Centenary of the Great War

COMPELLING: The Frank Gardner Memorial in front of the Newcastle Post Office attracts the awe of a  policeman. Photo:The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

COMPELLING: The Frank Gardner Memorial in front of the Newcastle Post Office attracts the awe of a policeman. Photo:The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for May 6-12, 1918.

AUSTRALIAN CASUALTIES

The weekly return issued by the Defence Department shows that the casualties in the AIF to date have reached 241,309. Details are as follows:

Died, 45,097; missing, 497; prisoners, 2935; wounded, 122,133; sick, 70,433; unspecified, 214.

It is explained by the department that the figures relating to deceased, missing, and prisoners of war represent the actual net totals, after all corrections consequent on errors and later advices have been taken into account. The figures in respect to wounded and sick represent the totals reported by cable, and are in excess of the actual number of men affected, because many are admitted to hospital more than once.

KILTED BRIGADE

A representative meeting of former members of Newcastle Scottish Rifles and their friends was held in the council chambers on Saturday to consider the joint effort of the Highland Society and the members of the Scottish Rifles to promote the formation of a kilted brigade for the front. Mr D. L. Macdonald presided. An account of the meeting at the Highland Society's rooms on 30th ultimo was submitted by W.O. J. Mitchell. After consideration, it was decided to co-operate with the Sydney committee, and to this end it was decided to elect a provisional committee to be entrusted with the duty of enlisting the sympathy and support of the Scottish community in the Newcastle district, and inaugurate a local recruiting campaign in the event of authority for formation of the kilted brigade being received from Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence. On the motion of Captain J. A. D. Robb, Mr. D. L. Macdonald was elected president. The following members of committee were also elected: Captain J. A. D. Robb, Lieutenant J. Snedden, junr., hon. Lieutenant W. E. Smith, Mr J. Snedden, senr., and Mr F. Harmer. W.O. J. Mitchell was appointed organising secretary. The secretary having been instructed to report the result of the meeting to the Sydney committee, the meeting adjourned to a date to be advertised awaiting the decision of the military authorities.

A DARING RAID

Mr Phillip Gibbs states: The Australians below the Somme are making life wretched for the Germans. The Australians' achievement at two on Monday morning was a very daring and successful enterprise. It must be extraordinarily annoying to the German command in that district. Annoying is a mild word. The German troops must have experienced an hour of terror. Many poor wretches were killed. The Australians went over in no great numbers. It was almost like a raid, yet they advanced their line 850 yards, on a 2500 yards front. There was no preliminary bombardment. As soon as the attack was launched, our guns were active, neutralising the enemy's batteries, keeping the roads and tracks under fire, and preventing supports coming up. The Germans were occupying rifle pits and trenches. Groups of machine-gunners were hiding in scattered holes. Some Germans fought for their lives in these holes, but the Australians routed them with bayonets and bombs. The Australians, whose losses were extraordinarily light, brought back as trophies several machine guns, and a big trench mortar. The episode will remind the enemy that the initiative and offensive spirit is not entirely on his side. It was only a minor action compared with the battles of the last month, and the battles in the coming month, as soon as the enemy is again ready to try another big smash.

AUSTRALIAN ADVANCE

The United Press correspondent, in a message despatched from London on Wednesday afternoon, states that the Australians pushed on for 300 yards on a 500 yards front west of Morlancourt, and 500 yards, on a 600 yards front, north-east of Sailly le Sec, east of Amiens. The Australians came into action at midnight. Their first move was a feint, with heavy artillery, and their second and third blows were delivered simultaneously. Meanwhile the enemy put up tremendous machine-gun and shrapnel barrages, but the Australians held on. The thunder of artillery has increased around Bailleul, and along the Ancre. Brilliant sunshine deluges the battlefields. The war planes are now swarming.

LIEUTENANT BOULDEN

Mr and Mrs Boulden, of Mayfield, have received a letter from their son, Engineer-lieutenant Vivian Boulden, of the Royal Navy (dated 9th March), stating he had passed his chief engineer's examination. He passed two honorary examinations at the Naval Depot, Devonport, in April, 1917, and has been in the Royal Navy nearly three years. For 14 months he was attached to the Dover Patrol; since then he has been attached to the Grand Fleet. He served his apprenticeship with the firm of Messrs. Morison and Bearby, Carrington, before going to sea. Lieutenant Boulden was in the best of health, although he put in the worst winter for cold and heavy gales he had experienced In the North Sea.

SOLDIER’S SACRIFICE

By the last mail from England Mrs S. Brown, of Carlisle-Street, Stockton, received details of the circumstances under which her son, Private Cecil Brown, made a sacrifice in an endeavour to save the life of a wounded English officer. Private Brown, who had been wounded, was a patient in No. 2 Canadian Hospital, just behind the line in France, when the officer was brought in severely wounded, and suffering greatly from the loss of blood. The surgeons in charge of the case asked for a soldier to volunteer to submit to transfusion of blood, in order to save the wounded Englishman's life. Private Brown volunteered, and a quart of blood was drawn from his left arm. The officer, for whom the sacrifice was made, benefited greatly, but five days afterwards it was found necessary to amputate one of his legs, and he succumbed to shock. The loss of the blood left Private Brown rather weak, but at the time of writing be was in a London hospital, and was making good progress.

SERGEANT OLIVER, M.M.

