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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Robert Clyde Jones

Robert Clyde Jones was born in Forbes in 1895. His father was Richard Edward Jones of Tamworth and his mother Alice Maud Peters of Summerhill Creek. Richard and Alice were married in Orange in 1889 and had several children. Robert was educated at Orange East Public School.

Maud Jones died in Orange in June 1913. It is unclear when Robert’s father passed away but when Robert enlisted in WWI in January 1916 he nominated his stepbrother, Percival Arthur Lewis, as his next of kin. His will dated 8 July 1917 stipulated:

In the event of my death I bequeath all my money and deferred pay to my step brother Percival Arthur Lewis

Robert embarked from Sydney on 14 April 1916, a private in the 4th Battalion, 17th Reinforcement, D company. He arrived at Suez on 17 May and was reallotted to the 14th Training Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir. On 21 June he embarked HT Invernia at Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in France.

On 17 April 1917 Robert was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal with the 56th Battalion. He attended Corps School from 29 May until 22 June, when he rejoined his battalion. Three months later the 56th Battalion was engaged in the Battle of Polygon Wood on the Western Front when Lance Corporal Jones was killed in action, one of three men from the Orange district to be killed in that battle. He has no known grave.

The news of Robert’s death did not reach Orange until November 1917; the Leader reported:

The sad news has been received in Orange of the death of Lance-Corporal Clyde Jones, who was killed in action somewhere in France on the 29th September [sic]. The deceased hero was a native of Orange, and 23 years of age… His only brother, Ted, is at present with the Light Horse in Palestine. Both boys are very well known and highly respected in Orange and district.

In May 1918 Robert’s stepbrother Percival received Robert’s personal effects: one testament, one wallet, a purse, his birth certificate, some photographs, a one mark note, and 14 coins.

Four years later, on 2 May 1922, Percival completed a statutory declaration to say that Robert had an older brother: Albert Jones of 54 Grosvenor Street in Woollahra, and in July that year Robert’s war medals were issued to Albert.

Robert Clyde Jones is commemorated on the Orange East Public School Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph, on panel 29 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium and on panel number 162 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 and on his mother Alice’s grave in Orange Cemetery, Methodist Section E, Grave 27.

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 RC Jones”; it was donated by Eyles and Eyles. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Robert Clyde Jones memorial plaque, Orange Cemetery. Image courtesy Orange Cemetery.

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Alfred Leslie Northey

Alfred Leslie Northey. Image courtesy National Archives of Australia.

Alfred Leslie Northey was born in Millthorpe in 1895 to Joseph Thomas and Elizabeth Northey. The family later moved to Sale Street in Orange where Alfred attended Orange Public School. After his education Alfred worked as a telephone attendant at the Orange Post Office.

In 1913 Alfred joined the railway department at Dubbo as a junior porter, a position he held for just over two years, until he enlisted for service in June 1915.

Upon enlistment, Alfred stated that he was a member of 42nd Infantry Militia. He was appointed to 20th Battalion 4th Reinforcements, D Company, embarking from Sydney in September 1915.

After further training in Egypt the 20th Battalion proceeded to France to serve on the Western Front. In July 1917 Alfred was appointed Lance Corporal. Two months later, on 20 September 1917, Alfred sustained a gunshot wound to the chest when leading his men into the Battle of Menin Road Ridge near Ypres. He was admitted to the 6th Australian Field Ambulance and later transferred to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station, where he died two days later from his wounds. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. Alfred was 22 when he died; he had served for two years and three months. Lance Corporal Northey was one of seven men from the Orange district to die during the Battle of Menin Road Ridge.

The Leader reported Alfred’s death on 5 October 1917, stating:

To his heart-broken relatives the sympathy of the whole district goes out, but in their deep sorrow they have the grand consolation that their boy died in the defence of his country – the noblest death of all.

Later that month Alfred’s fiancée, Miss L Williams of Greenwich, Hurlstone Park, wrote a letter to the Base Records Office requesting confirmation of his death:

I was told by his relatives that he was reported as having died of wounds…but so far his name has not appeared in any casualty list.

