George Frederick Reed

George Frederick Reed and his family were living in Edward Street, East Orange, when the First World War began. George was employed as a locomotive engine driver with the Orange Railway Station. He was also a member of Orange Rifle Club.

Born in Brixton, England, in 1883, George emigrated to Australia as a young man. In 1902 he married Hilda Maude Beahan in Wallerawang. George and Hilda had four children: Nilda (born in 1902), Clarence (1908), George (1914), and Leslie (1916).

George enlisted in January 1917 and proceeded to army camp for training. On 19 January the Leader reported:

The cock-a-doodle-doing of the railway whistles on Wednesday night was not owing to the death of the Kaiser, but simply as a send-off to Driver George Reed, who left on the last mail to join his battalion, en route to where the lid has been lifted from Europe.

George embarked for overseas service from Melbourne in May 1917. He disembarked in Plymouth on 19 July 1917 and was marched in to the 4th Railway Section, Australian Railway Operating Division, at Bordon.

In early October 1917 George proceeded to France to serve on the Western Front. On 1 January 1918 he was promoted to Corporal.

Corporal George Reed survived the war unscathed. On 11 November 1918 – the day peace was declared – he proceeded to England on two weeks’ furlough. George rejoined his unit on France on 25 November.

On 22 February 1919 George was admitted to hospital in Dunkirk, dangerously ill with bronchial pneumonia. He survived for thirteen more days, succumbing to his illness on 7 March 1919.

George Frederick Reed is commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 26 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 “Capt CF Reed”, presumably George. It was donated by Mrs M Reed. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

George Frederick Reed died almost four months after the armistice was signed. He is believed to be the last WWI serviceman from the Orange district to die as a direct result of the First World War. A multitude of other servicemen and women, however, would bear physical and psychological scars which would plague them and their families for the rest of their days.

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Thomas Reuben Haydon

Thomas Reuben Haydon enlisted in the First World War in Orange on 19 April 1918. When completing his attestation papers Thomas claimed to 18 years old, citing his date of birth as 16 January 1900.

According to the Dubbo Dispatch and Wellington Independent of 18 March 1919 Thomas was just 16 when he volunteered to serve.

Thomas was born in Stuart Town in 1901 to Peter Haydon and Annette nee Bastardi, who had married in Wellington in 1888. Thomas’ father, Peter, a well-known identity in the district, was recognised as one of the best bush men in Australia.

Thomas was educated at Summerhill Creek Public School and later worked as a labourer. He embarked SS Field Marshal in Sydney on 19 June 1918 for overseas service. On 10 July he was admitted to the ship’s hospital, where he spent nine days with a bout of tonsillitis. Thomas disembarked in London on 26 August and was marched in to the 11th Training Battalion at Sutton Veny and allotted to the 2nd Battalion Reinforcements.

In October 1918 Thomas was transferred to Artillery Details and marched out to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery at Heytesbury. The following month Thomas proceeded to France, joining the 1st Artillery Division at Rouelles.

Following the declaration of peace on 11 November 1918 Gunner Haydon continued to serve on the Western Front. In early February 1919 he was in Belgium, when, on 6 February, he died. His military records simply state:

Died of asphyxiation in the field

No other details are known of Thomas’ death. He was the third WWI serviceman from the Orange district to die post-armistice. He was 17 years old.

Thomas Reuben Haydon is commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 21 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 TR Haydon”; it was donated by Cleve Hutchinson. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Thomas’ brother, Leslie, also served in WWI; he was a Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps.

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Alban Peter ‘King’ O’Malley

Alban Peter ‘King’ O’Malley. Image courtesy Dinah Fisher.

Alban Peter ‘King’ O’Malley, well-known and highly respected local identity in the Orange district, served his King and Country during the First World War. A newspaper article in the Leader on 17 August 1914 stated:

Mr AP O’Malley, of the clerical staff of Bedford, Taylor and Weston, received a wire on Saturday night to proceed to Sydney and report himself for duty.

On 4 September 1915 at the age of 26 years and 6 months King attested at Sydney, New South Wales, and joined the 1st Australian Imperial Force.

On 24 September King was farewelled by the OP (Orange Players) Club and was presented with an inscribed silver cigarette case.

He was attached to the Artillery which was located at Paddington. There he was offered a permanent clerical post in the barracks. King, however, preferred to be in the firing line.

