William Thomas Clarke

On 21 August 1918 Major General Charles Rosenthal, Commanding Officer of the Second Australian Division, wrote the following commendation for the Military Medal for William Thomas Clarke:

At Warfusee, east of Amiens, on 8 August 1918, during the advance in the thick mist with his platoon he ran up against an enemy MG post and was twice beaten back with bombs.

He managed himself, however, to work around to a flank which enabled the platoon to kill four and capture three with the machine gun.

Throughout the whole operation this NCO acted with confidence and courage which set a fine example to his men.

Born in Orange in 1895, William was the second of four children of Maurice Joseph Clarke and Sarah Ann nee Hopkins. William was educated at Orange Convent School, and then Parkes Convent School.

Following his education William entered his father’s plastering business in Parkes. During this time he also served for two years in the Citizens’ Forces.

William enlisted in Parkes on 11 January 1916. He embarked HMAT A40 Ceramic in Sydney on 7 October 1916, disembarking in Plymouth on 21 November. He undertook two months’ further training at the 5th Training Battalion before proceeding to France on 4 February 1917, a private in the 20th Battalion, 16th Reinforcement.

On 3 May 197 William was wounded in action, receiving a gunshot wound to the right shoulder. He was admitted to the 5th Australian Field Ambulance, then the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station. followed by the 1st Australian General Hospital before being evacuated to the 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham, England, on 14 May.

Private Clarke returned to France in August 1917 and was appointed Lance Corporal the following month.

In October 1917 Lance Corporal Clarke was wounded in action for a second time, sustaining gunshot wounds to his knee and side. Again he was evacuated to England, to the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool. He did not rejoin his battalion in France until 2 April 1918.

William served for a further six months before being killed in action on the Western Front.

On 8 October 1919 Maurice Joseph Clarke received the following letter from the Officer in Charge of Base Records:

I am directed to transmit per separate registered post one Congratulatory Card issued by the General Officer Commanding 4th Army, British Expeditionary Force, referring in laudatory terms to the conspicuous manner in which the late No 5797 Sergeant WT Clarke, MM, 20th Battalion, conducted himself on the battlefield in the face of the enemy.

William Thomas Clarke is commemorated on panel number 90 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Comments Off on William Thomas Clarke

Charles Alexander Wann

Charles Alexander Wann. Image courtesy ancestry.com

In March 1919 Company Sergeant-Major Mayne of the 44th Battalion paid tribute to Charles Alexander Wann, who had been killed in action at St Quentin Canal. He declared:

He was a fine soldier, and one of the bravest men I ever met.

Charles Alexander Wann, aka Alex, was born in Orange in 1883. His parents, Charles snr and Mary Ann nee Plowman had married in Orange the previous year.

By 1903 the family had moved to Armadale in Western Australia, where Charles snr worked as a sleeper cutter.

In 1906 Alex was living at Bullsbrook and working as a farm labourer and kangaroo shooter. He was also a proficient cyclist who won the prestigious Beverley to Perth road race in 1912.

In 1911 Alex married Charlotte Warren. The marriage was short-lived; Alex became a widower when 21 year old Charlotte died in childbirth on 4 January 1912. Their infant son also died that day.

Alex enlisted in the First World War on 4 October 1916. He embarked HMAT A34 Persic in Fremantle on 29 December 1916, arriving in Devonport on 3 March 1917. He undertook a further four months training with the 11th Training Battalion at Larkhill before proceeding to France on 2 July.

Private Wann was taken on strength with the 44th Battalion on 18 July 1917. On 8 August he was appointed Temporary Lance Corporal, and upgraded to Lance Corporal on 30 August.

On 12 October 1917 Lance Corporal Wann was wounded in action receiving a gunshot wound to the right eyebrow. He was admitted to the 11th Field Ambulance, then the 46th Casualty Clearing Station. Two days later he was transferred to the 2nd Convalescent Depot at Rouen, then on 22 October, to the 11th Convalescent Depot at Buchy. Lance Corporal Wann rejoined his battalion on 17 November 1917.

