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James Loynes (1862–1950)

by Peter Burness

This article was published:

James Loynes (1862-1950), by unknown photographer

James Loynes (1862-1950), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, H00025

James Loynes (1862-1950), building contractor and soldier, was born on 23 December 1862 at Birmingham, England, son of Charles Henry Loynes, maltster, and his wife Charlotte, née Lawrence. He was educated at St Matthew's Church of England School, Birmingham, before migrating to Queensland at 20. On 5 November 1886 he married Edith Mary Cornelius at All Saints Church, Brisbane.

Loynes was an active member of the part-time Queensland Defence Forces and had served for thirteen years before joining the 1st Queensland Mounted Infantry Contingent in 1899 for service in the South African War. He fought during the relief of Kimberley and the capture of Johannesburg and Pretoria and was promoted sergeant major and mentioned in dispatches.

When the 5th Queensland Imperial Bushmen's Contingent was being raised in March 1901 Loynes joined as a lieutenant. He was slightly wounded at Familie Hoek on 6 December and four weeks later was part of a force which was captured by the Boers, disarmed and set free. In March 1902 the Queensland Bushmen returned to Australia. Loynes resumed work as a building contractor at Ipswich and continued in the militia as a lieutenant in the 13th Australian Light Horse (Queensland Mounted Infantry) Regiment. In 1910 he transferred to the reserve of officers.

In 1915 Loynes, aged 52, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and embarked for overseas service on 2 June as major in command of 'A' Squadron, 11th Light Horse Regiment. The regiment went from Egypt to Gallipoli where it provided reinforcements. Loynes's squadron was taken on strength of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment and served on the peninsula from 28 August until the evacuation in December. He rejoined the 11th L.H.R. in March 1916 upon its reorganization in Egypt and several weeks later it commenced operations east of the Suez Canal. In July he commanded an escort operating around El Mahadat and then took part in actions through Sinai. In October he commanded his squadron in the attack on Maghara.

In the Palestine campaign, on 19 April 1917, the 11th Light Horse was heavily engaged in the 2nd battle of Gaza. There Loynes's squadron was prominent in the fighting around Kirbet Sihan. Heavy artillery and machine-gun fire forced the Australians to withdraw and Loynes was severely wounded and evacuated for three months. He then resumed command of his squadron and for several months during 1918 acted as second-in-command of the regiment. He was actively involved in operations in the Jordan Valley, including the Es Salt and Amman actions and the advance to Damascus.

On 25 September 1918 at Semakh on the Sea of Galilee he led his squadron in a bold mounted charge against enemy machine-gun positions. The light horsemen came under heavy fire from the village buildings. Loynes, the 'headstrong veteran … swung to the left and headed for the native village'. Once there he led a dismounted bayonet charge. Later he successfully attacked the railway buildings which were the main enemy strong point. His brave action had stopped 'what might have been a repulse … he did great work'. He received the Distinguished Service Order and was mentioned in dispatches. The Palestine campaign concluded a few weeks later. Throughout Loynes had served with the vigour and strength of a much younger man, earning comment in the regiment for his 'fearless example' and also for his 'highly developed sense of humour'. Before embarkation for Australia in July 1919 he commanded the regiment for three months.

After the war Loynes was appointed deputy commissioner of war service homes in Queensland. Survived by five of his children, he died at the Repatriation Hospital, Greenslopes, Brisbane, on 23 October 1950, and was buried in Bulimba cemetery with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • H. S. Gullett, The A.I.F. in Sinai and Palestine (Syd, 1923)
  • E. W. Hammond, History of the Eleventh Light Horse Regiment, 1914-18 (Brisb, 1942)
  • James Loynes file (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Peter Burness, 'Loynes, James (1862–1950)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

James Loynes (1862-1950), by unknown photographer

James Loynes (1862-1950), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, H00025

Life Summary [details]


23 December, 1862
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England


23 October, 1950 (aged 87)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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