Below are stories sent in from relatives of our fallen soldiers and those who bravely survived the battle of Pozieres. We will never forget them.
THE 3 WALL BROTHERS
For my Grandad who never knew his brothers,
I share the story of the Wall Brothers of Pozières.
In January 1915, three brothers from Gippsland in Victoria, John, Bert and Roger Wall joined the Australian Army and were enlisted in the 22nd Infantry Battalion.
Their introduction to war was a brutal one. By August 1915, just 7 short months after enlisting, the brothers found themselves in the thick of the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign – one which they all miraculously survived.
Managing to stay alive and together, early the next year, in March 1916 the three young soldiers were redeployed to Pozières in France. They were to fight with the Allied forces for possession of the plateau north and east of the Pozières village.
August 5, 1916 was a fateful day for the family, with both John and Bert killed in action. Roger was seriously wounded on the same date, passing away three days later.
Like 4000 of the 7000 Australians who lost their lives on the Pozières ridge, Bert Wall’s body was never recovered. His brothers John and Roger who fought and died so far from their home in rural Victoria were buried in different cemeteries apart and far from family.
Raymond Wall, born just days after the deaths of his three older brothers was to grow up in the shadows of their sacrifices and this tragedy.
Despite surviving Gallipoli, like many Australian soldiers deployed to France, at The Pozières Ridge – the good fortune of the young Wall brothers ran out.
In the words of Australian historian Charles Beam, the Pozières ridge “is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth.”
This couldn’t be more true for my family.
Megan Wall (Granddaughter of Raymond Wall)
Sadly the family have no photos of these brave men.
The Wall Brothers were in the 22nd Infantry Battalion.
269 – Private Albert (Bert) Wall – died 5/8/1916
270 – Corporal John Wall – died 5/8/1916
271 – Private Nicholas Roger (Roger) Wall died 8/8/1916
PRIVATE OWEN STANLEY TOLMAN &
PRIVATE MOSTYN EDWARD TOLMAN
On 21 July 1915 Owen Stanley Tolman enlisted at Claremont, Tasmania and joined the 26th Infantry Battalion. He was sent to the battalion’s depot in Brisbane, where after some initial training he was allotted to the 5th reinforcements to the 26th Battalion.
Owen’s brothers George and Mostyn enlisted during the following months. George, who joined the 15th Machine Gun Company, made it to Egypt before ill-health forced his return to Australia. Mostyn followed Owen into the 26th Battalion and joined him in Egypt.
Pte Owen Tolman embarked with his unit from Brisbane aboard the transport ship Warilda, arriving in Egypt in December 1915. He was taken on strength of the 26th Battalion in February 1916 and the following month left with his battalion for France.
By May 1916 the 26th Battalion had experienced the front-line trenches near Armentières in what was known as the Nursery Sector. In July 1916 the battalion moved south in preparation for the Australian Second Division’s attack at Pozières.
On 28 July 1916 the 26th Battalion moved up towards their starting lines. It wasn’t until after midnight that the battalion, as part of the wider divisional attack, was able to start. Its progress was halted by uncut German wire and many casualties were suffered, including Pte Tolman, who had been wounded in the stomach.
He was evacuated to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station, where he underwent an operation. However, Pte Tolman’s wound was mortal and he died on 10 August 1916. He was buried in the Puchevillers Military Cemetery. He was 24 years old.
Pte Mostyn Tolman was wounded during the battle of Pozières, on 5 August 1916, receiving a gunshot wound to his hand/arm (it is believed his life was saved due to a metal mirror in his pocket). He was evacuated to England for further treatment and convalescence. He returned to France at the end of 1916, but his health broke down before he could return to his unit. He spent much of 1917 in hospitals and returned to Australia that October 1917.
Another brother, Hobart, joined the AIF in November 1916, after Owen died. Transferring to the 1st Machine Gun Company when he got to England, he arrived in France in October 1917 and saw some front-line service until he was evacuated sick in February 1918.
He returned to Australia in mid-1919.
Not only did two Tolman brothers fight side-by-side at Pozieres but they also had a nephew who arrived from Gallipoli who was badly injured at Pozieres, another young nephew was killed in action at the Battle of Messines (he was not even 18yrs old) and another nephew who fought at Gallipoli, was wounded at Messines, in June 1917, was gassed in battles leading up to the Battle of Mont St Quentin and was awarded a Military Cross.
PRIVATE GRAHAM FREDERICK HAYES
Australia’s Fighting Sons of the Empire
It states; Private Graham Hayes (3535) was born at Fokestone (England)
and educated at Claremont,Western Australia. Came to Australia at the age of 14 months.
He was enlisted at Perth in September, 1915, and went into Blackboy, Claremont and Belmont Camps for training. He sailed for Egypt on the 15th Jan 1916 with the 8/28th Battalion, per the HMAT Borda and arrived in February 1916. He went to Heliopolis first then to Tel-el-Kebir. Here he was transferred to the 51st Battalion on the first line of defence, Suez Canal. He left for France on the 6th June 1916 and went into action through Pozieres, Fleurs-Baix and Pozieres (2nd) and was killed here on the 14 -16 August 1916.
Prior to enlistment he was at Foy and Gibson’s, Perth W.A. He enlisted first 4 Oct 1915 with 87 Infantry. Sailed in the H.M.A.T Borda A30.
He was killed with many others in the trenches by Australians incorrect bombing actions! ie. shelled in the trenches.
Earnings 5 shillings, spent 3 shillings,lent 2 shillings, kept 1 shilling.
Died aged 19 years 11 months serving in France.
Unit number: 51No. 3535 16th Bn Australian Infantry Pte.
Army: 1914 – 1918.
Buried in the Great War Centenary in the
Somme France Villers-Bretonneux Memorial Serre Rd Cemetery.
LT COLONEL WALTER DOLLMAN
Lt Colonel Dollman was commander of the South Australian 27th battalion. It was one of 4 battalions of the brigade that attacked OG1, OG2 and the windmill at the end of July. On July 28th, the 25th, 26th and 28th battalions had heavy losses. The 27th had been held in reserve and unlike the other 3 battalions, had suffered only light casualties from bombardment. At 9pm on 4th August the 27th and a reduced 28th (Western Australia) were brought up and took the German trenches and the windmill. Casualties of the 27th and 28th were about 350 and over 100 German prisoners were taken. The 27th handed over the captured trenches to the 48th (made up of South and Western Australians).
The Lt Colonel’s last 2 letters to his family just before the Pozieres engagement are below:
Front Lines Trenches
Belgium Jun 27th. 9.30
It commenced to rain just at the hour of starting for the trenches & poured all night. We had a shocking time and at 10 o’clock a heavy bombardment shook everything, we had a few casualties, 2 poor fellows blown to pieces. I never felt so heartsick than when I saw the lads gathered up in fragments for burial. Four of us, Slane, the Dr., Lieut. Willshire & myself were spotted today & the enemy artillery made a great effort to get us. Luckily we were in a trench & by crouching low the shells burst over us & did us no harm. One of our officers was censoring the letters of a lance corporal who wrote feelingly of his responsibility of his one stripe being too much for him, he said the anxiety quite unmanned him at times. I know mine does, I feel unable at times to bear my load. No letters have arrived or parcels for a long time. I feel I would give a lot to be able to pack up & turn my back on all these horrors & anxieties of this sort of life.