Eight months later Lance Corporal Wann was hospitalised for a second time. On 9 July 1918 he was admitted to the 72nd General Hospital at Trouville with a septic right knee. He would not return to his battalion until 12 September.

On 30 September 1918 the 44th Battalion was engaged in the advance on the Hindenburg Line. According to Company Sergeant-Major Mayne:

Alex … was shot through the head by a German sniper. He was killed instantaneously, and our boys were greatly cut up over his loss

Charles Alexander Wann is commemorated on panel number 138 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

Alex’ brother, Daniel Malcolm Wann, also served in WWI. Daniel died on 13 August 1918 from wounds received in the Battle of Amiens.

Charles and Charlotte on their wedding day. Image courtesy ancestry.com

BirtwistleWiki – Charles Alexander Wann


Comments Off on Charles Alexander Wann

Daniel Malcolm Wann

Daniel Malcolm Wann. Image courtesy ancestry.com

On 11 August 1918 Daniel Malcolm Wann received a gunshot wound to the neck as the 11th Battalion advanced near Morcourt in the closing hours of the Battle of Amiens. Daniel, aka Max, was evacuated to the 5th Australian Field Ambulance. He survived for two days before succumbing to his wounds on 13 August.

Daniel’s brother, Charles Alexander Wann, also serving on the Western Front, would die six weeks later, killed in action at St Quentin Canal on 30 September 1918.

Born in Orange in 1886, Daniel was the second son of Charles snr and Mary Ann nee Plowman. By 1903 the family had moved to Armadale in Western Australia, where Charles snr worked as a sleeper cutter.

In 1911 Daniel married Evelyn Maud Warren and settled at Bullsbrook, where Daniel worked as a teamster. The couples’ first child, Sydney Malcolm, was born in 1912, followed by Donald Charles in 1913, and Alice in 1916.

Daniel enlisted in Perth on 11 November 1916. He embarked HMAT A30 Borda at Fremantle on 29 June 1917, disembarking in Plymouth on 25 August 1917. Private Wann undertook further training at Durrington and Sutton Veny before proceeding to France in January 1918. He was taken on strength with the 11th Battalion on 22 January 1918.

On 20 June 2018 Daniel was admitted to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance suffering from influenza. He rejoined his unit on 6 July and served for just five weeks before sustaining the injury that proved his demise.

Daniel Malcolm Wann is commemorated on panel number 64 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Daniel Malcolm Wann memorial notice, West Australian, 29 August 1918, p1.

Comments Off on Daniel Malcolm Wann

Thomas Robert Rae

Thomas Robert Rae. Image courtesy University of Sydney Archives.

The service record of Thomas Robert Rae SN 2424 tells very little about his service during World War One. The small amount of information briefly documents that he was in Egypt, went to France, spent time on furlough in England and on his return five months later was killed in action on 30 October 1917.

A letter dated 6 February 1918 from his mother to the Sydney University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mining and Metallurgy in 1905, reiterates his own words regarding his time at the Western Front:

Our division went into action at Fromelles 10th July 1916. We lost in that stint 69 PC in casualties. We stayed there for 3 months and in August we went to the Somme. On Nov 5th we were again in a stunt near High Wood and immediately afterwards we came out for a spell to a little village called Cardonette about 4 miles from Amiens, there we went to a place called Waterlot Farm on the edge of the renowned Delville Wood. We went to Flers and Goudecourt [sic] in March, the Australians got to Bapaume on the 17th of March 1917 there we followed up the Infantry through Bapaume, Fremicourt, Le Boucherie and Beau Metz. This is where I left to go back to camp just outside Bapaume then came our leave.

Thomas Robert Rae was born in Orange on 18 January 1880. He was the son of George Rae (born in Roxborough, Scotland) and Margaret Bullock, who had married in Orange in 1866. The family resided at Icely but by 1881 had moved to Sydney as his father’s death is recorded there in 1881.

