Wilfred Edmund Cox was born in Orange on 11 May 1881, the ninth of thirteen children of James Cox and Eliza Hasemer. James Cox had emigrated to Australia in 1849, aged just 13, and learnt the trade of brickmaking. He settled in Orange in 1863, where he established a brickworks. James created the bricks used to construct the Holy Trinity Church in 1878. He was church warden for many years and also served as an alderman on Orange Municipal Council.
Wilfred was educated at Orange Public School and later entered the family business as a brick labourer.
On 30 January 1904 Wilfred married Alice Maud Clark of Wattle Flat at Enmore; their son Wilfred James was born in June that year. The couple settled in Parramatta.
Wilfred enlisted for war service on 12 October 1915, stating on his attestation papers that he had served for six years in the 3d Infantry. A private in the 13th Battalion, 20th Reinforcement C Company, Wilfred did not embark for overseas service until September 1916.
Private Cox disembarked in Plymouth on 26 October 1916 and proceeded to the 4th Training Battalion at Codford. In late December he was assigned to the Western Front. He served for just a month before being admitted to the 4th Australian Field Ambulance with trench foot. He rejoined his unit on 13 February 1917, but was hospitalised again on 4 April with influenza.
Later that month Wilfred was transferred to the Richmond Military Hospital in England with trench fever. He convalesced at the 1st Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield before reporting to Weymouth Depot on 28 July 1917.
Wilfred returned to France in early 1918, rejoining the 13th Battalion at Havre on 7 January. At the beginning of March 1918 the 13th Battalion was engaged at the front line near Ypres. On 3 March they moved to billets at Neuve Eglise where they spent the next three weeks recuperating and undertaking musketry and specialist training.
An entry in the unit diary for 22 March states “billets at Neuve Eglise being shelled”. On that morning the battalion was engaged in range practice, and in the afternoon, recreational training. According to an eyewitness, Private John Gaffney, Wilfred was one of fourteen men engaged in a tug-o-war when they were struck by an enemy shell. Five of them were killed, Wilfred included.
Wilfred’s obituary in the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate on 13 April 1918 described him as “a magnificent specimen of the Australian native, standing 6ft. 1in. in his stockings”.
Wilfred Edmund Cox in commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 68 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 WE Cox”; it was donated by JH Hawke. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
Francis Harrie Crouch was born in Bathurst in 1881, the third of eight children of Henry Augustus Crouch and his wife Isabella, nee Tennant.
The Crouch family was well known and highly esteemed throughout the Orange district. In 1867 Francis’ father, Henry, aged 17, joined the Lands Department. In 1882 he became District Surveyor at Orange and, in 1902, was appointed chairman of the Orange Land Board, a position he held until his retirement in 1912.
The Crouch family lived at Melyra on the laneway between Cargo Road and Towac Park, but moved to Byng Street following the 1897 drowning deaths of Francis’ sisters Ina and Marjorie, along with their nurse. The girls had been crayfishing in a dam on the Duntryleague estate when the tragedy occurred. Orange journalist, Joe Glasson, recalled that the drowning occurred on Christmas Eve and noted:
It was a pathetic sight to see the three coffins in the funeral procession going down Summer Street on Christmas Day *
Francis was educated at Wolaroi College. After completing his school education Francis studied dentistry. He was already practising when the Dentists Act was introduced in 1901, and by 1911 had opened a practice in Tamworth.
Francis was a popular local identity who was known for his quirky sense of humour. A member of the Tamworth Musical Society, he performed in a number of the society’s productions and established a cadet’s brass band. He was also a member of the local Amateur Jockey Club.
On 8 July 1914 Francis married Frances Irene Wilson at Wellington in New Zealand. Four days after their wedding the newlyweds embarked the mail steamer Rotorua in Wellington for England.
The couple settled in Surrey, where they had two daughters. The first, Ina Irene, was born in August 1915; the second, Suzanne Isobel Marjorie, in May 1917. The girls were named after Francis’ younger sisters who had drowned in 1897.