The following month Alfred’s parents received a letter of condolence from his platoon leader, Lieutenant Henry Lachlan Cyrus Hailey who declared:

I cannot speak too highly of him or his work, and altogether he was a fine and brave little gentleman and soldier, and as such had the respect of his comrades, and confidence of the officers

Alfred is a commemorated on the Orange Public School Honour Roll, Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll and on his sister Elsie’s headstone at Orange Cemetery. His name appears on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 92 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 AL Northey”; it was donated by Fred Baker. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Alfred Leslie Northey memorial plaque. Image courtesy Orange Cemetery.

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Joseph Christopher Cox

Joseph Christopher Cox. Image in public domain.

Joseph Christopher Cox was born in March in 1890, the sixth of 13 children born to Francis Henry Baylis Cox and Martha Griffith. Most of Joseph’s siblings were born in Orange but by the turn of the century the family had moved to Menah near Mudgee, where Francis ran a grazing property, and where he was killed in a riding accident in January 1910.

In January 1916 26-year-old Joseph travelled to Dubbo to enlist. Private Cox was assigned to the 22nd Battalion, 17 Reinforcements, and proceeded to Dubbo training camp. The following week he travelled to Liverpool, where he spent two weeks before embarking for overseas service on 30 October.

Private Cox disembarked in Plymouth in early January 1917 and was marched in to Rollestone camp for further training before proceeding to France on 15 March. In early May Joseph was wounded in action, sustaining gunshot wounds to his arm and right leg. He was transferred to the 4th Southern General Hospital in Plymouth where he spent almost two months recovering. He rejoined his unit in France in August.

On 22 September 1917 Private Cox was reported to be missing in action in Belgium. On 29 September a court of enquiry determined that Joseph had been killed in action at Beaurevoir Wood on 18 September. According to a comrade Joseph and eight fellow soldiers were killed when a shell burst in their dugout. Joseph was 28.

In February 1918 Joseph’s mother, Martha, wrote to the Base Records Office to enquire if any of her son’s personal effects had been forwarded to her from France, and, if not, could they please be sent. The officer in charge replied:

“no personal effects have been returned to this office to date, but any coming to hand will be promptly forwarded”.

In April 1919 Charlotte Gardiner of Forest Lodge also sent an enquiry to the Base Records Office regarding Joseph’s personal effects. She was informed:

“it is considered improbable that any personal property he may have had in his possession at the time of his death was ever recovered”.

Joseph Christopher Cox is commemorated on the Wesley Uniting Church in Dubbo World War I Roll of Honour, the Dubbo War Memorial, the Dubbo RSL and on panel number 96 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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Charles Herbert McMurtrie

Charles McMurtrie 1911. Image in public domain.

Charles Herbert McMurtrie was an all-round sportsman from Orange who represented Australia in both rugby union and rugby league. In 1908 he was a member of the Wallabies rugby union team that won gold at the London Olympic Games following their defeat of Great Britain.

Born in Orange in 1878, Charles was the youngest of thirteen children born to John Robert McMurtrie and Agnes Graham. John, a Scottish immigrant had started the monumental stonemason’s firm McMurtrie and Co.

Charles attended school in Forbes, and as a young man ventured to Western Australia to seek his fortune on the gold fields. After several years in the west, the genial McMurtrie returned to Orange where he was a prominent athlete, excelling in football, boxing, wrestling and fishing.

For several years Charles worked in the family stonemasonry business in Summer Street. In 1901 he married Emma Hammond in Kalgoorlie, where their first child, Doris, was born. The family returned to Orange, where, in 1903, Doris died. A son, Charles, was born the following year, but he also died in infancy.

Following his Olympic success in London in 1908, Charles was selected for the 2nd Kangaroo tour of Great Britain in 1911. He played in seven tour matches and scored three tries. The following year he was chosen in the Australian team to make the first rugby league tour of New Zealand.

In April 1913 the Leader reported that the dashing Rugby League forward was a patient at Narrabri hospital, having injured his foot while working in the local railway yards.

In June 1913 the Sydney Divorce Court granted Emma McMurtrie a dissolution of her marriage with Charles on the grounds of desertion. Charles claimed he was unable to make a home with Emma, declaring It is no good; I fairly revel in sport.