But you must “buck up” & we hope for happier times.
Belgium same spot front line
Two days ago I got Edy’s letter & the boys. I do wish we could get them more regular, it is so soothing to get letters from our homefolk. Edy told me you had got a note from Major Slane with news of my illness, thank goodness that is all past, no doubt you were worried but it is over long ago. We have had a bad time the last four days, we one night raided the German trenches & took several prisoners & killed a good many more, but we have been under heavy shell fire the whole time & have had a heavy casualty list, our trenches are badly exposed & we get it “fairly in the neck” sometimes. Yesterday was the worst day the 27th ever had & I am very heartsick. I am longing to get across the sea to you all once more. We have been in France 3 months. One of our best boys, son of Dr. Davies was killed yesterday. We had 10 killed in 3 days & 53 wounded. Four of my officers wounded too. When I get your next letter I will write, but I dare not tell you as much as I would like too. “Cheer up Lassie”
PRIVATE JONATHAN (JOCK) STEPHENS
Private Jonathan (Jock) Stephens was born in Ballarat Victoria on November 28th, 1890 to Thomas and Annie Stephens. Prior to enlisting Jock worked in the New Normanby Mine in Ballarat and was a forward player with Ballarat Football Club.
He embarked from Melbourne to Egypt aboard HMAT Moldavia with the 6th reinforcements, 21st battalion on 5 October 1915. On 24 February 1916 he was transferred to the 7th Battalion. On the 4th March he was transferred from Zeitoun to Serapeum and then left via troopship from Alexandria to Marseilles on 2nd April 1916. Jock was killed in action on 25 July 1916.
Jock was survived by his mother, four brothers and seven sisters.
PRIVATE CHARLES WILLIAM JAMES TUCKER
The Price of Pozières
Charlie Tucker’s war was distressingly short.
A glass-blower by trade, recently married to Ettie, father of 9 month old Mavis, he enlisted on 12 July 1915 at Newport in Melbourne and was appointed to the 5th Reinforcements of the 23rd Battalion.
At nearly 24 Charlie was the first in our family to join up. Twelve months later, on his 25th birthday he was posted Missing in Action at Pozières.
Charlie embarked for Egypt from Port Melbourne at the end of September 1915, arriving in Marseilles from Alexandria on 26 March 1916. His mob was entrained to Flanders, assigned to the Fleurbaix sector of the trenches.
At the beginning of July, Charlie wrote to Ettie “…I have no idea when I will get a chance to send these few lines … as we are on the move each day.”
He anticipates “… something big coming up”.
The 23rd was moving south to Picardy. They de-trained at Saleux, south of Amiens on 11th July and marched to Ailly-sur-Somme where they enjoyed five days of balmy weather training, rehearsing attack strategies, route-marching and the odd dip in the river. On 16th July they packed up, crossed the Somme and marched to billets at Rainneville, then Puchvillers and on to Lealvillers where they arrived at noon on 20th July, remaining until the early morning of the 26th, when they set off on the long 20 km march to Albert.
While the men rested and prepared for battle, the brass visited the frontline. Charlie made the time to write an acknowledgement card for Ettie’s letter dated 29th May.
It was the last she was to receive from him.
The 23rd marched on towards Pozières, moving in to the reserve trenches in Sausage Valley, some 2 to 3 kilometres to the south-east at 10pm. At 2.30pm on the 27th they had reached the close reserve trenches which I imagine were in the vicinity of Mouquet Farm to the north of Pozières.
Having missed the massive enemy bombardment of that morning they were to be the vanguard of the attack planned for the night of 28-29 July.
Charlie spent his 25th birthday, the last day of his life, in those trenches. What happened? How was he killed? When? Where? Was it through the long mid-Summer daylight or later in darkness? How had his day been? Was there a bit of birthday chiacking from his mates? Did he even remember it was his birthday? Cards and presents from Ettie and the family had already arrived; was he able to think about it (or anything else) pushing up the deafening, terrifying chaos of the line?
We know of no official witness account of Charlie’s death. In her latter years Mavis’s story was that he was hit by a German shell in a dug-out in the company of a cousin. The 23rd’s fighting order was 35 officers and 967 other ranks. 57 men including two officers lost their lives on 28th July 1916. Like Charlie, most have no grave.
In memory of Private Charles William James Tucker, no. 2461, 23rd Battalion, AIF, grandfather of Lorraine Vass, Carol Champion and Jenny Leunig.
PRIVATE EDWIN THOMAS WARDLOW BISHOP
Edwin Thomas Wardlow Bishop enlisted on 28 July 1915 in the 72nd Battalion,
Australian Imperial Force (AIF) with the rank of Private, Number 2579.
The unit embarked from Sydney on board HMAT Euripides A14 on 2 November 1915.
Was listed as killed in action at Pozieres on 14 August 1916 aged 30.
2ND LT LEWIS GORDON BLACKMORE
Lewis Gordon Blackmore, 6th Light Horse Regiment, of Wattamondara, NSW.
A grazier prior to enlisting in September 1914, Pte Blackmore embarked from Sydney on board HMAT Suevic (A29) on 21 December 1914. He was wounded in action at Gallipoli on 14 July 1915 and evacuated to Malta where in September he contracted enteric fever. He proceeded to England for recovery and returned to his unit in Egypt in January 1916.
Pte Blackmore was transferred to the 1st Battalion in February and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant (2nd Lt) in February/March. 2nd Lt Blackmore was killed in action at Pozieres, France, on 23 July 1916.
He was 30 years of age.
To read the full story click here.
PRIVATE WILLIAM (BILL) JAMES O’GRADY
When World War I broke out in 1914, William James O’Grady enlisted at the age of 32 on 8th December 1915, in Rockhampton, Queensland. No. 4522. His profession is listed as a farmer from Mackay. At the time, he was working on his mother’s and brother’s farm in Sarina which they had purchased only three years prior. Born in February 1883 at Mount Britton (Sarina), Queensland, his was a striking man – 6 feet tall, black hair, blue eyes and 37 inch chest. His weight was 11 stone 5 pounds and his religious denomination was R.C. (Roman Catholic). The unit he was assigned to was the 25th Infantry Battalion, 11th reinforcements.
On 31 March 1916, the 11th reinforcements departed Sydney on the HMAT Star of Victoria, ship number A16. It must have been a difficult journey for a farmer from Sarina, a man of the land, aboard a ship with many others. While at sea on 5 April, he was fined 10 shillings for ‘refusing to obey a lawful command’.
His general character was noted at the time of the offence as ‘very good’.
He disembarked on 10 May 1916 at Alexandria where after initial training there, he was shipped to Marseilles 8 days later. After another two months training, on 2 August 1916, he was ‘taken on strength’ and boarded a train, along with a large number of young Australians, to travel northwards to the battlefields of the Western Front.
The 25th Battalion was now fighting as part of the 2nd Division and part of a major battle at Pozeries. After only three days, on 5 August 1916, Bill O’Grady’s life was cut short – he was amongst one the worst battles of the Somme, the battle of Pozieres. Initially he was reported missing. Even his family didn’t know of his death. It was to take more than a year before they would receive information about Bill.
