James “Judy” William Masters

“It’s not what you gain but what you give that measured the worth of the way you live.”

James William Masters known as “Judy” Masters or “The Little Master” was recognised as Australia’s best soccer player during his time.[1] Born on 21 May 1892 in Balgownie, Judy was the 7th of 13 children; eight brothers and five sisters, all of which were educated at Balgownie School. His father, Alexander George Masters was a miner from Nova Scotia, Canada and his mother, a Sydney born woman, Frances Eliza nee Campbell.[2]

Judy Masters' service photo

Judy Masters’ service photo

Judy began school at the age of 5 and although he came from very humble beginnings, over the next seven years he became a member of the ‘Bally Boys Band,’ playing solo cornet as well as displaying precocious talent at soccer (football). He joined the Balgownie Rangers soccer team which is still in existence and according to a report Judy wrote for the club in 1946, “Balgownie Soccer Club is one of the oldest soccer clubs in N.S.W… During the 1920’s the following players constantly were playing for Australia…”[3] Judy was at a disadvantage, he was not tall and lightly built and to overcome the “heavies” in that era he mastered the art of agility and ball control; he was very young when selected in the first team and was soon given the key position of centre forward.[4]

At the age of 13, he commenced working with his father and older brothers at Corrimal Coal Mine. In 1915 he joined the army at the age of 23[5] and embarked on HMAT Ceramic A40.[6] His service included: Egypt, Gallipoli and France where he became a stretcher bearer and bandsman.

He joined the 19TH Battalion 1st AIF. He was promoted to Sergeant on 11 May 1918 and on 27 February 1919 was transferred to the 20th Battalion (late 19th Battalion).

19th Battalion Band. Playing in South of England following the end of the First World War.

19th Battalion Band. Playing in South of England following the end of the First World War.

After receiving a shoulder wound at Poizeres,[7] Judy was allowed leave in England for rehab where he met his English wife to-be, Annie Barraclough.


A love which flourished in a time of peril, Judy and Annie’s story is one which can be traced through their correspondence. Judy first mentions Annie to his family whilst on leave:

…Mr and Mrs Baraclough have a fine home, it was just lovely… I used to take my little friend Annie to work of a morning… [sic]

Subsequently, his letters to Annie evolved romantically.

30 September 1917:
To my dearest little girl, “So near and yet so far, heart speaks to heart,” from yours with tons of love…

15 August 1917:
“Ma Cherie Annie,”

21 September 1917:
Dearest Annie, Another card while at leisure, dinner times, having a sun bath somewhere in France. Dear, with sweet thoughts of you… Au revoir, L’amour Parfait (goodbye, perfect love).

15 October 1917:
Dearest Annie, a set of cards for that album of ours. …pleasant recollections of our midnight rides to Darlington, some night that dear to me never to be forgotten. Your mention of just returning from the dance, ah dear, don’t wake it up.


After returning following six years of service, he married Annie in Wollongong, 1920 and together they had two daughters and a son who passed away at 7 months. He received the 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory medals. On his return, he saved most of his earnings, buying land and building a modest cottage while the rest was kept aside to give to his youngest brother, Dave, a rare opportunity. Dave was able to gain the family’s first formal qualification as a surveyor.[8]

Judy also resumed his sports career and from 1923 to 1928, he captained Australia in 22 international soccer games against New Zealand, China (twice), Canada, English professionals and Czechoslovakia.

Judy (1930) at Arlington Oval.

Judy (1930) at Arlington Oval.

From the age of 15, he played 401 club matches and scored 351 goals. In over 400 games, he was never cautioned.

Following his retirement from soccer, he maintained an interest in all local matters. He was Bandmaster of Balgownie Brass Band for many years and always supported soccer in coaching and management positions; he continued this for the remainder of his life.

Judy also enlisted in the Second World War on 17 May 1942. He was discharged on 17 April 1944 as his “services were no longer required.”

