Centenary of the Great War

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for 13-19 May, 1918.

Graves of two Australian men killed during the fighting in May 1918. Photo courtesy of The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

Graves of two Australian men killed during the fighting in May 1918. Photo courtesy of The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

QUIET AT THE FRONT

The official correspondent with the Australian forces reports: The front continues for the most part entirely quiet. As I overlooked a great part of the Australian line on Sunday, I could scarcely believe that war existed in this landscape. The country spread before us only here and there showed signs of the wear and tear of the warfare which lately descended on it. Here and there the grass showed patches like a threadbare carpet, where it has been torn by many shells, or worn by congested traffic. Occasionally one fitful shell pecked like an angry bird at some roadside in the foreground. For the rest nothing stirred. Two soldiers on a bank played with a dog which was left on some farm. The army is still waiting for the heavy blow which will certainly be attempted. 

THE THIRD PHASE

Mr Philip Gibbs states: The long postponement of the enemy's assault seems definite proof that his losses in the earlier offensives were so heavy that he was obliged to abandon costly tactical blows, in order to prepare for new battles on a wide front.

Mr Gibbs is of opinion that the enemy will not strike until he has completed fresh formations, and their special training, in order to resume the offensive, on something like the scale of the 21st March. That process may be near completion, he says, but we have gained invaluable time, and the enemy has thereby lost his greatest, and perhaps, his only chance of victory. Our gaps are refilled, and our troops rested and refreshed.

THE TOTAL TO DATE

The weekly return issued by the Defence Department on Sunday shows that the casualties in the AIF to date totalled 244,411. Details are: Died, 45,883; missing, 534; prisoners of war, 2935; wounded, 124,384; sick, 70,461; unspecified, 214. The figures for deaths, missing and prisoners of war and casualties not specified show the actual net totals after all corrections consequent upon erroneous and later advices have been taken into account. The figures for sick and wounded show the gross totals, and are in excess of the actual number, as many men are admitted to hospital more than once.  

OFFENCES BY SOLDIERS

Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, has intimated that the names of soldiers who desert are to be made public. The decision should meet with general satisfaction. The people of Australia are quite ready to give honour to the men who enlist, but it is necessary that they should be protected from imposition on the part of those who throw aside their obligations and desert their comrades. It is also desirable that men who enlist and are put out of the forces for disciplinary reasons should not be allowed to associate themselves with any of the organisations which are formed by returned soldiers. It is well known that many men are returned to Australia for disciplinary reasons without ever having been near the firing line. These men, whose misconduct is sometimes deliberately engaged in, in order to secure their discharge, come back to this country and pose as men worthy of the support of those engaged in the patriotic movement. If that sort of thing is permitted to continue, it must ultimately undermine the confidence of the public in the returned soldiers' organisations, from which so much good is expected. The man who is put out of the army because there is no chance of making a soldier of him is not entitled to any consideration from the public. He should not be permitted to pose as a returned soldier, and to do so should be made an offence under the War Precautions Act. The men who have been at the front are, moreover, entitled to some badge which should distinguish them from the men whose military careers terminated in the training camps, when they were pronounced physically unfit to bear their share in the true work of the soldier. It has been officially stated that since the commencement of the war ten thousand men who were sent overseas have been returned to this country to be discharged on the ground of physical unfitness. There is no need to condemn these men. The majority of them no doubt joined the forces with the honest desire to do their share. But they were all unable to do it, and they should not be permitted to pose as though they had done it. The number of men returned for disciplinary reasons is constantly increasing. No one wishes to make their lot in life hard, but there are strong objections to be urged against their being allowed to appear before the public on the same plane as the men who have been in the firing line.

ENLISTMENT OF MINORS

The regulation concerning the enlistment of youths without the consent of their parents was issued on Saturday. It is provided that these young recruits will not be taken into camp until they have attained the age of 18½ years. During the period which elapses between enlistment and the time when they attain the age of 18½ they will he placed on leave without pay.

NEWCASTLE RECRUITING

An excellent record was put up at Newcastle for the week ended on Saturday, 62 recruits presenting themselves for enlistment, and 42 being accepted. A special effort is to be made on Friday next, which is "Five Hundred Day." This is an effort promoted by the sportsmen's recruiting committee. Mr E.S. Marks, the hon. secretary of the committee, was in Newcastle on Sunday to confer with Sergeant-major Desmond, who will have control of the Newcastle arrangements. On the occasion of the last special effort by the Sportsmen's Recruiting Committee on July 27, 1917, Newcastle won the flag of honour presented for obtaining the greatest number of recruits. Newcastle is the only centre outside Sydney where the forthcoming special appeal will be made. 

A SOLDIER'S THANKS

At a meeting of the League o[ Honour, held at the Anzac Institute, Newcastle, on Saturday night, Dr May Harris presiding, Miss Amy Hudson, the honorary secretary, reported having received the following letter from a Newcastle soldier at the front: 

“In the Field, March 3, 1918. I wish to thank you and the league, on behalf of my children, for the Christmas gifts they received, which by their letters to me they highly appreciated. I have a wife and four children, and they cannot get too many toys on military pay, with the price things are now; but it is all in the game that we are playing over here. I only hope we beat the Germans by next Christmas, and be home with our little ones again. I think there is a good chance of that coming off. Thanking all once again for making the soldiers happy.”