The battalion had been formed in October 1914 as a ‘third line’ home service depot responsible for training soldiers for service abroad. In early 1917 the 3/5 was posted to the Western Front, arriving in Le Havre on 1 March. It served on the Western Front for the next eleven months in the area around Givenchy.
On the night of 9 May 1917 a party of the battalion conducted a raid on German trenches near Givenchy. The war diary entry for that day records:
At 11.23pm a party consisting of Lieut Crouch and 2 LTS Reid and Pickett with 7 NCOs and 30 men of D Company successfully raided the German front line important identification being secured…enemy retaliation very slight.
The raid resulted in Lieutenant Crouch and three other men being wounded.
In January 1918 Lieutenant Francis Crouch was awarded the Military Cross. His name appears in the 1918 New Year Honours List published in The London Gazette and The Times.
In February 1918 the 3rd/5th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was disbanded and amalgamated with other units; Captain Crouch was transferred to the 2nd/7th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers.
On 21 March 1918 the 2/7 was engaged in the Battle of St Quentin near Templeux. Crouch was seen to fall amid heavy shelling, and the company forced to retire due to the severity of the attack. When the stretcher-bearers returned they could find no trace of Francis; he was assumed to have been killed in action.
Francis Harrie Crouch is commemorated on 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 32 to 34 of the Pozieres Memorial at Somme in France.
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 Frank Crouch MC”; it was donated by Wolaroi School. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
Francis’ name appears on the Australian War Memorial Commemorative Roll. This roll records the names of men who died in service but who were not serving in the Australian Armed Forces, and therefore not eligible for inclusion on the Roll of Honour.
Francis is also commemorated on his parents’ grave at South Head Cemetery in Vaucluse: Section G, Row 5, plot 67.
To fathom all the mystery
Of withered hopes, of death, of life,
But there, with larger, clearer sight,
We shall see this – His way was right.
Francis’ sister Elsie Isabel Crouch also served in WWI, as did his brother Edwin, who was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.
* Edwards, Elisabeth (ed) 2011, A Gentleman of the Inky Way: Orange through Joe Glasson’s Looking Glass, Elisabeth Edwards, Orange, NSW, p. 191.
Born in Wellington, NSW, in 1890, George Lyons was the second eldest son of William and Jessie Lyons.
George was working as a labourer and was a keen football and cricket player prior to his enlistment on 29 June 1915.
Private Lyons embarked for overseas service from Sydney on 30 September 1915. A member of the 3rd Battalion, 9th Reinforcement, he served initially in Egypt, before joining the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in France in June 1916.
During his service in Egypt George was hospitalised twice: in November 1915 with mumps, and in January 1916 with tonsillitis.
In February 1916 Private Lyons was transferred to the 55th Battalion and, on 27 July 1916, was promoted to Lance Corporal.
Lance Corporal Lyons was granted seventeen days leave of absence in December 1916; in January 1917 he attended a Lewis Gun school of instruction.
On 7 March 1917 the 55th Battalion was engaged east of Bapaume. The commanding officer noted in the unit diary:
Artillery activity fairly brisk on both sides. Needle Trench and Dump receiving a good deal of attention.
And on 8 March:
Weather conditions have been showering and dull for a few days past resulting in the mud being well in evidence again. Conditions as regards activity remain the same – Needle Dump receiving a good deal of attention.
On 9 March he reported that the “artillery again active on both sides”. It was on this day that George was killed in action near Needle Dump.
According to Red Cross informant Charlie Lees, George was in a group of three or four soldiers who were wounded or killed when a shell exploded close by, and George died instantly. He added that George “was about the favourite of his detachment and we were all very sorry. He was always called “Pud” – I hardly know why.”
George’s death notice in the Leader stated:
A good life, nobly ended.
George Lyons is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, the WWI Honour Roll at Euchareena Soldiers Memorial Hall, the Wellington Cenotaph in Cameron Park, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 161 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 “Lan Cpl G Lyons”; it was donated by Canobolas Shire Councillor, Thomas Henry Oates. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
George’s brother, William James Cecil Lyons also served in WWI. William survived the war; he returned to Australia in May 1919.
