses, as well as his own. This involved an endless succession of intricate legal transactions, drawing up leases, and collecting mortgages, etc.
  2. Safeguarding the interests of his four sisters.
  3. He was the only person capable of dealing with the current mass of business interests.
  4. He was 40 years of age, and the youngest of the family.

While he waited for a decision on his leave application, his attachment to the 4th Light Horse Regiment ceased on 6 May 1918, and he was transferred back to the 14th A.G.H. at Abbassia.

On 23 May 1918, Captain Ivor Chirnside was awarded the Military Cross, but the date and location of the action are not mentioned.  The citation for his Military Cross states that it was awarded for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  He attended to wounded men while under enemy fire, from a distance of 200 yards.
Geelong Advertiser, 20 March 1919, p.4.

Another Victorian newspaper reported the same event, but called him Captain James Iver Chirnside.
The Herald (Melbourne), 18 March 1919, p.1.

Ivor Chirnside then received a promotion, and he was appointed as an Honorary Major on 1 July 1918.

Three months after applying for extended home leave, Captain Chirnside embarked at Suez per H.T. Port Darwin, for four weeks leave in Australia on 12 July 1918.

After arriving home, he was not required to return to Egypt, and his appointment with the Army was terminated on 24 September 1918.

Post War
After his brother, Robert Bell Chirnside, died on 31 March 1918, probate on his estate was granted to James Iver McIver Chirnside.  James was described as being a medical practitioner, living at Balliang East.
The Argus, 20 December 1918, p.3.

Just after the Armistice was declared, Ivor Chirnside took leave and visited America.  He sailed to San Francisco per Sonoma, and arrived there on 23 February 1919.
ancestry.com – California, Passenger and Crew lists, 1882-1959.

He then arrived at New York on 9 August 1919 on the La Savoie.
ancestry.com – New York, Passenger and Crew List 1820-1957.

After he returned to Australia in 1919, James Iver Chirnside, the son of the late Robert B. Chirnside of Mount Rothwell Station in Victoria, married Leila Bell on 8 October 1919, (a nurse who served overseas in WW1) at St Phillip's Church in Sydney.
Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 25 November 1919, p.2.

One year later, on 1 October 1920, he was appointed to the rank of Major.

In 1923, James Iver Chirnside returned to local politics, and was elected unopposed, as a councillor on the Corio Shire.
The Weekly Times, 14 July 1923, p.6.

His first son, Robert Forbes Chirnside * was born at the Cambrai Private Hospital on 6 November 1923.
The Argus, 21 November 1923, p.13.

The Victorian Electoral Roll for 1924 show James Ivor Chirnside, as a Grazier of Little River, and his wife Leila Catherine Chirnside, Home Duties.

Two years after the birth of his first son, his second son, Ronald Bell Chirnside ** was born at the Cambrai Private Hospital, on 2 July 1925.
The Argus, 25 July 1925, p.13.

On 1 July 1925, he was transferred to the A.A.M.C. Reserve.

On 20 November 1938, Major Chirnside was placed on the Army’s Retired List.  He retained his rank, and the right to wear his uniform.

James Ivor McIver Chirnside died at Prahran on 18 September 1940, aged 62 years.
(Cert No.9365/1940)
The Argus, 19 September 1940, p.5.

The funeral of the late Dr. J. I. Chirnside of Mt Rothwell, Little River, was held in St George's Church, Latrobe Terrace, Geelong, on 19 September 1940.
The Argus, 19 September 1940, p.4.

James Chirnside was buried in the Geelong Eastern Cemetery on 19 September 1940.[xx]

In a short obituary, published after his death, it mentioned that Dr. J. I. Chirnside, was a grazier from Little River, and that he was well known throughout the district. He had served on the Corio Shire for many years, and on several occasions, had been elected as president. He was survived by a widow, and two sons.
Werribee Shire Banner, 19 September 1940, p.2.

Medals and Entitlements:

  • Military Cross
  • British War Medal - No.30946
  • Victory Medal - No.30733

Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: CHIRNSIDE, I.

Name on the Little River Honour Board: J. Chirnside.

The name "Chirnside, Ivor, from Little River," first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 13 February 1919, p.3.

Lila Catherine Bell (his wife), also served in World War 1.  She was a Staff Nurse with the A.A.N.S., 14th Australian General Hospital. She was born as Eliza Catherine Bell in 1888, and enlisted in the A.I.F. at Sydney in September 1916.  Nurse Bell embarked from Sydney on 9 December 1916 per Kaiser-i-Hind, and served in Egypt. She returned to Australia on 12 July 1918, and resigned her appointment on 1 September 1918.  Lila Chirnside (nee Bell) died in Geelong in 1975.  She was buried in Geelong Cemetery.
WW1 Australian Army Nursing Service:

* Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Landvale Enterprises, 1978. p.196.

** Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Landvale Enterprises, 1978. p.196.




Unit War Diary


Service Record


Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD

Medals and Entitlements

British War Medal
Victory Medal


“James Iver McIver Chirnside M.C. (1878-1940),” Wyndham History, accessed December 4, 2023, http://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/2524.


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