20 April 1918

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19 April 1918

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18 April 1918

Members of the 1st Division in support trenches at Mologhein Farm near Strazeele Railway Station in Northern France, 18 April 1918. Mologhein Farm was the scene of sharp fighting and smart guerilla warfare by the Australians during this period. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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To The Unknown Hero by Caroline Louisa Daniel

We hold no record, boy, of your brave deed;
We know not how ’twas done, nor in what need
Your courage lept to life.
We only know you’ve won a name,
And that you bravely played the game,
And conquered in the strife.

We try to picture, boy, just how ’twas done;
We hear the shriek of shell, the boom of gun,
And sudden in our dream.
Was it at night you braved the foe,
Or while the evening’s sunset glow
Made golden hill and stream?

We do you honour, boy, howe’er it was
Our hearts are full for you, more so because
We know not who you are.
We know you are some mother’s son,
And that a splendid Cross you’ve won,
Which glistens like a star.

And though you record boy, is not on earth.
And though no book of fame sets forth your worth,
Your heart need not be sad.
A surer book is kept on High,
And your brave deed will never die.
Rejoice, then, and be glad.

You are a hero, boy, though yet unknown;
I would Australia’s arms were round you thrown
In proud and loving care.
We cannot do too much for you,
A nation’s homage is your due,
A nation’s grateful prayer.

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Sidney Charles Woods

On 15 July 1918 the SS Barunga was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine off the coast of Cornwall. Nearby destroyers rushed to the rescue and managed to save all 800 sick and wounded Australian soldiers aboard, who were on their way home from the war. The vessel was also transporting many packages containing the personal effects of soldiers who had died in service for delivery to their next of kin. Among them were the last possessions of Sidney Charles Woods and William Alexander Woods, brothers who were killed on the Western Front nine days apart. When the Barunga sank so too did William and Sidney’s personal effects, never to be recovered.

Sidney was born in Orange in 1889, the youngest son of William and Mary Ann Woods. When he enlisted for service in May 1916 he was living with his mother in McLachlan Street, East Orange, and working as a miner. He was also a member of the Ancient Order of Foresters.

Sidney embarked from Sydney in September 1916, a private in the 2nd Battalion, 20th Reinforcement. He spent several months undertaking further training at the 1st Training Battalion at Perham Downs before proceeding to France in February 1917. He served on the Western Front for a full year before proceeding to England for two weeks leave.

In February 1918 Sidney rejoined his battalion in France. Two months later, on 17 April, he was inside a barn at Sec Bois near Hazebrouck in Northern France when it was hit by a German shell, killing him. Sidney was buried the same day at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension at Bailleul.

According to Sidney’s commanding officer, Lieutenant HW Parle:

Pte Woods was considered by my fellow officers and myself, who he was under for several months, to be a splendid soldier and an example to others. Needless to say his death was regretted by all

Sidney Charles Woods is commemorated on the Ancient Order of Foresters Orange Roll of Honor, the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 35 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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 “Gunner SC Woods”; it was donated by Orange District School. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Ancient Order of Foresters’ Orange Roll of Honor. Image courtesy Orange City Library.

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17 April 1918

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Walter Garnett Bennett

Born in Orange in 1885, Walter Garnett Bennett was the second son of Millthorpe newsagent and storekeeper Walter James Bennett and his wife Ellen Selina nee Barnes.

Walter was educated at Millthorpe Public School. He later worked as a bookkeeper and volunteered at the Methodist Sunday School.

On 2 August 1916 Walter enlisted to serve in the First World War. In late October a large group of Millthorpe residents gathered at the Methodist Church to farewell Walter. An evening of speeches and musical items were enjoyed and Walter was presented with a shaving kit and a pocket bible.

He embarked HMAT SS Port Nicholson in Sydney on 8 November 1916, and disembarked in Devonport on 10 January 1917. He was marched in to the 1st Training Battalion the same day and spent the following twelve months undertaking further training in England.

In early March 1918 Private Bennett proceeded to France and was taken on strength with the 1st Battalion. Walter survived just one month on the Western Front; he was killed in action on 16 April 1918.

Walter Garnett Bennett is commemorated on the Methodist Church Orange Honour Roll, the Millthorpe Methodist Church Roll of Honour, the Manchester Unity Oddfellows Millthorpe Roll of Honour, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 28 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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 W Bennett”; presumably Walter. It was donated by Ken Beaton. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Walter’s older brother Joseph Victor Bennett also served in WWI; he returned to Australia in June 1919.

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16 April 1918

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Harold Charles Crossman

Harold Charles Crossman, 1914. Image courtesy State Library of Queensland.

In the early hours of 15 April 1918 Harold Charles Crossman became the unfortunate victim of friendly fire at Hangard Wood on the Western Front. Harold and three other soldiers of the 18th Battalion, B Company were digging in a machine gun post in no man’s land in front of the allied line in preparation for an advance.

Eyewitness Private Sydney Percival Cox disclosed:

I was on an outpost at Villers-Bretonneux at about 1am on 15 April 1918 and our machine gun accidently killed him. He was sent with a party to dig in our flank and we mistook them for the Germans. He was brought in and buried. He had been killed by a bullet in the stomach.

Harold Charles Crossman was born in Orange in 1888, the second of four children of Charles Crossman and his wife Teresa nee Gleeson. Shortly after Harold’s birth the family moved to Lithgow where Charles, a baker by trade, worked as a miner.

Harold was educated at Lithgow Public School. As a young man he joined the Eskbank Ironworks as a boilermaker. It was around this time that he also became known by the nickname “Peter”, or “Pete”.

In 1910 Harold married Florence Reilly in Bathurst. A daughter, Dulcie Agnes, was born the following year.

In August 1916 Harold renounced his position at the ironworks to enlist in WWI. In early January about twenty of Harold’s co-workers attended a farewell at the Fewins’ Refreshment Rooms in Lithgow. “Peter” was presented with an initialled gold watch and speeches and songs were enjoyed.

Private Crossman embarked from Sydney on 20 January 1916; he disembarked in Alexandria on 26 February. In March he joined the British Expeditionary Force and proceeded to Marseilles. In late July Harold was wounded in action, receiving several gunshot wounds to the right shoulder and scalp. He was transferred to Tunbridge Wells Hospital in England and did not rejoin his unit until late November 1916.

In May 1917 he was wounded a second time and was admitted to the 2nd Australian General Hospital in Boulogne. Again he was transferred to England, this time to Tankerton Hospital in Whitstable. He rejoined the 18th Battalion in France on 15 October 1917.

Following her husband’s death Florence was granted a widow’s pension of £2 per fortnight; her daughter Dulcie, £1. Florence remarried in 1920.

Harold’s father Charles died in Lithgow in September 1918, a victim of the Spanish influenza.

Harold Charles Crossman is commemorated on Lithgow’s Fallen Heroes memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park in Lithgow, on his father’s grave in Lithgow Cemetery and on panel number 85 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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15 April 1918

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