In August 1915, at the age of 37, McMurtrie enlisted in the First World War. He served in Egypt, France and England for 18 months before being invalided home in May 1917. Sergeant McMurtrie was declared to be medically unfit and was discharged from the AIF the following month.

Charles soon married Bertha Annie Johnston in Sydney. The couple had three children: Jean, Godfrey and Leo. During 1918 Charles worked as a Warrant Officer on the NSW north coast, where he was claimed to be the most successful recruiting sergeant that has yet visited the district.

By 1930 the family had relocated to Sydney and were living in Bexley. Charles worked at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory during the Second World War. Charles McMurtrie died in Carlton on 9 August 1951 after a long illness following a motor vehicle accident. He was 73. Charles penned the following ditty during the 1908 Wallaby tour of England:

England for green fields and hedges galore.
The people are homely, we don’t wish for more;
But give me Australia, a beautiful land
Where the gum trees grow skyward and the lassies are grand!

Charles’ nephew, John James McMurtrie also served in WWI. He was killed in action in France in February 1917.

Historical Wallabies Players – Charles McMurtrie


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Edwin Hercules Fardell

Edwin Hercules Fardell. Image courtesy

Edwin “Neddie” Hercules Fardell was born in 1890 at Orange NSW, the first son of Alderman Thomas Fardell Jnr and Martha Ellen Fardell nee Toms.

He enlisted in the AIF at Randwick on 19 August 1914, aged 24. Ned was 5’ 6” tall with fair complexion, brown eyes and light brown hair. His older brother Claude went missing in 1913 and his younger brother Aubrey was excused from service. His father died in January 1915 while Neddie was in Egypt, and his mother lived until 1939 when she died at home the night that World War II was declared.

Neddie served in the 2nd Battalion which landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. During the landing Neddie was wounded; hit in the neck by shrapnel. According to an eyewitness he sustained shrapnel wounds to the back of the neck, almost severing it. He survived, spending a month in hospital in Cairo before returning to Gallipoli to fight again.

Ned’s older first cousin, Sergeant Farrier George Fardell, born in Carcoar, was with the 4th Field Ambulance on Gallipoli. Another cousin, Frederick Fardell, born in Orange, was killed on 1 September 1917 outside of Peronne, France.

The 2nd Battalion was chosen to take part in the initial assault at Lone Pine. After gaining possession of the main enemy line, the Australians were subjected to a series of determined counter-attacks which would last the next three days, which, although successfully repulsed, proved very costly for the Australians. The 2nd Battalion suffered considerably; having started the action with 22 officers and 560 other ranks, they lost 21 officers and 409 other ranks killed or wounded.

Among those killed was commanding officer, Scobie, who was shot dead while attempting to repulse a counter-attack on 7 August 1915. Neddie was seriously wounded in the stomach and legs during the attack. Sergeant Cookson was present and witnessed the occurrence and helped to carry Private Fardell to the Casualty Clearance Station. Gangrene set in and he died on 9 August 1915 on the HMHS Delta and was buried at sea.

Prior to enlisting in the Army, Edwin had trained with the Orange Infantry. He played rugby league and was a member of the Orange club. Neddie worked in the family general store Fardell & McIntyre in Byng Street, East Orange. His brother-in-law Edward John “Daisy” McIntyre was one of five rugby union players from Orange who toured with the first Wallaby team in 1908.

In the Sydney Morning Herald of 30 October 1915 “Neddie” was lovingly remembered by his mother Martha, his sisters May, Grace and Ada, his brothers Claude and Aubrey, his brothers-in-law, Eddie McIntyre, James Ryan and Paddy Power. Ned was also remembered by “his loving friend Kathleen Ryan”.

The Orange Rugby League Club and the Methodist Church held memorial services for Ned and other members that had died or were wounded.

On 25 April 1917 the second ever Anzac Day service in Orange was held at the Orange Public School. Mayoress McNeilly placed a laurel wreath on the Union Jack for each fallen soldier who had attended the school, including Neddie Fardell.

In July 1917 a tree was planted at Orange Public School in Edwin’s memory. It was one of 26 trees planted in honour of fallen soldiers who had attended the school.

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 EH Fardell”; it was donated by J Paravacini. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Edwin 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.