King’s unit embarked from Sydney via HMAT RMS Osterley on 15 January 1916. The Leader reported that both King O’Malley and Gordon Lindsay were lucky enough to be able to travel via this palatial ship and were spared the “inconveniences of a congested trooper to carry them over to the big argument”. In Cairo King was taken on strength with the 1st Divisional Artillery Column. On 22 February 1916 he was appointed Acting Corporal. By 19 May 1916 he had been transferred to the 21st Army Brigade in France.

His military record does not record King’s overseas activities in depth, however snippets have been gleaned from articles appearing in the local press back home. Dr Arthur Edmund Colvin met up with King in September 1917 and reported that King was well and sent his regards to those left behind.

Veterinary-Sergeant Keith McClymont in a letter to his mother published in the Leader 30 January 1918 jested:

In August I was transferred again to an Artillery Battery …. I was fortunate in joining a unit in which another Orangeite was also contained. Sitting in a little home about the size of a spacious dog’s kennel was a familiar figure, stripped to the waist. He was busy – the occupation in general among soldiers; it could well be called a pastime. He was searching closely portions of his garment. I asked him if he would mind giving me one if he caught two. He looked up in surprise. It was A P (“King”) O’Malley ….. Gunner O’Malley, number something, hardened soldier, cheerful, enthusiastic – an Empire-builder!

Again, King’s war record did not report any form of injury. The Leader in July 1916, however, recorded that he was with the Forces in France and had been gassed and wounded in the leg. The injury must have been slight as it was also reported there was no cause for concern. In what appeared to be an unblemished career, Corporal O’Malley forfeited three days’ pay in August 1917 for being absent from parade in France.

His military papers show a very mobile soldier with transfers to various units at different times. However, for the majority of his time in the military King was stationed in France or Belgium. In 1918, during the 1st Division’s stand against heavy German activity at Strazeele in Belgium, a recommendation went through to award the Military Medal to Sergeant O’Malley. On 10 October 1919 the Commonwealth Gazette no 115 records that the Military Medal was awarded to Sergeant Alban Peter O’Malley No 11381 along with Gunner Conrad Alwyn Wilksch with the following commendation:

On the morning of the 29th September, 1918, the 117th Infantry Regiment (American) attacked East and South of Bellicourt near St Quentin Canal. Owing to heavy traffic and shelling the telephone wires were cut and communication with the 59th American Infantry Brigade practically ceased. Sergeant O’MALLEY and Gunner WILKSCH immediately went forward and patrolled and repaired the lines, and worked continuously on them during that day and the next night. Their work was done so well that they were at times the only avenue of communication available to the 59th American Brigade. They worked conscientiously and energetically with the sole object of opening up another avenue of communication for the Brigade, at a period when accurate information was not forthcoming. They set a fine example of devotion to duty.

Ruins of the village of Strazeele, April 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

The WE Agland RSL MBE Memorial Museum in Orange holds a copy of King’s Recommendation for the Military Medal, the Army Orders where he was awarded the Military Medal, his Certificate of Discharge and identity discs.

King O’Malley spent a short time in Britain before embarking on 22 January 1920 for return to Australia. He received his formal discharge from the AIF on 10 June 1920.

Alban Peter O’Malley was born in Narrandera in 1889, the son of Peter and Mary Ann O’Malley. He was one of six children born to the family, five daughters and one son. His father was a farmer and a hotel licensee for most of his life. Peter snr’s obituary appeared in the Narrandera Argus in 1931; it noted that Peter O’Malley jnr was nicknamed “Bossie”.

Alban received his education in Narrandera and the surrounding district and then went to Brisbane. In 1912 he came to Orange. At that time there was a famous Brisbane parliamentarian King O’Malley at the height of his career. His Orange associates were quick to dub him “King” because he had come from Brisbane.

After his return from the war King married Maud Corbett in 1921 in Sydney. They had five sons, Owen, Dennis, Tony, David and Terry.

Mr O’Malley returned to Orange in 1924 where he took up a position with Mr J Gordon Leeds, a stock and station agent. He remained there until he started his own business in Lords Place in 1927 – AP O’Malley & Co.

Mr O’Malley was active in local affairs. He was appointed organising secretary for the “Back to Orange Week” in 1929 and was a foundation member of the Canobolas Club. In 1936 he and Mr J Gallagher formed the first Orange Building Society. He was secretary of the Orange Branch of the Liberal Party and very active in local RSL activities. He was also a member of the Real Estate Institute.

