Centenary of the Great War

BREATHER: Australian lighthorse troopers having a break from patrolling. 
Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

BREATHER: Australian lighthorse troopers having a break from patrolling. Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for 14-20 May 1917.

BULLECOURT FIRMLY HELD

Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the west front, reports:-

“On Sunday morning we repulsed two enemy counter-attacks upon our positions in the Hindenburg line eastward of Bullecourt.

The Australians for the past ten days have gallantly maintained their positions in this sector, repelling at least twelve determined counter-attacks.

We hold the greater part of Bullecourt. We yesterday established ourselves in the western houses of Roeux, and again progressed on the western slopes of Greenland Hill.

We destroyed six German aeroplanes and drove down five uncontrolled. Six of ours are missing.

BULLECOURT CAPTURED

Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the West Front, reports:-

“We completed the capture of Bullecourt on Thursday, and took 60 prisoners.

A previous report stated:- “There was night fighting at Bullecourt. We made further progress through the village and reached the western edge.

The "Petit Parisien's" correspondent says that there were startling fluctuations on Wednesday on the British front.

The fighting went on without truce and mercilessly in and around Bullecourt. One of the German counter-attacks reached part of the southern line, and 250 Germans, drunk with fury, jumped into the trench yelling "Victory!" Suddenly the scene changed. While part of the Australians were falling back and keeping the enemy at bay, yet drawing them further on, another body of Dominion troops hurled themselves boldly from beyond the trench and turned the assaulters' flank.

Then the retreating Australians charged, while a copious barrage prevented the Germans intervening from Reincourt. The implacable melee ended only when the last of the enemy had fallen. Two hundred were left dead, while the remaining 50 were pulverised while fleeing through the British barrage.

AUSTRALIAN CASUALTIES

Two lists of casualties, Nos. 299 and 300 were issued Friday night. They contain 1803 names, and include 316 killed in action, 16 died of wounds, and six died of other causes. There are 397 reported wounded, 1096 missing, 27 sick, three injured, and two prisoners of war.

OVER AGE SOLDIERS

Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, stated Monday that he had telegraphed the Imperial war authorities, to know whether men between 45 and 50 years of age would be accepted for active service, provided that they are in good health, and of exceptional physique.

AUSTRALIAN HORSES IN EGYPT

Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, made available today the following extracts from a letter received from Major-General Sir Harry Chauvel, the G.O.C. Anzac Mounted Division, Egypt:- "With regard to the horses you have sent over here, I think I am in a position to express an opinion, as so many thousands have passed under my ken one way and another; and all I can say is, I have never ceased wondering how Australia has continued to produce such a splendid lot of horses. The work they have been called upon to perform in the last 12 months has been most strenuous, what with brackish water, sometimes short rations, heavy weights, always the softest sand (which is more often than not steeply undulating), and long hours without water; and their endurance and recuperative powers have been beyond all expectations.

“During the fighting at Romani, in the hottest month of the year, the horses of one regiment were without water for 52 hours. During the raid in Mazar in September, some of the horses were without water for 30 hours, under the saddle all the time, and did 40 odd miles; and during the raid on Maghdaba in December most of them were without water for 36 hours, having done nearly 50 miles, and been under the saddle all the time. In all these operations we have had a very few die of absolute exhaustion. As a general rule we have got a very good lot. I only once had an occasion to refuse to accept any horses from remounts, and these were issued to the New Zealand Brigade, and were, I think, returns from hospital. The scale and quality of forage are better than in any previous campaign, and the system of evacuation and treatment of sick is most excellent, though perhaps somewhat expensive, and the actual losses in horses other than from wounds have not, I think, been great."

He saw the horses forwarded in recent shipments and adds: "They were all excellent horses, and they arrived in good condition."

A SOLDIER'S LETTER

Corporal W. J. Cram, of Hamilton, who, with his father, enlisted some months ago, writes from London:- "We are both in excellent health, and are doing well. We are having fine weather now — the snow has all gone, and the sun is beginning to make itself felt for the first time since we arrived here, and that is just two months ago. I do not expect to be sent to France for another two months yet. I was sent to a school for N.C.O.'s to be put through a course on the Lewis automatic gun. I passed as a corporal, and have been warned to be ready at any time to go to a higher school at Tidworth, 20 miles from where I am now camped. Will put in the next two months there. We are having plenty of drill now, the programme for the day consisting of bomb throwing and doubling round the parade ground with gas helmets on. This parade generally ends up with plenty of fun. Some of the boys do not understand the way to breathe with one on, and the result is they are red and blue in the face, and can hardly stand up. Musketry is the next parade, then dinner — not a bad parade at all — puddings every day. In the afternoon, platoon drill, bayonet fighting, and bombing lectures, and at night miniature range practice. The doctors here are very strict as to whom they pass for France. Some of the boys who stoked nearly all the way over have been turned down. It is said that all men past 43 are to do six months' home service, and then be sent back to Australia. We had a good time in London on leave. The Australians are very popular there."

NEWCASTLE RECRUITING

Recruiting Headquarters, Newcastle, have been officially notified to raise a special bantam reinforcement unit of 150 recruits, whose height ranges from 5 feet to 5 feet 2 inches. It is expected that this will be a popular unit, and will fill quickly.

