James Matthew O’KEEFE (SN 4859) was born at Bungaree but resident in Hertford Street Sebastopol when he enlisted on August 18th 1915. At that time he was a 31 year old railway foreman. He trained with the 14th depot battalion in Ballarat before joining 8th Battalion reinforcements at Broadmeadows. On March 7th 1916 he sailed from Australia on the Wiltshire and on arrival in Egypt he joined the 5th Pioneer Battalion. In June 1916 he was moved to the battlefields of France. He was able to avoid serious battle wounds but did suffer an ankle strain in October 1916 and spent 30 days in hospital in late 1917. A charge of ‘drunkenness’ in May 1918 was noted on his service record. After the war he returned to Australia on the Orita, disembarking at Melbourne on August 6th 1919.
His brother Edward also served with the 5th Pioneers and is honoured with a tree in the Avenue.