Claude John Ash
Claude John Ash was born in Parkes in 1893, the fifth child and third son of George Ash and Alice Stibbard. Following her husband’s death in 1900, Alice returned to the family home in Lucknow, where her father was licensee of the Commercial Hotel. Claude attended school in Lucknow and, like his brothers, was a keen footballer.
Claude and his older brother Dick enlisted together in February 1915. Claude embarked from Sydney in May, a driver in the 15th Company of the Army Service Corps. He served in Egypt, France and England. Early in his service – in December 1915 – Driver Ash was promoted to Lance Corporal.
According to the Leader Claude experienced two narrow escapes from death; once on Menin Road when a shell exploded in front of him, hitting and killing the two horses he was driving; on the second occasion a wagon he was leading was blown up.
Lance Corporal Ash was hospitalised several times during the war: in December 1915 with mumps, in March 1916 with a hydatid cyst and again in March 1919, just prior to his return to Australia, with influenza.
Claude returned to Australia in May 1919 and was discharged from the AIF that July. He had served for a total of four years and one hundred and sixty six days, four years and ten days of which were abroad. In 1920 Claude married Blanche Rodwell; the couple had one son, Arthur Norman ‘Jack’.
Ill-health troubled Claude, the result of injuries sustained during his war service. He died in Lucknow on 16 August 1922, aged 28. He is buried in Orange Cemetery.
Claude is commemorated on St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll.
Claude’s brother Dick survived the war; he returned to Australia in 1919 and settled in Shadforth. A younger brother – Arthur – also served in WWI; he was killed in action at Bullecourt in France in 1917.