William Wallace Murray saw just three months of active service before sustaining a gunshot wound that would prove to be fatal. On 17 September 1917 his battalion was engaged near Ypres in Belgium when a bullet entered his left buttock and penetrated his abdomen. Private Murray was evacuated to the nearby 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, where he later died of his wounds. He was 33 years of age.
William Wallace Murray was born in Molong in 1884. His parents were Walter Rennie and Mary Jane Murray. He was educated at Manildra school.
In March 1910 William – also known as Wal – married Ethel May Cotter in Parkes. Their son Arnold was born in Parkes in 1913.
When William enlisted on 9 May 1916 he was living in Dora Street, East Orange, and working as a labourer. He spent four months in camp; he embarked for overseas service on 9 September, arriving in Plymouth on 26 October 1916. Wal undertook further training at Fovant and Perham Downs before proceeding to France on 28 February 1917. He was stationed at the 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot in Etaples until 11 April, when he joined the 2nd Battalion.
Fovant Camp, 1918. Image in public domain.
Three days later Wal was admitted to the 14th Field Ambulance with lumbago. He was transferred to Rouen, firstly to the 3rd Stationary Hospital, followed by the 6th General Hospital on 1 May 1917. He then spent several weeks at the 2nd Convalescent Depot, rejoining his battalion on 8 June 1917.
Thirteen weeks later William sustained the fatal gunshot wound. According to a comrade who was with him at the time Wal didn’t appear to be badly injured, and even managed to walk along the Hooge road towards the dressing station. He was taken to the 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, where he died from his wounds. William was buried in the nearby Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.
On his attestation papers William indicated that he was married with two children. Indeed, one of William’s comrades who was interviewed by the Red Cross Bureau following his death said: “I heard him speak of two children”.
Following her husband’s death Ethel was granted a widow’s pension of £2 per fortnight. A pension of 15 shillings a fortnight was granted to their son Arnold, a third pension to the value of 20 shillings a fortnight was granted to an adopted child, Clarice Muriel Grace Fenning.
On the first and second anniversary of her husband’s death Ethel posted in memoriam notices in the press. Interestingly, the notices were annotated “Inserted by his sorrowing wife, and little son, Ethel and Arnold Murray.” No mention was made of Clarice.
Image courtesy Molong Express and Western District Advertiser.
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 WW Murray”; it was donated by JC Lee. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
William Wallace Murray is commemorated on the following honour rolls: Orange Public School, St Luke’s Church Manildra, Manildra Soldiers Memorial Hall and the Cudal District Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 33 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Orange historian William (Bill) Folster estimates that more than fifty men from the extended Murray family in the Central West answered the call to arms during the First World War. The Murray clan has a long tradition of military service. Sage’s namesake and great grandfather, Sage Murray, fought in the Battle of Waterloo, and his great uncles in the Sudan and Boer Wars.
The name McConnell is synonymous with the history of the gold mining district of Ophir. Members of the family worked as miners, storekeepers and publicans in the early years of the settlement.
Charles Cornelius McConnell was working as a miner at Ophir when he enlisted in August 1915. Charles’ father John had died in 1896, and his mother Sarah in 1913, so Charles nominated his sister, Agnes, as his next of kin.
Charles and his youngest brother, Donald McConnell, enlisted on 4 August 1915 and were issued the service numbers 206 and 207 respectively. They were both assigned to the 1st Australian Mining Corps as sappers and embarked HMAT A38 Ulysses in Sydney on 20 February 1916. They arrived at Melbourne on 23 February and proceeded to Broadmeadows camp for eight days. They docked at Fremantle on 7 March and were all set to sail two days later when the Ulysses ran aground on a reef. They spent three weeks at Blackboy Camp, re-embarking on 1 April.
Charles described many adventures of the voyage to England in a letter to Agnes, including how their vessel narrowly missed a mine near Malta.
A cargo boat, flying the Allies flag, and travelling the same direction as us to Malta, and the crew were waving and cheering us and going at full speed. Later on, when some distance in front of us, she crossed our course and was seen by the ship’s captain to drop a mine for us, so [we] immediately changed course, and at once sent a wireless to Malta. This boat had a cargo of onions, but, on closer investigation by the authorities, they discovered over 100 mines hidden beneath the onions.