Bill’s sister, Mrs J. Beagrie, on 19 January 1917, wrote a letter to the Prisoner of War Help Committee in London. She wrote ‘Kindly try to find Private W.J. O’Grady, no.4522 of the 25th Battalion; who is missing since August 5 1916 in France probably in battle on Pozieres Ridge. I am his sister and writing this for his mother who are very anxious’. Her letter to the Red Cross Society in London was written on the same day. ‘I have taken the liberty of forwarding a parcel care of your good society for Private W.J. O’Grady, no. 4522, who is missing… Thinking he may be a prisoner of war in Germany and badly in need of nourishment and being my poor brother’s birthday today. I thought sending same you may be able to inquire, and if a prisoner of war, could forward same to his address in Germany’.
A letter was sent to Bill’s family by The Australian Red Cross on 4 April 1917 – ‘your letter has been forwarded to The British Red Cross Society, they deal with all Australian enquiries regarding Australian prisoners of war. The British Red Cross Society advised us that they will forward the parcel to us when it arrives. Unfortunately Private O’Grady’s name has never come through on the lists of prisoners of war, so they will forward the parcel to another Queensland man who is a prisoner in Germany.
We have been taking every effort to obtain news of your brother’.
These letters and others are found in the Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files, 1914-1918. One entry recorded in London on 19 January 1917: ‘O’Grady came from Mackay, Q. Informant knew him well. He was killed in the trenches at Pozieres by a shell together with 10 others. Informant saw his body lying there as he passed along.
Reference – H.V. King 25th Battn. C. Coy. 4485. Southall 16.1.17’
Bill’s name is listed on the WWI memorial in the centre of Sarina, Queensland.
He is also listed on Australian National Memorial wall at Villers Bretonneux, France, panel 105.
I have always felt compelled to uncover Uncle Bill’s story. Thanks to the Internet and many dedicated Australians making it possible for me to find the information about him so easily. My next wish is to still be around when or if they may uncover some of the soldiers’ graves and perhaps DNA testing will locate our uncle Bill – now that would bring closure for my family.
Carmel Lawrance and sisters, Lyn Corrigan and Karen Mullane
PRIVATE HERBERT (HERB) HAMILTON
Little is known of Herbert (Bert to his civvy mates) Hamilton’s early life other than he was born in Sydney between 1886 and 1888. He declared that both his parents were dead, had no known family and his current occupation as a farmer on his enlistment papers. He listed Thomas Sproule Elkin as his next of kin. As he had undergone an apprenticeship and had five years farming experience with Elkin, he must have been as close to family as Bert had ever known. By December 7 1915, Bert was in Melbourne, when he enlisted and found a new khaki clad family in the men of the 24th Battalion. He was 27 years old. Men would know him as ‘Herb’.
On March 7 1916 Bert embarked from Melbourne on HMAT A18 ‘Wilstshire’. Something happened to Herb on route and he failed to re-embark on April 17 in Fremantle. Whatever the reason he was not disciplined, however he was transferred to the reinforcements of the newly formed 51st Bn as part of the “doubling” of the AIF. Approximately half of its members were Gallipoli veterans from the 11th Bn and the other half, reinforcements from Australia. The battalion became part of the 13th Brigade of the newly-formed 4th Aust Div. Arriving in France on June 12 1916, the 51st moved into the trenches of the Western Front within a fortnight.
Read the rest of his story here.
SERGEANT WALTER HENRY SERLE – MM
Walter Serle enlisted 31 July 1915, aged 41 years. Embarked (HMAT “Nestor”) 11 October 1915 as Private in the 8th Battalion reinforcements (11th) and was taken on strength at Tel el Kebir on 7th January 1916. Army Number 3441. At the end of January, the 8th took up garrison duties at the Suez Canal, and training was intensified. On 1st March the Battalion was relieved of Canal duties, and 11th March they were told of the impending move to France, which occurred on the 26th.
They travelled on HMT “Megantic”, arriving at Marseille on the 31st March.
After training around Steenwerck and Bailleul, and an inspection on the 27th April by Haig (who congratulated the CO on the Battalion’s handling of arms, steadiness and marching), on 30th April the 8th (1 Aust Div, 2 Inf Bde) moved into the lines at Fleurbaix, a so-called “nursery sector”. After having had their first exposure to action on the Western Front, including nightly patrols of no-mans-land and being shelled, they came out of the line on 29th May, relocating to Sailly on 10th June, and later to Neuve Eglise. On 24th June they went into the line in the Messines sector. They were relieved on the 4th July, and travelling by train and by route marching they reached Rainneville ten days later. During this period, Serle was promoted to Corporal (8th July 1916). On 20th July they marched by way of Albert, reaching Sausage Valley near Pozieres on the night of the 22nd. Throughout 23rd July the German artillery pounded the 8th. In the evening they moved forward through the village and occupied the area to the North of Pozieres, out as far as the cemetery. They were warned for an attack on the 24th, but due to much confusion it did not take place until 3.30am on the 25th. It reached all objectives and dug in 50 to 100 yards North and North-East of the village before dawn. During the 25th and 26th they continued their slow advance along the enemy trenches, being shelled unmercifully throughout.
The story continues here.
CAPTAIN ALBERT JACKA – VC MC
Albert Jacka enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 18 September 1914 as a private in the 14th Battalion. After surviving Gallipoli and being awarded Australia’s first Victoria Cross the 14th Battalion was shipped to France, where, at Pozieres in August 1916 and at Bullecourt in 1917 he won the Military Cross and a bar to that award. The Australian historian Charles Bean describes his actions at Pozieres, during which he recaptured a section of trench, freed a group of recently captured Australians and forced the surrender of some fifty Germans, as the most dramatic and effective act of individual audacity in the history of the AIF.
More stories can be found on: http://www.gallipoli.gov.au/bravery-awards-at-gallipoli/albert-jacka-vc.php
SERGEANT HARRY PERCY WALKER
3695 Sergeant Harry Percy Walker 11th Battalion /12 reinforcement
was wounded at the Battle of Pozieres 23/7/1916 from a severe gunshot wound to the shoulder. Admitted to 1st AGH. Discharge on 27/7/1916 to base.
He was taken as a POW in April 1917 and was returned to Australia in May 1919.
He was awarded the DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal): “for gallant and distinguished services in the field”. Fourth Supplement No31759 London Gazette 30th Jan 1920.
PRIVATE THOMAS JOHN STEVENSON
Thomas John Stevenson, or as he has been nicknamed by his grandson, TJS, was born in Portadown County Armagh, Northern Ireland on 4 November 1873. He attended Portadown State School but did not finish his education and, at age 13, left school to work alongside his father as a tailor. Though his profession was honest, like many young men, it could be said that Thomas wanted more adventure and so on 7 May 1894, aged 20 and at the meagre height of 5ft 5¼ inches, he volunteered for the Regular British Army and became the newest addition to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment which was considered a very ‘unfashionable unit’.
