Centenary of the Great War

CRUCIAL POST: A Regimental Aid Post near the front line, where wounded would be brought for immediate treatment. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.
CRUCIAL POST: A Regimental Aid Post near the front line, where wounded would be brought for immediate treatment. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for September 10-16, 1917.

MEREWETHER MAN WOUNDED

Mrs F. Albert, of Wilson St, Merewether, has received the following letter from her husband, Private Fred Albert: “I suppose you got word from the authorities that I have been wounded. I am glad to say it is not serious, and I expect to be nearly ready for the line again by the time you receive this. We have been doing some hard 'going' lately, and I was on sentry post in the front line when I got hit. Fritz started putting over a heavy barrage this afternoon (June 11), and one burst just along the trench, a bit from where I was potted, and one of the pieces passed through my left leg, just above the knee, but luckily it never hit the bone. I am lucky I didn't get worse, as I lost a few of my mates in the same bombardment, and I feel none the worse for it. I am in hospital in France, just now, and it is very nice, and we get every attention. The weather is beautiful, and everything is green and bright. I have not heard from Will or Jack for a while, but I suppose they are busy, too.”

Will and Jack are Mrs Albert's two brothers, and are both in hospital. Mrs Albert had previously been notified that her husband had been reported wounded.

PRIVATE DAVID LLOYD

In a letter from France, Private David Lloyd of Merewether, writes: “We have been having rather a rough time lately, and hardly feel in the humour of letter writing just now. I've just came out of the greatest ‘stunt’ our battalion has been through. Since writing last, I said good-bye to all friends and dear life. Our brigade had a “hop over”, that is, a charge; and you will understand how lucky I am when I tell you I am one of about 300 left of the battalion (about 1100 men). All our stretcher-bearers were either killed or wounded, and I was asked to assist, which I did. We had about 800 yards to carry, and we were carrying from about 6.30am until half-past two, by which time practically all the stretcher cases had gone down to the dressing station. I missed my last mail. One of the men was carrying it up, and lost the bag. Of course, I was very disappointed, but we were exceedingly lucky to get away with our lives.”

GUNS WERE ROARING

Writing from France, 18/6/17, Private J. Hughes, of Newcastle, says: “It has been nice and warm here these last few days, with a thunder storm every second or third day. Things have been quiet up our way this last week, but the guns were roaring the week before for seven days continuously. The Red Cross trains were on one another’s heels for two consecutive days, but it is said our casualties were very light in comparison. Our depot is larger than any marshalling yard in Australia, and is only one of hundreds. The trains run in sight of one another, day and night, and it is marvellous the way they transport troops, guns, munitions, and materials. I don't think the Germans could ever come up to our efficiency in the movement of troops from one sector to the other - trains anything up to half a mile in length. We expect our marching orders any day. Beer here is 1½d., a glass, but poor stuff; wine, 5d; rum, 3d a liqueur glass. We have had three mails from Australia, and have been waiting for another for the last four weeks. Some of the men are getting a few stray papers up to May 1, but no mails. We witnessed a great sight here the week before last - some Taubes came across about 10 am, when we were on the shell dumps. They looked just like flies. One could see the shrapnel burst among the clouds. On a hazy day you can't see old Fritz - he has his machines painted a deceiving white. Our machines are always overhead during the day time, scouting. I cannot see any chance of leaving France for a long time to come. The food here is good, but rather light, and our officers are very good. We had two days at a rest camp at the port of disembarkation, and we had a 32 hours’ train journey to get to where we are at present. You get less news here than in Australia. It took us 14 weeks from the time we left Australia till we got to France. There is a wonderful mixture of races there.

KILLINGWORTH

The last mail brought welcome news to many Killingworth families of the wellbeing of their relatives at the front. Mr James Cherry received news from his son, Private Oliver J. Cherry, that he is now well again, and on furlough in Sheffield (Eng.), and that his brother, Private Rob. Cherry, has been discharged from hospital (second occasion).

LAMBTON

Mrs R.S. King, of Kendall St, Lambton, has received a letter, dated June 17, from an officer of the _ Battalion, regarding her husband, Private King, who was recently killed in action. After offering sympathy, the writer of the letter says: “Your husband proved himself a true Australian, and he died doing his duty, and in the great field of honour, namely, the battle field. At all times he was found at his post, and no task was too heavy or dangerous for him to undertake, even though such might have meant the facing of fearful odds, and where certain death stared him in the face. By all who knew him your husband was held in the highest esteem, and many a faint-hearted man went forth under very heavy shell fire with a light heart because they knew that Dick the fearless was their leader. His death came as a sad blow to every man in the company reducing many of the lads to the verge of tears.”

