Centenary of the Great War

RESPECT: Two Australian soldiers take the time to pay tribute to a fallen relative or friend. Photo: The Digger's View by Juan Mahony
RESPECT: Two Australian soldiers take the time to pay tribute to a fallen relative or friend. Photo: The Digger's View by Juan Mahony

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for 1-7 April 1918.

CASUALTIES TO DATE

In a report issued by the Defence Department, it is shown that Australian casualties to date number 232,324. These are made up as follows:-

Dead 43,475; missing 680; prisoners of war 2947; wounded 116,594; sick 68,414; casualty not specified 214.

The report states that the dead, missing, prisoners of war and casualties not specified represent the actual not totals after all corrections consequent upon erroneous and later advices, and so forth, have been taken into account. The wounded and sick represent the totals reported by cable message, and are in excess of the actual number of men affected, because many are admitted to hospital more than once.

THE LONG RANGE GUNS

The gun bombarding Paris is 75 feet long and the shell between eight and nine inches, but fitted with false cap or elongated nose, giving an extreme length of nearly five feet.

The secret appears to be the distribution of the shell’s weight, giving it steadiness, and enabling it to travel a long distance. The muzzle velocity is 5000 feet a second. It is fired at an elevation of 55 degrees. It is believed six or seven guns are in existence, each able to fire 250 rounds.

FOCH SUPREME COMMANDER

The "Daily Chronicle" states that General Foch has been appointed Generalissimo on the West Front, in conformity with the wishes of Sir Douglas Haig and General Petain.

The "Daily Chronicle" says: "General Foch's appointment is no reflection on Sir Douglas Haig or General Petain. It is the inevitable outcome of the military situation, and emanated from the soldiers themselves. Unity of command is vital and necessary. The Allies have suffered sadly from a lack of co-ordination. General Foch's claims are indisputable.

The "Daily News" protests against General Foch's appointment. The conception of an Allied Generalissimo is full of dangers. Friction will be set up the first time the Generalissimo’s orders are not approved. An army can stand defeat under its own chiefs, but not under a foreign general.

The "Star" states that Sir Douglas Haig retains his powers uncurtailed. General Foch will co-ordinate with him, and will not possess executive control of both armies.

GERMANS NEAR AMIENS

The War Office reports: "On Sunday there was quiet north of the Somme. Immediately south of the Scarpe our line has been advanced eastward of Feuchy.

“The fact is confirmed that the enemy’s losses in Saturday's fruitless attacks were heavy. Our successful counter-attacks south of the Somme on Saturday regained Demuin.

"The Canadian's cavalry and British infantry, in conjunction with the French, carried out a brilliant operation on Saturday, recapturing Moreuil, a wood northward.

“A heavy German attack developed on Sunday afternoon in the angle between the rivers Luce and Avre. Fighting continues. The Germans are attacking southward of Moreuil, in the direction of Tilly and Rameval.

“The French on Sunday morning had progressed from the south of Montdidier to Lassigny, retaking several of the villages lost on Saturday.”

Press reports state: “The British and French have recaptured Moreuil, near Amiens, with the utmost dash.  The enemy’s losses in killed and prisoners were severe. The enemy is firmly held back in the Lassigny district.”

The Germans captured Achicourt and other villages in the neighbourhood of Montdidier. They have reached Marcelcave, and are within twelve miles of Amiens.

“Le Matin” says: “Our front is daily becoming more consolidated by the incessant arrival of reinforcements.

The general feeling in London and Paris is that the Germans have virtually lost.

BRITAIN'S APPEAL.

The Press Bureau states: Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, has despatched the following message to the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Newfoundland:-

"We have been inspired during the past week by the constant news of the dauntless courage with which the Dominion troops have withstood the desperate assault of vastly more numerous forces.

"The battle shows that the Empire has good reason to be proud of all its sons. Our armies cannot have too many of these splendid men.

"We propose to ask Parliament to authorise immediate measures for raising fresh forces here.

"I urge the Dominion Governments to reinforce their heroic troops in the fullest possible manner, and with the smallest possible delay.

