Curtis Robert Payne

Curtis Robert Payne was born in Orange in 1891, the second son of William, a popular local hairdresser, and Mary Ann nee Jones. William and Mary married in Orange in September 1886; their first son, William Henry, was born the following year.

In 1911 Mary Ann applied for a dissolution of her marriage with William on the grounds of desertion. This was granted, and Mary and Curtis moved to Sydney.

Curtis and William enlisted together in Sydney on 19 February 1917. Both were assigned to the 1st Cavalry Divisional Signal Squadron; Robert as a sapper and William as a captain. The brothers embarked HMAT A15 Port Sydney for overseas service on 9 May 1917.

Two weeks later, on 23 May, the Port Sydney arrived in Fremantle, whereupon Curtis disembarked to take a tour of the city. He failed to re-embark on time, and the vessel left without him. He was forced to wait for five weeks until the next transport vessel arrived.

Sapper Payne re-embarked from Fremantle on 30 June 1917. In August he joined the 1st Cavalry Divisional Signal Squadron in Mesopotamia, but was hospitalised shortly after arrival with fever. Sapper Payne was discharged from hospital on 10 September 1917 and rejoined his unit on 7 October.

Two months later, in December 1917, Curtis’ brother, William Henry Payne, died of smallpox whilst serving in Mesopotamia.

In early January 1918 Curtis embarked HT Ekma in Basra, for return to Australia. In June he underwent a medical examination at the 4th Australian General Hospital in Randwick. The subsequent report noted that Curtis was suffering from debility, weight loss, palpitations and tremors. The report also noted that he had been hospitalised on two occasions with malaria and neurasthenia. On 14 August 1918 Curtis was discharged from the AIF due to medical unfitness.

Curtis Robert Payne returned to his mother’s house in Coogee. He passed away at a private hospital in Randwick on 23 September 1924, aged 33. He is buried at the Catholic Cemetery in Long Bay Road, Coogee.

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William Henry Payne

Captain William Henry Payne and despatch riders with the 1st Cavalry Divisional Signal Squadron, Mesopotamia, 1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

William Henry Payne was born in Orange in 1887. His father, William snr, was a popular local hairdresser and his mother was Mary Ann nee Jones. William and Mary had married in Orange in September 1886 and William Henry was their first-born son. A second son, Curtis Robert, followed in 1891.

William attended Orange Public School and later joined the operating staff at the Orange Railway Station. He trained with the Australasian branch of the Marconi Company and was also a Deputy Manager with Amalgamated Wireless (Australia) Ltd.

As a young man William took himself off to New Zealand, where he served two and a half years with the 3rd Auckland Infantry Regiment (C Company). In July 1914 he married Ethel Mary Fromm of Gisborne. The couple relocated to Sydney, where Ethel gave birth to two children.

When WWI broke out William served two years and seven months as a Lieutenant with the 17th Signal Troop Army Engineers at Moore Park, where he developed the AIF Wireless School, effectively organising the entire scheme for military wireless training in the Commonwealth.

William and his brother Curtis enlisted together in Sydney on 19 February 1917. Both were assigned to the 1st Cavalry Divisional Signal Squadron; William as a captain and Robert as a sapper. The brothers embarked HMAT A15 Port Sydney for overseas service on 9 May 1917.

Captain Payne proceeded to Mesopotamia; his squadron formed part of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force. William was hospitalised shortly after his arrival in Mesopotamia. He returned to duty in August 1917, but was readmitted to hospital in late November with small pox. William’s condition deteriorated and he died on 10 December 1917, aged 30. He was buried in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery in Iraq.

William Henry Payne is commemorated on panel number 26 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

William’s brother Curtis Robert Payne returned to Australia in May 1918.

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George Denis Chapman

George Denis (Denny) Chapman, Image courtesy Kerrie Nicholls.

George Denis Chapman was born in Spring Hill on 26 August 1896. His father was George Barnett Chapman; his mother Mary Jane nee Capps. A brother, Harry, had been born in 1895, but died when George was one year old. Another brother, Benjamin, was born in 1898, and a sister, Mary (Winnie) in 1900. George senior was a successful sheep grazier at Spring Hill and young George, aka Denny, followed in his father’s footsteps.

On 8 February 1915 Denny, his brother Benjamin and cousin Alfred, enlisted together in Liverpool. When completing their attestation papers all three claimed to be 18 years old. Denny was actually 19, Alfred 17, and Ben just 16.

