No. 4859 Private James Matthew (Jim) O’Keefe
James Matthew (Jim) O’Keefe was born at Ballarat Victoria in May 1891.
His parents were Daniel O’Keefe and Margaret O’Brien. His parents had 14 children:
- Catherine O'Keefe (1876–1950)
- Michael O'Keefe (1878–1880)
- Daniel O'Keefe (1880–1945)(AIF No.4192)
- George O'Keefe (1882–1882)
- James Matthew (Jim) O'Keefe (1883–1939) (AIF No.4859)
- Thomas O'Keefe (1886–1964)
- Laurence Peter O'Keefe (1888–1947)
- John (Ernie) O'Keefe (1892–1944)(AIF No.2732)
- Peter Timothy (Herb) O'Keefe (1893–1945)(AIF No.2728)
- Edward Henry O'Keefe (1895–1950)(AIF No.4858)
- Margaret Ellen O'Keefe (1898–1972)
- Michael O'Keefe (1900–1906)
- Joseph O'Keefe (1902–1972)
- Eileen O'Keefe (1905–?)
James O'Keefe, was one of the seven brothers who enlisted for active service in the Australian Infantry Forces, five of whom were accepted. Three are listed on the Werribee Shire Banner's Roll of Honor.
James Mathew (Jim) O'Keefe was a 31 year old railway foreman at the time of his enlistment in Ballarat on 18 August 1915.
He trained at the 14th Depot Battalion 15/8 Reinforcements Broadmeadows from 13 January 1916. His unit, the 5th Division Pioneers, embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 7 March 1916.
He was promoted to Lance Sergeant and then Temporary Sergeant on 23 October 1916 and 28 February 1917. On 7 March 1917, James reverted back to the rank of Corporal. He was promoted to Sergeant on 3 August 1917.
He embarked from England on 23 June 1919 on board the Orita, returning to Australia on 6 August 1919. He was discharged on 29 September 1919 due to the termination of his enlistment period.
Census records show James living in the following places:
- 1921 Census Lang Lang, Flinders, Victoria: He lived in Koo-wee Rup and was a railroad ganger.
- 1922 Census Colac, Victoria: Railway construction Colac worked as labourer.
- 1928 Census Essendon, Victoria: He lived at 55 Fletcher Street, Maribyrnong and was listed as railway employee.
James died at Albury on Monday 17 April 1939 after a brief illness. "...At the time of his death he was a foreman with the State Rivers Commission at Yarrawonga. He was associated with many sporting activities in Ballarat. His remains were brought from Albury, and on Wednesday morning, 19 April, were interred in the Ballarat New Cemetery. Despite the early hour and the brief notice of his death, a number of his former comrades of the A.I.F. assembled at the cemetery."
Advocate (Melbourne), 18 May 1939, p.26.
His wife, Evelyn Gertrude O'Keefe, applied for probate in the Supreme Court of Victoria in April 1939.
The Argus, 20 April 1939, p.18.
- Medals and Entitlements:
1914/15 Star Medal
British War Medal
Ballarat Avenue of Honour (Tree No. 1895)
The Avenue of Honour comprises memorial trees accompanied by plaques that carry the names of 3,801 World War 1 service personnel who enlisted as residents of the then City of Ballaarat and Township of Ballarat East. The original listings of names commemorated in the eight plantings voluntarily undertaken from 1916 to 1919 were compiled at the time by two military officials, from known records and information of the time. It is not a perpetual record, but is a snapshot of history from over 100 years ago.
James has a tree (No.1895) in the Ballarat Avenue of Honour, as do his brothers:
Werribee Shire Banner, 29 July 1915, p.3. At that stage it was just H. O'Keefe and E. O’Keefe.
J. O’Keefe appeared later.
Werribee Shire Banner, 6 March 1919, p.1.
The complete list of names was published in the Werribee Shire Banner, 13 February 1919, p.3 for general information before being placed on the Honor Board. It was desired to have the list absolutely correct, and the Council asked readers to advise them before the end of February if any error or admission was noticed.
Whilst J. O’Keefe appears in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner and on the RSL Honor Board, the only link is to his brother, John (Ernie) O'Keefe. His brother John (Ernie) O'Keefe had resided in Werribee for 34 years.
Werribee Shire Banner, 17 August 1944, p.3.
John (Ernie) O'Keefe married Anastasia Flaherty at St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church, Werribee, on 15 September, 1920. His brother Edward was in the bridal party.
Werribee Shire Banner, 4 November 1920, p.3.