His interests stretched to amateur theatre. In 1908 he was on the committee of the Eisteddfod Society, even having a part in the play Aladdin. He was a member of the OP (Orange Players) Club which performed in the old Australia Theatre in Lords Place.

Alban Peter ‘King’ O’Malley died in Orange Base Hospital on 26 October 1963 at the age of 74 years. He was buried in the old Roman Catholic Section of the Orange Cemetery. His wife Maud died in 1987 and was buried next to him.


* Sharon Jameson, November 2018

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William Henry Peppernell

William Henry Peppernell was born in Cowra in 1887. He was the eldest son of Henry Peppernell and his wife Annie (nee Stanton) who had married in Victoria in 1885 and resided with a large family at Kerr’s Creek via Orange. William, aka Billy, attested at Lawson on 7 November 1915 and was one of the participants in the 1915 Coo-ee March from Gilgandra to Sydney.

On Tuesday 9 November 1915 the Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate reported:

Sergt. Fern M.I.A. addressed a small gathering at Hermidale, and in answer to an appeal for recruits, Mr Charlie Hortle volunteered to go with Mr W Peppernell, who had enlisted the day before. Cheers were given for Mr Fern and the two local recruits.

Hermidale was not far from Canbelego where William was working as a railway gauger. He was granted leave from the NSW Railways to go to war. William formed part of the Roll of Honour reported by the Canbelego Recruiting Association and was mentioned in various country newspapers.

William’s twin brothers, Frederick and Henry, also enlisted in January of 1916. The three brothers formed part of B Company 30 Battalion and embarked together on HMAT A72 Beltana on 13 May 1916. The ship arrived in Devonport on 9 July 1916. On 22 November William embarked at Southampton for overseas service in France.

William’s brother Frederick was reported missing in August 1917 and later declared “killed in action”. A statement by No 541 Peppernell WH in the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files records:

My brother F Peppernell went out with me in the carrying party for the Messines advance. I saw him last about 30 yards in front of me. The enemy were sniping us and I told him to take cover. He got into a shell hole and I did not see him again. I enquired at the Clearing Station but could hear nothing of him. I have since heard from home in Australia and he had been killed.

On 12 October 1917 William was admitted to Cheltenham hospital in England suffering a gunshot wound to the right thigh.

He returned to France on 3 January 1918 and was appointed Lance Corporal on 12 March 1918. As with his brother Henry, he was transferred to the 36th Battalion when the 30th had been disbanded. On 3 June 1918 he was wounded, this time a gunshot wound to his right arm marked as “severe” on his records. He returned to England and was admitted to Horton County of London War Hospital at Epsom and convalesced at Sutton Veny. He took no further part in the war and returned to Australia via Orsova on 3 March 1919.

William was recommended (but did not receive) a Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry. The citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Previous to the launching of the counter-attack by his Battalion on the 4th April 1918, and when the enemy was advancing in force, L/Cpl Peppernell went forward under heavy fire and located the enemy, affording valuable information to his Company Commander which enabled him to avoid heavy casualties.

On his return to Australia, William Henry Peppernell again took up his position with New South Wales Railways. The Adelong Argus, Tumut and Gundagai Advertiser of 15 June 1925 reported:

Mr W Peppernell, who for the past couple of years had charge of the per way gang on the Gilmore to Batlow line, has been transferred to Marrar, on the Junee-Narrandera branch line, and left Tumut of Friday last.

In 1927 William married Ethel A Butler at Tumut, where they settled. William died there in 1952. Ethel outlived her husband by eleven years, dying in 1963.

William Henry Peppernell, Service No 541 is remembered on the Australian War Memorial Nominal Roll and on the Roll of Honour at Kerr’s Creek.

1915 Coo-ee March – William Henry Peppernell

* Sharon Jameson, October 2018


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John Grenfell Pascoe

On 16 January 1919 John Grenfell Pascoe, a driver with the 6th Australian Corps Troops Mechanical Transport Company, travelled from France to England on furlough. Peace had been declared less than two months earlier. Driver Pascoe had seen two and half years’ active service was awaiting transportation home to Australia.