MINMI

The following is a copy of a letter received by Mrs Shears, of School Hill, Minmi: “Seeing that your son Harry was in my section, I feel duty bound to let you know the circumstances under which he died. He was one of the finest soldiers Australia produced, and I was justly proud to be acquainted with him. I was with him from the time we left Australia until the day of his death, and always found him to be an honest and upright lad, and worthy to be called a friend. It is very hard indeed for you, but it is one of the penalties of war which must be paid by someone, but there is always this consolation, that your son Harry died a hero. He will be missed very much by his comrades, especially by the members of the platoon to which he belonged, as he was always cheerful, no matter what circumstances he was under. I never made his acquaintance in civil life, although I only came from West Wallsend. (Signed) Corporal A. W. Hartland, B Company, “Newcastle's Own”.

NEW LAMBTON

Mr M. Gubbay, of New Lambton, has received a letter from the chaplain of “Newcastle's Own” battalion, expressing sympathy in the death of his son, the late Private J. M. Gubbay, who was killed in action on June 17. The chaplain adds that he was buried on the battlefield, and that the colonel of the battalion wished him to convey to Mr Gubbay his sincere regrets. 

A CARDIFF SOLDIER

Corporal N. MacRae, writing to his father, Mr J. MacRae, of Cardiff, says: “Just a few lines to let you know that I got through the stunt all right, and I suppose you read in the papers it was a great success. The place where our company went across was one mass of craters. No wonder poor old Fritz is so broken up, as our artillery poured a fearful fire on to him. I got a lot of souvenirs from captured Germans, but have given most of them away. The only thing I am keeping is a watch, which a Fritz gave me in No Man's Land. The poor beggar’s nerves were completely done. Our company only took five prisoners, so you can guess that it was pretty blood-thirsty. I can tell you I surprised myself very much going across in the assault. Before jumping our parapet I was shaking like a leaf, but as soon as I got over I forgot everything but to follow my O.C. You can do a bit of skiting around Cardiff now, dad, as when we were relieved and came back to our old line of trenches, the O.C. recommended Mat Grey and myself, company despatch runners, for the D.C.M. I don’t know whether we will get it, but anyway, the thought that our O.C. thought so much of us is sufficient for me. For my part, I reckon I did not do more than any other man in the battalion. Cardiff will be well represented for medals if I get the D.C.M., as Sam Egginton gained the Military Medal some time ago. I have been promoted to orderly room corporal. Remember me to all Cardiff people, and let them know that I am quite well.

LATE PRIVATE J. WADDELL

The following is an extract from a letter which Andrew Douglass, a school mate of the late Private John Waddell, wrote to his mother, Mrs A. G. Douglass, of Wickham: “It was in this big stunt that poor Jack Waddell was killed. He was with the stretcher-bearing band. A shell landed right where they were posted, and hit Jack and one of our sergeants in the legs. Jack died about an hour later, but the other poor fellow lived for about 48 hours. When I heard about it I tried to get down to see him, but he had died hours before. Nevertheless, I was there to see him buried. His grave is right on the borders of France and Belgium, near the ridge of Messines. I rode over to his grave the other day, which is about four miles from where we are now. It is well looked after, and a little wooden cross has been erected, but if we are here any time I think it probable our unit will erect a cross itself. Show this letter to Mrs. Waddell, and tell her we are all very sorry that Jack has died. Private Frank O. Dukes, of the Field Ambulance, has also written offering on behalf of himself and comrades deep sympathy”.

AUSTRALIANS AT REST

From C. E. W. Bean, Official Australian Correspondent

London, Thursday: Last night the temperature for the first time indicated a change towards the approaching autumn. The fine weather of the last few days has turned to cold, with clear nights. The greater part of the Australian troops are in the most magnificent fettle they have ever known, and are enjoying a splendid, long-desired rest. Sports and healthy training have been the program of many units for months.

LAMBTON HONOUR ROLL

The relatives and friends of soldiers who have enlisted from Lambton or Jesmond are requested to send the names, together with date of enlistment, and any other particulars to the Town Clerk, Lambton, for inscription on the Honour Roll. E. Charlton, Mayor.

ENLISTMENTS

Mik Atoff, Kurri Kurri; Gertrude Alice Burns, Muswellbrook; Walter Keith Campbell, Scone; Frederick George Cridland, West Maitland; Charles Stanley Faulkner, Grass Tree; Hubert Holland Kempe, Cessnock; John William Liversidge, Singleton; Reginald John Marsh, West Maitland; Alfred Ernest Matthews, Mayfield; Eric Alfred Moore, Branxton; John William Neville, East Maitland; Ellen Scott, New Lambton; Leslie Leonard Slyney, Broadmeadow.

DEATHS

Gunner Miarus Alford, Glen Oak; Sapper Norman Rolf Shiels, Minmi.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter-based military historian. Follow his research at facebook.com/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory