Sidney Harold Tom Lister

Sidney Harold Tom Lister. Image courtesy thetreeofus.net

Sidney Harold Tom Lister was born in Orange on 11 October 1895. He was the ninth of eleven children born to Thomas Sydney Lister and his wife Emily Australia (nee Tom).

Sidney was the grandson of Bathurst pioneer John Hardman Lister, who was the publican of The Rocks Inn from 1846 until his accidental death in 1850. Sid’s uncle was John Lister who first discovered gold in the Orange district.

When Sidney was a young boy his family moved to Day Street in Marrickville, and he attended West Marrickville Public School.

When 21 year old Sidney enlisted in the First World War in July 1917 he was working for Sydney Railways as a booking clerk. Private Lister was assigned to the 17th Battalion, 21st Reinforcement and embarked from Sydney for overseas service on 31 October 1917.

Sidney disembarked in Devonport on 26 December 1917 and was marched in to the 5th Training Battalion at Fovant. On 1 April he proceeded to France and on 9 April was marched out to his unit at Beaumarais.

Private Lister survived just five weeks on the Western Front; he was killed in action on 14 May 1918, aged 22 years. He is buried at the Dive Copse British Cemetery at Sailly-le-Sec in France.

Sidney Harold Lister is commemorated on Marrickville War Memorial and on panel number 83 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Members of the 21st Reinforcements of the 17th Battalion. Sid Lister is in the back row on the far right. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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Victor Turnbull

Victor Turnbull. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Born in Carcoar in 1898, Victor Turnbull was the first of three boys of Joseph Pearson and Edith Turnbull (nee Baldwin).

When Victor was a boy the family moved to Wellington, where Joseph worked as an engineer for the Co-operative Flour Mill.

On 28 February 1917 Victor travelled to Orange and enlisted at the Drill Hall. He gave his occupation as “farmer” on his attestation papers but, according to Edith, Victor was working as a grocer for Wellington storekeeper A Hossack.

In early March 1917 the Wellington Baptist community gathered at the church to farewell Victor and his mate Thomas Hilton Hubbard prior to embarkation. The pair of friends were gifted an illuminated wristlet watch each.

The following week the staff of Hossack’s store farewelled Victor and presented him with a fountain pen.

Victor and Thomas embarked HMAT A15 Port Sydney on 9 May 1917. They arrived in Suez on 20 June. On 26 July Private Turnbull was marched in to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Moascar. In August he was transferred to the 7th Light Horse Regiment at Tel-el-Marakeb.

In May 1918, the 7th Light Horse Regiment was operating in the Es Salt area of Palestine when they became the object of an air raid. A bomb landed on Private Turnbull’s unit, killing seven men, including Victor. Thomas described the event in a letter home:

Just retired from a flutter with Jacko. All hands in bivvy, and I think most of them asleep, when I heard a peculiar sound (well known to us), and lifting up the flap of my tent saw a bomb descending — saw it drop into the midst of B Squadron, just where I knew Vic Turnbull ‘s tent was pitched. I rushed over and found poor Vic and six others killed. I can tell you it gave me a nasty turn to see my old mate among the number. Vic was a real white fellow, a good soldier, a good Christian, and a true friend. He was killed instantly and I think while asleep. We buried him next day with military honors. I am truly sorry for his poor mother and father. The loss of such a boy is a loss indeed. I will write them and also send Victor’s Bible (his best friend), which I know his parents will value above all their boy’s possessions, though it is battered.

Nineteen year old Victor was buried the following day in the Jerusalem War Cemetery by Chaplain Milton Reeves Maley.

On 26 May 1917 a large congregation gathered at the Wellington Baptist Church to attend a memorial service for the late Trooper Victor Turnbull and Corporal Edward Arthur (Ted) Hubbard, cousin of Francis John Hubbard. The Wellington Times of 27 May 1917 reported:

the church was suitably draped in purple and white, and the flags of the Allied nations were also in conspicuous places … The hymns for the service and the reading of the texts were selected by the parents of the fallen lads, and Mrs Bamford played appropriate music … The service throughout was of a very solemn character.

The Salvation Army later presented an illustrated testimonial expressing their sympathy to Victor’s parents.

