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Western, James Graves (Jimmy) (1865–1929)

from Register (Adelaide)

There is more than one sort of hero. The quiet heroism of James Graves Western, a veteran Adelaide journalist, who died yesterday, was so unostentatious as to amount to secrecy.

Knocked down by a motor lorry and mortally injured, this extraordinarily courageous little man, whose frail figure and white hair made him seem older than his 64 years, recovered consciousness in bed at the Adelaide Hospital, insisted on getting up to take his copy to the office, and then went home to die, his only care being to keep his wife in ignorance of the fact that he had met with an accident.

Jimmy Western, as he was known to every other Adelaide journalist, was a district correspondent in the eastern suburbs. On Monday he had "covered his assignments," as the phrase goes, and at 6 p.m. was in the Parade, Norwood, about to board a tram for the city, when a motor lorry knocked him down.

He was removed to the Adelaide Hospital in the police ambulance, and was put to bed. At 8 o'clock, when he regained consciousness, his first thought was of the copy he had intended to deliver at the office, and, in spite of all remonstrances, he insisted on dressing himself and leaving the Hospital at once.

He was quite ready to sign the usual document to the effect that he left of his own volition.

News of a serious accident to James Graves Western reached the office shortly before he, himself, put in an appearance. Going up quietly to lodge his copy with the sub-editor, he created something of a sensation. No, he said, he had not been injured. He looked at the engagement book, noted what was expected of him on the following day, and departed in time to avoid further enquiry.

Returning to his home at Clark street, Norwood, he exchanged a few commonplaces with his wife, and went to bed. A few minutes afterwards there was a knock at the front door. A policeman had arrived to inform Mrs. Western that her husband had been seriously injured, and had been taken to the hospital. "Nonsense," said she. "He has just gone to bed."

The constable insisted on seeing the victim of the reported accident, who airily asserted that he was all right, except for a headache. He refused to be fussed over. Perhaps he would have a cup of tea at supper time.

At midnight his condition was obviously worse, and a doctor was sent for. Early yesterday morning, the patient lapsed into a state, bordering on coma. He was hurried to the hospital, where an operation was to have been performed; but death preceded the surgeon. Jimmy Western's last words were, 'This will be afternoon's news' — meaning that the afternoon paper would get it first.

He was above all things a journalist. When search was made in this office for a record of his life, a neatly labelled envelope was found in its place among hundreds of others, and, within the envelope, in the dead man's characteristic handwriting, was this memorandum:

— James Graves Western
Born September 4, 1865, at Childers street, North Adelaide.
Eldest son of the late Thomas Henry Western and Harriet Western (maiden name Graves).
Received main education at Whinham College and the old Norwood Grammar School.
Joined Advertiser staff as messenger boy at age of 16 years. Served on many newspapers, among them the defunct Silver Age (Broken Hill); Daily News, Perth; West Australian, Perth; defunct Faulding's Medical Journal; and The Register. In the days when such men as Sir William Morgan, Mr. G. W. Cotton, and C. C. Kingston were political powers, J. G. W. was a gallery reporter. He married Miss Sophia Lane, second daughter of the late Mrs. Sarah Lane.
Might save trouble some night.
J. W.

The last line is too typical of the man not to be quoted, and too pathetic, in all the circumstances, to admit of comment. Beside the widow, there survive one son, Mr. James Western, of Woodville, and one daughter. Miss Sophia Western, of Clark street, Norwood.

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Citation details

'Western, James Graves (Jimmy) (1865–1929)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/western-james-graves-jimmy-14084/text25066, accessed 14 November 2019.

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