Centenary of the Great War

GRIM WAIT: German troops await the inevitable assault on their position by Allied soldiers. Photo:  The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.
GRIM WAIT: German troops await the inevitable assault on their position by Allied soldiers. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

Transcriptions from the Newcastle Morning Herald and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for June 10-16, 1918.


The 408th list of Australian casualties was released for publication by the military authorities on Wednesday. It shows that 58 men from New South Wales were killed in action, 49 died of wounds, seven died from causes not stated; one killed as the result of an accident, and three died of illness. In addition, one is reported wounded and missing, one prisoner of war and wounded, four missing, 28 prisoners of war, 234 wounded, 94 ill, and eight injured.


Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, stated on Wednesday that the enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force up to 30th April totalled 396,487, whilst the embarkation number was 316,583. The difference was accounted for by medically unfit and those discharged for various reasons. For some time there have been very few desertions. Mr Watt, the Acting Prime Minister, expressed great pleasure at the decision of the National Government of New South Wales, commending Mr Holman's proposal that the State Parliament should adjourn for a month so as to take part in a big recruiting movement.


The Australian official correspondent telegraphs:  The Australians on Wednesday consolidated their new line between Morlancourt and Sailly-Laurette. After our attack, the Germans apparently delivered two counter-attacks, not three, as reported at first. About one o'clock two companies, starting from Morlancourt, were shattered by infantry fire. The second came at about six o'clock from the south-east, and apparently split in half, attacking half- heartedly near the top of the ridge. Half engaged in a short bombing fight on our right flank. This attack was not serious. The Germans are prepared to dig in rather than assault. While the Australians' advance was proceeding a considerable number of Germans were found lying hidden in the growing crops. Many of these were taken prisoners. The Germans fought mostly on the right of the advance, but not much even here. The fighters were principally a few groups of machine gunners in positions in shell-holes.


Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, informed Senator Pratten (NSW), in the Senate on Thursday, that the Government had considered the question submitted by the Highland and Scottish societies regarding the enlistment of members for active service. The societies would be informed that every facility would be granted them for enlisting and for the men being trained and sent abroad together, but he could give no promise regarding the wearing of kilts.


The March to Freedom Column, after a brief stay in Newcastle, left for Sydney by train on Saturday morning. Most of the men seemed disappointed that they were not having a longer stay in Newcastle. Many of the recruits had never previously visited the city, and they were looking forward to a pleasant time. The train by which the column travelled to Sydney was late in reaching the Central Station, and the men were thus unable to take part in the march held in connection with the reception to the soldiers who had just returned from the front. The ‘Baby Army’ have settled down on the Newcastle Showground, and within the next few days it is understood that they will enter upon the first of a series of route marches. Major Stark is the camp commandant, with Lieutenant Smith, adjutant.


The detachment of troops from Liverpool now encamped at the Show Ground at Broadmeadow will remain there for a month. During that time they will assist in recruiting work, and their program will include boxing exhibitions by Jimmy Clabby and others, screening of war pictures depicting Australians in action, and the delivery of recruiting addresses by special speakers, among whom are Private Jackson, V.C., Lieutenant McKenzie, M.C., Warrant Officers Judge and Bay, and Sergeant-major Banks. 


At the Tighe’s Hill Methodist Church yesterday afternoon, a roll of honour was unveiled by Mrs R. J. Bond, the Mayoress of Wickham. The Rev. T. K. Taylor, pastor of the church, presided, and Major-Chaplain J. W. Dains, was also present. The roll of honour, on which are inscribed 61 names, is a fine piece of work, and has been executed by Messrs. Meldrum and Markey. It is of black and white marble. Of those whose names appear on the roll of honour eleven have made the supreme sacrifice.

An address was delivered by Major-Chaplain Dains, who based his remarks on the incident of the three mighty men of David who volunteered to get water from the Bethlehem gate. When they brought the water back David would not drink the water, but treated it as a sacrifice. In speaking of the men whose names appeared on the roll of honour, the preacher said they had gone out and made their sacrifices for us, and he would ask what were we going to do with it? They had gone out in defence of liberty, freedom, and righteousness, and had brought these back to us. Were we going to use them in a worthy manner?

The preacher also referred to profiteers and others who made large sums of money at the expense of others while we were at war with the enemy as traitors.

He related some touching incidents connected with his experiences at Bullecourt, Messines, and Passchendaele. Special music was rendered. The choir sang He Wipes the Tear From Every Eye. Mr Hugh McCourt, a returned soldier, sang the solo, The Lord Is My Light, and Miss Nancy Davis recited "The Old School's Roll of Honour.” The benediction was pronounced by the Rev. T. K. Taylor, and the service concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.