The brothers entered Perham Downs Camp for further training before proceeding to Marseilles on 5 May 1916.
In November 1916 Charles was hospitalised after developing pterygiums; fleshy growths on the eye resulting from exposure. He was transferred to the 1st Eastern General Hospital in England where he underwent an operation to alleviate the condition.
Charles rejoined his unit in Etaples in May 1917. In December that year he was admitted to the 1st Australian Field Ambulance with bronchitis. He was transferred to 4th General Hospital in Camiers, where his condition continued to deteriorate. Charles died on 11 February 1918 and was buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery.
In July 1918 Agnes received her brother’s personal effects. These included a YMCA pocket book, a pouch, a knife, some photographs and a deck of playing cards.
In December 1922 the Base Records Office sent the following letter to Agnes:
Under the Deceased Soldiers’ Estates Act of 1918 the claims of brothers must be considered before those of sisters, when disposing of war mementos, unless there are good and sufficient reasons for varying the procedure.
Will you therefore kindly furnish me with the name and address of the eldest surviving brother of the deceased soldier, in order that I may communicate with him and ascertain his wishes in regard to the disposal of these mementos.
Charles’ eldest brother, George, was living in Orange at the time, but it is unknown whether Charles’ medals were issued to George or Agnes.
Charles Cornelius McConnell is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and panel no 27 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 “Sapper CC McConnell”; it was donated by HG Sands. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
Group portrait of officers, non-commissioned officers and sappers of No. 1 Company of the 1st Australian Mining Corps, November 1915. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial. Charles Cornelius McConnell is in the second last row, 5th from the right, just in front of the flag bearer. Donald McConnell is beside him, 4th from the right, directly beneath the flag.
John James McMurtrie. Image courtesy RSL Virtual War Memorial.
Born in Orange in 1894 John James McMurtrie was the third of eight children born to John Robert and Sarah Jane McMurtrie.
John’ grandfather – John Robert McMurtrie snr – was a Scottish stonemason who settled in Orange and, in 1870, founded McMurtrie and Co monumental masons, a business that continues today and has constructed more than 900 monuments in Orange Cemetery.
John James, also known as “Jack” attended Orange Public School and the Patrician Brothers School. Following his education Jack joined the family business, working as a plasterer.
Jack enlisted for war service on 12 February 1916 and proceeded to Bathurst training camp. On 5 April he was the guest of honour at a social evening where his fellow employees presented him with a wristlet watch as a token of their esteem. Later that month Jack was transferred to Liverpool camp.
On 22 August 1916 Jack embarked HMAT A18 Wiltshire in Sydney, arriving in Plymouth on 12 October. He undertook further training at the No 3 Command Depot and the 5th Training Battalion in Rollestone before proceeding to France in December.
Private McMurtrie joined the 17th Battalion at Etaples on 14 December 1916. On 3 February the battalion was engaged near Warlencourt when Jack was hit in the neck by a piece of shrapnel. He died shortly thereafter and was buried with military honours. He was 22 years of age.
The late Private McMurtrie was a robust young Australian, quiet and unassuming, and well liked by a host of friends, who will deplore his early death whilst fighting for his King and country on the bloodstained battle fields of Europe.
On 3 March 1917 the Empire Theatre in Orange paid tribute to Jack by displaying his photograph as the orchestra played the Dead March.
On 25 April 1917 the second ever Anzac Day service in Orange was held at the Orange Public School. Mayoress McNeilly placed a laurel wreath on the Union Jack for each fallen soldier who had attended the school, including Jack McMurtrie.
In September 1917 Jack’s father received a package containing his personal possessions, which included his identity disc, religious objects, a notebook, wallet, cards and letters. John wrote to the Base Records Office to acknowledge receipt of the parcel, adding:
There is one thing missing which I would have liked to have received and that is a presentation wristlet watch, so if you hear anything of it at any future time will you kindly let me know and I will be very grateful to you.
Unfortunately Jack’s service records do not contain any information regarding the fate of his watch.