He and his wife Annie visited Britain to see the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the Football Association Cup final and the annual world championship for brass bands at the Crystal Place, London in 1953.[9]

Judy passed away on 2 December 1955 at his home town of Balgownie at the age of 63.

The Balgownie soccer ground was named in his honour: Judy Masters Park.


In 1981, he was inducted into the Hall of Champions at Homebush[10] and in 1999 he was honoured in the Australian Soccer Hall of Champions.

Soccer Hall of Champions:

“James (Judy) Masters – 21.5.1892 to 2.12.1955. Known as “The Little Master” he was recognised as Australia’s best player before and during his time. Born in in 1892 at Balgownie, NSW he joined Balgownie Seniors at age 15 and progressively captained Balgownie, South Coast, NSW and Australia.”

Homebush hall of Champions NSW Book:

“JUDY MASTERS 21.5.1892 TO 2.12.1955 James William (Judy) Masters was the first of Australia’s great soccer centre forwards and is a sporting legend in the Illawarra district. Born in Balgownie, he played from 1908 until 1927 with that famous club, except for short spells with Newtown and Granville and during his absence on active service with the AIR in World War 1, when he served in Gallipoli and France. Judy played 22 internationals and was captain on each occasion He represented against New Zealand (1923), China (1923 & 1027), Canada (1924), English Professionals (1925) and Czechoslovakia (1927). Against the famous English professionals he scored what is claimed to be the quickest goal ever, virtually from the kick off. Judy represented NSW at 16 years of age and played 401 club matches (then a record) scoring 351 goals. A master strategist and schemer, Judy had a powerful snap shot with either for. Whilst only slimly built, he was noted for his toughness and, although relentless, his career was without blemish. A coal miner, Judy’s achievements in sporting and civic affairs were acknowledged when the Balgownie village.”

N.B. Article in Sydney telegraph was written by Chris Masters, great nephew of Judy Masters; he is the writer and presenter of The Years That Made Us: Australia Between Wars, a three-part series which was shown on ABC1 last June, 2013. The DVD is available for loan from Wollongong City Libraries.





[1] Sydney Olympic Park, Honour Roll- Soccer, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, 2014, <http://www.sports-centre.com.au/nsw_hall_of_champions/honour_roll/soccer&gt; viewed 9 April 2014.

[2] Mosely P, Masters, James William (1892 – 1955),Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra, 2014,<http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/masters-james-william-11084&gt; viewed 2 April 2014.

[3] Balgownie Rangers Football Club, History 1883-1920s,Balgownie Rangers Football Club, Balgownie, 2008 <http://www.balgownierangers.com.au/?page_id=5&gt; viewed 2 April 2014.

[4] ibid

[5] Australian War Memorial, AIF – Nominal Roll, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, <http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/items/ACCNUM_LARGE/RCDIG1067562/RCDIG1067562–23-.JPG&gt; viewed 9 April 2014.

[6] Australian War Memorial, Embarkation Rolls- James William Masters, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1845725/&gt; viewed 9 April 2014.

[7] Masters C, ‘A young nation framed by war,’ Sunday Telegraph, 26 June 2013, p.106.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Mosely P, Masters, James William (1892 – 1955),Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra, 2014, <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/masters-james-william-11084&gt; viewed 2 April 2014.

[10] Sydney Olympic Park, Honour Roll- Soccer, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, 2014, <http://www.sports-centre.com.au/nsw_hall_of_champions/honour_roll/soccer&gt; viewed 9 April 2014.

Honour Roll

We need you

To commemorate the centenary of World War 1, Wollongong City Libraries will develop an innovative online resource – Illawarra Remembers 1914-1918 – which will include information and photographs that tell the stories of the Illawarra’s brave men and women who went to war. We need your help.

There are a number of Honour Rolls and Memorials across the Illawarra which commemorate the men and women involved in the war. Below is a photograph of the Balgownie Presbyterian Church. It is not held in the Balgownie Uniting Church, Church Street, Balgownie. [1] (NB. The rolls and memorials may have changed location since the time the photograph was taken).


