Centenary of the Great War

SAD TASK: Stretcher bearers near Ypres, in Belgium, prepare a ‘case’ to be carried back to a Regimental Aid Post. Photo: Courtesy of Juan Mahony.
SAD TASK: Stretcher bearers near Ypres, in Belgium, prepare a ‘case’ to be carried back to a Regimental Aid Post. Photo: Courtesy of Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details For January 28 – February 3, 1918.


The Cook's Hill Life-saving Club turned Anniversary Day to good account by holding a surf carnival, the proceeds of which will go towards the purchase of a memorial to those members of the club who have fallen in the war. The club had the assistance of all the Newcastle district surf organisations and a host of other workers. Appreciation of the cause was shown by the large attendance of the public at the Bar Beach, Merewether, where the sports were held, but unfortunately appreciation did not go sufficiently far on the part of a great majority of the people. It went only as far as the ropes of the enclosure (inside which the events took place), so that the memorial fund is poorer by many a sixpence that would have swelled it had the outside spectators passed the collectors' bags. There was a fair number inside, but 20 to 30 times as many outside, where lady collectors with money boxes asked for pennies – conscience money it really was.


Members of the Newcastle recruiting staff were highly gratified on Monday evening with the day's results. No fewer than 22 volunteers presented themselves between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and of that number 14 were accepted, four rejected, and four deferred for medical examination. The men accepted were exceptionally fine specimens of manhood, showing that the best type of recruit is still obtainable if approached in a proper manner.


Corporal Arthur Butler, who is on final leave, was accorded a send-off and was the recipient of presentations from his friends at a social evening which was held at Malbon's Hall on Saturday. There was a large attendance, over which the Mayor (Alderman Charlton) presided. The hall was decorated with the colours of the 3rd Battalion, with reinforcements for which Corporal Butler is leaving. After the toast of "The King," the Mayor proposed the toast of "The Guest." He hoped that he would be spared to return, and assured him that they would be all glad to hear from him when he arrived safely at the other side. Other speakers endorsed the remarks of the Mayor and the toast was heartily honoured. Mr. J. J. Fitzpatrick presented the departing soldier with a silver matchbox inscribed and a kewpie set in a silver horseshoe with the battalion colours. Mr. Scobie, a Maitland comrade, presented him with a soldier's carry-all, and Mrs. Watson handed him a Bible.


Mrs. W. Tuxford, of Phoebe-street, Islington, has received letters from the front condoling with her in the death of her husband, the late Private William Tuxford, who was killed in action on October 12 last. Private Tuxford was attached to “Newcastle's Own" Battalion, and the lieutenant of his company, in the course of his letter, says:- "He took part in some of the hottest fighting for the possession of our objective, and died very bravely under conditions that were sufficient to try the fighting qualities of the very finest troops. Your husband carried out his duties in every respect very faithfully to the end under very severe fire. He was killed outright, and suffered no pains from wounds." Sergeant C. W. Howard testifies to the great bravery which Private Tuxford always showed, and to the esteem in which he was held by the officers and men. He states that Private Tuxford “went over the top" on October 12 as company clerk. All went well with him until the afternoon. He was taking cover in a shell hole on the new line when a shell fell into the same hole and a piece entered his forehead, killing him almost instantly. He was buried on the battlefield.


Sir, My second son left Melbourne late in June. From the time of his departure I have posted him a couple of papers every week. In his last letter, dated December 9th, and received on Monday, he informs me that so far he had not received a single paper, and goes on to say: "The boys believe they never leave Australia, but are burned to save the trouble of sending them over. Very few ever reach here. If the authorities only knew how much they are appreciated they would be more careful in seeing they were delivered. Letters from home and newspapers give more joy than anything else - it is the only thing we look forward to." It is evident that carelessness is shown somewhere, and such a state of affairs ought not to be allowed to exist any longer. How can we expect recruiting to flourish while it is known that the men at the front are thus neglected? A large amount of revenue must be collected from the postage of newspapers. Are the authorities obtaining it under false pretenses? The complaint about the non-delivery of papers is also made about parcels. Several, I know, have been forwarded to my son, but so far not one has reached him. – I am, etc., E. H. WRIGHT, St. Augustine, Merewether.


Sir,  Who are entitled to be on rolls of honour? Is it those who have gone to the war, or at any rate those who sailed from Australia to do-so, or is it anyone who has worn khaki? And if the latter, than if some, why not all? I notice on the Kurri Kurri Public School roll of honour the names of two boys who for three years have been employed in the training camp, and have never left Australia and never intend to, whilst the names of two other boys who are training militia and cadets are omitted. All are in the same category, none of them fighting; all training only. If the first two boys are entitled to be honoured, why not the other two? - I am, etc., FAIRPLAY.