Edwin Hercules Fardell is commemorated on the honour rolls of Orange Public School, Orange East Public School, and the Methodist Church Orange. His name appears on panel 17 of the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and panel number 32 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In Memoriam notices

* Noni Brown, 2017

The Hospital Ship Delta. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Edwin Fardell was from Orange, NSW, and worked as a labourer before enlisting in 1914. Since first linking Edwin to my family I have always felt a close affinity to him primarily I think because he went to the same primary school as me and probably walked the same streets as me…even if they were some 70 years apart.

Edwin enlisted on the 19th August 1914 at the age of 24 and so was amongst one of the earliest to sign up.

Edwin was at the landing at Gallipoli where he was wounded in action. He was then shipped off to Egypt and admitted to No 2 General Hospital, Cairo, on 29 April 1915. After recovering sufficiently he returned to Gallipoli on 31 May 1915.

The next we hear of Edwin is when he is given three days’ punishment for disobeying orders on 29 July 1915. We don’t know what orders he disobeyed but I like to think he was standing up against one of those disastrous orders that the Gallipoli commanders are renowned for giving.

Then on 8 August 1915 in the middle of arguably one of Australia’s most famous battles – The Battle of Lone Pine – Edwin was again wounded in action. He was shot in the abdomen and transferred to the hospital ship Delta. He died of his wounds and was buried at sea on the 9 August 1915.

* Lisa Apfel, 2015

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John ‘Jack’ Curran

Sergeant John ‘Jack’ Curran (right) with Sergeant Harry Conroy Thacker. Image courtesy Joan and Kel Regan.

John Curran, or “Jack” to all that knew him, was working on the labour gangs constructing the railway at Kendall, New South Wales when he heard call to arms. Australia was at war! He enlisted at Randwick on 23 August 1914, less than a month after the declaration of war and more than likely as soon as news had filtered up to his work gang at Kendall.

Jack was born in Copeland, New South Wales, on 23 November 1892. He was raised by his grandmother Helen Curran (nee Robertson) but spent a considerable amount of time at Adare, Euchareena, where his Aunt Sarah lived with her husband, Cornelius Driscoll, and their seven children. Jack’s war service is well documented in a series of letters he wrote to his cousins Nell and Bess and his Aunt Sarah during his time in Army. In his letters, Jack fondly remembers his time at Adare, the folk he met and those with whom he worked.

Army life agreed with Jack. He slotted easily into the training routine, ever eager to go overseas and engage the Hun. However, he was to remain at Randwick long enough to grow bored and restless. The grasses of Kensington racecourse became dust bowls as the military trained, causing Jack endless problems with keeping his tent, rifle and other equipment clean.

…Every blade of grass is nearly worn off the racecourse and it is dirty and sandy. Everything gets dirty in no time, and it takes a great deal of time to keep the rifles and tents in order…

On 9 November 1914, a postcard arrived at Adare bearing an image of TTS Suffolk. After several false starts (much to his disappointment) Jack left Sydney on the 14th October and set sail for Albany, Western Australia.  “Banjo” Paterson, one of the war correspondents travelling with the fleet, in his article in the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday, 8 December 1914, tells of the ships arriving at Albany in twos and threes and waiting, anchored, just outside the harbour until the fleet had assembled and then slowly weighing anchor and “a great string of ships” setting off in silence into the Unknown.

…There are about 40 altogether, including the New Zealanders. We leave when they are all here. There are a good few warships going with us for protection…

The troop transport ship SS Suffolk, on which Jack sailed to the front. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Jack expected to go to England for further training before entering the war zone in Europe but, as he explained in a letter, he ended up in Egypt “owing to Turkey siding with Germany and declaring war”. Two hundred thousand troops were stationed in Egypt along the Suez Canal. Jack addressed his letters from “Mena Camp, The Pyramids Egypt”. He was in awe of the size of the pyramids, the desert and the area in general but again he was plagued with the problem of cleanliness. His unit was camped on the edge of the Great Sahara Desert on raw brown sand. It was, according to Jack, “clean sand”. The days were hot and the nights cold. They marched, drilled and paraded. Jack grew bored.