Balgownie Presbyterian Church
Honour Roll 1914-1919

Adie W.
Brownlie D. *
Campbell W.
Cowie A.
Cowie D.
Davies P.
Davies W.R.
Dawson C.
Duncan A.
Fraser D. *
Fraser H.
Gemmell A.
Gemmell W.
Hunter A.
Hunter P.
Lithgow T.
Lithgow W.
Lucock A.
Moorhouse E.E
Nicol J.D
Parker J.
Scott R.W *
Taylor E. *
Weeks S.C
Wishart W.
Young J.

* Made the supreme sacrifice

If anyone has any information about the names on this Honour Roll (or any other), please let us know either through the contact page, in person at Wollongong Reference Library or by calling the Reference Library on (02) 4227 7414.

[1] Compiled by Illawarra Family History Group Inc, Illawarra Remembers: War Memorials of the Illawarra, Printed by University of Wollongong Printery, Wollongong NSW, August 1995.

David Cowie

David Cowie was born on 19 May 1895 to John and Jane Cowie. He worked as a Wheeler prior to the war and once he enlisted, he joined the 1st Battalion 16th reinforcements on 9 December 1915 according to the Australian War Memorial[1]. His records show that he was 20 years of age living at Russell St Balgownie and he was a Waratah.[2] David was not the only member of his family to enlist, his brother Alexander Cowie joined in 1916.

David Cowie

David Cowie

During his service, David was wounded in action three times. The third time (11 April 1917), he received gun-shot wounds to the arm and leg and subsequently returned to Australia on 10 September 1917. David was officially discharged from the AIF on 11 May 1918 and was awarded the British War and Victory medals due to his service.

David Cowie's discharge certificate.

David Cowie’s discharge certificate.

He married a woman by the name of Annie and worked at Dunlop Perdriau Rubber Company as a storeman and packer from 8 August 1918 to 7 February 1930. He became redundant due to a company merger and later with war service and wounds found work as a lift driver at a university building in Sydney. Lastly, he worked as a caretaker.

He is mentioned in the Illawarra Mercury in 1937 after his father’s death. It is stated that at the time he lived in Sydney at the time.[3]







[1] Australian War Memorial, Australian Imperial Force- Nominal Roll, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/items/ACCNUM_LARGE/RCDIG1067362/RCDIG1067362–169-.JPG&gt;, viewed 19 February 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] ‘Death of Mr. Cowie,’ Illawarra Mercury, 14 May 1937, p. 7.

Alice Jane Thompson

Alice Jane Thompson of Balgownie enlisted as a nurse at the age of 23. She subsequently embarked from Sydney aboard RMS Mooltan on 9 June, 1917.[1]

Alice Jane Thompson

Alice Jane Thompson

The following extracts come from the Illawarra Mercury after her departure:

Nurse. Thompson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs T. Thompson, Balgownie, is now en route for Salonika to take up duties in the military hospital there.[2]

Nurses at the front – Information received from Nurse A. Thompson shows that forty of the three hundred nurses who left Australia on the ill-fated Mooltan were selected to proceed to Salonika, she being one of them. She states that most of the cases so far are sickness owing to the terrible heat, which is bad at this time of the year. However, she is satisfied with her lot and says she is not sorry that she came and if she had to choose over again she would do the same, as too much cannot be done for the boys who are fighting and bleeding for us all.[3]

Records state that Nurse Thompson was kept in quarantine due to influenza. She married Dr Theo Allen in England, 16 January 1919 which resulted in her discharge from the AANS; they then returned to Australia.

Nurse Thompson1

Apart from receiving the British War and Victory medals, Alice Thompson was awarded a Greek Medal for Military Merit. [4]

A letter was written by her mother to the Base Records Office which states that, Alice Jane Thompson died on 6 June 1922 and was buried at Wollongong.