Mr and Mrs T. Bounds, of 97 Bull Street, Newcastle, have received a letter from Lieutenant Vincent Callen, officer commanding the platoon to which their son, the late Corporal Edward Bounds was attached. In offering his sympathy, Lieutenant Callen states that he was sitting next to Corporal Bounds, when he was killed instantly by a bursting shell. He was held in the highest regard by the officers and men of the battalion, and had just been promoted. He was No. 1 Lewis gunner in the battalion, a position of responsibility which was filled well by him.


The late Sergeant George Duthie, who was reported killed in action in France, was a member of the committee of the Premier Amateur Swimming Club, in which he took a keen interest. He was a splendid swimmer, and won several races in the Ocean Baths, and was one of the most popular members of the club. His quiet, unassuming nature made him a large number of friends In Newcastle, where he was previous to enlisting as a private in the 34th Battalion, employed in the Explosives Department. His parents reside in Scotland.


Mr  and Mrs M. Fitzsimmons, of Gateshead,  have received a letter from an officer of “Newcastle's Own” Battalion referring to their son, Sergeant Con Fitzsimmons, who was recently reported wounded. The letter, which is dated April 10, says: “He was in a battle on the 4th instant, and up to the time of being knocked by a bullet, had done very good work. We have always looked on him as one of our bravest and best non-coms, and his work on this occasion was quite up to his standard. We hope to soon get word of his recovery.”


Private William Jones and Gunner R. Hamilton were given a public welcome home in the presence of a large gathering in the school of arts. Mr S. W. Merritt, president of the Patriotic Association, who presided, formally welcomed the returned soldiers. A musical program was then gone through, after which the Rev. S. Reid said a few words of congratulations. Presentations to the two soldiers of gold medals from the public were made by Mesdames Greener and Dickson, who hoped they would soon be restored to health. Private Jones and Gunner Hamilton thanked the citizens for the presents and the manner in which they had been received. 


Private A. Tillitzki was accorded a welcome home at a social tendered by his Hexham and Ash Island friends. The hall, which had been decorated by Mr Ken Davidson, was well filled. Mr D. Waller, who occupied the chair, said that it gave him great pleasure to welcome their guest, and trusted that no permanent injury would result from his wounds. Private Tillitzki had enlisted in 1915, and had been twice severely wounded. Mr A. Elliott then presented Private Tillitzki with a gold medal, suitably inscribed, together with a silver cigarette case. He hoped the near future would see their guest restored to health. Private Tillitzki briefly thanked the company for their gifts. He had endured much, but had seen much. In trying to do his duty, he had done his best, and did not regret the experience. 


At a meeting of the Citizens' Soldiers' Reception Committee, held on Wednesday, it was decided that owing to the Mission Hall being so small, and the rent excessive, to abandon it, and in future to hold the soldiers' receptions in the Empire Hall, the first of which will be to Private W. Stewart, who has returned, after having been a prisoner of war in Germany. A quiet presentation of medals, in memory of their fallen husbands, was made to war widows on June 3. The presentations were made by Mrs F. Jacobs and Mrs J. Bruce, the president and secretary of the reception committee. The recipients were Mesdames G. Knowles, J. T. White, Brooks, and Goodwin. Similar medals were presented to Mrs Peachman, whose son was killed in action, and Mr Wass, whose brother was killed in action. 


A meeting of the residents of The Junction was held in Chappell's Hall on Thursday evening to devise means of erecting a suitable memorial to the soldiers who have enlisted and fallen from that part of the Newcastle Municipality. Alderman H. Quinlan occupied the chair, and there was a good attendance. It was resolved that with the permission of the council, a monument be erected on the small plot of ground at present unoccupied at the intersection of Macquarie and Kenrick streets, directly opposite the Star Picture Palace.


John Baldwin, West Wallsend; William George Boots, Raymond Terrace; Ralph Arnold Boots, Millers Forest; Keith Stuart Buchanan, Baerami; James Joseph Clinton, Newcastle; John Waterford Crittenden, Clarence Town; William Vincent Devin, Newcastle; Jack Doran, Raymond Terrace; Stanley Elliott, West Wallsend; Leslie Duncan Fisher, Singleton; James Joseph Gleeson, Merriwa; John Walter Handel, Telarah; Franz Julius Hansson, Newcastle; James Bell Hunter, Abermain; Geoffrey James Lloyd, Ardglen; Patrick Mason, Dungog; Kenneth Walter Nettleship, West Maitland; Herbert Stanley Parker, Boolaroo; James Henry  Reckenberg, Abermain; Edgar Sheridan, Smedmore; Elston Turnbull, Wickham; Ernest John West, Osterley.


Pte Alfred Egan, Cooks Hill; Pte Rupert Fergusson, East Maitland; L/Cpl Benjamin Connell Harris, Wallsend; Pte Evan Jenkins, Kurri Kurri; Pte Bernard Grafton Johnson, Dungog; Pte Colin McIntyre, Holmesville.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter Valley-based military historian.