The three boys were assigned to 7th Light Horse Regiment, 6th Reinforcements. Alf and Ben embarked for overseas service on 15 June; Denny followed on 28 June.

Denny served initially at Gallipoli, and then in Egypt. In February 1916 he was hospitalised with epidemic parotitis (mumps). In August 1916 he was appointed Temporary Lance Colonel, followed by Lance Colonel in December.

During his war service Denny composed several lengthy letters, describing in detail the battles he had participated, including the Battle of Rafa and the Battle of Beersheba.

In another he described how his unit maintained their fitness by playing competition football in the desert.

Lance Colonel Chapman was hospitalised for a second time in June 1917, again due to mumps. He spent two weeks in hospital before rejoining his brigade.

In August 1918 he attended a School of Instruction in Alexandria. On 23 October 1918 he was mentioned in a despatch from Field Marshal Viscount Edmund Allenby for “gallant and distinguished services in the field.”

Image courtesy National Archives of Australia.

In December 1918 Denny was promoted to Sergeant. He returned to Australia in April 1919 and resumed farming and grazing at Spring Hill.

Denny’s brother Benjamin returned to Australia in August 1919; his cousin Alfred was killed in action in Palestine in November 1917.

In September 1920 Denny married Sarah Elizabeth (Queenie) Worboys at her parent’s house, Canarvon, in Summer Street. Their only child, George Barrie, was born in April 1924. [On his 18th birthday Barrie joined the RAAF and served overseas as a pilot warrant officer during WWII. He met Jean Taylor in England and the couple were married there in April 1945. Tragically, Barrie died in Orange in March 1956, a victim of polio. He was just 31 years of age, and left behind Jean and a young daughter, Wendy.]

During the 1930s and 1940s Denny exhibited his Southdown and English Leicester sheep, winning several awards. He was an officer in the Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) during WWII and served on Canobolas Shire Council for eleven years. He was also a keen bowler who played at Orange and Millthorpe.

Denny and Queenie later retired to Dover Heights, where Denny died on 22 September 1963, aged 67 years. The Central Western Daily of 3 October 1963 reported that Denny’s granddaughter Wendy travelled from England to attend his funeral.

George Denis Chapman is commemorated on the Spring Hill Public School Honour Roll, the Spring Hill Church Roll of Honor, the Spring Hill Temperance Hall Honor Roll.

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Benjamin Barnett Chapman

Cousins Alf and Ben Chapman. Image courtesy Kerrie Nicholls.

Benjamin Barnett Chapman was just 16 years old when he volunteered to serve in the First World War. Ben, his brother, George Denis Chapman, and cousin Alfred Chapman enlisted together in Liverpool on 8 February 1915.

Ben was born in Spring Hill on 21 May 1898. His father was George Barnett Chapman; his mother Mary Jane nee Capps. Ben was educated at Spring Hill Public School and later worked as a labourer.

Following enlistment the intrepid trio were assigned to 7th Light Horse Regiment, 6th Reinforcements. Ben and Alf embarked together for overseas service on 15 June 1915 and were sent to Gallipoli.

On 15 November Ben was admitted to the 3rd Australian Hospital in Lemnos, suffering from dysentery. In July 1916 he was transferred to the 2nd Light Horse Brigade Machine Gun Squadron at Bir et Maler in Egypt. In October he was again hospitalised, this time with malaria. Ben returned to duty on 8 November 1916.

Ben served for over four and a half years; he returned to Australia in August 1919. Benjamin’s brother George returned to Australia in March 1919; his cousin Alf was killed in action in Palestine in November 1917.

Two years after his return from the war Benjamin was admitted to Dudley Private Hospital with adenoid and ear trouble. His condition appeared to improve during the four weeks he spent in hospital so he was discharged, whereupon his condition suddenly deteriorated. Benjamin died on 8 October 1921, the cause of death being acute septic meningitis.

The Leader of 12 October 1921 described Benjamin’s funeral in detail, claiming it to be “one of the largest ever seen in Spring Hill”. A large body of returned men preceded the hearse and formed a guard at the entrance to the cemetery. Ben’s coffin was covered with the Union Jack, and borne to the graveside by Stanley Evan Bryant, Jack Hilton West, Joseph Victor Bennett and Raymond Westley Moad. The newspaper concluded:

Ben will be severely missed by many whom he benefited in his generous way; he was most popular with all classes, and his cheery smile and pleasant manner will not soon be forgotten.

