Centenary of the Great War

BEST MATES: Recruits of A Company 35th Battalion (Newcastle’s Own) with a pet joey. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.
BEST MATES: Recruits of A Company 35th Battalion (Newcastle’s Own) with a pet joey. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for 2-8 July 1917.


The 318th and 319th lists of Australian casualties were issued Friday night. They contain a total of 2032 names. The number reported killed is 293, deaths from wounds 67, deaths from other causes 4, wounded 1638, missing 3, sick 14, and prisoners of war 12.


Mr Holman, the Premier of NSW, was injured by the bursting of a shell when visiting the trenches on Monday. The Germans were aimlessly searching the area visited when a heavy shell fell near the party. Mr Holman was bruised and otherwise injured, and suffered from shock. He is in London recovering.


Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the West Front, reports: “There has been considerable enemy artillery fire in the neighbourhood of Lens and northward of the Lys River. During June we captured 3686 Germans, including 175 officers, and took 67 guns, including two heavy guns, 102 trench mortars, 345 machine guns, and a great quantity of other material.” An earlier report stated: “Following Saturday's success southward of Lens, we attacked at night on the north bank of the Souchez and captured the enemy's defences on a half-mile front, south-westward and westward of the town. We carried out successful raids on Saturday night north-eastward of Epehy. As a result of raids eastward of Gouzeaucourt and near Armentieres we took a few German prisoners.


The entire contingent of General Pershing's force has arrived safely in France. They encountered and sank one U-boat, and it is believed that other U-boats were sunk. General Pershing has inspected the American troops, and expressed satisfaction at their smart appearance, and the excellent arrangements for their quarters.


An official message from Egypt states: “We carried out successful air raids upon the supply depot at Telkeram and an aerodrome at Ramleh, on the north-west coast of Egypt, and on military establishments near Jerusalem. General Allenby has arrived in Egypt, and has taken over command of the forces.


An amusing account of the various regimental pets which have been adopted by the Australian mounted troops at the front has been forwarded to the defence authorities by a member of the army in Palestine. There’s not a unit, he states, which has not a pet of some kind. When flies were a sore trial, practically every tent had a chameleon to keep them under, and it was no uncommon thing to see “Tommies” walking about with chameleons on caps and shoulders. Dogs of many breeds are with the troops. Some units have taken with them to the war area diminutive monkeys, while a donkey with a mounted regiment is stated to possess such a pretty concert that it imagines an action would not be successfully fought if it did not trot off, unled and undirected, into the battle line. The staff of one Australian Light Horse Brigade carries its poultry whenever it moves camp, and the laying record of the fowls shows that they would have been cheap at five times the price they cost, allowing for the fact that a portion of camel food has been diverted to the poultry. As no one can tell where the next night's bivouac will be, the chickens go to battle with the brigade, and it is truthfully told of them that they lay as well when nasty things are hurling through the air as when the surroundings mislead them into believing there is perfect peace.


With the 5000 necessary to give the members of the First Division a well-deserved rest, Australia will have to endeavour to raise 12,000 for the first month. This would mean that Newcastle would have to secure 65 volunteers, Hamilton and West Maitland 30 each, Kurri Kurri, Cessnock, Merewether, and Waratah 14 each. After the special 5000 are recruited, the districts will only have to obtain seven-twelfths of the figures quoted above to bring them up to requirements.


An in memoriam service was held in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Laman-street, Newcastle, in token of respect for Lieutenant Charles H. Kaler, Lieutenant Perrau, and Private Fleming, who have made the great sacrifice. A large congregation was present. The Rev. A. Torrens, who was the preacher, took for his theme the three brave men who brought the water to King David, and drew from the incident impressive lessons suitable for the solemn occasion. A silk flag that was presented to the 30th Battalion when that battalion went to the front, and has been to Egypt, Mesopotamia, and France, and has now been brought home weather-beaten and war-worn, was presented to St. Andrew's Church by one of the members. 


Private Peter Coppock, writing to Mr L. Tamlyn, secretary of the Northern British Association, reports many interesting bits of news. He states that one Saturday he went to see a football match, and saw Aubrey Searle, Fred Alberts, Jock Clarke, and one or two other old Newcastle Soccerites. One of the competing teams failed to put in an appearance and the versatile Peter turned team selector. He picked a team to take the absent one's place. So well was the work done that Coppock's team won, 3-2. Soccerites of Merewether, West Wallsend, and Weston will all be glad to know that the winner's three goals were scored by Fred Alberts, J. Jones, and Jock Clarke. Peter mentions the late Private “Goub” Williams, and says that he understands Frank was shot through the chest, and only lived about 20 minutes. Joe Thorpe is mentioned as having returned. Private Coppock also says that he is expected to leave for the firing line the day after he wrote. Fred Alberts was already there, Searle and Clarke were expecting to be sent any time.

Private Will Nancarrow, who is in the machine gun section of the 56th Battalion, writing to his parents, Mr and Mrs J.H. Nancarrow, Perkins-street, Newcastle, under date 9th April, says: “Lately we have not been able to get our letters away, because Fritz has been “a good thing” and so we have been after him. I suppose you have read (or will have read by the time this reaches you) of how the Australians have kept in touch with the Germans, and how we have advanced. Our division did splendid work. A week ago today we engaged the enemy, and took a couple of villages at the point of the bayonet. The aircraft has proved a great success, and from this on, between artillery, aircraft, and machine guns, Fritz will go through an absolute hell. It cannot be described as anything else. You cannot imagine how superior our artillery is to his, and it is now our turn to smile. It is several weeks since I received any letters, but I suppose that is accounted for by us being on the move. In the course of a month we have advanced as far as from Newcastle to Hexham, and so having to wait a while for our letters is only a minor consideration. So far I have escaped injury, and am in good health.”


Arthur Edward Affleck, Wallsend; Adolphus Doran Agland, Hamilton; Harrie Ballard, Waratah; Charles Davis Burrows, Dudley; Edwin Lionel Collins, Boolaroo; Harold Thomas Fahey, Cooks Hill; Frederick Falkiner, Kurri Kurri; Harold Douglas Grant, Awaba; Walter Henry Hunt, Merewether; William Oscar Koos, Toronto; Herschel Ludington, Scone; August Frederick Maier, Newcastle; Reginald Edward Marsh, Murrurundi; Thomas McFee, Newcastle; Sarah Avaline Mears,  Oakhampton; Thomas Muir, West Wallsend; Ernest Cecil Muller, Hamilton; Frederick William Spilsted, Muswellbrook; Robert Horatio Williams, Kurri Kurri.


Pte Charles Carr, Hawkes Bay; Pte Robert Francis Davidson, Kurri Kurri; Pte Anthony Joseph Flynn, Cessnock; Pte Victor George Gilson, Merewether; Capt Frank Harold Jarrett, New Lambton; Pte John Joseph McGrane, Cessnock; Pte Frederick St. John Page, West Maitland; Pte Albert Smith, Hamilton; Cpl John James Swadling, Cardiff.

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