Thomas attended Paddington Public School, then Scots College prior to enrolling in his University course. Before his enlistment on 30 August 1915 he was the Chief Surveyor at the Great Cobar Mines. His death recorded in the Daily Telegraph on 8 December 1917 stated:

He was offered a commission as captain, but he preferred to go as a sapper

Thomas embarked at Sydney for Egypt on 11 December 1915 via HMAT RMS Mooltan as part of the 12th Reinforcements of the 14th Field Company Engineers going to Tel-el-Kebir. He spent six months in Egypt prior to embarking Kinfauns Castle at Alexandria for Marseilles in June 1916. Apart from two weeks’ furlough in England Thomas spent the rest of his time surveying trenches at the front.

According to Thomas Rae’s profile on the Sydney University Beyond 1914 website he was mentioned in despatches.

Sapper Thomas Robert Rae was killed in action on 30 October 1917. Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Files contain several reports of his death. He was repairing a pill-box on Westhoek Ridge at the time and was one of the eight men who died. A further five men were wounded.

Major Henry Bachtold of the 14th Field Company of Engineers wrote to Thomas’ mother on 13 November 1917 informing her of her son’s death:

I very much regret having to inform you that your son Sapper Thomas Robert Rae was killed in action on the morning of Tuesday October 30th 1917.

A high explosive shell burst close to him and his death was instantaneous.

He was buried close to where he was hit and his grave is alongside the Westhoek – Zonnebeke Road at a cross roads some 1000 yards east of the cross roads in Westhoek.

Your son had done excellent survey work for the Company and his loss is regretted by all.

Please accept my deepest sympathy

There is no known grave for Sapper Thomas Robert Rae SN 2424. He is commemorated on panel 7 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium, on panel number 24 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, on the University of Sydney War Memorial Carillon and on the Sydney University Beyond 1914 website.

* Sharon Jameson, August 2018

Comments Off on Thomas Robert Rae

Reginald Gordon Perry

When Reginald Gordon Perry enlisted on 29 November 1915 at Casula in Sydney he gave his occupation as a magician. Nothing further can be found on this unusual occupation.

Reginald was the son of Stephen Perry, a well-known local saddler, and his wife Betsy Clarke, and was born in 1889 in Orange. At the time of enlistment, he also had a brother, Stephen Harold Perry, with the 2nd Battalion AIF and another, Roy Stanley Perry, serving with the British Red Cross in Mesopotamia.

On enlistment Reginald joined D Company of the 4th Battalion but was transferred to the 15th Reinforcement on 2 February 1916. In March 1916 he embarked on HMAT Star of England A15 and sailed for Egypt. Soon after his arrival he was admitted to the hospital at Tel-el-Kebir with influenza. On 12 August he joined the 5th Battalion in France and three days later suffered a gunshot wound which shattered his right hip and foot. He was transferred to the West Lothian Hospital near Edinburgh in Scotland.

Reginald took no further part in the war, he returned to Australia via HMAT Euripides in July 1917. On 24 September 1917 the Orange Leader reported the arrival of Lieutenant Steve Perry and Private Reg Perry at Orange Railway Station after they had been invalided home. An enthusiastic crowd of locals were there to greet them and the Salvation Army Band played several patriotic tunes as the train steamed in. Later that evening Mr and Mrs Perry hosted a number of friends at a dinner at their Moulder Street residence. Toasts appropriate to the occasion were duly proposed and drank to the health of the two servicemen.

Reginald Perry was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force on 19 January 1918.

On 26 December 1919 Reginald married Miss Mona McNeil Tully, a daughter of the late Mark Tully of Warraweena Station, Bourke. The couple moved to Sydney sometime between their marriage and 1926 where newspapers record Reginald working a builder and bookmaker. Bookmaking would prove to be his downfall; he was declared bankrupt in March 1926.

Reginald Gordon Perry died on 8 September 1970 at the Repatriation Hospital, Concord, aged 81 years. He was laid to rest in the Presbyterian section of Rookwood Cemetery at Lidcombe along with his wife Mona who died in 1965 and a son, Lloyd Keith, who had died in 1924 aged two months.

Private Reginald Gordon Perry is remembered on the Honour Roll at the Methodist Church Orange.