Victor Turnbull is commemorated on Wellington Cenotaph in Cameron Park, the Wellington Baptist Church honour roll, the Bodangora WW1 Roll of Honour and on panel number 6 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Thomas Hilton Hubbard survived the war; he returned to Australia in April 1919.

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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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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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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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William Alexander Woods

Mary Ann Woods was no stranger to grief. She lost three children in their infancy, was widowed in 1910, and, in April 1918, lost two sons on the Western Front. Her oldest son, William Alexander, and her youngest, Sidney Charles, died within nine days of each other. Mary’s sister died the following week. In a cruel twist of fate both William and Sidney’s personal effects were lost at sea when the SS Barunga – was torpedoed and sank off the coast of Cornwall in July 1918.

William Alexander Woods was born in Forest Reefs in 1875, Mary’s third child and first son, named after his father, William snr.

In February 1916 William, at 41 years of age, enlisted at Broadmeadows and was assigned to the 36th Battalion, C Company, as a private. He embarked HMAT A72 Beltana in Sydney on 13 May 1916, arriving at Plymouth on 9 July.

In September 1916 William proceeded to France, and on 6 October was assigned to the 54th Battalion. On 25 June 1917 he was detached for duty to the 14th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery for six weeks.

William spent two weeks leave in the United Kingdom in October 1917, rejoining his battalion on 7 November.

In early April 1918 the 54th Battalion was stationed near Villers-Bretonneux. On Saturday 6 April the battalion received orders to proceed to a reserve area in preparation to provide support for the front line. The following day their encampment was subject to intermittent enemy fire. William was injured, receiving multiple gunshot wounds to the legs. He was transferred to the 5th Casualty Clearing Station, where he later died from his wounds.

The Matron on duty at the 5th Casualty Clearing Station noted:

891 Pte WA Woods 54th Battn AIF was admitted here 8-4-18 and died the same day. He had seven multiple wounds. He was unconscious so did not suffer. He had every care and attention

William was buried at Picquigny British Cemetery. In November 1918 WM Kennedy, a volunteer with the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau, visited William’s final resting place:

I visited the Military Cemetery today. It is situated on the brow of a hill overlooking Picquigny and only a few hundred yards from the village. A magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding country is obtained from the site. Looking eastward over the Somme, one can see several small towers each with its tall church spire from which the chime of bells at morn and eve resounds… Each grave is marked with a cross, and every one bore a wreath of fresh cut flowers, regularly placed there by the residents of the village as a grateful tribute to their fallen deliverers.

In July 1918 the SS Barunga left Plymouth, transporting 800 sick and wounded Australian soldiers bound for home. The vessel was also transporting William and Sidney’s personal effects for delivery to their next of kin – their mother, Mary Ann. On 15 July the Barunga was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine 150 miles south west of the Scilly Isles. Nearby destroyers rushed to the rescue and managed to save all those aboard. The Barunga sank and William’s and Sidney’s personal effects were lost.

William Alexander Woods 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 number 160 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 “Signaller WA Wood”, presumably William. It was donated by JG Black. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

SS Barunga after a torpedo attack, 15 July 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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Arthur Bergin

In May 1927 William Davey of Amaroo Public School wrote the following letter to the Officer in Charge at Victoria Barracks:

Dear Sir

I am writing to you on behalf of an old man, Patrick Bergin, whose only son was killed in the war.

Mr Bergin is 88 years old, is very feeble and is living quite alone – his only other child, a daughter, having to leave home to earn her living in Sydney.

The old man has only his pension to live on, and, as aforesaid, is in very feeble health and failing visibly. His boy was all he had, and he was killed. The old man grieves very much, and more so because he has no memento of his son save a photo of his grave in a German cemetery.

Should he not be entitled at least to his boy’s medals? Alas, should not a photograph of his last resting place … be available?

You, sir, would be doing a kindly action, but one only just, if you would investigate this case, and if possible have the boy’s medals, or any other memento, sent to the old man. It would cheer his last days and alleviate his sorrow,

Yours faithfully William E Davey (ex AIF)

The Officer in Charge was unable to fulfil William’s request; Arthur Bergin’s war medals and photographs of his grave had been issued to Mary Bergin, Arthur’s sister and nominated next of kin, in 1922. Patrick survived a further five years, he died in Young in February 1932.