Not long after volunteering TJS took part in the Sudan Campaign and was awarded the Queen’s Sudan Medal and the Khedive’s Sudan Medal with the clasps Abartra and Khartom. In 1900, after the conclusion of the Sudan War, Thomas was promoted to the rank of Corporal which was a source of great pride for him and his family. Two years later on the 1 April, Thomas was again promoted, this time to the rank of Sergeant. Thomas travelled the world with the British Army. He was posted in Malta and Egypt and in 1904 married Susan Jane Cooke in St Marks Church, Portadown at home in the UK. He and his new wife ventured to India to start a life with Thomas serving as Sergeant in the Warwick’s Mounted Infantry on the North West Frontier, near to the Afghanistan border which was known as ‘bandit country’. Thomas’s first child, Lily Esther was born in 1905 and his second child, William Robert, in 1907. Both were born in Quetta, India.
While Thomas was in India, his brother, Robert William, migrated to Australia and founded the Exchange Hotel in Longreach, Queensland and established a good life for himself there. So, in 1908, after 13½ years’ service, Thomas applied for discharge from the British army and, sponsored by his brother, his family migrated to Australia. They arrived on 24 February 1908 in Brisbane. The family made their way to Longreach where they found a home on Crane Street. From 1908-1915, Thomas fathered 3 more boys, Victor George, Thomas John and Joseph Richard Edmond.
In 1915, a call was sent out for more Australian men to enlist to form the 2nd Division of the Australian Imperial Force. Thomas answered this call and on 12 May 1916 aged 40, Thomas John Stevenson enlisted in the Australian Army where he became a new addition to the 26th Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd Division and was sent to Enoggera Army Camp in Brisbane where he was given the regimental number of 87. Only a little over a week after enlisting Thomas left Brisbane on HMAT Ascanlus and landed at Gallipoli on 12 September 1915. He became stationed at Quinn’s Post which was a very precarious position on the Anzac lines.
Gallipoli at that time mustn’t have been a very pleasant place especially since Thomas arrived not long after the August offensive which the army was still recovering from. In November, Thomas spent a short time on the front lines with the 6th Field Ambulance Unit; however Thomas’s time at Gallipoli was short-lived as he was admitted to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearance Station with a septic ankle wound on 9 December (only 3 days before he was due to be evacuated from the Peninsula).
Thomas left Gallipoli on HMS Oxfordshire on 12 December and was transferred to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Heliopolis, Egypt. He was not discharged until February, 1916 and re-joined his battalion in Alexandria, Egypt on 15 March. Only one week later, the 2nd Division departed for Marseilles, France. In April, Thomas arrived at the trenches of Armetieres which was considered a quiet area of the front. Thomas participated in the first raid ever conducted by Australians in France and, as a bonus, the raid was successful.
The story continues here.
PRIVATE VICTOR (JACK) EDWARD PREWETT
Victor Edward Prewett enlisted on 20th February 1915 in Cooktown as a Driver in the 7th Field Ambulance, service number 3532.
He served at Gallipoli first, landing there in September 1915.
In France he volunteered to serve as a stretcher bearer. He was sadly killed by an artillery shell at Mouquet Farm, Pozieres on 26 August 1916.
A cousin of Dean Ahern’s great Aunt met a wool classer at Eidsvold, Queensland sometime after the war. This man said he knew Jack Prewett (as he was known). He said an artillery shell burst killed Jack and his fellow stretcher bearer but the soldier on the stretcher survived. Looking at the records it could be that the other stretcher bearer might have been Pte W A Cramm.# 1721 whom records show was killed on the same day and from the same unit. Both men have no known grave.
Victor Prewett is remembered by Dean Ahern and family.
Victor was Dean’s mother’s Great Uncle.
Rest In Peace Jack..
PRIVATE WILLIAM RAYMOND CHATWIN
A postcard of William Raymond Chatwin, 3583 of the 15th Battalion is appended with a photo of the Divisional Congratulatory Card from H V Cox, Commander 4th Division AIF, for his gallant conduct on the night of 8th / 9th August. No DCM was ever given, William Raymond was dead in less than five months, and the original recommendation seemed to have just sat in the recommendations unactioned apart from a post war mention of a Congratulatory Card on his service record. Here are the details of the action as recorded on the original Recommendation for an Award … “On the night of 8th / 9th August during operations north west of Pozieres Private W R Chatwin was with Corporal A R Evans assisting to get Lieut Plane who was badly wounded back to our lines and rendered valuable help in persuading the German prisoners at the point of the bayonet to carry Lt Plane in to our line. All this time the party were under heavy enemy machine gun fire.”
William Raymond Chatwin was one of three brothers who fought at Pozieres. The other brother Roy was in the 47th Battalion and Alton was in the 52nd Battalion. All 3 survived Pozieres but sadly William Raymond was KIA on the Somme on 31 December 1916 near Montauban about 8 kms from Pozieres.
SERGEANT MARTIN O’MEARA – VC
Sergeant Martin O’Meara joined the Australian Imperial Force in Perth on 19 August 1915 and left Australia with the 12th reinforcements for the 16th Battalion in December. After training in Egypt in early 1916 the battalion moved to the Western Front in France where it fought on the Somme. On 9-12 August the 16th mounted an attack on German positions at Mouquet Farm near Pozieres. Devastating German artillery fire caused heavy casualties, an entry in the battalion war diary on 12 August stating laconically that then ‘the trench as a trench had ceased to exist’. During this period O’Meara, then acting as a scout, behaved in a manner which led one officer to describe him as ‘the most fearless and gallant soldier I have ever seen’. He was credited with having saved the lives of over 25 wounded men carrying them in from no man’s land ‘under conditions that are indescribable’. For these actions he was awarded the Victoria Cross at Mouquet Farm, near Pozieres.
His citation reads, “For most conspicuous bravery. Between 9th – 12th August 1916 at Pozieres, France, during four days of very heavy fighting, Private O’Meara repeatedly went out and brought in wounded officers and men from “No Man’s Land” under intense artillery and machine-gun fire. He also volunteered and carried up ammunition and bombs through a heavy barrage to a portion of the trenches which was being heavily shelled at the time. Throughout this period he showed utter contempt of danger and undoubtedly saved many lives.”
O’Meara spent the rest of the war with the 16th Battalion; he was wounded 3 times and promoted to sergeant. In November 1918 he returned to Australia and was discharged from the AIF in Perth in November 1919. His war experiences caused a complete breakdown in his health for he spent the rest of his life in military hospitals, suffering from chronic mania. He died on 20 December 1935.
His name is honoured on the water tower at Pozieres together with the other VC recipients of that terrible battle.
PRIVATE WILLIAM HUGH ASHMORE
Son of Richard and Margaret Brown Ashmore.
Born at Mocattas Corner, Dalby, Queensland.
4364, 25th Battalion Australian Infantry, A.I.F. died on 05 August 1916 at Pozieres.
He is one of the many who went missing on that day. From the Red Cross file there were a few eyewitness accounts. This is what Private R.J Ward saw on that fateful day: “On Aug 5th or 7th at Pozieres this soldier was killed by shrapnel. I saw him lying dead on my way back from No Mans Land. It was early morning. I think he was a shearer, and came from Dalby, Queensland. He has a brother over here, a soldier.
Another eyewitness reported: “I knew Private Ashmore as we had been in camp together. He was killed during the second charge at Pozieres on August 5th. It was a success, and we took the position. One of the men, who was with him at the time told me that he saw him killed by a shell. Another man was killed at the same time as the shell caught them both.