* Sharon Jameson, August 2018

1 Comment »

Norman Dunstan Rae

Norman Dunstan Rae was born in Forbes in 1889 to William Allwood Rae and Florence Johnson. His brothers William John Rae and George Huntley Rae saw service in the Camel Corps during WW1. Captain William John Rae was killed in action in 1917. His family later moved Forbes to Glenroi, Bathurst Road Orange when his father took up a position as a surveyor in the area.

At the time of enlistment Norman Rae had worked for three years as a teller with the Australian Bank of Commerce. He was farewelled by friends and fellow workers at the Club House Hotel at Coonabarabran, all of whom spoke highly of his gentlemanly manner and his ability as a good footballer and rower.

Norman enlisted at Liverpool on 9 October 1914 was posted to the 7th Light Horse Regiment. He was promoted to Orderly Room Corporal on 20 October 1914.

On 20 December 1914 Norman, along with other volunteer Australian troops, embarked on the HMAT Ayrshire at Sydney. In December of 1914 he was promoted to Orderly Room Sergeant. He was hospitalised in Alexandria, Egypt, on 26 May 1915 and then returned to duty at Gallipoli on 29 May 1915.

HMAT Ayrshire. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

After four months in the trenches illness struck again. Sergeant Rae was admitted to the hospital ship Guildford Castle on 20 September 1915 suffering from influenza and dysentery. On 29 September he was transferred to the 21st General Hospital at Alexandria suffering from enteric fever. He embarked HMAT Wandilla at Suez and returned to Australia on 13 December 1915.

HS Wandilla. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Sergeant Rae was discharged from the AIF on 22 March 1916 and accorded a hero’s welcome on his arrival at Orange Railway Station.

In 1910 Norman married Ruby Jean Lennox in Bourke. This marriage ended in divorce in 1916 and he married Jessie Winifred Hill in Grenfell in 1919. Two sons, Robin and David, came from this union.

In 1930 Norman and Jessie moved from West Wyalong to Sydney and at the time of Norman’s death in 1953 they lived at Dee Why. The cause of death was attributed to his war service and Jessie was given a suitable pension. His ashes were interred in the Northern Suburbs Memorial Garden at North Ryde.

Norman Dunstan Rae is remembered on the Honour Roll at Holy Trinity Church Orange.

* Sharon Jameson, August 2018

Norman Dunstan Rae memorial plaque. Image courtesy Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens, North Ryde.

Comments Off on Norman Dunstan Rae

Stephen Harold Perry

Stephen Harold Perry enlisted at Randwick on 18 August 1914, one of the district’s first men to do so. He was nearly 22 years of age, a draper by trade, and the fourth son and seventh child of Stephen and Betsey Perry of Moulder Street, Orange

Prior to enlistment in 1914 Stephen had spent four years as a junior and then senior cadet where he rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant. He, together with two other cadets, Stanley Roy Wasson and Malcolm Stewart were chosen as part of the Coronation Contingent who went to London for the coronation of George V in 1911.

An article appeared in the Orange Leader on 25 August 1914 stating that Sergeant S Perry had returned to Orange to bid farewell to his parents and friends before embarking for overseas service. Private Perry was part of the 2nd Battalion that left on Sydney on 18 October 1914 via HMAT Suffolk disembarking in Egypt on 8 December 1914. He saw time at Gallipoli but was hospitalised with a case of synovitis of the right knee and invalided to Australia via Hororata on 29 July 1915.

It is hard to keep a good man down and on 13 April 1916 Stephen re-embarked at Sydney via HMAT Ceramic and was sent to France. In 1917 he suffered a gunshot wound to his right leg and was returned to England to convalesce. He later had command of the Australian School of Musketry at Tidworth on the Salisbury Plain.

On his second return to Australia Stephen Perry married Elsie Vera Andrews of West Maitland in Redfern. He could have easily secured his release at this time but preferred to be with his friends overseas and on the front and so returned to the theatre of war a third time. His last tour of duty ended on 2 May 1919 when his appointment was terminated.

