Ivor Edgar JAMES
Known to some as 'Gurg'
Service Number: NZ435635
RNZAF Trade: Clerk, Stores Accounts, then Equipment Assistant
Date of Enlistment: 13th of May 1943
Rank Achieved: Leading Aircraftsman
Flying Hours: nil
Operational Sorties: nil
Date of Birth: 2nd of June 1908, at Onehunga, Auckland
Personal Details: Ivor was the eldest son of Edgar James and the late Alice Mabel James (nee Dudding, known as Mabel). Born in Auckland, the family farmed at Maungataroto till Mabel became ill with turburculosis. The family moved to Cambridge so that Mabel could be cared for at the Sanatorium at the top of Maungakawa Hill. She died there and is buried at the cemetery in Cambridge.
Whilst undergoing Officer training in England during WW I, Ivor's father met and married his second wife Freda (nee Bushell).
He brought her back to Cambridge, New Zealand after the war. Together they had two more sons, Jim and Kent. Edgar was to become Cambridge Mayor and be very involved with Home Front activities in World War Two.
Meanwhile Ivor was educated at Cambridge Primary and Hamilton High School. After leaving school he began work at the Cambridge branch of the Bank of New Zealand on the 20th of April 1925, before transferring to the Hamilton BNZ branch. In 1934 he was married to Mavis Ine Elizabeth Jones. They had two daughters, Shirley and Patricia.
Of his nickname, Shirley says,
"My father was known as "Gurg" James presumably he laughed or gurgled a lot."
Service Details: In March 1943 Ivor served in the Territorial Army, where he served with the 1st Company of 1st Divisional Signals in Whangarei. But after just two months he transferred to the RNZAF.
He began his initial Air Force training on the 13th of May 1943 at RNZAF Station Linton, eventually becoming a Stores Accounts Clerk. In July 1943 he was posted to RNZAF Station Hamilton to work in the No. 1 Stores Depot.
The following month he was remustered to the trade of Equipment Assistant. He was reclassified with the rank of Leading Aircraftsman in November 1943.
On the 11th of March 1945, Ivor was posted to the New Zealand Base Depot, Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides.
Details of Death: Died of natural causes at the Base Depot Transit Pool, RNZAF (Palikulo Field, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides) on the 14th of May 1945, aged 36
Buried at: Ivor was originally buried at the Espiritu Santo Military Cemetery but was later moved to the Bourail Memorial Cemetery and reburied in grave 5.10.
Ivor's daughter, Mrs Shirley Shirley of Warkworth, writes:
"I thought my father died, possibly of a cerebral hemorrhage/coronary thrombosis, as a result of being taken on a training route march through the jungle at a pace suited to most of the other men who would have been much younger.
My mother always said with his health record he should not have been sent overseas. He lasted just two months, and died on the 14th May 1945."
Connection with Cambridge: Ivor grew up in Cambridge and lived here for a great amount of his life.
Special Thanks: Thanks to Ivor's brothers, Mr Kent James and Mr Jim James of Hamilton, and Ivor's daughter Mrs Shirley Shirley of Warkworth for their kind and much appreciated assistance in compiling this page.
The following photos of Ivor were kindly supplied by his brother, Kent
Above: Ivor as a schoolboy.
Ivor in his RNZAF uniform with Edgar, Freda and young brother Kent during the war