Benjamin Barnett Chapman is commemorated on the Spring Hill Public School Honour Roll, the Spring Hill Church Roll of Honor and the Spring Hill Temperance Hall Honor Roll. His headstone in Spring Hill Cemetery also commemorates his cousin, Alfred Chapman, and bears the inscription “Mates in Peace and War”.

Benjamin Chapman’s headstone at Spring Hill Cemetery commemorating Alfred Chapman: Mates in Peace and War. Image courtesy Alex Rezko.

Letter from Ben to his sister Winnie, April 1917:
The Front Line in Sinai – British Tanks Arrive

Benjamin Chapman’s obituary, Leader, 12 October 1921, p. 1

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Alfred Chapman

Cousins Alf and Ben Chapman. Image courtesy Kerrie Nicholls.

Alfred Chapman was born Orange in April 1897, the second son of Charles Chapman and his wife Selina Jane (nee Reece). A brother Frank had been born in 1895, a sister Elizabeth (Bessie) followed in 1900.

Charles was a member of the Spring Hill pioneer Chapman family, a successful farmer and grazier who designed the local Methodist (now Uniting) Church. Alfred and his siblings attended the Spring Hill Public School and later Alfred farmed the family property of Inglewood.

On 8 February 1915 Alf and his cousins, brothers Benjamin Barnett Chapman and George Denis Chapman, enlisted together in Liverpool. When completing their attestation papers all three claimed to be 18 years old. Alfred was, in fact, just 17 years of age, and Ben only 16.

The cousins were assigned to 7th Light Horse Regiment, 6th Reinforcements. On 15 June Alf and Ben embarked HMAT A66 Uganda in Sydney. They served on the Gallipoli peninsula from October until the evacuation in December 1915.

Alfred was transferred to Maadi in Egypt, where he was appointed a driver. In February 1916 he was marched out to Serapeum, and in July 1916 transferred to the 2nd Light Horse Brigade Machine Gun Squadron at Bir et Maler.

In July 1917 Driver Chapman was hospitalised due to septic sores on his leg, apparently the result of a horse bite. He rejoined the Machine Gun Squadron two months later, in September 1917.

In November 1917 Alfred’s squadron fought in the Battle of Beersheba and the 3rd Battle of Gaza in Palestine. It was here that Alfred Chapman was killed in action, one of the four men killed that day. According to Ben Chapman they were advancing amid direct enemy fire with less than half a kilometre left to go when Alf, who was riding behind him, went down. George Chapman said that after Alf went down he half rose and waved his hand: game till the last”.

Alfred Chapman is buried in the Beersheba War Cemetery in Israel. In 1921 his parents Charles and Selina took a nine-month long journey during which they attempted to visit their son’s grave. They were unable to due to “the disturbed state of the country”.

Alfred Chapman is commemorated on the Spring Hill Public School Honour Roll, the Spring Hill Church Roll of Honor, the Spring Hill Temperance Hall Honor Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 180 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Alfred is also commemorated on his cousin Benjamin’s headstone in Spring Hill Cemetery, which bears the inscription “Mates in Peace and War”.

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 A Chapman”; it was donated by W Marriott. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Alfred’s cousins, George and Benjamin both returned to Australia after WWI, George in March 1919 and Ben in August 1919.

Benjamin Chapman’s headstone at Spring Hill Cemetery commemorating Alfred Chapman: Mates in Peace and War. Image courtesy Alex Rezko.

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Sidney Alfred Maddison

On 31 October 1917 Sidney Alfred Maddison was killed in the Battle of Beersheba in Palestine. Sidney was one of 31 Australians who died that day, and the only person from the Orange district to die in that conflict.

Sidney was born in Orange in 1882 to John and Elizabeth Maddison. John and Elizabeth were early settlers in Orange; during the 1860s John worked as a carrier for Dalton Brothers. After 25 years’ employment with the company John retired to Manildra.

Sidney was educated at Manildra Public School. Following John’s death in January 1904 the family moved to Elderslie, near Camden, where Sidney found work as a station manager.

In July 1915 Sidney and his brother John, a veteran of the Boer War, enlisted in Liverpool. Both were assigned to the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 12th Reinforcement; the brothers embarked together and served together in Egypt and Palestine.

The 1st Light Horse Regiment was involved in several conflicts during 1917: the Battle of Romani, the Second Battle of Gaza and the Battle of Beersheba. On 31 October 1917 Sidney was driving a supply wagon during the Battle of Beersheba when a bomb landed nearby, killing Sidney and several horses.