Mr S. B. Oliver, of Harris St, Cessnock, has received a copy of certificates relating to the Military Medal conferred on his son, Sergeant G. B. Oliver, M.M., for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on October 14, 1917, near Zonnebeke. The certificate says: “The battery being in a new position, registration was being carried out. This NCO when telephone lines failed, owing to heavy shell fire, showed great determination in opening visual communication between the observing station and the battery, and coolness in maintaining it, in spite of heavy shell fire. His action enabled the battery to be registered, and thus ready for service”. Sergeant Oliver was also mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's despatches, published in the London Gazette, 1st January, 1918, for gallant conduct and devotion to duty during operations in the Noreuil sector at Bullecourt, at Messines, and in the Ypres sector, between 26/2/17 and 20/9/17. He is in England, at St John's Wood OTC, for a few months' instruction. Before enlisting in 1915, he was employed by Lane and Trewartha, Newcastle.

THE GARDNER MEMORIAL

The Mayor stated that steps would have to be taken to provide additional space on the Gardner Memorial to record the names of those soldiers who had been killed in the war. The monument had no more room for the names of the fallen soldiers. The council decided some time ago that a roll of honour should be prepared and placed in the Council Chambers, and this would be done when the names could be obtained from the military department. He would be glad to have an expression of opinion as to increasing the space on the Gardner Memorial. Alderman Quinlan said he would like to see the names placed on the pillars in front of the post office. The matter was left in the hands of the Mayor and engineer, and they were authorised to communicate with the postal authorities with a view to having the names placed on the pillars at the post office.

KURRI KURRI

During the past couple of months, Mr and Mrs A. Galloway, of Kurri Kurri, have been preparing a picture film, featuring local talent. It is intended to screen it at the Royal Picture Palace, and later to despatch it abroad, to be shown at the camps where the Kurri Kurri soldiers are stationed. The film, which consists of a series of comedy and dramatic scenes, is now completed. The film is 1200 feet in length, and consists of 15 scenes. 

NEW LAMBTON

The following is a letter received by Mrs S. A. Burnley, Regent Street, on the 8th instant, and dated France, 1st February, 1918, from the sergeant-major of the 34th Battalion, to which her son, Private J. Burnley, was attached, sent on behalf of the NCOs. and men of that battalion: “I would like to express our sincere sympathy in the loss of your very gallant son, Private J. Burnley, who made the supreme sacrifice in the third battle of Ypres for the heights of Passchendaele, on October 12, 1917. The attack was made under the very worst climatic conditions, and it was entirely due to the superb determination and bravery of men like your son that the operation was a success. We would like you to feel how greatly we appreciated your son as a comrade and soldier.”

WICKHAM

Lieutenant-colonel J. W. Clark writes from France to Mrs Bond, Mayoress of Wickham: “In a letter which reached me recently from our Newcastle Comforts Depot, our secretaries mentioned that we were indebted to the Wickham Red Cross, of which you are president, for special donation of socks, and on behalf of the men and myself I wish you would convoy our grateful thanks to the ladies concerned. Your son is, of course, a member of the battalion, and very much appreciated especially by his company, for his sterling qualities. He is quite well, and I trust will be spared to return safely to you when the enemy decide they have had enough.”

THE SCOTTISH REGIMENT

In the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Wise, Honorary Minister, in reply to Mr Finlayson (Q), said the desire to form a Scottish regiment could not be given effect to, but men of Scottish birth and descent would, as far as possible, be trained together and sent overseas together.

ENLISTMENTS

Frederick Bradshaw, Adamstown; Francis Henry Burns, Muswellbrook; Bert Coombes, Carrington; Harry Alfred Cummins, West Maitland; William Dick, Toronto; John Robert Garner, Hamilton; Raymond Hunter Guy, Lorn; Harold James Jacobs, Branxton; John Charles King, Adamstown; James Knox, North Waratah; Joseph Lake, New Lambton; Herbert John Lee, West Maitland; Joseph Lower, Morisset; Norman Gordon McMaster, Adamstown; Jack Thomas Murray, Booral; Raymond Joseph Pike, Newcastle; Alexander Shepherd, Holmesville; Percy Gordon Wall, Kurri Kurri; Francis Noel White, Wickham.

DEATHS

Pte Ralph Atkinson, Plattsburg; Pte Robert James Bailey, Muswellbrook; Pte Arthur Stanton Bowd, Scone; Lieut Russell Stanley Brown, East Maitland; Pte Thomas Byron, Dungog; Pte Thomas Fairhall, Morpeth; 2nd Lieut William Henry Glossop, Aberdare; Pte John Mortimer Griffen, Cooks Hill; L/Cpl Stanley Lloyd Hackworthy, Islington; Pte Valdimar Hektor, Newcastle; Pte Thomas Stanley Hooker, Singleton; Pte Robert Jones, Aberdare; Pte John Liddle, Lambton; Pte Alister Robert Moss, Singleton; Pte Emil Newman, Carrington; Pte John Mortimer O'Sullivan, Stockton; Pte John Leslie Ridley, Wallsend; L/Sgt Thomas Ernest Sawyer, West Maitland; Pte Joseph Alfred Stork, Glen Oak; Pte Serge Tarasov, Newcastle; Pte Francis James Walsh, Dungog; Pte George Frederick Wilson, Baerami Creek. 

David Dial OAM is a Hunter Valley-based military historian. Follow his research at

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