Two of his brothers, Reginald and Roy both served overseas. Reginald Gordon Perry was part of the 4th Battalion. Roy Stanley Perry served with the British Red Cross in Mesopotamia.

Stephen Harold Perry died on 7 January 1929 and is remembered on the Methodist Church Orange Roll of Honour and the Orange Public School Honour Roll.

* Sharon Jameson, August 2018


Comments Off on Stephen Harold Perry

George Huntley Rae

The Reverend George Huntley Rae enlisted in the Austraian Imperial Force on 14 February 1916, joining the Australian Camel Corps. By this time his brother, Sergeant-Major Norman Dunstan Rae, had already been invalided home from the trenches of Gallipoli and other brother, Captain William John Rae, was also serving with the Australian Camel Corps in Egypt. They were the sons of William Allwood Rae and Florence Julia Rae (nee Johnson) of Glenroi, Bathurst Road, Orange. William Rae was a licenced surveyor in Orange at the time.

Reverend George Rae was born in Deniliquin in 1876. His family moved to Forbes where the rest of his siblings were born. He came from a large family of three brothers and seven sisters.

In 1913 George took up the position of assistant to the Reverend AJ Gardner in Forbes and at the time of his enlistment he was assisting Canon Taylor at the Orange Church of England. During his ministry he also acted as assistant at St John’s Mudgee under the late Archdeacon Dunstan.

Prior to enlisting George married Amy Esther Peters, the daughter of James Peters of Store Creek. Their beautiful wedding at Holy Trinity Church in Orange is described in detail in the Forbes Advocate of 20 November 1914.

Reverend Rae suffered a series of health issues and was confined to hospital in Sydney for appendicitis and then mumps prior to leaving for the front. Again, in January 1918 in Egypt, he had several stays in hospital for various respiratory problems.

On 3 September 1917 George embarked on HMAT Kiara in Sydney. By 19 September newspapers reported that 3,000 of his company had arrived in Western Australia. He was posted to the 4th Battalion and marched into Moascar on 22 June 1918 as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Forces. In March 1919 he was promoted to Extra Regimental/2nd Corporal Cairo and returned to Australia via MT Delta on 2 August 1919.

On his return to Australia he continued his ministry in Tingha, New South Wales, before retiring to Inverell, where he died in 1950.

George Huntley Rae is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll.

* Sharon Jameson, August 2018

The last tents at Moascar, George Lambert, 1919. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Comments Off on George Huntley Rae

Percy Francis McDonnell

Percy Francis McDonnell was born in Orange in 1890, the son of Luke and Mary McDonnell. Luke’s father was James McDonnell, who was a pioneer pastoralist of Cumnock and the Western District.

James McDonnell worked at Yullundry Station in 1837 and then moved to various locations around NSW. He returned to Cumnock in about 1892 to live with his son Thomas, near Burrawong. Another son who lived in Cumnock was James William McDonnell, who owned the Shepherd’s Inn and built the Commercial Hotel in 1892. JW McDonnell also had a son called Percy (middle name Edward), born 1892, who worked for many years at post offices at Cumnock, Cargo, Forbes, Dubbo and Grafton. Percy Edward also intended to enlist but was promoted and continued working for the Post Office.

Luke McDonnell lived in Cumnock in the 1880s and 1890s and his children attended school at Cumnock. He moved to Forbes and in 1912, operated a Second Hand and Dealers store. He became an Alderman for the Forbes Shire Council in 1914 and Mayor of Forbes in 1918. His wife became ill and they moved to Sydney to live in 1919.

Percy Francis McDonnell became a saddler, and learnt his trade from Tom Connelly, a saddle and harness maker in Cumnock. Percy, aged 24 years, enlisted at Forbes on 25 August 1914. His medical report states that he was 5 feet 9¾ inches tall, had blue eyes, a fair complexion, dark brown hair and was of the Roman Catholic religious denomination. His war records mainly class him as a saddler, but he was also classed as a gunner. Saddlers, like shoeing-smiths, wheelers, fitters and a few other trades were appointments, carrying a higher rate of pay and known collectively as artificers.