PRIVATE LEONARD IRVINE HINES
4207 Pte Leonard Irvine Hines
12 March 1896 – 23 July 1916
Leonard (Len), 19yrs 5mths enlisted Brisbane 27/8/1915 and joined the 9 Bn/13R and trained at Enoggera Barracks Brisbane – he heeded the call to see the world and fight for his country. Len, fourth son of 9 boys and two girls was born in Moss Vale NSW but moved 1,200kms north with his family to Zara in the Tweed River Valley when he was 10yrs old. Len was a farm labourer and the whole family worked hard on their self sufficient farm.
On leaving Australia on 3/1/1916, the only way Len could inform his family he was sailing that day was to send a telegram to the Post Office at Murwillumbah for delivery to their farm 18.5kms away – the family to this day retain this precious document when 9th Battalion Queensland embarked on HMAT “Kyarra” Brisbane – so many never to return to this big brown land as they headed for Alexandria, Egypt. According to Army Records, on this voyage, 8/1/1916, Len was caught gambling (Disobedience of Ships Orders) and received 1 day punishment. Also on board were 129 other “Northern Rivers Boys” covering the Tweed, Richmond & Clarence River Districts. On leaving for War, each local boy was presented with a gold watch and chain with a gold tag engraved with their initials on the front and on the back inscribed “From Friends at Home” Len’s watch has been kept running to this day by his 87yr old nephew Harold Hines and it keeps perfect time although 100yrs old.
The 9th Battalion disembarked Egypt 19/2/1916 to learn to dig trenches in the desert for 6wks with the soldiers who survived Gallipoli.
Precious Post cards from Egypt sent home by Len are still kept together with many letters exchanged with his Mother, Mary-Anne.
Troops embarked once more aboard “Transylvania” and disembarked Marseilles, France on 4/4/1916. The 9th Battalion joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) at Etaples on 25/5/1916 and proceeded 180kms north west of Paris to Pozieres and engaged the enemy in the Battle for Pozieres from 23/7/1916.
A Red Cross witness report stated the following:
“9th Australian L Force Pte Hines L.I. 4207 A Coy
“On July 23rd l9l6 at Pozieres, we went over the parapet to attack and stopped half way between our own and Enemy’s trenches. Hines was next to me on my right, when we were lying down flat there, and I turned and saw that he was dead, with a bullet wound through his forehead. It was dusk, almost night but I could see him distinctly in the light of the star-shells, etc. We went on and took the trenches and held them. Hines’ body was left where we had halted, but I do not know where he was buried or by whom
Informant:- Cpl J.H. Boreham,2560 9th Australian AIF. Stourbridge Military Hospital
Home address:- Moore Brisbane Valley Line Queensland 12/12116 P. H. Chappell”
The family also retain The Dreaded Urgent Telegram which arrived on 12 August 1916 at the same Post Office with the worst possible news of Pte Leonard Irvine Hines KIA 23 July 1916 at Pozieres.
To continue reading this story click here.
Photo L to R: L. I. Hines, C Hudson (standing), W Black, A Vidler (front)
PRIVATE JAMES (JIM) ROSS DUPEROUZEL
Private James Ross Duperouzel, 4783 51st Battalion AIF was killed in action at Mouquet Farm during the Battle of Pozières on 14/16 August 1916. He died a week after his 19th birthday and is recorded as ‘missing, with no known grave’. His name and rank is inscribed on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Somme, France. ‘Jim’ died 400km from Saint Aubin-du-Perron, the birth place of his grandfather Aimable Duperouzel, a Frenchman, who was transported as a British convict from Guernsey to Western Australia in 1856.
Jim was born in Beverley, Western Australia, in 1897 and was one of 10 children born to Sarah Jane Willey and George Charles Duperouzel. He was brought up on the family farm in Qualen, near York, and was educated at the newly established local Qualen School which opened in 1907.
Jim, aged 18 years, went to the Army Camp at Blackboy Hill to volunteer to join the Australian Imperial Force in December 1915. At that time his occupation was recorded as ‘shearer’. By February 1916 he was declared fit for active service and on 1 April 1916 he sailed on the troopship HMAT ULYSSES from Fremantle arriving in Alexandria, Egypt on 25 April 1916. Following a very brief training period Jim was assigned to the 51st Battalion AIF on 20 May 1916.
It would appear Jim felt he was on a big adventure for in a letter he wrote to his father, George Duperouzel, whilst on the sea voyage, dated 16 April 1916, Jim talks of “…having a bonza time…there’s all sorts of amusements, piano and a band…if only my mates knew the time they would have everybody would be in…look at this trip, the time of a man’s life…doesn’t matter what happens after…” Jim goes on to talk about seeding on the family farm, “…we will get over there in the Spring, just when you’ll be putting in the seed, it’s funny going out of one summer into another…I suppose I’ll be coming back home for another…it’s a decent life on the sea – I think I’ll follow the sea when it’s all over…” Little did he know what horror and carnage would await him and his ‘mates’ on the Somme.
Jim and his fellow 51st Battalion servicemen left Alexandria on 7 June 1916 on board the HMAT HUNTSPILL and arrived in Marseille, France on 14 June. From here the battalion travelled by train to Étaples, north-west France where they received some further training. On 23 July 1916, the start of the Battle of Pozières, Jim and his battalion were “…taken on strength…” to the theatre of war on the front line. Within three weeks Jim was to meet his fate at Mouquet Farm.
During the initial advance on Mouquet Farm in August 1916 the constant bombardment of the trenches, machine gun fire and the carnage that unfolded resulted in AIF losses close to 5000 servicemen from a number of AIF battalions. In all, 115 servicemen of the 51st died in August (only 34 were identified) and a further 196 in September (only 77 were identified).
Extensive research and analysis of the 51st Bn. war dead of August 1916 indicates that there is a high probability that Jim’s “unidentified remains” may have been exhumed from “in the field” near Mouquet Farm and re-interred in the nearby Courcelette British Cemetery where 6 indentified 51st Bn. soldiers are buried with 12 unidentified AIF soldiers all of whom were recovered from the same map grid reference of 57.d.R.28. A further 3 identified 51st Bn. soldiers which were also recovered near Mouquet Farm are buried with 8 unidentified AIF soldiers in Serre Road Cemetery No2. These were all recovered from the same nearby co-ordinates map grid reference of 57.d.R.34.
In April 2016 thirty members of the Duperouzel family from Australia, UK and France, undertook a pilgrimage to France to attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service to give thanks for the life of “Uncle Jim” and to honour all the troops who died on the Western Front during the Great War.
A tribute to Uncle Jim “Somewhere in France” written by his nephew, William Duperouzel, was published in January 2016.
THE 4 SMYTHE BROTHERS
All four boys enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) soon after the outbreak of WWI in 1914. While only Percy and Viv served at Pozieres we must remember this brave family in this story.
Herbert (Bert) Andrew SMYTHE (aged 25) and Erle Vernon (Vern) SMYTHE (20) were at The Landing at Gallipoli. Percy Ellesmere SMYTHE (21) sailed on the “Orsova” in July and Edward Vivian (Viv) SMYTHE (23) did Officer Training and had married his long-time sweetheart Clytie, before sailing in September.
Bert spent a few months training in Egypt before taking part in the historic 25 April 1915 landing at Gallipoli Peninsula. As a crack shot and an expert signaller he was always in the front lines and in danger. After being injured in the right shoulder, he was sent to Blighty (England). Bert had been seconded to a Training Corps in England, although he felt he wanted to get back into the action. He was redeployed to France in 1917 and was killed-in-action at Bullecourt two months later. His diary and letters home became very precious to his family.
