John Joseph Cullen

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CULLEN, John Joseph

Service no: 3120 [1]

Place of birth: Bathurst, 1876

Address: 90 Kite Street, Orange

Occupation: Drover

Next of kin: Mary Teresa Cullen (sister), 65 Dalton Street, Orange, later Phillip Cullen (brother), 90 Kite Street, Orange

Date of enlistment: 18 July 1916

Place of enlistment: Dubbo

Age at enlistment: 42

Fate: Embarked HMAT A72 Beltana, Sydney, 25 November 1916. Disembarked Devonport 29 January 1917. Marched in to 12th Training Battalion, Codford, 31 January 1917. Proceeded overseas to France 3 May 1917. Killed in action, Messines Ridge, Belgium, 7 June 1917.

Date of death: 7 June 1917

John Joseph “Jack” Cullen was 42 when he enlisted at Dubbo on 18 July 1916. He was born in Bathurst in 1876 to Thomas and Margaret Cullen. Both his parents were deceased at the time of his enlistment and so he gave his eldest brother Phillip and sister Mary Theresa as his next of kin.

Jack embarked on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 25 November 1916. He arrived in England on 29 January 1917 and was marched into the 12th Training Battalion at Codford.

On 3 May Jack proceeded overseas to France and was taken on strength of the 45th Battalion. He was killed in action just one month later, on 7 June 1917 – the opening day of conflict in the Battle of Messines. Jack was one of seven men from the Orange district who died on the first day of that battle.

A friend, Private F Smith, wrote to Jack’s brother Philip regarding his death:

Your brother, Jack, was killed on 7th June. I was with him when he fell, and I can assure you that he died a hero.
I miss him very much, because we were always together, and a better mate in the field would be hard to find.
He took everything, as it came, and never complained. [2]

Private Jack Cullen has no known grave and is remembered on the Patrician Brothers Orange Roll of Honour, on panel number 139 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and on panel 27 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte J Cullen”; it was donated by WJ Brennan. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

  • Sharon Jameson and Margaret Nugent, January 2019
Jack Cullen’s WWI service medals. Image courtesy
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