"The struggle is only opening. It is our business to see that our armies get the maximum measure of support.

"Let none think that what even the most remote dominion can do now can be too late. Before the campaign is finished the last man may count."

ACTIVITY AT THE FRONT

Correspondents at American headquarters in France state that it is expected that American troops will soon reinforce Sir Douglas Haig's troops. There is great activity in the whole of the American zone. Long motor trucks, carrying large forces of Americans, are moving westwards.

AUSTRALIAN GALLANTRY

Mr. Cutlack, the Assistant Official Australian Correspondent, in a telegram despatched from London on Monday, states: The Germans attempted again on Sunday, in considerable strength, to force their way through to Amiens, along the north bank of the Somme, east of Corbie.

The attack commenced at noon, and continued at intervals for three hours. The enemy came on in seven waves. The contour of the ground greatly favoured the Australian machine-gunners. As the German lines came out into the open, down the opposite slope of the valley which separated them from the Australians, they presented a splendid target, of which the infantry and artillery made the utmost advantage. The attackers were also enfiladed from the head of the valley by our Lewis guns.

The enemy concentrations twice caught the full blast of our artillery fire, some over open sights. The Germans nowhere got nearer than fifty yards from our posts, and finally abandoned the attack, after they had suffered the heaviest casualties. In the last few days the Germans have made further slight progress immediately south of the Somme, towards Villers Bretonneux, the operations consisting mainly of skirmishing.

Late on Sunday afternoon New South Wales battalions were sent in to clear the wood south of Villers, and establish a line, on a spur south-east of the woods, to assist the British forces. This was accomplished in a most gallant manner, dismounted cavalry, with machine-guns, helping our men. The enemy advance guards did not care to meet the Australian bayonets, and fell back on their main positions. Our line there is now well established.

MESSAGE TO BIRDWOOD

Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, has despatched the following message to General Sir William Birdwood:-

"Australia looks with confidence to her splendid sons worthily to uphold the glorious traditions they have created by their courage and constancy, and feels sure that they will fight manfully for the protection of their flag and country.

"The parents and relations of our soldiers are watching with anxiety but confidence the great struggle for human liberty and freedom in which they are engaged."

BELMONT

Private Fred Turnbull, youngest son of Mr. Paul Turnbull of Belmont, was welcomed home last Saturday night, the function being presided over by Mr. M. H. Simpson. Mr. Simpson extended a welcome to the returned soldier, and called on Mrs. Davidson to present him with a gold medal as a token of appreciation of his services. Mrs. Davidson, on behalf of the residents of Belmont, asked his acceptance of the gift, and she trusted that he would be long spared to wear the medal. Messrs. Davidson, Hall, Valentine, and Merrit spoke in eulogistic terms of the returned soldier. The latter emphasised the fact that there are numbers of weekend cottages in Belmont, which many of our returned soldiers, who are in search of health, would be glad to occupy for a while. He had a cottage at Swansea, and for the past eighteen months its doors had been open to returned soldiers gratis. He hoped that those who owned seaside residences in Belmont would do likewise. Musical items were rendered and the refreshments were in the hands of the Red Cross ladies.

FASSIFERN

Mrs. James Belford, of Fassifern, has received from the Director of Graves Registration a photograph of the grave of her late son, Lance-corporal Eldred J. (Jack) Belford. The grave is marked by a cross inscribed, "Erected by his Comrades." Its appearance, and the flowers growing on it, evidence the care that is being taken of the resting places of Australian soldiers. The comrades of Lance-corporal Belford erected the cross immediately after his burial.

KILLINGWORTH

A welcome home was tendered to Private James Melanophy and Sapper Andrew Dodds, in the institute hall on Saturday evening. Mr. T. W. Kennaway, president of the patriotic committee, in extending a welcome home to the guests, said they had done their duty, and those simple words conveyed much. Private Melanophy had returned to the front after twice being severely wounded, and he trusted that he and his comrade, Sapper Dodds, would find restored health in their return home. Mr. E. Humble also spoke in admiration of the guests, Mrs. G. Blatchford, president of the Killingworth branch of the Red Cross, presented Private Melanophy and Sapper Dodds with the Killingworth people's gold medal, bearing the usual inscription. Miss West, on behalf of the Girls' League, also tendered a welcome. In a few words the returned soldiers expressed their appreciation of their welcome. A short musical programme was given during the proceedings. Tea and refreshments were served by the ladles' committee, and the remainder of the evening was spent in dancing.