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 JJ McMurtrie”; it was donated by John McMurtrie. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
John James (Jack) McMurtrie is commemorated on the Patrician Brothers’ Roll of Honour, St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 83 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Jack’s uncle, Olympic gold medal winning rugby union player, Charles Herbert McMurtrie, also served in WWI. He was invalided home from the front in May 1917.
Francis Bede Commins. Image courtesy Western Champion.
Francis Bede Commins was born in Springside in 1877, the tenth of thirteen children born to Thomas Commins and his wife Bridget nee Kennedy. Thomas Commins, a native of County Clare, had migrated to Australia to seek his fortune in the goldfields at Ballarat. In 1854 he was managing the Working Miners’ Claim at Sebastopol Hill and took an active part in the Eureka Stockade. By 1870 the family had relocated to Beneree at Springside, where, in 1888, Thomas died.
Frank was educated at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst. In 1895 he sat the Sydney University entrance examination, which he passed. The Freeman’s Journal of 3 August 1895 printed Frank’s results: French B, Latin C, Arithmetic B, Geometry C, Physics A, Physiology C.
On 21 November 1903 Justices Simpson and Pring admitted thirteen new solicitors to the bar, Francis Bede Commins among them. A celebration was held at Springside in late December after which Francis moved to Parkes, where he opened a legal practice in Dalton Street.
In his spare time Frank enjoyed playing cricket and football, frequently acting as a referee. He was a popular figure around the town, and known for his charitable nature. A member of the Hospital committee, Frank was also an active worker in Catholic Church matters.
On Wednesday 11 November 1908 Francis married Nora Byrnes at St Jurlath’s Church in Parkes. Nora was the eldest daughter of Railway Inspector Patrick Byrnes, and had played the organ for the St Jurlath’s for eight years. A daughter, Kathleen Mary, was born in 1909 and a son, John Bede (Jack), in 1913.
At age 39 Francis left behind his legal practice and enlisted for service. He embarked from Sydney in September 1916, arriving in England in November. He spent six weeks with the 14th Training Battalion before proceeding to France, where he was taken on strength with the 53rd Battalion.
During the first weeks of 1918 Francis attended musketry school. He was hospitalised on 18 January 1917 with dental problems, and did not rejoin his unit until 21 March.
Ten days later Francis was killed in action near Bapaume, hit by a piece of shell as he stood in a mine crater.
Francis ended his last letter to his Nora with ten kisses for her, ten for little Kathleen, and the request “pray for me“.
[Frank] proved himself a man of generous instincts, a warm and steadfast friend, and an honorable opponent to all who differed with him either in his professional capacity or in public affairs.
Francis Bede Commins is commemorated on the Parkes RSL Roll of Honour, the Law Society of New South Wales World War I Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 157 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 FB Commins”; it was donated by James Joseph Dalton. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
Two of Francis’ bothers also served in WWI: James Commins was killed in action on 3 May 1917, and Patrick Joseph Commins, who returned to Australia in January 1919.
James Commins was born in Springside in 1875, the ninth of thirteen children born to Thomas Commins and his wife Bridget nee Kennedy. Thomas Commins, a native of County Clare, had migrated to Australia to seek his fortune in the goldfields at Ballarat. In 1854 he was managing the Working Miners’ Claim at Sebastopol Hill and took an active part in the Eureka Stockade. By 1870 the family had relocated to Beneree at Springside, where, in 1888, Thomas died.
James was educated at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst. In 1890, he was awarded second class honours in elocution at the annual speech day presentations.
After completing his education James worked as a labourer at Dalton Bothers Flour Mill and was a member of the Orange Rifle Club.
On 18 September 1916 James volunteered to serve in the First World War. He spent two weeks at Dubbo training camp before proceeding to Liverpool on 2 October. A private in the 24th Battalion, 17th Reinforcement, James embarked for overseas service on 31 October 1917.
Private Commins undertook three months’ training at with the 6th Training Battalion at Larkhill, before proceeding to France on 28 March 1917.