Sidney Alfred Maddison is commemorated on Manildra Soldiers Memorial Hall Honour Roll, St Luke’s Church Manildra Honour Roll, Manildra Rifle Club Honour Roll and on panel number 2 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

There is also a monument in Meranburn Cemetery at Manildra that is inscribed:

In loving memory of
Sydney Alfred Maddison
Killed in action in Palestine
31 October 1917
Aged 35

A young life nobly ended
Too far away for sight or speech
But not too far for thoughts to match
Peace Perfect Peace

Sidney’s brother John Ernest Maddison was declared medically unfit and discharged from the AIF in April 1918.

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Lancelot Douglas Nicol

Lancelot Douglas Nicol, June 1916. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Lancelot Douglas Nicol was born in Temora in 1892, a first son to John Coventry Nicol and his wife Florence Emma (nee Stark). Lance grew up in Millthorpe, where his father ran a butchery. He was educated at Spring Hill Public School and Bathurst Superior Public School and later trained as bookkeeper.

Lance also helped out in his father’s butchery, and in 1912 opened his own business at Forest Reefs. In April 1912 Lance was unfortunate enough to trip over in Pym Street in Millthorpe, where he lived. He badly dislocated his knee and required surgery to repair the injury.

In September 1915 Lance and his best friend Thomas Vaughan enlisted together and went into training with the 6th Light Horse Regiment, 14th Reinforcement. In December 1915 the Leader reported that both Lance and Thomas had been promoted to corporal. Later that month Lance again injured his knee, this time while attempting to break up a disturbance in the camp. The injury delayed his embarkation for overseas service.

Lance embarked HMAT Wandilla A62 in February 1916. In March he joined the 25th Field Artillery Brigade at Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt. He undertook further training in England during June, before being sent to the Western Front.

Just six weeks into his service in France Corporal Nicol was hospitalised with a hernia and transferred to England for surgery. His recovery took almost a year; he did not rejoin his unit in France until August 1917.

On 29 September 1917 Lance was promoted to sergeant. On 24 October Sergeant Nicol’s battery was under heavy enemy attack at Westhoek Ridge in Belgium. Lance and several others sought shelter in a nearby dugout, but were soon killed by a direct hit from a German artillery shell. Lance was 25 years old; he had served in the Australian Imperial Force for just over two years.

The Leader of 19 November 1917 reported:

Deepest gloom was spread over the town [of Millthorpe] on Friday evening when the sad news became known that Cpl Lance Nicol had been killed in action

In November 1917 Thomas Vaughan wrote the following letter of condolence to Lance’s parents:

Dear Mr and Mrs Nicol

You will no doubt have been notified of Lance’s death ere this letter reaches you. It is useless for me to try and express in writing my feelings for you, and for myself — you for the loss of a son and myself or the loss of a pal, having known him so long — 14 years — and being pals for that time without once having a disagreement. It is hard to realise we are parted. We were like brothers.

His death was felt very keenly among the men of his battery, who are never tired of eulogising the excellent qualities and principle of their Sergeant. He was without doubt a universal favorite of the battery — both officers and men — and I can assure you if sympathy will tend to cheer you in your bereavement, you have it most sincerely from them. The battery Lance belonged to has for some time past been having a very severe time, and has lost quite a number of excellent fellows, with whom I was personally acquainted.

One becomes very callous seeing men in the prime of life falling before your eyes every day, but the death of Lance seems to have made a gap in my life which it is impossible to repair. We were brothers, not in blood, but in friendship.

The only consolation I can offer you is that he died fighting for his country — very small consolation in your bereavement — but kindly accept from me the sympathy I feel at your loss of a son, a soldier and a man.

Your sympathetic friend, T Vaughan.

On Sunday 9 June 1918 a large congregation gathered at the Methodist Church in Millthorpe to view Mrs Florence Nicol unveil a new honour roll that she had donated in memory of her late son. Sadly, the original honour roll was completely filled by the names of the town’s men and boys who had volunteered their services.

In July 1918 Florence wrote to Base Records Office to enquire if any of her son’s personal effects had been retrieved. The office replied:

No personal effects … have been returned to the office to date…Anything coming to hand will be promptly transmitted to you… It is pointed out that owing to the lack of shipping accommodation considerable delay is being caused in the transmission of personal effects of deceased members of the Australian Imperial Force. However, as soon as parcels reach here they are expeditiously dealt with.

The office was true to their word; in September 1918 they forwarded Lance’s possessions: one identity disc, a wallet and purse, a religious book, a note book and case, a whistle and lanyard, a small key, some photographs and letters, eight coins and one charm. Florence received the parcel on 3 October 1918.