INSURING RECRUITS

The members of the Newcastle Club have been giving consideration to the payment of the premiums on the life insurance policies of local married men with dependants who enlist. Up to the present arrangements have been made for the payment of the premiums on the policies during the period of the war, and it is expected that the number will be increased.

KURRI KURRI

Mrs A. Lamb, of Maitland Street, Kurri Kurri, has been further advised that her son, Private A. H. Hitchcock, 35th Battalion, was killed in action in Belgium on October 13 last year, and was buried at Tyne Cottage Cemetery. The official notification adds: “The British Government appointed a National Committee to care for the graves of our officers and men after the war, and has, in agreement with the French Government, undertaken to provide for their maintenance in perpetuity. The cemeteries as a whole are grass sown and planted with shrubs. where military conditions allow, under the advice of the Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. Their maintenance is under the supervision of officers of the Graves Registration Units. In every case a durable wooden cross is erected, showing complete regimental particulars. It is understood photographs of the graves are being taken as soon as is possible, and these will be transmitted to next of kin. These additional details are furnished by direction, it being the policy of the department to forward all information received in connection with the death of members of the Australian Imperial Force.”

LATE SERGEANT GARRED

Following the announcement that Sergeant A. D. Garred was reported missing on 5th April, 1918, Mrs D. J. Garred, of Raymond Terrace, has been officially informed that her son was killed in action on that date. Sergeant Garred enlisted as a private in September, 1914, leaving Melbourne on December 22 of the same year. He participated in the landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula, being a member of Colonel Burnage's Battalion. After being on the peninsula about a fortnight, he was wounded during an attack on ‘Pope's Hill,’ having the lower part of his ear blown off. He jocularly remarked that he was “well-ear-marked”. After a short absence in hospital in Egypt, he returned to the Peninsula and was taken ill, and landed at Malta for hospital treatment, necessitating an absence of about four weeks. He again returned to the peninsula. After the evacuation he was promoted corporal, and transferred to the 45th Battalion, being among those sent to France. He participated in various actions in France until August, 1916, when he was wounded in the left hand and foot. After an absence of about 10  weeks in England, he returned to France, but during the winter of 1916-17 he contracted trench feet, and was again sent to England for treatment, where he remained about six months. Returning to France he was promoted sergeant, and participated in the advance of the Allies during the summer of 1917. In his letters received prior to the announcement by telegram of his death, he stated that he expected to be able to come home on six months' furlough, but the advance of the Germans evidently stopped all leave, and resulted in his death. Sergeant Garred would have attained his 28th birthday next July.

LIEUTENANT MCMAHON

Mr and Mrs R. McMahon, of High Street, Greta, have received word that their son, Lieutenant L. S. McMahon, was officially reported missing from 8th of May. Lieutenant: McMahon sailed in May, 1916, and has been in the trenches for eighteen months.

ENLISTMENTS

Charles Raymond Arthur, West Maitland; John Edward Austin, Rixs Creek; George Bower, Wallsend; Robert Cole, Branxton; James Ernest Davis, Adamstown; Samuel Joseph Denny, Toronto; Christopher John Edwards, Wallsend; Rupert James Garthon, Merewether; Charles Gould, Singleton; Richard Tinson Hanley, Hamilton; Horace Harrison, Adamstown; Robert Stephen Henderson, Gloucester; Robert Hill, Holmesville; David Hitchcock, New Lambton; John Reasey Jacobs, Wallsend; Edward Stamford Jones, Merewether; Henry Lamb, Adamstown; John Roy Mills, Hamilton; Hector Dullen Moase, Hamilton; William Stafford Nickisson, Cooks Hill; Arthur Vincent Quiggin, Mayfield; David Colston Rae, Adamstown; Sidney Wallace Searles, Mayfield; Edgar James Sims, Wickham; Alexander Simula, Newcastle; Paul Smirnoff, Cessnock; Edward Norman Smith, North Waratah; John Straker, Cardiff; Arthur William Street, Stockton; Alfred Williams, New Lambton; Robert Rourke Wolfe, Lorn; Walter Allan Wood, East Maitland.

DEATHS

Pte John Joseph Deacon, Hillsborough; Pte Glynne Emanuel Flynn, Newcastle; Pte Francis Joseph Healey, Cooks Hill; Pte David Henry Jones, Merewether; Pte Joseph Lythgoe, Minmi; Pte Robert Maddison, Newcastle; Pte Albert Edward Moxey, Cessnock; Tpr Claude Thomas Redman, Jerrys Plains; Sgt Herbert James Shepherd, Hamilton; Pte Charles Alfred Watson, Tighes Hill; Pte Ernest Williams, East Greta.

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