Centenary of the Great War

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for June 17-23, 1918.

PRAISE FOR AUSSIE TROOPS: "I can only say that I feel it the greatest honour to have commanded such men," General Birdwood. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony

PRAISE FOR AUSSIE TROOPS: "I can only say that I feel it the greatest honour to have commanded such men," General Birdwood. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony


Mr Philip Gibbs reports: Much rain and increasing mud promise to hamper the German offensive. The Americans are coming in in vast numbers, and are billeted in districts where in 1914 and 1915 British troops were encamped on their way to the fighting line. The Americans seem wonderfully young.


The Australian official correspondent reports: The shelling of Amiens proceeds daily in the usual Boche manner, while the town of Corbie, nine miles east of Amiens, and the splendid old church, are being destroyed, resembling Arras for the completeness of the destruction of all that is beautiful in the town. No troops of ours are endangered. The Germans know this quite well, but it amuses them, as an Australian colonel states. Corbie Church itself dates back to the early Christian centuries. Not far off, Australians entrenching, found old stone coffins, deep buried containing bones of men probably six feet high, with very long thigh bones and small receding foreheads. Some coffins contained bits of weapons, one a fragment of a sword blade and a small spearhead, both apparently beaten out of iron. Elsewhere in the same valley trench diggings turned up a number of pennies inscribed Nero and Caesar. The locality of the coffins appears to have been a battle ground after the coffins were buried, for above and around them are great quantities of bones embedded in the chalky soil. There are no indications of any buildings nearby.


The 400th list of Australian casualties issued by the military authorities on Sunday contains 483 names. It shows that 61 were killed in action, 23 died of wounds, and four died from other causes. In addition, there are seven reported prisoners of war, 60 missing, two not missing, 252 wounded, two not wounded, 11 injured, and 61 ill.


Up to June 15 the casualties in the Australian Imperial Forces totalled 256,768. They were classified as follows: Dead, 48,337; missing, 391; prisoners of war, 3250; sick, 71,802; unspecified, 213. In the case of sick and wounded many men have been reported more than once, so that the actual total is not as high as set out.


Brigadier-General Monash has been appointed to the full command of an Australian Army Corps, and promoted Lieutenant-General. The London newspapers are publishing photographs and the military record of General Monash, as the first civilian to rise to the rank of Lieutenant-General. They highly approve of the precedent.


The Australian official correspondent telegraphs: The scheme by which the Australian force abroad during the period after the war ends, and before transport for the whole force will be available, will be transformed into a great school for famers and engineers, and every sort of learning and training has been taken a step further by General Birdwood laying it before all the senior officers of the force.

General Birdwood explained that a very great opportunity lay before them. “Here,” he said, “was the flower of the country's manhood, the frame work upon which the Australian nation was being built. During the war their education and training had been disturbed. They can not only repair this waste, but give those who have no definite profession or occupation a chance of rendering themselves fit for one. The scheme would begin on a smaller scale while the war continued, but would develop when fighting stopped, and continue thence to the time of landing in Australia.”

He asked all the officers to give their fullest support in doing a great, big-hearted thing unconcerned with politics, sectarianism, or propaganda, and purely designed for the benefit of the men, and in the interests of the Australian nation. He gave special instructions that senior officers must make it clear to all those under their charge that the scheme must be devoted to those objects simply and solely.


General Blrdwood’s reply to Australia’s message on the occasion of his handing over the command of the Australian Imperial Force to Brigadier-General Monash, is as follows: “I beg to tender to you my sincere thanks for your generous reference to my services in command of the Australian corps. I can only say that I feel it the greatest honour to have commanded such men, whose chivalrous response and unswerving loyalty have made my task an easy one. No soldier could aspire to a greater reward than the association of his name with comrades whose gallantry and steadfastness are acknowledged and appreciated as beyond compare by the valorous troops of the Home Country, the sister Dominions, and our Allies.

“My affection for the Australian soldiers is a very real one. My interest in them will continue for all time, and as their commander still I hope to be able to make the welfare and interest of the men my special care until the end. There are no men with more lovable qualities, and before a country which rears such sons there must be a great and glorious future. That future will not be unworthy of the great sacrifices which have been so nobly borne, and this knowledge is the consolation of the bereaved and the suffering, to whom my heart goes out in deep but proud sympathy. I sincerely thank the Government and the people of Australia for the confidence reposed in me. I am certain that the great name and traditions of the force will live for ever, and in the determination to achieve victory we know we can rely on the wholehearted support of the great Australian nation.”


Mrs J. Mahony, of No.7 Arthur Street, Wickham, has been further advised that her husband, Acting Corporal J. Mahony, has been admitted to Royal Herbert Hospital, suffering from gunshot wounds in the arm, back, nose, and right foot, mild.


A mail for letters and packets for the Expeditionary Forces in England and France will close at Newcastle at half-past five o'clock on Wednesday morning. Mails for the Expeditionary Forces in Egypt will close at Newcastle as follows on Thursday - parcels 6pm, letters, packets and newspapers, 8pm.


The sub-committee appointed to confer with the architect with respect to the erection of the honour roll gates reported that arrangements were nearly complete, and it was expected that a commencement would be shortly made with the work.