…In fact, we would welcome a diversion of that [combat] kind, it would kill the monotony of camp life and provide a bit of excitement…

Christmas came and went and despite rumours to the contrary Australian Forces remained in Egypt. Jack was admitted to the Military Hospital suffering from measles and pneumonia and then a second attack of measles. It took him nearly two months to recover, by then it was March. His letters were filled with descriptions of Egypt and the pyramids.

Mena camp Egypt, 1915. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

On 5 April 1915, Jack, along with other members of the 1st Infantry Brigade AIF embarked on Derfflinger as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force Gallipoli Campaign. They formed part of the second and third waves of the attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula. On 14 June Jack writes:

…I am quite well and trust that this finds you all the same at Adare. Tom Hammond got wounded the other day in 3 places in the thigh with shrapnel. I get a Turk occasionally. It is wonderful how bloodthirsty one becomes after a bit of fighting. Men are shot just the same as if they were rabbits or dingoes…

[Jack had met Tom Hammond when enlisting at Kensington and the pair became firm friends. Tom received his shrapnel injuries on 11 June and was transferred to a Military Hospital at Malta. His leg was amputated and he died on 24 July 1915.]

The occasional card or short letter still reached Adare from Gallipoli. Jack felt himself to be extremely lucky and still “moving on three meals a day”. It was hot and the flies were bad.  He longed for the weather at Adare. He felt constrained in what he could write. Censor markings appear in the corners of his letters. He signed his letters “Good bye and good luck” instead of “Yours Jack”. The war engulfed him.

…The artillery has started firing. The Turks are sending over high explosive shells, trying to hit our guns in the rear. The shells are just going a few feet over our trench with a venomous kind of swish and bursting 150 yards in the rear. Our guns are replying and with all the noise I can hardly collect my scattered wits…

…The big shells weigh anything from 200 pounds upwards and when they start flying about knocking things out of shape they always create an uneasy feeling especially if they hit within 30 or 40 yards of anyone. They can be seen coming for a long way off and heard too. They make a noise like a very big tree falling when they are coming through the air and when they hit the ground it is like as if a volcano burst out. The shell bursts up into pieces half as big as a good-sized plate and it is 2 or 3 times as thick, so if a piece hits anyone there is not much hope of recovering from it…

Jack formed part of the Lone Pine offensive at the beginning of August. He mentions, when back in Egypt, of having photographs taken and sent to Adare where he was wearing a red fez and an “old tunic I picked up after the memorable battle of Lone Pine”.

On 6 August 1915, while on Gallipoli, Jack was promoted to Corporal.

Respite from the endless sights and sounds of war came when his battalion was sent back to Lemnos in September of that year to recuperate. In his letter dated 12 September he mentions being a “bit off colour”, the wound in his leg troubling him and his arms being “crook”. It was obvious that five months of fighting on the Peninsula had taken its toll on his health.

Australian soldiers newly arrived from Gallipoli, escorted by an Indian soldier on horseback, with all their kit, ready to enter rest camp on Lemnos Island, Albert W Savage, 1915. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Jack left Lemnos two months later and returned to Gallipoli via the troopship Osmanick. The heat of summer was replaced by the bitter cold and wet of winter. It rained most days, the trenches flooded, the sides gave way under the weight of the water. Jack took consolation in the fact that life was just as bad for the Turks in the next gully some 150 yards away.

On 28 November 1915, while still at Gallipoli, Jack was promoted to Sergeant.

Jack was one of the last to be evacuated from Gallipoli. He described it in detail in his letter dated 26 December 1915:

…For over a week stores, ammunition, guns and troops were being sent away every night. The troops in the firing line left in 2 nights. The second night the men left were divided into 3 parties. In “B Coy”, “A” Party 1 officer 5x men, “B” party 8 men, “C” party No 1, 1 officer 10 men, and “C” party No 2, 1 Officer 2 men.   was one of the last party. Lieut Cotton, myself and a corporal named Winterbottom were the last to leave B Company’s line. From where we were it was about 2 miles to the pier where we embarked. A boat was waiting and we only had to get on board. Shortly after we got on board the Turks opened up a heavy rifle fire all along the line they must have been puzzled by the silence in our lines. We have had a lot of silent stunts lately so I suppose they were not alarmed much. The firing soon stopped…

[Lieutenant Cotton and Corporal Winterbottom both died in France on 24 July 1916.]