Lancelot Douglas Nicol is commemorated on the following honour rolls: Spring Hill Public School, Methodist Church Orange, Methodist Church Millthorpe, Manchester Unity Oddfellows Millthorpe. He is also commemorated on panel number 18 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

On 4 January 2014 Lancelot Nicol was commemorated in the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

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Frederick Augustus Taylor

Frederick Augustus Taylor was born in Cudal in 1889. His parents William Taylor and Mary Jane Anderson were married in Orange in 1879; their first son, Henry Arthur (Harry) was born in 1881, and their second, Sydney Thomas, in 1883. A daughter, Jessie May followed in 1896. William was a popular and well-respected publican in Cudal; the long-time proprietor of the Tattersall’s Hotel.

In 1913 Frederick purchased Mehruda, a 4,000 acre property between Molong and Wellington and where he went on to graze sheep and cattle and to raise crops.

When Fred was 25 he travelled to Goulburn and enlisted in WWI. He was assigned to the Medium Trench Mortar Battery Reinforcement 2 as a gunner. He embarked HMAT A60 Aeneas in Sydney on 30 September 1916, arriving in Plymouth on 19 November 1916. Fred underwent further training at the Australian Army Training Depot in Parkhouse and later at Larkhill on the Salisbury Plain.

In April 1917 Gunner Taylor proceeded to France, where he was taken on strength as a driver with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. In mid-October the brigade saw action in the Westouvre area of Belgium. The brigade’s unit diary for 19 October 1917 states:

Owing to bad state of roads and heavy shelling the Batteries experienced considerable difficulty in moving into position.

Three days later, on 21 October 1917, Frederick was killed in action. There is no entry for that day in the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade’s diary, however the very entry on the list of casualties for the week ending 28 October is:

Driver FA Taylor, killed in action, 21 October 1917

When he enlisted Frederick nominated his mother Mary as his next of kin, and in January 1918 she received a small parcel containing his personal effects: his identity disc, two wallets, a French book, letters, photographs, his unit colours and two blank drafts. In accordance with army protocol Frederick’s war medals were forwarded to his father.

Frederick Augustus Taylor is commemorated on the Cudal District Honour Roll, the Cudal and District War Memorial Gates, 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 13 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

[Frederick’s brother Harry was a partner in the successful auctioneering firm of Bedford, Taylor and Weston Ltd. A noted philanthropist, he awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth during her 1954 tour of Australia.]

Cudal and District War Memorial Gates. Image courtesy Anthony Stavely-Alexander.

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John Thomas Fearish

John Thomas Fearish. Image courtesy australianroyalty.net.au

John Thomas Fearish had a relatively short military career; he enlisted in November 1916 and died less than a year later from wounds received on the Western Front.

John was born in Orange in 1882, the fifth of eight children born to English immigrant William Fearish and Bathurst born Bridget Mary Fogarty. The family relocated to Surry Hills in Sydney, where John attended Marist Brothers School.

In October 1903 John’s father William was working as a bricklayer’s labourer when he was killed by a falling brick. John’s mother died seven years later from a cerebral haemorrhage.
When 34 year old John enlisted in November 1916 he nominated his sister Catherine as his next of kin. Private Fearish was assigned to the 1st Pioneer Battalion, 9th Reinforcements. He embarked from Sydney on 24 January 1917 and arrived in Devonport in 27 March 1917.

Less than a month later John was admitted to Fovant Military Hospital with bronchial pneumonia. He was discharged to the Pioneer Training Battalion in late May and proceeded to France on 25 September where he was taken on strength with the 45th Battalion.

On 20 October 1917 John was hit by a shell, sustaining multiple fractures to his arms and legs plus wounds to the face and groin. He was transported to the nearby dressing station where he died a few hours later.

In May 1921 the Base Records Office wrote to John’s sister Catherine to say:

Upon enlistment the late soldier recorded you as next of kin, but it has been ascertained that he has a brother living, Mr W Fearish of Weston…and I shall be obliged to if you will advise me whether there are any reasons why the War medals should not go to him.

Catherine replied:

Upon enlistment my brother recorded me next of kin. My Brother lived with me since My Mother’s Death. When my Brother got killed I lost the only one I loved and who loved me in the Family. John and I were true Friends. I pray you grant me this Medal in honour of My Brother so I may keep it in love and memory until I die and when I die I will give it to William Fearish of Weston.