Vern left Australia with Bert on the “Euripides” and also landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in May aged just 20 years old. Percy arrived at Gallipoli when the Lone Pine Campaign was under way. The three brothers met in the dugouts at Shrapnel Gully. Percy was invalided out to Malta when he became ill and not long afterwards, the troops embarked for France.
Viv sailed to Egypt where he was involved in action against Arabs, then after deployment to France he saw action near Armentieres, then Pozieres, Mouquet Farm and Bullecourt. In 1916 Viv, Percy and Vern were all in France near the Belgian border and managed to make contact. In May Vern was again promoted and became a captain and won an MC. The main front of the war was now along the Somme River and they were involved in the battles where Viv and later Percy were awarded MCs.
All this information was courtesy of the Smythe Family website http://www.smythe.id.au/
This is a commemorative photograph taken of the Smythe boys in 1914 (according to my cousin Clyde Smythe – Viv’s son). The boys were all of enlistment age except Vern, who was only 20 years old. It was just as well that the family had this one of them together, as Bert was killed in 1917.
LANCE CORPORAL WILLIAM LESLIE ARNOLD
PRIVATE FRANCIS BENJAMIN ARNOLD
ARNOLD, Lance Corporal William Leslie, 2332, 9th Battalion AIF.
Died of wounds 16 August, 1916. Age 26.
ARNOLD, Private Francis Benjamin, 3519, 6th Battalion AIF.
Died of wounds 25 August 1916. Age 20.
William Leslie Arnold enlisted in the 9th Battalion on the 24 May 1915 as a 25 year old labourer. He enlisted in Queensland but his parents lived in Warragul Victoria. Promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal soon after arrival in France on the 5 July 1916, he was wounded in action in an attack on German trenches at Pozieres on the 22 July 1916 with gunshot wounds to the right ankle and thigh and the next day transferred to the 1st Australian General Hospital at Rouen. On the 14th August he was transferred to England but died of his wounds two days later on the 16th August 1916, from complications caused by the effects of his serious thigh wound at the age of 26.
He was finally buried at the Lodge Hill Cemetery Birmingham, along with 53 other Australians who died in the military hospitals around Birmingham.
The very next day, 17 August 1916, his younger brother 3519 Francis Benjamin Arnold 6th Battalion AIF, was shockingly wounded near the same village of Pozieres in the ferocious fighting the Australians were involved in around the town. Francis, shot in the face, suffered compound fractures to the face and nose and despite reaching a major hospital in Etaples within a few days, he died from his wounds on the 25 August 1916.
He was only 20 years old.
Lance Corporal William Leslie Arnold – 2332 – 9th Battalion – WIA & died of wounds 16 Aug 1916
PRIVATE JOHN (JACK) ADAMS
PRIVATE GEORGE RAPHAEL BURNARD ADAMS
Two brothers 2562 Private John (Jack) Adams and 2563 Private George Raphael Burnard Adams, both 20th Battalion, of Tumbarumba, NSW.
John, a labourer, was 6 foot tall and and a whipcord 67kg and George, much the same build at 6 foot tall and 70kg, was a butcher. The brothers enlisted together on 5 August 1915, and left Australia together on the same ship.
They arrived in France for service on the Western Front on 25 March 1916.
The Adams brothers took part in the Battle of Pozieres and John Adams was killed in action on 26 July 1916, aged 23 years.
George Adams was awarded the Military Medal (MM) on 16 August 1916 for “conspicuous and continued bravery” at Pozieres which involved bomb throwing for hours and hours in extremely heavy fighting.
George was wounded in action in France during 1918 and returned to Australia on 9 December 1918.
PRIVATE ALBERT (SNOWY) VICTOR ERICKSON
Private Albert Victor Erickson, 3046, 3rd Battalion, of Drummoyne, NSW. A bookkeeper when he enlisted, Albert embarked Australia during October 1915. Albert Erickson transferred to the 45th Battalion AIF with the new service number 3046A. “Snowy” Erickson, as he was known to his mates, was tall, fair and captain of the Drummoyne Swimming Club. On 6 August 1916 the same mates witnessed that he was buried and wounded, badly crushed, by a shell burst near Pozieres, France. He died as he was being carried to a dressing station, aged around 23 years. His body was found in 1929 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, identified by a pocket book, engrave with the letters “A.V.E. 3046” Albert was buried in the Serre Road Cemetery.
“Snowy” would not have known that his younger brother, only just 19 years old and serving in the 18th Battalion, was killed the day before even though the 45th Battalion was relieving the 18th Battalion in the trenches near Munster Alley at Pozieres.
2364 Private Roy Robert Erickson 18th Battalion AIF was killed in action 5 August 1916. Several of Roy’s mates said he was blown to pieces by a heavy shell, one of them stating, “…we picked up the pieces here and there and buried them. We put up a cross and wrote his name and number with an indelible pencil. He was, or at least the pieces, were buried in No Man’s Land.”
Against the odds, Roy Erickson’s remains were also found in 1920 and reinterred in the Pozieres British Cemetery Ovillers-La-Boisselle, France.
A third and oldest brother, 2632 George Peter Erickson, also in the 18th Battalion, was luckier, being wounded in action during the same Battle of Pozieres, on the 24 July 1916. He was returned home in 1917 with gunshot wounds to his left forearm and hand, and discharged from the AIF medically unfit.
A fourth brother, Bertie Theodore Erickson, enlisted in September 1918 but the war ended before he embarked Australia.
PRIVATE PETER HART JACOBSON
What would he have been thinking, this handsome, young soldier as he prepared for this photograph? Eagerness, to experience the great adventures that life on the other side of the world might offer? Pride at ‘answering the call’ to serve for King and country?
He left home in the unrelenting heat and humidity of the Far North Queensland summer and a little over a year later arrived, marching in the freezing cold and snow at 2am into Morbecque, France. This no doubt would have been a real trudge but perhaps there was also a tinge of magic at experiencing snow for the first time.
April 7th brought another first with duty in the trenches. Returning to the trenches six more times he endured 47 days in the mud and stench supported by Aussie mateship. On July 28th the 7th Brigade was ordered to make a midnight attack from Pozieres. The 25th battalion was to attack from the centre of the sector. The objective was OG1 and OG2 lines on Pozieres Ridge.
It started at exactly 2400hr in five waves. Rounds of heavy machine gun fire and masses of uncut wire were their fate. Twenty eight men and four officers were killed with one hundred and twenty nine men and three officers wounded. Our brave young son, brother and uncle, was among one hundred and seventy five men and four officers who went missing that day.
One year later on July 29th 1917, Private Peter Hart Jacobson was pronounced ‘Killed in Action’. He is memorialised at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.
Peter Hart Jacobson, our very brave, young man, perished so very far from his home and loved ones. His memory is honoured by his family as his name endures: • His nephew, Peter Hart Jacobson • His great nephew, Raymond Hart Jacobson • His great, great nephew, Shane Hart Jacobson • His great, great, great nephew, Lachlan Hart Jacobson Lest we forget
Beverley Jacobson (great niece)
PRIVATE ARNOLD LOCKE BEATTIE
PRIVATE JOHN ROLSTON BEATTIE
The 2 brothers where in the 20th Battalion at Pozieres.