A view of Anzac on the last day of occupation, 19 December 1915. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

The 1st Battalion returned to Egypt via Huntsgreen alias Derfflinger and it was here that Jack lost contact with his battalion due to being hospitalised with a bout of the mumps.

On a personal level, Jack lamented the lack of mail and news from Home.

…You hardly do yourself justice in your letters. Even things which you over there consider trivial are interesting to us in away because it is the little things that tell, especially when on active service. Bullets are very small things but they play a mighty big part in a man’s life if he happens to get in their way. Things that occur every day in your life interest us because they help us to remember you people all the better and imagine how you are all getting on…

Jack’s mail had followed his battalion to France while he was in hospital. He often contemplated an eventual end to the war and toyed with the idea of joining one of the escorts back to Australia for a short holiday. Determinedly he remained in Egypt; his belief that every man should do his duty was stronger than his desire to return home.

For the next six months Jack worked as part of the Administration team at Ghezireh and then was taken on strength to the 1st Training Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt. He mentions being the permanent line sergeant for 1st Brigade “B” Class at the Base. He obviously enjoyed the hustle and bustle of camp life and of co-ordinating the comings and goings of the various troops

Near Headquarters at Tel el Kebir camp, between Cairo and the Suez Canal, May 1916. The camp here was established for personnel of the First Anzac Corps after they were evacuated from the Gallipoli Peninsula. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

On 10 June 1916 Jack wrote from Perham Downs Camp, England:

…Just a line to let you know that I am safe and sound in England. All the country is beautiful and green. It is like getting a glimpse of Paradise after the Egyptian deserts…

Since the main theatre of the War had now moved to France, it was appropriate that the AIF set up camps in England to co-ordinate the training of new recruits and provide hospitals for the sick, wounded and convalescing. Perham Downs on the Salisbury Plains was the base of the 1st Division. Life was active, besides his normal duties Jack had football and cricket to occupy his spare time. He took trips to London on leave and lived in anticipation of sighting a zeppelin during one of their raids. By October his missing letters began to trickle through and he was delighted.

In October Jack spent three weeks at the School of Musketry at Tidworth where he was trained on the use of the Lewis Gun.

On 13 December 1916, he was taken on strength to France via the Arundel where he joined the 2nd Battalion. In France, he had another couple of stints in hospital due to scabies and rejoined his unit on 16 February 1917.

Jack’s last letter was written on 18 March 1917. He marks it as “with Unit in France”.

My Dear Nellie
Just a line to let you know all’s well, and one is very fortunate in being able to say this in these days of lash on a large scale out here. At least the Huns seem to be yielding to our pressure and getting back home again and everyone is looking forward to the end of the business when we can all get back again and to use the old saying “cultivate the arts of peace”. This retirement has put great heart into the boys and when we come in contact again I am sure that the Huns will feel the full power of our punch once more and I hope it will be a knock out, and la guerre fini (the war is over). I think it will feel strange again when war is mafeesh (no more), and people cease from killing one another, the atmosphere will be too tame and quiet, especially for those who have been engaged in the business for some time. ……….. I don’t mind mixing things with the Huns / when a chap knows what to do but writing letters is quite another matter ……. However, victory looms large on the horizon, and we are going to win in a very short time if possible. But what the future holds of course no one can say but we must look on the bright side of things and prepare for the worst. Trusting you are all ok at Adare …..Yours Jack xxxx

More than 60,000 young Australian men died during the First World War; 7,482 died in the Second Battle of Bullecourt alone.

Sergeant Major John Curran, SN387, 2nd Battalion 1st AIF, or “Jack” to all those who knew him, died as he had lived: fighting for The Cause he believed in. On 7 May 1917 he was in a front-line trench at Hermes, France, when a shell exploded sending a piece of shrapnel through his helmet and into his head above his eye. Eleven reports were gathered by the Red Cross from different soldiers who saw him wounded or directly after. Some say he died instantly, others say he died hours later at the nearby dressing station. They all agreed he was “a good soldier” and “one of the finest lads in the Company”. As one soldier said “he was a very popular man and did not know what fear was”.