Arthur Bergin was born in Molong in 1887 to Patrick Bergin, an Amaroo farmer, and his wife Catherine nee Reswick. When Arthur was six years old, and Mary nine, Catherine passed away.

Little is known about Arthur’s childhood or teenage years. He enlisted for WWI service in Brisbane in January 1916. He gave his occupation as labourer, and was 29 years of age.

Private Bergin embarked from Sydney on 24 January 1917. He disembarked in Devonport on 12 April and was marched in to the 13th Training Battalion at Codford. In May he was hospitalised for almost a week with influenza and, on 25 September, embarked from Southampton for France.

On 5 October Private Bergin was taken on strength with the 52nd Battalion. Later that month he was again hospitalised, this time with scabies, which reoccurred in March 1918.

On 5 April Arthur’s unit was engaged at Dernancourt, attempting to slow the German advance during the Spring Offensive. It appears that Arthur was captured by the enemy, receiving a gunshot wound to the head during the process. He was taken to a German Casualty Clearing Station – Reserve Fieldlazarett at Templeux la Fosse – where he later died from his wounds.

Private Bergin was buried at Templeux la Fosse German Military Cemetery in France, and was later reinterred at Tincourt New British Cemetery.

Arthur Bergin is commemorated on the 1914 – 1919 Roll of Honor at Molong and District Soldiers’ Memorial and on panel number 154 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Arthur Bergin’s death certificate translated from German. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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George Edward John Seers

George Seers, 1916. Image courtesy Discovering Anzacs https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/309846

As the people of Orange took to the streets on 11 November 1918 to rejoice in the news that Germany had surrendered and the Great War was over, the Reverend Canon Taylor of Holy Trinity Church made his way to McLachlan Street to deliver the heart-rending news to Thomas and Alice Seers that their son George had been killed in action six months earlier.

George Edward John Seers was one of fifteen men captured at Dernancourt on the Western Front in April 1918 during the German Spring Offensive. It was assumed that George was being held as a prisoner of war in Germany, but following an exhaustive search, the AIF declared, on 6 November 1918, that George had, in fact, been killed in action on 5 April 1918.

Born in Orange on 20 April 1891, George was the second of eight children of Thomas and Alice Seers. Orange historian William (Bill) Folster called Thomas “a pioneer roadmaker of the early days [of Orange]” who maintained the Great Western Road between Lucknow and Orange. He later worked as a labourer and foreman of works for East Orange Council.

Young George was educated at Orange Superior Public School. As a youth he volunteered with the 3rd Infantry Regiment. He later joined the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows.

In 1909 George commenced work as a draper at Dalton Brothers Stores. George was popular and well respected by colleagues and customers alike. In October 1915 he renounced his position at Dalton Brothers and moved to Wagga, where he managed the drapery department of Messrs WG Huthwaite and Co.

In July 1916 George returned to Orange to spend a month with his family before enlisting in WWI. He enlisted at Dubbo on 15 August 1916 and was assigned to the 45th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement. George spent ten days at Dubbo camp before being transferred to Liverpool on 25 August.

Private Seers embarked for overseas service on 25 November 1916. He was marched in to the 12th Training Battalion No 4 Camp at Codford, England on 30 January 1917. In March he proceeded to the Western Front in France, and, on 11 August, was appointed Lance Corporal.

On 5 April 1918 George’s unit was ordered forward to assist the 47th Battalion at Dernancourt. George and several others in his company were in position in the support line trench when they were surrounded by the enemy and ordered to surrender. Apparently George was one of the last to do so and was observed being marched away, unwounded, with his hands above his head. Sometime later he was seen transporting wounded soldiers to the German line.

News reached Orange in early May that George was missing in action. It was assumed that he had been taken to Germany as a prisoner of war. The Leader of 14 June 1918 reported:

Mr. T. Seers, of McLachlan street, has received letters from the front, and letters have also been received by friends of his which lead to the belief that his son, Pte. George Seers, is a prisoner of war in Germany. One feature which points to this is the fact that half the battalion of which he was a member were made prisoners, and added to this the fact that his name has not been mentioned in any of the casualty lists lends color to the assumption.