NAA: B2455, Thompson A J

[1] Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Rolls – Alice Jane Thompson, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1985185/&gt;, viewed 12 February 2014.

[2] ‘The Searchlight,’ Illawarra Mercury, 15 June 1917, p2.

[3] ‘District News – Balgownie,’ Illawarra Mercury, 26 October 1917 p5.

[4] Australian War Memorial, Honours and Awards – Alice Jane Thompson, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/honours_and_awards/person/R1536305/?roll_type=Awards >, viewed 12 February 2014.

Alexander Cowie

Alexander Cowie was born to John Cowie who resided at Russell St, Balgownie. He enlisted at Liverpool on May 25, 1916 and joined the 20th Battalion 15th Reinforcements at the age of 25. Prior to enlisting, he worked as a fireman for N.S.W Government Railway.

"Alick & Nellie"

“Alick & Nellie”

COWIE_B-03.BACKCustomarily, Alec trained at Liverpool camp before embarking on HMAT Euripides A14 on 9 September 1916.[1] He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 5 July, 1918 and later to Corporal on 4 October, 1918.

He returned to Australia 4 July 1919 and was successively awarded the British War and Victory medals. His discharge forms state that he wished to reside at the family home, Russell St, Balgownie. His name is listed on the Balgownie War Memorial as well as his relative, David Cowie.


[1] AWM, Embarkation Roll – Alexander Cowie, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1974770/

> viewed 11 December 2013.

Patrick James Gavin

Patrick James Gavin was born on 26 July, 1885 at Mount Pleasant (Babytown). He attended school at Mount Keira until he was old enough to work in the local coal mines. Later, he moved to Russell St, Balgownie[1] where subsequently he enlisted on 2 February, 1916 at the age of thirty. Patrick was one of the 200 that enlisted from Balgownie; the town had the third highest per cent per population in NSW to enlist in the First World War.

He was in the 1st Light Horse Battalion and embarked from Sydney aboard the R.M.S Malwa for the Mounted Desert Corps in the Sinai Peninsula and Palestine through Beersheba and Damascus.


Patrick James Gavin – War medals line the side of the photograph.

He was wounded on 9 January, 1917 and was admitted to the 24th Stationary Hospital in Egypt. He suffered from a gunshot wound to the back.

He returned to Australia on 23 March, 1919 and was welcomed back with others by the Repatriation Committee as well as the P&C at a Peace Celebration in Balgownie. On 12 November, 1920, the residents of Balgownie presented the returned soldiers with a medal and inscribed shield. The medal which was presented to Patrick is in the museum beneath Balgownie Public School.


Identity tag.

Identity tag.















[1] Australian War Memorial, Australian Imperial Force – 1st Light Horse Regiment, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, <http://static.awm.gov.au/collection/images/large/RCDIG1067093/RCDIG1067093–272-.JPG&gt;, viewed 6 November 2013.




Australian War Memorial, Australian Imperial Force – 1st Light Horse Regiment, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, <http://static.awm.gov.au/collection/images/large/RCDIG1067093/RCDIG1067093–272-.JPG&gt;, viewed 6 November 2013.

NAA: B2455, Gavin P J

George Alexander Baker

George Alexander Baker was born on November 23, 1904. He was born and raised in Russell St Balgownie. Prior to his enlistment, George worked at AIS Corrimal-Balgownie Colliery as a coal miner.

George enlisted on 27 March, 1916 and embarked from Sydney on 22 May 1916 on ship A69, HMAT Warilda. He was a Sapper for the No 4 Tunnelling Company, Headquarters No 1.


Parcel addressed to G.A Baker containing war medal

Baker first married Annie Maude Simpson who was born on 5 April, 1928 and was from Mount Kembla. He married his second wife, Beatrice Ethel Wright (nee Wilkinson) in 1956.

Relatives have kept and shared the parcel which George received after the war. It contains his service medal.


1 Tun.Coy AIF (1st Tunnelling company)


War medal