There is no marked grave for Jack, he is remembered on the Villiers-Bretonneux Memorial in Northern France, the Roll of Honour in Gloucester Historical Museum and panel number 32 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In April 2016 Jarvis Regan, a relative of Jack Curran, travelled to the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. Jarvis laid a quartz stone from Adare in memory of Jack. The stone is inscribed:

To Jack Curran from Adare station. Euchareena, NSW, Australia

Jarvis Regan with his tribute to Jack Curran, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France, April 2016. Image courtesy Joan and Kel Regan.

Jack Curran’s letters

* Sharon Jameson 2017

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Charles King Brothers

Charles King Brothers c1916. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Charles King Brothers was born into a family with a long history of public service; his father was a dentist of international renown, his maternal grandfather, Charles McArthur King was a Governor of Norfolk Island and his great great grandfather was Phillip Gidley King, the third Governor of New South Wales.

Charles was born in Orange in 1897, the first of two children born to Ernest Linwood Brothers and his wife Mary Christiana nee King. A sister, Mavis, was born in Sydney in 1899. The family moved to Rangeville in southern Queensland where Ernest practiced dentistry and Charles attended Rangeville State School. As a teenager, Charles served for four years with the Citizens Military Forces, attaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

Following his education Charles worked as a draper. In October 1915 he travelled to Toowoomba, where he enlisted. Sapper Brothers embarked from Sydney with the 6th Field Company Engineers, 5th Reinforcements, aboard HMAT Star of Victoria on 31 March 1916, disembarking in Tel-el-Kebir on 5 May. He served in England and France before being taken on strength with the 5th Field Company Engineers in Belgium on 9 September 1916.

In early February 1917 Charles was hospitalised for 12 days suffering from trench foot. He rejoined his unit on 18 February 1917. On 21 April Charles received several gunshot wounds to the left buttock and right foot. He was admitted to No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station, where he died the following day of his wounds. He was buried in the Grevillers British Cemetery by the Reverend EG Muschamp.

Charles King Brothers is commemorated on panel number 123 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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Bertram Frederick (Bertie) Tanner

Forty year old Bertie Tanner arrived in Devonport, England, with the 33rd Battalion on 29 January 1917. Bertie did not see active combat; he died of pneumonia eighteen days later in the Tidworth Military Hospital. The attending medical officer noted: “this was a serious case which progressed rapidly to a fatal termination”.

Bertram Frederick Tanner was born in Molong on 8 January 1876. ‘Bertie’, as he became known, was the third of eight children born to William Tanner and his wife Catherine (Kate) Tanner (nee Archer). William ran a drapery store in Riddell Street, and in 1879 was elected as the first mayor of the newly formed Molong Municipal Council. By 1886 the family had moved to Orange, where William operated a drapers and outfitters business in Summer Street. He also served as an alderman and, in 1892, was elected mayor of Orange.

It seems that Bertie had a history of chest complaints. In November 1899 the Western Champion reported that the 23 year old had contracted a severe case of “water pleurisy” while working at Singleton and had been forced to return home to Orange for treatment. In October 1916, during his time at Rutherford training camp, he was hospitalised with a severe cold.

Bertie enlisted in Walgett on 11 July 1916 and proceeded to Narrabri training camp. He was there for two weeks before being transferred to Armidale. On 2 September he was transferred to Rutherford, and, on 7 November, to Liverpool, in preparation for embarkation.

Private Tanner embarked SS Port Napier at Sydney on 17 November 1916, and disembarked at Devonport on 29 January 1917. The following day the 33rd Battalion was marched into the 9th Training Battalion at Durrington. Two weeks later, on 13 February, a dangerously ill Bertie was admitted to the Tidworth Military Hospital. He passed away three days later, on 16 February, and was buried in the nearby Tidworth Military Cemetery on 19 February.

Upon enlistment Private Tanner had nominated his brother in law, Edgar Albert Tanner, as his next of kin and, in his will, bequeathed his personal effects, bank savings and deferred pay to his nephew, Warren Tanner. In July 1917 Edgar received Bertie’s personal effects, which consisted of one holdall, a housewife, two knives, a pipe, a shaving brush, a hair brush, a polishing brush, a boot pad, cheque forms, a book, postcards, one photograph, one letter, one pair of mittens, his identity discs, a leather belt, watch, three badges, two rings, tobacco pouch and one key.