DISTRICT CASUALTIES

Private Shilling. - Mrs. G. S. Shilling, of Frederick-street, Merewether, has been notified that her husband, Private G. S. (Jack) Shilling has been wounded.

LIEUTENANT VARLEY 

Mrs. G. H. Varley, of Gordon-avenue, Hamilton, has been notified that Lieutenant A. S. Varley was transferred to the First Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge, England, suffering from severe gunshot wounds in face, hand and leg, accidentally caused.

35TH BATTALION FUND

The whole-hearted and consistent way in which the supporters of the 35th Battalion Comforts Fund have worked was shown in the report of the year's operations presented at the first annual meeting, held yesterday afternoon at the depot at Scott's Limited. Mrs. Brent B. Rodd, president, occupied the chair, and there was a very large attendance. Mr. R. G. Shea apologised for the unavoidable absence of Mr. W. Scott, who, Mr. Shea said, was very pleased not only with the work that had been done, but with the manner in which it had been performed.

In the military committee's report, presented by Mr. H. G. Morgan, treasurer, and citizens' secretary, a letter was embodied from Major Rodd, in which he acknowledged receipt of cases, notified by the secretary from time to time, and thanks were expressed to the members of the fund for the gifts forwarded. In the same letter Major Rodd also gave an account of the receipts and expenditure of the military committee at the front.

Miss G. J. Short, the honorary secretary, in her report said:- “If the general public could find time and interest to step out of the lift into the top floor of Messrs. Scott's Limited to the 35th Battalion depot on Monday and Thursday afternoons of each week, they would see from 25 to 30 ladies at work, and in addition a steady stream of women and girls coming and going all the time. Too much appreciation could not be given to the staunch band of regular workers at home and at the depot, who had kept things going from the start. Another branch of valuable helpers did steady work in their own homes, while groups and societies of women and girls worked in the district and suburbs in conjunction with the comforts fund, making up cut-out garments and knitting from wool supplied. It was an interesting fact that the youngest knitter was a girl seven years old and the oldest a man of 76 years. How did the soldiers themselves regard the work of the fund? One sentence written by a private on active service was sufficient:- "We always know we have something to fight for when we receive such fine gifts from such fine friends. We will never be able to repay you for all your kindness and your great work.''

A summary of the made articles sent away from the depot to the front to March 31st comprised the following:- 2277 pairs of socks, 1000 balaclava caps; 986 flannel shirts, 863 pairs of mittens, 630 pairs of underpants, 84 blanket vests, 916 handkerchiefs, 125 silk shirts, 100 washers, 263 pairs of calico shorts. Since the committee had been in office (May, 1916) they had sent from the depot 240 cases totalling in value £2035. That was inclusive of Christmas cheer (£299 5s 6d), and that did not include private parcels. In addition 10 cases of tobacco had been sent through Messrs. H. and O. Wills, of Sydney, for Christmas and Easter valued at £73. The reinforcements were not forgotten. A supply of' tobacco, games, literature, and foods for on board ship had also been sent. Battalion flags were donated to the various reinforcements by the ladies of the Comforts Fund and by Mr. W. Scott. An organised effort was started in July and August to provide Christmas cheer for "Newcastle's Own." During the Christmas season spent in France, the battalion received 130 cases, valued at £540. From their many friends in Newcastle, the northern district, and Sydney, they received 495 Christmas puddings, 308 cakes, 1040 war chest boxes, five cases of Australian tobacco and cigarettes, and private and individual parcels.

ADAMSTOWN

A company of cadets put in some musketry shooting at Adamstown range on Saturday. Evidently their windage was at fault, as the target shed on the right of the range bears several bullet marks, and the tank was perforated sufficiently by bullets to let the water out.

ENLISTMENTS

Leonard Appleyard, Tighes Hill; Roland Thomas Bond, Newcastle; Leslie Carlton, Greta; William Cumming, Singleton; Thomas Meicklejohn Dickson, Scone; Vincent Donald Douglas, Cooks Hill; Dorothy Mary Feneley, West Maitland; Samuel John Hunt, Merriwa; Norman Betteloy Jefferson, Newcastle; Frank Burton Perks, Adamstown; Sydney Edward Smith, Cessnock; James Patrick Williams, West Maitland; Cecil Harold Wooden, Newcastle; Roy Yorke, Lorn.

DEATHS

Pte William Baillie, Cessnock; Pte Herbert George Compton, West Maitland; Pte Edward Bernard Corbett, Singleton; Pte Arthur Crampton, Cardiff; Pte Kenneth Daley, Stroud; Pte Edward Dixon Deas, Islington; Pte Frederick Albert Harris, Wickham; Pte Richard Hill, Aberdare; Pte James Augustus Hughes, Mosquito Island; Bdr William Kelly, Kurri Kurri; Pte James Loos, Upper Rouchel; Pte Robert Paton Lygoe, Hamilton; Pte John McInerney, Hinton; Pte Edward Musgrove, Stockton; Sgt Douglas Laurie Page, Main Creek; Pte Bert Poole, West Maitland; Pte William Roy Purvis, Denman; Pte William Ernest Steadman, Cessnock; Spr Sydney Thoroughgood, West Wallsend; Cpl Charles Russell Tonkin, Mayfield; Pte David Henry White, Dora Creek.