31 July 1918

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John Francis Roberts

John Francis Roberts. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

On 14 February 1916 brothers John Francis Roberts and Charles Joseph Roberts travelled from their home in Wolgan Street, Portland, to Bathurst to enlist in the First World War.

Both brothers served overseas, but only Charles returned; John was killed in action on the Western Front on 29 July 1918.

John and Charles were born in Lucknow where their father Claude Hubert – aka Charles – was manager of the Anna Mine. The boys were educated at Shadforth Public School. In 1900 their mother Caroline passed away. John was just five years old at the time, and Charles, seven. In about 1914 Charles and his boys moved to Portland, where Charles snr found work at the Boulder Mine.

At the time of his enlistment John was working as a cement worker and served with the 41st Battalion Militia. He embarked HMAT A46 Clan MacGillivray in Sydney on 3 May 1916. After a brief stopover in Alexandria he arrived in Southampton on 9 August 1916. Two days later Private Roberts was admitted to Fargo Hospital at Lark Hill suffering from pneumonia.

Upon his recovery John proceeded to France. He was taken on strength with the 53rd Battalion on 26 October 1916, six weeks after his brother Charles had arrived in France.

In early November John was taken to the 39th Casualty Clearing Station with mumps. He was transferred to the 25th Stationary Hospital at Rouen, and did not rejoin his unit until 20 December 1916.

In July 1917 Private Roberts undertook two weeks training at Sniper School. He rejoined the 53rd Battalion on 22 July and was wounded in action just five days later. John was admitted to 3rd Casualty Clearing Station with gunshot wounds to the left forearm and evacuated to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford, England. He was released from hospital and marched in to No 2 Command Depot at Weymouth on 22 October 1917.

Private Roberts rejoined his unit in France on 10 April 1918. On 29 July 1918 Private John Roberts was charging German trenches near Morlancourt when a shell fragment penetrated his chest, killing him instantly. He was 22 years old.

In April 1921 Charles Roberts snr returned to Orange to erect a commemorative plaque for John on his wife’s grave in Orange Cemetery. The plaque is located in the Catholic Section TF at Grave 300.

John Francis Roberts is also commemorated on the Shadforth Public School honour roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph, on panel number 158 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

John Francis Roberts commemorative plaque. Image courtesy Orange Cemetery.

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29 July 1918

I have seen enough to break any man’s nerves

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28 July 1918

French Renault FT-17 tanks resting after an attack near Grisolles, 28 July 1918. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (Q 58238).

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27 July 1918

French prisoners preparing crosses for the graves of German soldiers fallen in the Second Battle of Marne, July 1918. Image courtesy Imperial War Museums © IWM (Q 87902).

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26 July 1918

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25 July 1918

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24 July 1918

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Richard Harrison

Richard Harrison enlisted in Liverpool on 16 July 1915, just five days after his father, Frederick Harrison. His older brother Frederick jnr had enlisted in October 1914; another brother, Thomas, would do so in February 1916.

Private Richard Harrison attended training camp for nearly six months before being discharged on 3 January 1916, being “unlikely to become an efficient soldier”.

Undeterred, Richard re-enlisted three weeks later, on 27 January 1916. He embarked from Sydney on 31 March 1916 and was taken on strength with the 13th Battalion at Serapeum, Egypt, on 18 May.

In June 1916 Private Harrison joined the British Expeditionary Force in France. In early September Richard was hospitalised with influenza. He rejoined his unit on 18 October 1916.

In August 1918 Richard was wounded in action, sustaining gunshot wounds to his scalp and right hand. He was admitted to the 6th General Hospital at Rouen but was transferred to the Exeter War Hospital in England the following week.

Following his recovery Private Harrison was granted two weeks’ furlough. He reported for duty on 14 October 1918 but was re-admitted to hospital in mid November, just as peace was declared.

Richard returned to Australia in February 1919 and was discharged from the AIF in April due to medical unfitness.

Richard died in Sydney on 14 August 1938, aged 42 years. He is buried in the Church of England section of Northern Suburbs Cemetery.

Richard’s father and brother Frederick were both invalided home from the war; Thomas was killed in action in France in July 1918.

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23 July 1918

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