Percy embarked at Sydney on HMAT Argyllshire A8 on 18 October 1914, and as part of the first detachment of the Australian and New Zealand Imperial Expeditionary Forces, set sail for Egypt on 1 November 1914. After four months training near Cairo, the 1st Field Artillery Brigade took part in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. They were only able to land one gun, which took 100 men to manhandle up a steep hill over a number of hours, with many casualties. They were eventually able to commence firing it with good effect. Saddler Percy McDonnell was later to write to his father “that he went through the Gallipoli ‘gamble’ without receiving a scratch.” In fact, he was not wounded during his entire war service.

Saddler McDonnell left Gallipoli on 4 December 1915, disembarking at Alexandria, and proceeding to the Suez Road Camp. Percy was one of many young soldiers who became sick with gonorrhoea while in Egypt and was hospitalised at No 2 Australian Hospital, Cairo, for treatment from 26 January to 18 February 1916. On 21 March 1916, he embarked at Alexandria, disembarking at Marseilles on 28 March 1916.

The 1st Division saw action around Armentières and in July 1916 joined the Somme Offensive, capturing the town of Pozières at great cost. The 1st Division continued to fight around Pozières and Flers in August and October 1916. In 1917 it was involved in fighting at the Hindenburg Line and Largincourt, and in May relieved the 2nd Division in the Second Battle of Bullecourt.

While on leave in the United Kingdom, Saddler McDonnell became ill and was admitted to hospital with gastritis on 20 September 1917. He was transferred for duty to the Pay Corps at Administration Headquarters in London on 10 December, but considered unfit for service with chronic dyspepsia and returned to Australia on 7 June 1918 per HMAT Suevic. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star Medal, the British War Medal 1914-20, and the Victory Medal.

On 27 July 1918 the Molong Express and Western District Advertiser reported:

Saddler Percy McDonnell, who was gassed during his three years and eight months on active service, and was invalided home, paid a visit to his relatives last week. He was tendered a welcome home in the form of a social evening on Saturday evening last, and presented with a purse of notes – about £16 – and a gold medal, suitably inscribed. The amount was collected in Cumnock, where the recipient spent his school days, and learnt his trade with Mr TC Connelly. Perce is an original Anzac, being at the landing on Gallipoli, and he remained there the whole time of the British occupation. Since then he has been at the front in France.

Percy married Mary Curry at Paddington in 1918 and they had two children, Margaret and Richard. He worked for NSW Railways. Percy Francis McDonnell died on 9 February 1967 at Hornsby, aged 77 years.

Percy Francis McDonnell is commemorated on the Cumnock Public School Honour Roll (as P McDonald) and on the Cumnock War Memorial Gates.

* Dianne Strahan and Val McKenzie, August 2018

Cumnock NSW War Memorials


Comments Off on Percy Francis McDonnell

Thomas Cravino

Thomas Cravino was born in Mullion Creek in 1892 to gold prospector Thomas Cravino snr and his wife Elizabeth nee Smith. He was educated at the Wellington Public School and was later employed by Thomas Rowe of North Wellington.

In October 1915 Thomas travelled to Holsworthy to enlist in the First World War. He was assigned to the 19th Battalion, 9th Reinforcement as a private.

Private Cravino embarked for overseas service in January 1916. He served in Egypt for one month, until joining the British Expeditionary Force and proceeding to the Western Front in France.

In late May Private Cravino was wounded in action, sustaining a gunshot to the lower back. He was transferred to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Harefield, England, and later to the Convalescent Depot in Epsom.

In October 1916 Thomas was taken on strength with the 5th Training Battalion. He rejoined his battalion in France in June 1917.

Thomas was admitted to the 54th General Hospital in December 1917 with bursitis and bronchitis. Six weeks later he was again transferred to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Harefield for treatment. After a period of furlough Thomas rejoined his unit in France in May 1918.

Thomas Cravino was killed in action on 29 August 1918 during the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin. He is commemorated on panel number 88 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Thomas’ brother William also served in WWI; he returned to Australia in July 1918.

Comments Off on Thomas Cravino