A farewell social was tendered to Private Cliff Hughes, who has enlisted in “Carmichael’s Thousand,” at the residence of his parents, Mr and Mrs S. Hughes, of Ingall Street, Mayfield, on Saturday. Mr H. J. Ireland, who presided, having proposed the toast of "The King," on behalf of the Waratah Welcome Home and Send-off Committee, presented Private Hughes with a fountain pen, and on behalf of his parents a pocket wallet and Bible. Private Hughes thanked the donors for the presents. The toast of the parents of Private Hughes was honoured, and responded to. Refreshments were partaken of, and games and music enjoyed.


Mr and Mrs S. Galloway, of Merewether, whose son Corporal Clarrie Galloway, was killed in action in France have received a letter from Sergeant J. V. McLoughlin, in which he says: “The boys deeply feel his loss in the company, and also the battalion, as he was so humorous at all times and by his genial disposition. As for myself, he was the best mate I have had since I joined the battalion at Larkhill. As Billy Ball and Clarrie were great mates of mine in Newcastle, you can imagine the surprise he gave me when he joined us up on Messines Ridge. I have not yet seen Billy Ball as he is on divisional headquarters, but might mention that we both belong to Howard Smith S.S. Co., of Newcastle, came from Hamilton, lately of Newcastle West. Your son Victor may remember me. Our brigade, I might mention, was at the time on the right flank of the British army, and we were connecting up to the French. We took part in five very successful counter-attacks, and have held the line for the last month. Clarrie had a fine mate in Private Krefft, who did his best as regards a fitting place of rest for Clarrie. In concluding please accept from all the boys and myself our deepest sympathy in your bereavement.”


Mrs Bilbie, of Church Street, Minmi, has received the following letter from Chaplain A. H. Cullen, of the 1st South African General Hospital, France, concerning the death of her son, Private Joseph Bilbie: “I am writing to acquaint you with the sad news of the passing away of your gallant son, on the evening of the 8th of April. During his very short stay in the hospital he was very dangerously ill, and his condition was almost hopeless from the very first. He was wounded in the right buttock, and, unfortunately, his wound had a gas infection, to which must be traced the ultimate cause of his death. He was very patient while he was with us, and everything possible was done to make him comfortable. He was laid to rest in the local cemetery at Abbeville, and the prayers on the little card enclosed were used at his burial service.”


The column of soldiers encamped at Broadmeadow enjoyed a successful day's outing on Wednesday, when they marched to Raymond Terrace. Leaving Newcastle at 8.55am, they were joined by the Newcastle Combined Schools' Band at Honeysuckle, who accompanied them to Hexham. From there the column marched to the residence of Mr J. Windeyer at Kinross, where they received lunch. The procession was met at the boundary of Raymond Terrace by Alderman Tooze, the Mayor, members of the municipal council, representatives of the Red Cross Society, and a large gathering of residents of the district. They proceeded to King Street, where a recruiting rally took place.

At 5pm the column sat down to a repast, provided by the residents. During the evening, medals were presented to local returned soldiers, while Sergeant-major Desmond presided at another recruiting rally. Among the speakers were Private Jackson, VC, DCM, Lieutenant McKenzie, MC, Colonel Meredith, Major Windeyer, Sergeant-major “Battling” Taylor, and Sergeants Miller and Mason. Much enthusiasm prevailed during the proceedings, and 13 volunteers were accepted for active service. 


Teralba possesses in its soldiers’ roll of honour a fine memorial, and the citizens have been freely complimented by visitors upon their testimony to the town's volunteers. The monument stands in front of the railway station, and preparatory work is in progress by the shire council's employees for the kerbing and guttering. It is proposed to enclose the memorial with a railing, and if this is done Mr Lansdowne, the stationmaster, is prepared to make a garden plot inside the railing and keep it in order.


Robert Mandeville Alcorn, West Maitland; Edward Martin Armstrong, Broadmeadow; Henry George Austin, Hamilton; Arthur Bowditch, Wickham; Henry Cockburn, West Wallsend; Alfred Leslie Crisp, Islington; Walter Alfred Dixon, East Maitland; Ralph Dove, Murrurundi; Archibald John Eade, Teralba; Jack Henderson, Catherine Hill Bay; Milton Richard Mathieson, Bellbird; Lewis Edgar Monkley, Millers Forest; James Murphy, Newcastle; Alfred Boswald Quinlan, Sandhills; John Ronald Roarty, Mayfield; Percy Lascelles Smith, Adamstown; Stanley Edward Smith, Horseshoe Bend; Joseph Cecil Wallace, Wickham; William Henry Wright, East Maitland.


Lieut Thomas Henry Britton, East Greta; Pte James Curtain, Merewether; Pte Thomas Henry Davies, Speers Point; Sgt Phillip Murray Knight, Raymond Terrace; Cpl George Matich, Maryville; Pte William Moore, Newcastle; Pte Hunter Lawrence Smith, Wallsend; Pte Salvatore Sturgali, Lambton; Bdr Dallas Amos Tindale, Muswellbrook; Pte Herbert Wakeling, Pages Creek; Pte Darcy Merle Wynn, Islington. 

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