Sadly John Beattie was killed by a shell on 5 August 1916. An eyewitness statement says, “It was about 20 yards from the spot where his brother was wounded, within 2 or 3 hours afterwards. When John’s brother Arnold Beattie was wounded and asked for him, we would not tell that J.R. had been killed.”
Their commanding officer Lieutenant Stanley C Calderwood wrote this letter to the family.
Click here to read the letter.
PRIVATE DAVID JOHN TAIT
Private David John Tait, born 5th August 1896,
eldest son of David and Elizabeth Tait of North Ballarat. (He had 10 siblings).
He enlisted at age 19 on the 8th June 1915, service number 1972, and embarked with A Company, 3rd Reinforcement, 22nd Battalion from Melbourne on HMAT A68 Anchises on 26th August 1915 for Gallipoli and later France.
He was killed on 5th August 1916 (on his 20th birthday) at Pozieres – no known grave.
His family did not receive final confirmation of his death until July 1917 and were advised by the Battalion Chaplain that he gave his life by throwing himself onto an explosive device to save his fellow mates.
(Submitted by his niece Marilyn)
PRIVATE GEORGE STEWART
Private George Stewart, 1813, 10th Battalion
was killed in action between 19-21 August 1918. No known grave.
George Stewart was born in 1888, the fourth of eleven children (and the youngest surviving son) of George and Emily Stewart of Campbelltown in South Australia.
George worked as a gardener before the war, and enlisted in December 1914 as part of the initial rush for volunteers for the Australian Imperial Force. He had to wait to enlist however, because he was needed to help dig the well on the farm. He also went AWOL whilst in Morphettville Camp because he had to go back and help on the farm.
He joined up in the hope that it would prevent his older brothers from having to go to war. His eldest brother, Ken, did go as a sapper and survived the war, although gassed. His middle brother, Fred, was prevented from going because he was the only one left to run the market garden, an essential service. He never got over receiving a white feather.
After a period of training, George left Australia for Egypt with the 4th Reinforcements for the 10th Battalion in April 1915, and took part in the fighting in the Dardanelles. His reinforcement group was being ferried to the ANZAC positions on Gallipoli on 4 May 1915 when the minesweeper bringing them ashore came under Turkish fire: George was wounded in the arm and leg and was evacuated to Egypt to recover.
George eventually rejoined his battalion on Gallipoli in July 1915, and would have been among the troops kept in reserve during the 1st Division’s costly attack at Lone Pine in on 6 August. He came down with jaundice in November, and was evacuated from the peninsula to recover in Malta; afterwards he contracted enteric fever and was hospitalised in Egypt for a second time.
It wasn’t until July 1916 that George Stewart was fit enough to rejoin his battalion. It was thought that he would be sent home to Adelaide and he wrote to his family that this was likely. Indeed, the army telegrammed to say that he was on his way home. His mother searched every ship and camp looking for him. However, the Army changed its decision and he was deployed to the main theatre of the war in France. In late July, the 10th Battalion filed into the line near Pozières Windmill in preparation for a push towards the German stronghold at Mouquet Farm. Among the casualties was George Stewart, who was named missing after a costly and unsuccessful push towards the farm on 19 August. One eyewitness stated that he was in a shell hole with his platoon commander when German troops showered their position with hand grenades. The platoon commander had been wounded and George had been escorting him back behind the lines. Bomber Johnson reported that the shell hole was blown up. The report could not be confirmed, and his remains were never recovered, although the Unit Diary refers to an officer and private being blown up by a shell.
In June 1917, a court of inquiry determined that Private George Stewart had been killed in action sometime between 19 and 23 August 1916.
The loss affected the family greatly. In 1925 they inserted a memorial notice in the local newspaper on the ninth anniversary of his death. It read:
Though his cheery voice is silent,
And we see his face no more;
Yet in our hearts his memory lingers,
Just as sweetly as before.
In 2000, two members of the family were the first to visit the Somme and we were able with the help of Charles Bean’s histories to pinpoint the field in which George’s remains must lie.
His name is on the Australian War Memorial’s Wall of the Missing at Villiers-Bretonneaux.
LIEUTENANT HAROLD ERIC MOODY
Harold Eric Moody, known as Eric of 3rd Field Artillery. In 1914, aged 21, he had just started work as a lawyer in rural SA (Yorketown) when war broke out. He enlisted straight away but came down with measles and could not leave for the front until the following year in August 1915, landing on Gallipoli at the beginning of September. Promoted to full Lieutenant on 15 October, he remained on the peninsula for fourteen weeks, leaving two nights before the final evacuation. He was bitterly disappointed not to remain to the end but, as he wrote to his brother, he had been entrusted with the responsibility of taking the guns of his battery off that night.
He served in Egypt, before leaving for France in March 1916.
Moody served for a time on the line in French Flanders, directing some of the firing of the artillery in his unit. He was then sent to Pozieres. Moody’s brigade had been rested for a week or so and returned to the battle on 16 August 1916.
The War Diary of the Unit records that on 21 August 1916 at 9.15 am “hostile aeroplanes dropped seven bombs in the Brigade Wagon Lines situated at Becourt Wood.” Nine men were killed and 38 wounded, including Moody. He was taken to the 44th Casualty Clearing Station, Puchevillers suffering bomb wounds to his head, neck and chest. He died there on 27 August 1916 at the age of 23.
An articulate and gifted man, (with an eye for a pretty girl!) he kept a diary during 1916 and it, along with letters written from Gallipoli, are kept in the Australian War Memorial and were featured in the 2005 documentary film “Gallipoli.”
In a letter to his fiancée in late 1915, Moody wrote:
“Do you know I don’t know what it will be like when I get back. I’ve almost forgotten I’m a solicitor and an LLB. I don’t know what on earth I will do.” Sadly, he never had the chance to find out.
SAPPER WALTER PURVES
Sapper Walter Purves, 3094, 5th Field Company Australian Engineers enlisted in July 1915 at the age of 40. On the night of the 24th July at Pozieres their orders were to dig in a strong point 200 yards from the O.G line 1 so a surprise attack could be launched at 2am on the 25th.
The Sappers suffered a barrage of heavy shelling and machine gun fire throughout the night with many casualties and several deaths. Walter was wounded in action with a gun shot wound to his right arm. Walter returned to his depleted unit 8 weeks later and his last posting was at Waterlot Farm in Longueval before being hospitalised with servre bronchitis and a dilated heart, he returned to Australia in May 1917.
LIEUTENANT GEORGE ROBERT STEWART WALTERS MM
Lieutenant George Robert Stewart Walters MM – 1430 – A Company 11th Battalion 3rd Brigade AIF.
George RS Walters was born in Victoria and moved to the Goldfields in Western Australia when he was a child. When the Great War broke out he was working as a Clerk for the Eastern Goldfields Newspaper The Kalgoorlie Miner. He enlisted on the 14th November 1914 aged 23 years, was promoted to Corporal and assigned to the 11th Battalion AIF. After some training at Blackboy Hill Camp, George embarked from Fremantle on HMAT A50 Itonus. He was taken on strength from reinforcements at Gallipoli on 9th May 1915. After sustaining a gunshot wound he was sent to Lemnos Hospital before returning to duty on Gallipolli. Like many of the men he suffered Dysentery due to the conditions that were endured by the soldiers. On 15th August 1915 he was promoted to Sergeant.