In the early morning of 3 May 1917 the 24th Battalion was engaged in the Second Battle of Bullecourt in the Ypres sector on the Western Front. By nightfall James was reported as missing in action. There was no trace of James in German prisoner of war camps, and on 14 December a Court of Enquiry decided that he had been killed in action on 3 May 1917. James was one of 11 men from the Orange district who was killed that day during the disastrous Second Battle of Bullecourt.
In June 1925 the Base Records Office wrote to James’ mother Bridget to inquire if she would like to include a personal inscription on James’ headstone. She answered:
In reply to your notice re a headstone over the late J Commins who was killed in action in France, I am deeply grieved to have to tell you that I am not able to afford the price of a headstone over his grave as I have no income or property with which I can do if from.
When Bridget passed away on 23 July 1927 seven of her thirteen children had already died.
James Commins is commemorated on St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 101 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 J Commins”; it was donated by Mrs M Chandler. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
Two of James’ bothers also served in WWI: Francis Bede Commins was killed in action on 31 March 1917 – just one month before James; Patrick Joseph Commins returned to Australia in January 1919.
George Wren Murray. Image courtesy RSL Virtual War Memorial.
When 22 year old George Wren Murray enlisted in the First World War he followed in the family’s long tradition of military service. His great grandfather, Sage Murray, had fought in the Battle of Waterloo, and his great uncles in the Sudan and Boer Wars. Orange historian William (Bill) Folster estimates that more than fifty men from the extended Murray family in the Central West answered the call to arms during the First World War.
George and his brother Sage Clyne Sinclair Murray were among the first men from the district to volunteer their services, enlisting just three weeks into the war. George served for three and a half years until he was evacuated to Tidworth Military Hospital in England with pleurisy. His condition rapidly deteriorated and he passed away on 17 January 1918, aged 25.
George was born in Orange in 1892, the fifth of thirteen children born to William Murray and his wife Alice (nee Wren) of Cargo Road. Prior to WWI George served in the Militia and the 9th Light Horse. He joined the 1st Light Horse Regiment, C Squadron, as a private, embarking HMAT A16 Star of Victoria in Sydney on 20 October 1914.
During 1915 Private Murray served on the Gallipoli peninsula. In August that year he was admitted to the 24th Casualty Clearing Station at Mudros suffering from dysentery. George kept a diary during his time at Gallipoli, recording humorous anecdotes and complaining about rations.
In March 1916 George was taken on strength with the 1st Light Horse Reserve Regiment at Heliopolis. In April 1916 he was transferred to the 4th Divisional Artillery and, in June joined the British Expeditionary Force and proceeded to France.
In late 1916 George was struck with appendicitis and evacuated to hospital in England. He endured a lengthy convalescence; he did not rejoin his unit until late November 1917. Just two weeks later he was again hospitalised, on this occasion with pleurisy. He was evacuated to England on 14 January 1918 and admitted to Tidworth Military Hospital, where he died from a combination of pleurisy and heart failure. In his obituary the Leader claimed that “no better soldier ever left these shores”.
George Wren Murray is commemorated on Nashdale Public School Honour Roll, St John’s Presbyterian Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 16 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 GW Murray”; it was donated by RG McGregor. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
George is also remembered on a commemorative plaque on his parent’s grave at Orange Cemetery, Presbyterian Block 2, Grave 59.
Robert Henry Caldwell was living in Sydney and working as a ship’s painter when he enlisted in January 1916. His brother, William Andrew Caldwell, who lived in Millthorpe, had enlisted in December 1915 and the brothers trained together at camp in Bathurst.
Robert embarked from Sydney in September 1916, just a month before his brother. A Private in the 19th Battalion, 15th Reinforcements, Robert was appointed Corporal in June 1917.
Corporal Caldwell was hospitalised several times during 1917 suffering from gunshot and shell wounds. On 28 December he took ill after dinner and was again admitted to hospital. The following day Robert was dangerously ill with peritonitis and his brother William was recalled from France to be with him. Robert died on New Year’s Day 1918, aged 22. He was accorded a military funeral and buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Pirbright, Surrey.
Robert Henry Caldwell is commemorated on St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll and on panel number 88 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
William survived the First World War; he returned to Australia in November 1919.