Who was Private Claude Clifford James ?

Daniel Jones never met Private Claude Clifford James but the two men, separated by decades, have a connection.

Private James served with the Sixth Light Horse in World War One and Mr Jones, by chance, stumbled upon a certificate owned by the veteran.

Years ago, while he was an apprentice carpenter, Mr Jones was asked to take a load of rubbish to the Berry tip and discovered something interesting.

“It looked like someone had cleaned an old house out and there were black and white photos and other bits and pieces,” he said.

“Even at my young age, 18 or 19, I was interested in old things.”

He then found an intriguing piece of paper.

“It was just sort of folded up and I thought this looks old and I was inquisitive. I thought this looks important and I opened it up,” he said.

“It was the Light Horse bit that grabbed my attention.

“So I picked it up and realised when I saw the date on it (1917) and in 1980 it was roughly 73-years-old and I thought ‘I will keep this and get it framed one day’.”

It was certificate Private James received from the Imperial School of Instruction - Egypt Signalling Course and dated 1/12/17.

The certificate shows Private James attended the school for visual signalling and field telephone for six weeks and ‘attained the standard required for that of a First Class Signaller and buzzer reading at the rate of twelve words a minute’.

Mr Jones feels strongly connected to the certificate.

“It's still in the same NRMA envelope that I found it in folded up and it’s crispy,” he said.

He always knew he found something special and important.

“It’s nice owning a piece of history,” Mr Jones said.

He has started to retrace the veteran’s footsteps.

“Even though it says 1917 on the certificate he left Sydney in 1916 so he was over there basically Anzac Day this time 100 years ago,” the local resident said

“Whoever this man was he did this course.”

It’s possible Private James could still have relatives in Berry.

Mr Jones would be interested in talking to any family members about Private James and the certificate.

People with information can contact Damian Mcgill at damian.mcgill@fairfaxmedia.com.au and the information will be passed onto Mr Jones.

Mr Jones also gave the information to the Nowra High School history teacher.

Meanwhile, the Sixth Light Horse has a proud history.

The Sixth Light Horse Regiment was raised in Sydney in September 1914 from men who had enlisted in New South Wales  and became part of the Second Light Horse Brigade.

Sailing from Sydney on December 21 1914, the regiment disembarked in Egypt on February 1 1915.

The light horse were considered unsuitable for the initial operations at Gallipoli, but were subsequently deployed without their horses to reinforce the infantry.

The Second Light Horse Brigade landed in late May 1915 and was attached to the First  Australian Division.

The  Sixth Light Horse became responsible for a sector on the far right of the ANZAC line, and played a defensive role until it left the peninsula on December 20 1915.

With the fall of Gaza on November 7 1917, the Turkish position in southern Palestine collapsed. The  Sixth participated in the pursuit that followed and led to the capture of Jerusalem in December.

The focus of British operations then moved to the Jordan Valley.

In early 1918 the  Sixth was involved in the Amman (24-27 February) and Es Salt (30 April-4 May) raids, both of which were tactical failures but helped to convince the Turks that the next offensive would be launched across the Jordan.

Instead, the offensive was launched along the coast in September 1918, with the Sixth taking part in a subsidiary effort east of the Jordan.

It was part of the force that captured Amman on  September 25, which proved to be its last major engagement of the war; Turkey surrendered on 30 October 1918.

The  Sixth Light Horse was employed one last time to assist in putting down the Egyptian revolt of early 1919, and sailed for home on June 28.