In May 1921 the Base Records Office wrote to Bertie’s father to inform him that: “the provisions of a Will have no bearing upon the distribution of Medals unless they are specifically mentioned therein”. William Tanner was issued with his son’s war medals in September 1922.

Bertram Frederick Tanner is commemorated on the Orange Public School Honour Roll, the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 123 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. His name also appears on a commemorative plaque on his parents’ grave in Rookwood cemetery, Anglican section.

In July 1917 a tree was planted at Orange Public School in Bertie’s memory. It was one of 26 trees planted in honour of fallen soldiers who had attended the school.

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 “L Cpl RF Tanner”, presumably Bertie. It was donated by former mayor of Orange, James Stuart Leeds. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

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Sidney John Fogarty

Sidney John Fogarty was born in Orange in 1896, the youngest of thirteen children. His parents were Thomas Joseph Fogarty and Alice Mary Hodges. Sidney’s father, Thomas, was a pioneer of the coal industry in NSW, who later operated butcheries in several towns, including Weston, Forbes, Parkes, Warialda and Gloucester. When Sidney was a boy the family moved from Orange to Bathurst, where Thomas opened a butchery.

Sidney was educated at the Patrician Brothers’ School where he served four years in the cadets and militia. In March 1911 14 year old Sid won an award at the Blayney Show for the best exercise book in the school exhibits.

Following his education Sidney went to work for the coachbuilder William Gornall in Russell Street, Bathurst. For the three years prior to his enlistment in August 1915 Sid was employed by AS Low and Co as a cabinetmaker.

Sidney enlisted for service at Lithgow on 3 August 1915. He entered Liverpool training camp and returned to Bathurst in October to farewell his family and friends prior to embarkation.

Private Fogarty embarked HMAT A14 Euripides in Sydney on 2 November 1915 for overseas service. He was taken on strength with the 18th Battalion, 6th Reinforcement, in Egypt in February 1916. Early the following month he was admitted to the 4th Auxiliary Hospital in Cairo with mumps.

On 19 March 1916 Sidney embarked at Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in Marseilles. On 14 November Sid was engaged in battle near Butte de Warlencourt on the Somme when he was shot. He was subsequently reported as wounded and missing.

It was not until 13 December 1916 that the Army contacted Sidney’s mother. Mrs Fogarty was advised that her son had been wounded, but that:

It is not stated as being serious and in the absence of further reports it is to be assumed that all wounded are progressing satisfactorily. It should be understood that if no later advice is received this Department has no further information to give.

On 6 April 1917 Alice Fogarty wrote to the Officer in Charge at the Base Records Office:

I take the liberty of writing a few lines to you to ascertain why the police has called on me to ask me the following questions. Namely, had I received my son’s deferred pay and several other questions. They have notified me to put in for a pension. I understood that no one would be asked questions like those unless the soldier was dead. I have not been advised that my son was dead. I was advised on 13 December 1916 that he was wounded on 14 November and then I got a second report to say he was wounded and missing and they seem to be treating my boy as killed…So Sir, I am very much worried about my son. Will you kindly advise me what has become of my Darling boy as I am a broken hearted mother.

On 15 May 1917 an inquiry determined that Sidney had been killed in action on 14 November 1916. However, a further five months would pass until Mrs Fogarty was advised of her son’s death. To compound Alice’s suffering, her husband, Thomas, passed away in July 1917.

It was not until January 1918 that Alice Fogarty received her son’s personal effects: a shaving brush, a mitten, one housewife, three handkerchiefs, and some letters.

According to his service records Private Fogarty was buried on 1 March 1917 in the vicinity of “The Maze” and “Blue Cut” near Baupaume. His final resting place is Warlencourt British Cemetery in France.

Sidney John Fogarty is commemorated on panel number 172 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Sidney’s brothers William and Thomas served in the Boer War in South Africa in 1902.

To commemorate the first anniversary of Sidney’s death his family inserted the following tribute in the Coffs Harbour Advocate:

His country called and honor bade him go
To battle ‘gainst a grim and deadly foe.
He helped to bring Australia into fame
To build for her a never dying name.
Foremost was he in thickest strife—
For home and country he laid down his life.

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