Sadly, five months later, on 13 November, the Leader conveyed the following news:

The painfully sad news arrived on Monday just in the midst of the peace celebrations that private George Seers, son of our esteemed residents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Seers, of East Orange, had been killed in action, Canon Taylor conveying the information. The deceased soldier had been reported missing for six months, and although the worst was feared, the family clung to the hope that their gallant soldier was safe as a prisoner. Fate had decreed otherwise. Deceased was a fine young fellow, and his death is deeply deplored. He was about 28 years of age and a draper by trade. To Mr. and Mrs. Seers and family will go out the deepest sympathy in their hour of trial.

George Edward John Seers has no known grave. He is commemorated on the honour rolls at Orange Public School, Orange East Public School, Holy Trinity Church, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 140 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

He is also remembered in Newman Park in Orange, where his name appears on a plaque commemorating former Orange East Public School students who were killed in action.

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 GEJ Seers”; it was donated by SV Austin. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

George’s cousin, Clarence Edgar Seers also served in WWI; he died of wounds in France in October 1918.

Group portrait of the NCOs of the 45th Battalion, Meteren, France, 6 March 1918. George is in the front row, third from the right. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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Frederick Singleton Martin

In April 1918 James Edward Bishop Johns, a driver with the 3rd Divisional Train in France, sent a letter home describing the death in action of his friend Frederick Singleton Martin, a chaff cutter from Orange:

Poor old Fred was killed on the night of March 30th. Fred was in the band, and, when there was any fighting on, acted as stretcher bearer, which is a very dangerous task, and I am told he did his work wonderfully well. A little time ago the band was reorganised, and some of the members had to drop out on account of the strength being reduced. Fred volunteered to join the Lewis gunners, and was accepted. On the regrettable day above mentioned our brigade received orders to proceed post haste to stiffen a Tommy division at a place where Fritz was giving a lot of trouble, and threatened to break through our line any minute, capture Amiens, and thus divide the two armies which would have had fatal results. We were rushed down and that night the boys were in the line. It was between a place called Hangar and Villers-Bretonneux where poor Fred was killed, together with most of his mates who were on the gun at the time. He was shot through the head and died instantly. Five of them were buried together. It is impossible to get to the grave at present, but, as soon as there is an opportunity, I will find it and look after it. The sad news of his death came as a great shock to me, as there was hardly a week passed without I saw him. He was always the same, quiet, hearty and smiling. There was only one thing that troubled him, a thing that troubles many of us—”sick up to the neck of the job,” but he died a hero at his post.

Frederick was born in Singleton in 1893, the fourth of nine children of James Henry Martin and his wife Mary Elizabeth (nee Bishop). When Fred was a young boy the family moved to the Orange district, taking up residence at Endsleigh in Bloomfield.

Young Fred attended Orange East Public School. In March 1913 he was awarded third place in the Lower Fifth boys’ class first quarter examinations. He developed an interest in music during his school years and also served with the Senior Cadets. He later became a member of the Orange Rifle Club.

In September 1915 Frederick enlisted at Dubbo. He was assigned initially to the 18th Battalion, 13th Reinforcement as a private. He embarked for overseas service on 5 June 1916, and in September transferred to the 33rd Battalion.

In November 1916 he proceeded to France, where he served on the Western Front. In early 1918 Fred enjoyed two weeks’ furlough in England, rejoining his unit on 24 January. Following his death in action on 30 March, Frederick’s personal effects were sent to his mother. They consisted of a wallet, some photographs and cards, and three cloth badges.

Frederick Singleton Martin is commemorated on the Orange East Public School Honour Roll, the Methodist Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph, on panel number 122 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux 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 “Pte FS Martin”; it was donated by Orange District School. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

 

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Wilfred Edmund Cox

Wilfred Edmund Cox. Image courtesy Michael Sharp.

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 was buried in the nearby Nieuwkerke (Neuve Eglise) Churchyard.

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.

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