In July 1921 the Office wrote to John’s older brother William to ask if he had any objection to Catherine receiving John’s war medals:

[Catherine] was nominated as next of kin and seems to have distinct moral claims to the mementos.

William failed to reply, but it was not until December 1922 that Catherine received John’s war medals and memorial plaque.

John Thomas Fearish is commemorated on panel 27 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium and on panel number 139 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

John’s cousin Sidney John Fogarty also served in WWI; he was killed in action at Warlencourt in France on 14 November 1916.

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Joseph Albert Walsh

Cornelius Michael Walsh and Susan Emily O’Meara were married in Wagga Wagga in August 1880. A son, James, was born the following year, followed by a daughter, Mary in 1883. A second son, Joseph Albert Walsh was born in Orange is 1894, followed by three more daughters. Cornelius was well-known in Orange, being a veterinary surgeon and a breeder of trotting horses.

Joseph was educated by the Patrician Brothers in Orange, under whom he passed the Public Service Examination. He proceeded to join the Orange Land Board Office as a deposition clerk. Joseph also served four years with the Orange Troop Militia Light Horse, gaining a Certificate for Commission from Duntroon Military College.

In November 1915 the Land Board Office granted Joseph military leave to serve in the First World War. By the time Joseph enlisted he was the only remaining son in his family; James had died in 1898, as had his youngest sister, Gertrude in 1901.

Joseph was assigned initially to the 1st Australian Light Horse. In September 1916 he was transferred to the 29th Battalion, 11th Reinforcements. He embarked A19 Afric in Sydney on 3 in November 1916, arriving in Plymouth on 9 January 1917. Private Walsh undertook further training at Hurdcott camp and proceeded to France in March. On 7 April 1917 he was Promoted to Lance Corporal, and, a month later, to Corporal.

During the last two weeks of July 1917 Corporal Walsh attended Musketry School in the field; he was promoted to Sergeant on 6 August.

On 27 September 1917 the 29th Battalion was engaged in the Battle of Polygon Wood. It was here that the 23 year old Sergeant Walsh was killed in action. According to a fellow soldier he received a gunshot wound to the leg followed by a fatal shot to the head. Joseph was buried in the Hooge Crater Cemetery at Ypres.

In a letter to his parents dated 9 September 1917 Joseph confided:

Nothing can give us greater ease and trust than frequent Holy Communion. Whenever I get an opportunity I go, and take the boys of my platoon. The line has no terrors for us, fortified as we are by God’s grace in Holy Communion.

On 29 September 1917 Cornelius Walsh wrote the following letter to the Army Base Records Office:

Dear Sir
I am in receipt of a communication from the Defence Dept informing me of the death in action of my only Son, No 4387, Sert JA Walsh, B Company, 29th Battalion, AIF Between 26 and 27 Sept.
This information is too meagre. Can I not ascertain where my Boy was killed or be given some particulars as to the manner of his death…
…Can you send me the address of the Catholic Chaplain of the 29th Battalion? I am most anxious to know if my beloved son received burial.
Thanking you in anticipation
Yours faithfully
CM Walsh

The Officer in Charge replied:

The only available information regarding him to date is that contained in a brief cable message “Killed in action on 26 or 27 September 1917.”

On 6 November 1917 Cornelius wrote a second letter, stating:

I am anxious to receive his personal belongings and his uniform if possible. Can you procure there for me if possible or advise me of what steps to take to secure them. I would also derive some consolation from hearing of the manner of my dear boy’s death.

Cornelius received the following reply:

I have to state that in due course any personal effects that may be recovered relating to your son…will be forwarded to this Office for transmission to you, or in accordance with any testamentary instructions that may come to hand. His uniform and military equipment will not be returned.

Undeterred, Cornelius wrote a third letter dated 6 May 1918, advising:

I have not yet received any intimation of the personal belongings of my late beloved son…I am most anxious to receive them

It was not until October 1918 that Cornelius received his son’s personal effects: two wallets, a razor, a silver wrist watch, photos, cards, letters, certificates. Joseph’s identity disc followed in June 1920, his war medals in April 1921, and his memorial plaque in September 1922.

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 “Sgt JA Walsh”; it was donated by CR Campbell. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Joseph Albert Walsh 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 116 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. He is also remembered on a commemorative plaque on his mother’s grave in Orange Cemetery, Catholic Section TG – 93/94.

In completing the details for the Roll of Honour Circular Joseph’s father observed:

He gave every promise of a brilliant career and was a general favourite

Joseph Albert Walsh commemorative plaque, Orange Cemetery. Image courtesy Orange Cemetery.

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