Born in Bourke in 1891, Claude Bertie West was living and working in Orange as a clerk when World War One was declared. He enlisted in August 1914 and embarked in October the same year. Initially a Driver with the First Field Ambulance in France, West was transferred to 4th Infantry Battalion in Egypt, and later France.
Claude was promoted to Lance Corporal in February 1916, Corporal in August 1916 and 2nd Lieutenant in January 1917. West was wounded in action in France on 11 May 1917, receiving several gunshot wounds to the face, chin, thigh and leg. He died five days later.
A keen footballer, the Leader described Claude as “one of the most popular young men in Orange”, and “one of the best three-quarters in the west”, his services being always in demand when an important match was to be played.
Claude West is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, the Orange Railway Ambulance Rifle Club Honour Roll and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
In July 1917 a tree was planted at Orange Public School in Claude’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 “Lieut CB West”; it was donated by FF Hubbard. Very few of the trees are still standing today. [Francis Frederick Hubbard was the father of Francis John Hubbard, whose wife Beryl was Claude’s sister].
Claude’s brother Jack Hilton West also served in WWI in the 34th Battalion.
Leader, 21 May 1917, p.5.
Lieutenant Claude West killed in action
Leader, 21 February 1919, p.5.
Memorial tablet: Tribute to the Late Lieut. West