Ten days into his furlough John was admitted to the Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford. He was experiencing severe headaches and pains in his back and legs. John’s temperature rose rapidly following his admission and he developed a cough. On 29 January it rose to 105.2ºF (40.6ºC) and he began to expectorate blood. He died at 5am on 31 January 1919; the cause of death was noted as influenza and pneumonia. John was 44 years old.

John was buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey on 4 February. The Officer in Charge of Records, AIF, London, observed:

The deceased soldier was accorded a full Military funeral, Firing Party, Bugler, and Pallbearers in attendance.

The coffin was draped with the Australian flag, and borne to the graveside, where the Last Post was sounded and the burial service conducted by Chaplain the Rev Crotty, C of E of the AIF London.

Administrative Headquarters AIF London were represented at the funeral.

John was born in Lucknow in 1874. He was one of 15 children born to Thomas Henry Pascoe and Hannah Ellis nee Bothera. Five of John’s siblings died during infancy. Thomas and Hannah had married in Cornwell in 1855 and migrated to Australia in 1856. They settled in Castlemaine, Victoria, but moved to Forbes in 1862 and Lucknow in 1867. Thomas became the manager of the Phoenix Mine at Lucknow, and, in 1887, purchased the Perseverance Hotel.

John was educated at Orange Public School where he served in the cadets. In 1900 John married Eva Welsh in Orange and their only daughter, Violet Ellice Grenfell Pascoe, was born in 1901.

By 1916 John and his family had moved to St Peters in Sydney, where he was employed as an engine driver, presumably with the railways. John enlisted on 2 May 1916 and embarked for overseas service on 22 August. He disembarked in Plymouth in October 1916 and undertook further training with the Australian Details No 3 Camp at Parkhouse and the Pioneer Training Battalion at Perham Downs before proceeding to France in late February 1917.

In June 1918 John was admitted to the 1st USA General Hospital, France, with a malignant ulcer of the gum. He received two weeks’ treatment and was transferred to the 1st Convalescent Depot, where he spent almost two months recovering. Driver Pascoe rejoined his unit in late August 1918. He continued to serve without incident until being struck with influenza in January 1919.

John Grenfell Pascoe 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 181 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 JF Pascoe”, presumably John. It was donated by Joseph Pascoe. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Sadly, John Grenfell Pascoe was not the last serviceman from the Orange district to die post-armistice from disease or injuries. Two other men followed him: Thomas Reuben Haydon on 6 February 1919, and George Frederick Reed on 7 March 1919.

John Grenfell Pascoe‘s death notice, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 1919, p6.

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Henry Peppernell

A hero’s welcome was recorded in the Orange Leader on Wednesday 10 September 1919 for Private Stanley Fitzharding Leslie Lawson and Corporal Henry (Harry) Peppernell when they returned to Kerr’s Creek at the end of the First World War. The town had already welcomed Henry’s eldest brother, William Henry, in March of the same year. It must have been a bitter sweet moment for his parents, who had lost Henry’s twin brother Frederick in June 1917.

Henry snr and Annie Peppernell had farewelled three of their boys to the Great War. William Henry, their eldest, had enlisted in November 1915 and then the twin brothers Frederick and Henry enlisted at Liverpool on 17 January 1916 at the age of 23 years and 2 months. They joined the 30th Battalion on 10 February 1916 and embarked at Sydney via HMAT A72 Beltana on 13 May 1916 bound for England. On 20 August 1916 they marched into France.

After the death of Frederick, Henry stayed with the 30th Battalion where he was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal in Belgium on 17 January 1918. When this unit was disbanded in April 1918 Henry was taken on strength to the 33rd Battalion.

On 23 August 1918 Henry sustained a gunshot wound to his head and was taken to the Casualty Clearing Station. He rejoined his until the following month.

By December 1918 illness had struck Henry, his military record is not clear as to the cause. He was transferred back to England where he spent 22 days in hospital and then on convalescent training at Sutton Veny, England, until April 1919. He returned to Australia via Konigin-Luise on 21 June 1919 and was discharged from the Army on 9 February 1920.

In 1923 Henry Peppernell married Myrlie Reid at Cowra and from electoral rolls the family moved to Belmore in Sydney. Henry’s occupation is given as a railway employee. It is not known how many children they had.

Henry Peppernell died in November 1977, his funeral notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 November 1977 states that he was cremated at Rookwood Crematorium on that day. His wife Myrlie died in 1983.

