4th Battalion & 1st Battalion
Australian Machine Gun Corps, AIF
Date/Place of Birth: 1893, Penrith, NSW
Date/Place of Death: 27 May 1918, France
Biographical details: James William Rolston was born at Penrith in 1893, the son of David and Evelyn (nee Bray) Rolston. After attending school, Rolston worked as an engineer with the NSW Department of Railways, but resigned from this position some years before enlistment.
Service details: Rolston enlisted on 8 June 1915, was allocated to the 7th Reinforcements, 4th Battalion and embarked on A23 HMAT Suffolk on 28 July 1915. After a period of training in Egypt, Rolston embarked aboard the Borda to join the 4th Battalion at Gallipoli on 18 October 1915 and was taken on the 4th Battalion’s strength on 4 November 1915,at Gallipoli. Rolston served in this location until the withdrawal in December 1915, when he boarded the Simla at Mudros for the journey to Alexandra on 29 December 1915. After the reorganisation of the AIF in February 1916, Rolston transferred to the 1st Battalion, Australian Machine Gun Corps. On 22 March 1916, Rolston embarked aboard the Grampian, arriving in Marseilles on 29 March 1916. On 21 November 1916, Rolston was promoted to Corporal in the field. In March 1917, Rolston was attached to Firing School and rejoined his unit on 9 April 1917. In May 1917, Rolston took leave in England, rejoining his unit on 27 May 1917. On 18 August 1917, Rolston was promoted to Sergeant and he was attached to Gas School from 27 September until 3 October 1917.
On 18 October 1917, Rolston was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was sent to Machine Gun School in December of that year. He rejoined his unit on 5 January 1918 and was promoted to Lieutenant on 18 January 1918. From 6-23 February 1918, Rolston took leave in England. Rolston was wounded in action on 26 May 1918. An eyewitness, Lieutenant Walter Finch, adjutant of the 1st Australian Machine Gun Battalion stated that while visiting the gun area, Rolston was struck in the head by a fragment of high explosive shell, and was immediately rendered unconscious. He was admitted to the 1st Australian Field Ambulance but died as a result of his wounds the following day. Rolston was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatches dated 7 April 1918.
Memorial Details: is commemorated on Memorial Panel 175, 28 Borre British Cemetery France.
Australian War Memorial First World War Nominal Roll
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
NAA: B2455, ROLSTON J W LIEUTENANT