Jim’s mother died giving birth to him – the youngest of twelve children – and the family was orphaned three months later when John Burrowes also died. Raised by an aunt and uncle, Jim served his carpentry apprenticeship in Clara, Co. Offaly.
Inspired by John Redmond, Jim enlisted in 1914 and was posted to the Royal Engineers. His friend, Brock, also joined up and received a commission with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
In 1915, Jim was sent to the Dardanelles and survived the trenches at Sulva Bay, Cape Helles and Lala Baba. Contrary to official accounts of the withdrawal in January 1916, Jim commented that they were shelled as they left and were ‘lucky to get away.’
Having served in Egypt and Mesopotamia (now Iraq), Jim was demobbed in 1919 and emigrated to America where he met and married an Irish woman. Ill-health forced the family to return to Ireland and Jim started a dance-hall business. He died of a heart condition aged 51.
Three of Jim’s elder brothers were also in the army, though Jim was the only one to survive the war. George, the eldest, was a Sergeant with the 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. A veteran of the Boer War, George was wounded at Bailleul, near Ypres and died in 1915, aged 37.
Corporal Frank Burrowes of the 2nd Battalion, the Connaught Rangers was killed near Mons in the early weeks of the war in 1914, aged 31.
Luke Burrowes was a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was killed near Ypres in 1917, aged 29.
Jim’s friend, Brock, a Dub, did survive the war and settled in South Africa. He died flying with the South African Air Force.