KURRI KURRI

Mr. A. Galloway has arranged to take a motion picture of parents, wives, and children of soldiers on active service, to be sent with the Kurri War Chest Day film, to the various camps in England. He intends to take a close up picture, so that the soldiers may recognise their loved ones at home. The Kurri Kurri picture will be taken at the Kurri Kurri Public School at 4 p.m. on Saturday, and the Weston picture in Station Street, at 3.30 p.m. on the same day. Mr. Galloway is defraying the whole cost of the work as his tribute to the Kurri and Weston soldiers.

ENLISTMENTS

John Maxwell Brealey, Farley; John Thomas Crooks, West Maitland; Samuel Kearines, East Maitland; Roy George Maher, Hexham; Edward John Neale, Cessnock; Albert Victor Petersen, New Lambton; William George Phillips, Merewether; David Gordon Ramsay, Newcastle; Sydney George Sharp, New Lambton; Robert Smith, Wickham; Reginald Herbert Winter, East Maitland.

DEATHS

Pte David Bone, Hamilton West; Pte Edward John Bounds, Cooks Hill; Pte William Bowden, Carrington; Pte Ernest Clark, Newcastle; Pte Samuel Cleary, Broadmeadow; Pte Leslie Clouten, Toronto; Cpl John Connell, Waratah; Pte Joseph Coussons, Weston; Pte Vincent Clive Crosbie, Mayfield; Pte William Frank Cush, West Maitland; Dvr Raymond Francis Dempsey, Mosquito Island; Pte Robert Dickinson, Weston; Cpl George Thomas Donnelly, Muswellbrook; Sgt George Lang Duthie, Wickham; Sgt Kenneth Ellicott, West Maitland; Pte Aubrey Joseph Elliott, The Junction; Pte George Fellows, Dungog; Pte Henry William Garland, Largs; Sgt Archie Daniel Garred, Raymond Terrace; Pte Reginald Bateman Goad, New Lambton; Pte Folsch Newenham Grant, Stroud; Pte Roy Frederick Hallett, Whittingham; Cpl Samuel James Hanna, Wickham; Cpl Thomas Edward Harrison, Muswellbrook; Pte Frank Noel Hinde, South Singleton; Pte Ryder Nash Horton, Newcastle; Pte Albert Andrew Jones, Newcastle; L/Cpl Norman Kay, West Maitland; Pte Hercules George Leard, Kars Springs; Pte William Arthur Lee, Gloucester; Lieut Herbert Harold Maynard, Morpeth; Lieut James Glen McDonald, Abermain; Pte John Mills, Boolaroo; Pte Robert Minto, West Wallsend; Pte Harold Foster Moore, Redhead; Pte Samuel John Moore, Gloucester; Pte Harold Murray, Wickham; Pte Henry Nancarrow, Newcastle; Pte John Francis Naughtin, West Wallsend; Sgt John Patrick O'Brien, Teralba; Pte Francis Parry, Boolaroo; L/Cpl Robert Paterson, Abermain; Pte Stanley Penfold, Hexham; Pte John Asall Thomas Perkins, Newcastle; Pte Archibald Daniel Poole, Cessnock; Pte Charles William Potter, Stanford Merthyr; Pte John Joseph Proctor, Cooks Hill; Pte Walter John Redman, Jerrys Plains; Pte Stephen Ernest Sampson, Kurri Kurri; Pte James Alfred Searle, Newcastle; Pte John Thomas Smith, West Maitland; L/Cpl Wallace Laurie Warren, Newcastle; Pte Edgar Roy Waters, Yarramalong; Lieut Leslie James West, Merewether; Pte Henry Charles Williams, Muswellbrook.

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