Centenary of the Great War

SOLEMN: Unveiling the memorial to the 1st Australian Division at Pozieres, France, July 8, 1917. Photo courtesy of Juan Mahony.
SOLEMN: Unveiling the memorial to the 1st Australian Division at Pozieres, France, July 8, 1917. Photo courtesy of Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for 9-15 July 1917.


Two Australian casualty lists, Nos. 321 and 322, were issued Wednesday. They show that 259 were killed in action, 36 died of wounds, one was accidentally killed, and seven died of other causes. There are 1529 reported wounded, 53 sick, 11 missing, nine injured, and one POW.


Despatches from Major-General Sir Archibald Murray, who was in command in Egypt, covering from October 1, 1916, to February 28, 1917, mentions 120 Australians and 43 New Zealanders. The despatches are largely concerned with the doings of Australian and New Zealand mounted men. Sir Archibald Murray specially comments on the Australian Light Horse in their difficult night marches in the country round Oghara on October 13; also the Australian and New Zealand mounted men in their skilful occupation of El Arish and Masmi on December 20, ending with Chauvel's fine march to Magdhaba, where 1282 prisoners were taken, while we lost only 154 killed and wounded in a brilliant dash. The New Zealand mounted men mentioned include Chetwode's column, advancing on Rafa on January 9, which was the outstanding feature of the action, which resulted in the capture of the entire Turkish force of 1600 men. The main factor in the success of conquering the Sinai Desert was the intense work. Hundreds of miles of road and railways had been built.


An official report from Egypt states the situation is unchanged. There has been considerable artillery work. We put out of action 13 enemy guns during June, and destroyed many gun emplacements. The health of the troops is satisfactory, and the admission to hospitals shows the lowest average for Egypt since five years before the war. It is learned from Turkish sources that the Turks are making great preparations to retake Bagdad and to defend Palestine. Ten new divisions are being formed, seven for Asia, under a General Marshal.


Australians visiting the Somme have expressed general approval of the idea which is crystallising in London to erect a permanent memorial near Pozieres to the fallen Australians. At present crosses mark isolated graves and little cemeteries. There are also larger temporary memorials to divisions, but the feeling favours the erection of a noble national memorial.


Private Ernest Pockett, writing to Mr and Mrs Pockett, of Neath, from France, under date April 14, says: “This is Friday, the 14th April, and everything OK. The weather is getting better now, although we had a good fall of snow on Wednesday. I suppose Mrs. Morgan has heard of the bad news concerning George Hammond. Jack Mansfield told me again today, so it seems to be correct. We have been having a few casualties lately. I am at present having a good old rest, which I badly needed. We spent the winter on the worst part of the western front, and have been going hard at it. I have not seen a civilian for five months, so you can guess how we need a change. Our battalion was the first through Bapaume, and I worked harder that day than ever I worked carrying messages for twenty four hours through a town which was stopping a fair amount of shells, etc. All the Neath chaps are keeping well, and I am in the best of health” This letter was written and sent to Australia on a German field post-card.


Mrs Priestley, of ‘Gostwyck’, Paterson, has received a letter from an officer of the battalion of which her late son, Private George Priestley, was a member. After referring to the regret he felt when he heard of the death of Private Priestley, the officer says that prior to his promotion he was alongside the deceased soldier during the Gallipoli campaign. He goes on to say: “He was a good soldier, but above all he was a man. He always led such a clean life, and was a God-fearing man. I was with him such a lot, that I am very intimate with all his doings. He was sniped over the parapet, and died instantly. “We buried him and erected a cross to his memory, all amongst the snow.”


Ninety names are on the South Newcastle Rugby League Football Club's roll of honour, which was unveiled Wednesday night at a euchre party and social held in the Oddfellows' Hall, Auckland-street. There was a large attendance. Of those whose names appear on the roll 11 have made the supreme sacrifice. Mr A. R. Gardiner, MP, who performed the unveiling ceremony, said it was most gratifying to know that those young men had so numerously responded to the call of duty from the club. It spoke well for the patriotism of the club, and he believed that in the future further names would be added to that long list. It was pleasing also to the relatives of the men to know that their friends had shown in this way their appreciation of their action


District Soccerites will regret to know that Private A. Jones has been killed at the front. Arthur Jones, popularly called ‘Mick’, was a member of Merewether Advance Club, and prior to the war played with Merewether juniors, being regarded by many as a player of great promise. Privates Fred Alberts and J. (‘Shot’) Jones, two other members of Merewether Club, have been wounded. The official intimation did not state if seriously or otherwise. Alberts was the State's best centre-forward. He had represented the district on numerous occasions, and in the last State game he led NSW against Queensland. ‘Shot’ Jones was in Merewether B team last season, playing inside right, with Alberts centre forward. He played against South Maitland, at Blackburn's oval last season, and if memory serves right, ‘Shot’ shot Newcastle's only goal on that day.


The first local soldier arrived home on Thursday evening. Fully 30 residents journeyed to Newcastle by the motor omnibus to meet the Sydney train and give a hearty welcome to Private Boyd, and were pleased to find him looking little the worse for his experience, although his left arm had not regained its usual strength. On the arrival at Charlestown a crowd was waiting to shake him by the hand, and escorted him to his home. The patriotic committee are arranging a public welcome to Private Boyd.


Lieutenant Clegg appeared to prosecute William Cleary and Alfred Williams, trainees, for absenting themselves from drill, the former having a deficiency of 5½ days, and the latter 6¼ days. The magistrate ordered that they be handed over to the Military authorities at South Head, Sydney, for 6 and 8 days, respectively, and to pay 3 shillings costs of court, in default, 24 hours in the lock-up. A similar case against John James Taylor was ordered to be dealt with in the Children's Court.


Theodore James Bradstreet, Newcastle; John Donald Collins, West Wallsend; George Alfred Duffy, Murrurundi; George Duncan, Boolambyte; John Patrick Falvey, Islington; Mathew Fitz, Newcastle; Jack Charles Fraser, Mayfield; Frederick Hinde, East Maitland; Vivian Arthur Johnson, Cessnock; John Albert Lloyd, Merewether; Robert Maddison, Newcastle; William Jethro Maskell, Hamilton; William Mitchell, Kurri Kurri; Cyril Claude Mosely, Weston; William Pentelow, Kurri Kurri; George Reid, Cooks Hill; William Campbell Ross, Stockton; Patrick Scully, Carrington; Archibald Hamilton Shields, Newcastle; George Skilton, Stockton; Robert Bruce Smith, Newcastle; Lovel Thomas Stead, Tighes Hill; Horace George Taylor, Belltrees; Thomas Weedy, West Maitland.


Pte Robert Brown, South Cessnock; Pte Charles John Clark, Broadmeadow; Pte James Joseph Colgate, Neath; Pte William Hunt, Newcastle; Pte Harold Johnson, Scone; Pte John Morris, Newcastle; Pte Albert Edward Robertson, Newcastle; L/Sgt Ivan Rossoggsky, Moonan Flat; Pte John Joseph Thomas, Weston.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter-based military historian. facebook.com/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory