James Arthur Rayment was born on 6th September 1889 at Balwyn in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He was the fourth of eight children from the marriage of James Rayment and Harriet Ratten but was only eight years old when his mother Harriet died. Brought up by his father he did reasonably well at school, after leaving which he earned his living as a carpenter until (at the age of 26 and being still unmarried) he decided to join the Armed Forces following the lead of his younger brother William.
On 14th July 1915, he enlisted at Melbourne into the 5th Field Company Engineers and on 24th November 1915, after four months military training, he embarked on the ship HMAT (His Majesty’s Australian Transport) Ceramic, bound for the conflict in Europe. He was first a sapper, then promoted to corporal, then acting sergeant in the field, then sergeant, then sergeant-major. He was decorated, firstly for devotion to duty at all times and under all circumstances sometimes under shell fire, dated 14th June 1916, then again on 13th September 1916 ‘for gallant work at Pozieres on the night of the 3/4th August.- ‘Sergeant Rayment’s section had to construct H.G. emplacements in the captured German trenches. In one position which was swept with machine gun fire, he ordered the sappers to work in the trench and he took the risky work on top of the parapet and carried it out. His work in laying out new work on the same night is to be highly commended’.
Sadly it was only a couple of months after he was decorated for the second time that his younger brother William died from wounds received during the siege by the Ottoman Army of Kut-El-Amara in Iraq and a further two weeks later that his father died in Australia.
He was in Port Said in Egypt, Marseilles in France and Belgium and it was on 16th December 1916 whilst serving in France that he was awarded the MM (Military Medal).
James managed to survive the rest of the war, at the end of which he asked for free passage from England to Australia for his fiancé, and so it was on 12th June 1920 that he married Lilian Sarah Smith in Victoria, Australia. They had six children, one of whom, Kenneth Rayment, died as a Prisoner of War on the Burma Railway during the Second World War.
Having survived two World Wars, James died on 14th September 1973 at Tweed Heads in New South Wales, Australia, and was buried there aged 84.