After the successful evacuation of the Peninsula, George
Walters was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and sailed with his unit to France. He saw action in Northern France near Fleurbaix/Fromelles where he earned a recommendation for the Military Medal: Taken from Army Records : “for conspicuous gallantry. During an intense and devastating bombardment of the section of the front line held by his platoon, he handled his men with marked ability and immediately the bombardment lifted off the parapet moved them rapidly to the rear of the section of the line which had been completely demolished, obtained touch with a Platoon moving in from the opposite direction and then rushed forward over the debris and helped to hold the line under heavy machine gun and rifle fire until the parapet had been reconstructed. The effect of his action was that a raiding party was that a raiding party was prevented from destroying important underground works in the line”.
George Walters was consequently promoted to Lieutenant. The Ist Division was then relieved by the ill fated 5th Division AIF with George and his 11th Battalion moved to the Somme to prepare for the ‘big push’ on The Somme and Pozieres Ridge. After securing the set objectives in the village of Pozieres the 11th dug in waiting for their next objective.
Below is the account concerning Lieutenant Walters written in the History of the 11th Battalion ‘Legs Eleven’ by Captain Walter C Belford MA. “ in the afternoon orders came up from Brigade that the artillery dug-outs were to be occupied that night. Plans were made to rush these trenches under cover of darkness with the assistance of a light artillery barrage. As these trenches were practically at right angles to the Australian position, a flanking movement was first necessary before the troops got into position for the attack. Just before the attack Lieutenant George Walters was noticed to be rather quiet and on being rallied about it he said: “I’m going to get mine tonight. I know I won’t come out of this stunt” Those around him only laughed at him, but he just shook his head and gave a wintry-sort of smile. At the appointed time after darkness had fallen the attacking parties lined up and waited for the barrage. This seemed surprisingly light and in fact only a few flashes of shells at some distance beyond the objective were noticed. There was not much shelling by either side at this time. The troops advanced on time but there was no opposition as the Germans had abandoned their position. Artillery dugout Trench was taken over. The men were instructed to connect up the new position by digging back to the trench behind the hedge or what was left of it. Whilst standing supervising operations an officer in ‘C’ Company saw a shell burst some distance away and almost immediately he received a hard clout on the shin from a spent piece. At the same time he noticed a man fall over not far away. Limping across in the fitful light he turned the body over and found that it was Lieutenant George Walters and that he was quite dead. His premonition had been realised”.
Lieutenant GRS Walters is buried in Courcelette British Cemetery from which one can look across the fields to the village of Pozieres. George left behind his Mother Mary Alice and Stepfather John Stewart and his sister Lucy. His fiancé waited for three years after the war finally ended in the hope that he would return to her.
2nd Lieutenant James (Jimmy) Balfour Harcus Taylor – 606 – 52nd
Driver William (Bill) Alexander George Taylor – 4916 – 2nd Field Artillery Brigade
Jimmy was killed in the last Australian fight at Mouquet Farm. He had just turned 23 years of age. Older brother Bill was 25 at enlistment and returned to Australia safely in May 1919.
William Alexander George Taylor and his brother James Balfour Harcus Taylor, both born at Wilcannia NSW.
“Jimmy” Taylor was one of the first Australians to enlist in Adelaide during September 1914. He was put in the 12th Battalion and was wounded in the leg and arm during the Landing at Gallipoli. After a 3 month recovery in Cairo he was sent back to Gallipoli during July 1915. Jimmy was promoted to Corporal during this time. After the evacuation he was transferred to the 52nd Battalion and promoted to Sergeant. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant about a week before the Australians made their last charge at Mouquet Farm. Jimmy was reported missing later killed in action on the 3 September 1916. He was later buried in the Serre Road Cemetery No. 1 (Plot VII, Row E, Grave No. 20), Beaumont-Hamel, France.
An eye witness reported that “he was going up and down the trenches after they got into the German Lines, cheering them up, and that he was killed there.”
Another said he saw Taylor killed in the attack on Mouquet Farm and “he was a jolly fine fellow, one of the best and he had only just got his commission.”
His mother stated on the Roll of Honour form that he was “A teatotaler [sic] & non-smoker [he] took great interest in the welfare of his church & its members, was a fine athlete, was a member of the Wilcannia Amateur Boating Club, also West Broken Hill Rifle Club.”
Bill Taylor enlisted about 6 months after his brother but spent time with him in Egypt before they went to France. Bill served with the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade.
Their mother’s address after the war was “Mouquet”, King William St. North Sydney.
PRIVATE DONALD (DABBO) KERR MM
Private Donald “Dabbo” Kerr MM of 10th Battalion.
He was a lawyer by profession (Doctor of Laws) and by all accounts quite brilliant.
He enlisted 3 August 1915 aged 22 and joined 50th Battalion in Egypt in 1916. Suffering influenza on arrival in Europe he saw service in France with 10th Battalion. At Windmill Hill /Mouquet Farm he worked as a stretcher bearer and suffered a gunshot wound to his neck, back and jaw on the 15th August 1916. He was severely wounded and hospitalised. Returning to Australia on the 2nd February 1917 he was discharged in June 1917 as medically unfit. He was promoted to Lieutenant after his returned and kept on reserve in the Australian Army Legal Corps.
Military Medal, Recommendation date: “19 August 1916 (Awarded 28 August 1916)
“Conspicuous courage, endurance and self-sacrifice near Mouquet Farm between 12th and 15th August, 1916, in attending to and bringing in wounded men. He continued cheerfully and unceasingly to dress and carry wounded until severely wounded himself on the 15th August, 1916.”
It was suggested that he took an armful of bombs and ran along a German trench, dropping them at intervals as he ran.
PRIVATE RICHMOND EDWARD DUNN MM
Richmond Edward Dunn was 24 when he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 3 August 1915. He embarked with the 2nd reinforcements to the 30th Battalion aboard HMAT Berrima on 17 December 1915.
Later Private Dunn served with both the 45th Battalion and the 13th Battalion, including playing a trombone with the 13th Battalion Band.
Richmond received a Military Medal for his work as a runner during operations north-west of Pozières in August 1916. During the period 29/30th August he worked for 48 hours without rest and was continually exposed to the greatest danger from shells and snipers. His courage and devotion to duty are very highly commended.
He eventually returned to Australia in May 1919, and passed away in Sydney in 1949.
LIEUTENANT THOMAS RIDLEY
DCM, MC, MEDAL OF ST GEORGE
Lieutenant Thomas Ridley DCM, MC, Medal of St George 4th Class (Russia).
Lieutenant won his Distinguished Conduct Medal for “conspicuous gallantry during operations” in Pozieres, France, on 10th August 1916.
The Military Cross was awarded for “a display of fine leadership and bravery” in an attack near Morlancourt, France, on 14th May 1918.
Lieutenant Ridley was also awarded the Russian Medal of St. George (4th Class) for his actions at Pozieres, France, on 22nd August 1916.
Lieutenant Ridley died of wounds on 10th September 1918 aged 34 and is buried in the St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France.