Mrs Christensen, of Stockton St, Stockton, has received letters from France, relating to the death of her son, the late Corporal F. Christensen, who was killed in action at Passchendaele Ridge on November 10. The captain of the company to which Corporal Christensen was attached, and the chaplain of the battalion, both write referring to his soldierly qualities, and the esteem in which he was held by all ranks. He was killed by a shell, and his death was practically instantaneous. Corporal R. W. Druery writes: "It is with the deepest regret that I write these few lines re the death of your son, Frederick. I happened to be one of his mates right through the war. I enlisted with him at Newcastle, and we went all through since, and I can tell you that he was a noble son, and one to be proud of, liked by everybody that came in contact with him. His death came as a shock to all the boys, and you can rest assured that you have the deepest sympathy of all the boys of No. 1 platoon, so please accept my deepest sympathy in your sad bereavement. I came from Wallsend, and if there is anything I can do I will be only too willing to do it. He was killed at Passchendaele Ridge on the 10th November, 1917.”


Writing to a friend in Mayfield, Private Bert Bull, of Waratah, gives an account of the battle in which Sergeant-major Artie Marshall was killed. He says: “I could not explain how things were. It was simply life for life. We were up against very big odds, and snipers and machine guns were everywhere. We had to go a mile, with mud up to our waists, and at times we could not work the bolts of our rifles for mud and grit, but after a hard task we took our objective. But later on we had to retire a couple of hundred yards, which meant a lot to us. In that terrible stunt poor Artie Marshall went down. We all felt his absence very much, for he was well-liked among the lads. Everybody had a good word for him, and a few days before the stunt came off he said to me, “Well, I am having a rest this time.” He was told he would not be going 'over the top,' and he wished Percy and myself the best of luck, and then the night of the stunt, just as we were going up, he came to me and said that every man available had to go, and he had to go also. On the third day of the stunt I came in contact with some of D Company, and I asked them how they were, and they said: “There are about 12 of us left.” That will give you an idea how it was, and they told me Artie was missing, and when we got relieved I was told he had fallen, and I can tell you, Artie Marshall was a soldier and a man, and that means a lot. He can't be given too much praise for the work he did during twelve months in France, and on the field.”


Mr and Mrs Foulkes, of Cardiff Rd, Wallsend, have received a letter from Captain H. Connell, in France: “It is with the deepest regret that I write to inform you that your son William is reported ‘missing – believed killed’. The last information we have of him is that he was seen in the morning of the 12th October, moving into the attack with the company. Should we receive any further information concerning your son, you can rely upon being informed at once. Your son's work with the company was such as to have earned for him the esteem and confidence of all. He was one of my senior non-commissioned officers, and would before long have been recommended for further promotion, his keenness and capacity having made such his due.”


By the last mail Mr and Mrs T. Richardson, of Pittown, Wallsend, have received from their son, Private A. Richardson, who is a prisoner at Friedrichfeld, Germany, a letter, in which he says: “You will have got word that I am a prisoner of war. You can let the boys know that I am quite well, just waiting for the finish , so that I can get back that way, so don't worry about me. I have been very lucky. Got through without a scratch, and will be back one of these fine days. Would like to know how Oscar Mullally got on, for I don't know if he was with us or not.”


Mrs J. Houston, senior, of Mitchell St, Stockton received the following letter from Lieutenant-colonel Morshead concerning her late son, Private George Houston: “I deeply regret having occasion to write to you of the death of your gallant son. He was killed in action in the Battle of Passchendaele, third battle of Ypres, on October 12th last. I deeply deplore the loss of such a splendid young man, and such an excellent soldier. Your late son was held in high reputation for his good work, his soldierly bearing, and his upright character. In action he distinguished himself by his courage and devotion to duty. We mourn, more than can be expressed, the death of so fine a comrade. Officers, non-commissioned officers, and men all join me in offering you and your family most heartfelt sympathy in this, your sad bereavement.”


Eric John Andrews, West Maitland; Albert Burge, Newcastle; Harold Edgar Conlin, East Greta Junction; Daniel Richard Cooksey, Mayfield; Clyde McDowall Kirkwood, Bolwarra; Charles Wilfred Luscombe, Muswellbrook; Henry Milton Murray, Merriwa; Martin George Nissen, Singleton; Aubrey Carl Olive, Port Stephens; Stanley Charles Rowe, Newcastle; Arthur Ernest Thomas, Hamilton; John Robinson Younger, Wallsend.



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