Lance Corporal Henry Peppernell No 534, 30th/36th Battalion Australian Infantry Forces is remembered on the Kerr’s Creek Honour Roll and the Australian War Memorial’s Nominal Roll.

* Sharon Jameson, November 2018

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Edward O’Rourke

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are warned that content on this page may contain images and references to deceased persons.

When the armistice of the First World War was signed on 11 November 1918 Edward O’Rourke lay in the No 2 General Hospital in Maitland, Cape Town, with suspected meningitis. He had embarked SS Zealandic in Melbourne on 5 October, but was admitted to the ship’s hospital on 21 October. The Zealandic docked in Cape Town on 6 November and Edward was transferred to hospital. Private O’Rourke’s condition improved and, on 4 December 1918, he embarked HMAT Marathon for the return trip to Australia.

Edward was born in Lake Tyers, in Gippsland, Victoria on 26 March 1892. By early 1915 “Ted” was employed as a tracker in Orange. He enlisted in Orange on 16 July 1918 and proceeded to military camp for three months’ training prior to embarkation.

Following disembarkation in Sydney in January 1919 Edward underwent a medical examination at the 4th Australian General Hospital in Randwick. The subsequent report stated that the infection had been due to Edward’s military service, and that he was now in good health. Edward was discharged from the AIF on 23 January 1919.

Edward O’Rourke was one of nine known indigenous servicemen with a connection to Orange.

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Frederick Peppernell

Private Fredrick Peppernell was reported missing in action on 7 June 1917. Some confusion reigned as to whether he was indeed deceased, or was just missing. His military record contains the following letter, written on 13 September 1917 to his mother in Kerr’s Creek, from a New Zealand soldier “somewhere in France”.

It is with regret that I have to write and tell you that your brave son was killed while doing his duty for King and Country. He was burried [sic] with one of his comrades where they fell. I am forwarding the few PCs [postcards] he had in his pocket. Hoping you receive these alright, a brave lad loved and respected by all.

From a New Zealander in arms who layed [sic] your son to rest and put a cross and his name and number.

Pte HD Edmonds, No 37173 1st Coy 1 CIB NZEF France.

At this time the Australian Army still had not confirmed Frederick’s death. It was not until March 1918 that his file was marked “Killed in Action”.

Red Cross files contain the following report from Pte Todd, dated 20 September 1917:

F Peppernell was one of three brothers who were all together. It was a rather remarkable story. He was wounded in the advance and his brother got him into a shell hole and then went on. When they returned there was no sign of him and he has never been heard of or seen since. It is a mystery because the Germans could not have got to him there, and my theory is that he staggered away to get back to the dressing station and a shell got him. All my mates think the same. This was at Messines.

Henry and Annie Peppernell of Kerr’s Creek had given three of their sons to the war effort: Frederick, Henry and William Henry. Frederick and Henry were twins, their births registered in Wellington in 1892. The family lived at Kerr’s Creek, between Orange and Wellington, where their father Henry was recorded as a miner. The brothers came of a large family of at least 15 children.

Frederick and Henry enlisted together on 17 January 1916 and have consecutive regimental numbers. They joined the 36th Battalion, B Company, and embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 13 May 1916. Frederick marched into France and on the 8 February 1917 marched out to the front in France. Frederick was killed during the Battle of Messines.

Private Frederick Peppernell No 535, 36th Battalion AIF, is remembered on the Kerr’s Creek Honour Roll, on panel number 127 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and on panel 25 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

Frederick is also remembered on a military headstone in the Orange Cemetery next to his parents, Roman Catholic Old Section B, number 786.

Both of Frederick’s brothers returned to Australia after the war.

Frederick Peppernell commemorative plaque, Orange Cemetery. Image courtesy Lynne Irvine.


Frederick Peppernell plaque detail. Image courtesy Lynne Irvine.

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Stanley Michael Jordan

At 8.30pm on 29 October 1918 Stanley Michael Jordan died at the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Abbeville in France. The cause of death was listed as bronchopneumonia, as the result of exposure to the elements. Stanley was the last person from the Orange district to die during the First World War. The armistice was signed just thirteen days later.

Stanley was born in Paddington, Sydney, in about 1894. He grew up in Orange, living with his mother in Lords Place and attending Patrician Brothers’ School. Following his education Stan (as he had become known) trained as a hairdresser. He later moved to Sydney to further his business.

