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Victor Turnbull. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Born in Carcoar in 1898, Victor Turnbull was the first of three boys of Joseph Pearson and Edith Turnbull (nee Baldwin).

When Victor was a boy the family moved to Wellington, where Joseph worked as an engineer for the Co-operative Flour Mill.

On 28 February 1917 Victor travelled to Orange and enlisted at the Drill Hall. He gave his occupation as “farmer” on his attestation papers but, according to Edith, Victor was working as a grocer for Wellington storekeeper A Hossack.

In early March 1917 the Wellington Baptist community gathered at the church to farewell Victor and his mate Thomas Hilton Hubbard prior to embarkation. The pair of friends were gifted an illuminated wristlet watch each.

The following week the staff of Hossack’s store farewelled Victor and presented him with a fountain pen.

Victor and Thomas embarked HMAT A15 Port Sydney on 9 May 1917. They arrived in Suez on 20 June. On 26 July Private Turnbull was marched in to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Moascar. In August he was transferred to the 7th Light Horse Regiment at Tel-el-Marakeb.

In May 1918, the 7th Light Horse Regiment was operating in the Es Salt area of Palestine when they became the object of an air raid. A bomb landed on Private Turnbull’s unit, killing seven men, including Victor. Thomas described the event in a letter home:

Just retired from a flutter with Jacko. All hands in bivvy, and I think most of them asleep, when I heard a peculiar sound (well known to us), and lifting up the flap of my tent saw a bomb descending — saw it drop into the midst of B Squadron, just where I knew Vic Turnbull ‘s tent was pitched. I rushed over and found poor Vic and six others killed. I can tell you it gave me a nasty turn to see my old mate among the number. Vic was a real white fellow, a good soldier, a good Christian, and a true friend. He was killed instantly and I think while asleep. We buried him next day with military honors. I am truly sorry for his poor mother and father. The loss of such a boy is a loss indeed. I will write them and also send Victor’s Bible (his best friend), which I know his parents will value above all their boy’s possessions, though it is battered.

Nineteen year old Victor was buried the following day in the Jerusalem War Cemetery by Chaplain Milton Reeves Maley.

On 26 May 1917 a large congregation gathered at the Wellington Baptist Church to attend a memorial service for the late Trooper Victor Turnbull and Corporal Edward Arthur (Ted) Hubbard, cousin of Francis John Hubbard. The Wellington Times of 27 May 1917 reported:

the church was suitably draped in purple and white, and the flags of the Allied nations were also in conspicuous places … The hymns for the service and the reading of the texts were selected by the parents of the fallen lads, and Mrs Bamford played appropriate music … The service throughout was of a very solemn character.

The Salvation Army later presented an illustrated testimonial expressing their sympathy to Victor’s parents.

Victor Turnbull is commemorated on Wellington Cenotaph in Cameron Park, the Wellington Baptist Church honour roll, the Bodangora WW1 Roll of Honour and on panel number 6 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Thomas Hilton Hubbard survived the war; he returned to Australia in April 1919.