Men enlisting in WWI were issued with a regimental number by the AIF. Exceptions were officers and nurses, who were not issued a regimental number.
Numbers, while sequential, were rarely unique. The number “1‟ was allocated to the first man in every infantry battalion and light horse regiment. Therefore, a minimum of 20 men could share the regimental number “1‟ – one for each of the 16 infantry battalions and four light horse regiments.
When a soldier was transferred to another unit which already had that regimental number his number was appended with a letter. The numbers of re-enlisting soldiers often included the letter R.
With the formation of the General Service Reinforcements (GSR) in 1917, the numbering system changed; general reinforcement soldiers were allocated a unique number between 50,000 and 80,000.
Memorial to Bertie Stibbard, Orange Cemetery. Image courtesy Elizabeth Griffin.
Bert Stibbard was a labourer from Cadia who enlisted in Orange in February 1916. He arrived in England in August the same year and proceeded to France as a private in the 34th Battalion. In February 1917 he was appointed Lance Corporal.
According to an eyewitness report Stibbard was killed by a shell explosion whilst sleeping in a bay in the trenches at Ploegsteert, Belgium on the morning of 7 June 1917. He was 22.
Bertie Stibbard is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Cpl Bert Stibbard”; it was donated by his mother, Frances. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
James Robert ‘Tad’ Digges was a farmer on the family’s property at Coonamble when the war broke out. He enlisted in September 1915 and was appointed as a gunner with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade. He was later appointed as a driver. He was hospitalised several times during the course of the war, suffering from trench foot, appendicitis and influenza. He settled in Mendooran after the war, where he was a newsagent and prominent public figure. Digges was an avid golfer, winning a trophy for his performance in the 1949 season.
Digges frequented Orange to socialise and to visit his friends and was well-known in the town.
William Roy Lowdon memorial plaque, St John’s Church, Orange. Image courtesy Julie Sykes.
William Roy Lowdon was born in Orange, and lived in Bathurst Road. He and his father were the proprietors of Lowdon & Son Bakery in East Orange. Roy was Secretary of the Thistle Club, and sang at their gatherings. The Leader claimed “Roy was one of the most popular of the young men of Orange”.
Roy enlisted in March 1916, and served in 1st Division Australian Army Service Corps. He was delivering supplies at Dickebusch (Dickie Bush) in Belgium on 31 August 1917 when a shell fell on him. According to a fellow soldier fragments of bomb entered his armpit and he exclaimed “I’m hit Tick”, and died a few minutes later. He was 26.
Roy’s name appears on St John’s Presbyterian Church Orange Honour Roll. His memory is also honoured by a plaque adjacent to the sanctuary. William Roy Lowdon is also commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte WR Lowdon”; it was donated by DH Lowdon. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
William Lowdon’s headstone, Reninghelst New Military Cemetery, Belgium. Image courtesy Sharon Hesse.
‘Jack’ Moylan had been a policeman in Orange for several years before the First World War. Born in Crookwell, Constable Moylan was stationed at Rylstone when the war broke out. According to the Leader, Moylan asked his wife Nellie “’I stand between love and duty, which must I obey?”, to which she replied “Duty! Do your duty, then come back to me”.
36 year old Moylan had been a Trooper with the NSW Lancers during the Boer War. He enlisted in Sydney in September 1914, joining the 1st Light Horse Regiment for training at Rosebury Park. He embarked HMAT A16 Star of Victoria at Sydney on 20 October 1914, disembarking in Egypt on 8 December 1914. Private Moylan was admitted to No 1 General Hospital at Harefield in England in August 1915 suffering from dysentery. He was hospitalised for two months, rejoining his unit in October.
In January 1916 Moylan was promoted to the rank of Captain, and was awarded the Military Cross on 4 June the same year.
On 23 November 1918 Captain Moylan was admitted to hospital, dangerously ill, suffering from pneumonia and nephritis. He died on 28 September and is buried in Gaza Military Cemetery in Palestine. His widow died in November 1922 at Bathurst.
Jack Moylan is commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Capt BJ Moylan”; it was donated by Flynn and Leggo. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
No 1 Australian General Hospital, Harefield, England, where Moylan was hospitalized in August 1915. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.
Hilton Williamson was born in Orange in 1893. He was working as a carpenter and living in Bowen Terrace when WWI was declared. 22 year old Hilton enlisted in January 1916, embarking from Sydney in April the same year.
Hilton served as a private in the 45th Battalion for 3 ½ years, returning to Australia in July 1919.
On 16 April 1927 Hilton married Vivia Barbara Williamson at Nyrang Creek, Canowindra. The couple had one daughter. Hilton died at Manly Vale in June 1964.
Hilton’s name appears on the Orange East Public School Honour Roll and the St John’s Presbyterian Church Orange Honour Roll.
Charles Ewart Hawke 1916. Image courtesy Patricia Hobbs.
Charles Hawke was the son of Thomas Hawke, a name long-associated with the Orange fruit growing industry. A keen cricketer and footballer, 23 year old Charles was working as an orchardist on his father’s property on Canobolas Road when the war broke out. He enlisted in September 1915 and embarked for the continent in December that year. Charles served as a private in France and Belgium, returning to Australia in June 1919.
In September 1919 Charles and Valerie Lawson became were engaged in Orange. They married at the Methodist church in Leichhardt on 25 October that year. The couple had three children – Bruce, Marie and Neville, and spent the rest of their lives at Martinvale, 24 Canobolas Road. Charles died in September 1954, and Valerie in January 1965.
Charles Hawke’s name appears on the Ancient Order of Foresters Orange Roll of Honor and the Methodist Church Orange Honour Roll.
William Stuart McKay was born in Candelo in 1890. He was living in Ashfield and working as a motor driver when he enlisted in August 1915. William embarked the HMAT Itonus in Brisbane on 30 December 1915. He served as a motor driver with the 3rd Mechanical Transport Company in England and France, returning to Australia in June 1919.
William was the nephew of Ald. Henry Kinghorne McKay, Orange orchardist and farmer, and Mayor of Orange in 1911. William and his brother George Robert McKay often travelled to Orange to visit their uncle, and they did so in July 1919, following their return from the war.