In 1916 Stan returned to Orange and opened a hairdressing salon attached to the Club Hotel in Summer Street.

Image courtesy Leader.

In early October 1916 the Commonwealth Government announced that all unmarried able-bodied men between the ages of 21 and 35 were to undertake military training leading to the possibility of service within the Commonwealth. Eligible men were able to appeal to an exemption court, and Stanley did this. An exemption court opened at Orange Courthouse on 19 October 1916 and was operational until November 1916.

On 27 October 1916 the Leader reported:

Stanley Michael Jordan, hairdresser, urged that he was the sole proprietor of a business, and supported his mother and sister. His only brother had already been called up. He was totally exempted while the conditions remained unaltered.

Less than a year later Stanley enlisted in Darwin. He embarked RMS Ormonde in Sydney on 2 March 1918, a private in the 31st Battalion, 15th Reinforcement. In May 1918 Private Jordan was hospitalised with influenza. He recovered, undertook further training at the 14th Training Battalion at Codford in England, and proceeded to France in August.

On 24 October Stanley was admitted to 8th Australian Field Ambulance with a reoccurrence of influenza. Two days later he was transferred to the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Abbeville, where, on 29 October, he died. Stanley was buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension.

Stanley Michael Jordan is commemorated on the Patrician Brothers’ Orange Roll of Honour and on panel number 118 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In 2015 Stanley Street in the Darwin suburb of Muirhead was named in his honour.

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Ernest Richard Larkin Baulch

A memorial service was held in Millthorpe at the beginning of September 1918 by Captain Love of the Salvation Army. It was held to honour the life of Private Ernest Richard Larkin Baulch, killed in action in France on 23 August 1918.

Ernest enlisted in Orange on 15 February 1917 aged 18 years 5 months, his occupation was given as a farm labourer. He formed part of the 3rd Battalion 24th Reinforcement in the AIF. On 10 May 1917 Ernest embarked on the HMAT Clan Macgillivay at Melbourne bound for England. From there he was taken on strength to France in December of that year. On 10 March 1918 he was admitted to the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance with trench fever. He rejoined his battalion on 1 August 1918 and was killed in action on 23 August 1918.

Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Files contain reports of various soldiers who saw him as he fell. He was described as very thin, dark complexion and aged about 19 years. According to Lance-Corporal AA Burton (1065) of the same Company, Baulch “was a well-liked chap, and a really good boy”. He had seen him shot, he was hit in the stomach by machine gun fire about two yards away from him. Burton managed to stop and retrieve Baulch’s pay book, which he later handed in at London. He never saw him again but when he returned to the same area two days later stretcher-bearers pointed out Baulch’s grave near Robert Wood between the villages of Proyart and Chuignes. He was buried alongside another soldier and his rifle and hat were laid on the top of his grave.

Ernest Baulch’s enlistment papers records his place of birth as Corowa, New South Wales, and both his parents as deceased. His next of kin was given as a friend, Mrs Jane Warburton of Millthorpe. Included in his military file is a letter from Mrs Warburton stating the nature of her relationship with Ernest:

The deceased soldier was born out of wedlock and his mother, a working girl, could not afford to keep him. I adopted him when he was only a few weeks old. Not being married at the time myself, I called him an adopted brother. He came and lived with me when I married and remained with me until he enlisted. If you would like a copy of the letter I received from the girl giving up all claim to the child I can send it to you.

Letters to Mrs C Warburton were published in the Orange Leader on 15 January 1919. The first was from the chaplain of the 3rd Battalion AIF who spoke very highly of her “brother”:

Your brother made great sacrifice of his life during an attack by us upon enemy positions on 23/8/18. We lost him as the result of shell fire during the course of the attack. I can give you the assurance that he did not suffer in any way. Mercifully, his passing was instantaneous and without pain … Your brother has proved himself a good soldier and acceptable comrade.

Charlie Andrews also conveyed his sympathies:

Ern was a good mate of mine. He came across from Australia with me, and I always found him one of the best of mates. In the firing line he did his work fearlessly.

Ernest’s memorial plaque, memorial scroll and war medals were signed for by Mrs Jane Warburton on 16 November 1923.

Ernest Richard Larkin Baulch has no marked grave. He is commemorated on Millthorpe School Honour Roll, Millthorpe Methodist Church Honour Roll, Millthorpe Memorial Gates, on panel number 35 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

* Sharon Jameson, October 2018

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