Centenary of the Great War

The cost to one family: The three Clift brothers from South Australia, two of whom were killed and the other seriously wounded. Photo: The Digger's View by Juan Mahony

The cost to one family: The three Clift brothers from South Australia, two of whom were killed and the other seriously wounded. Photo: The Digger's View by Juan Mahony

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for July 29-August 4, 1918. 


The 419th list of Australian casualties, released by the military authorities last Saturday, shows that 46 New South Welshmen were killed in action, 33 died of wounds, one died from cause not stated, one died of illness, and one died of injuries. In addition, one is reported wounded and prisoner of war, one prisoner of war, one wounded and missing, 138 wounded, 10 ill and 21 injured. One previously reported missing is now reported not missing.


The Defence Department has issued the following summary of casualties to date: Dead, 50,321; missing, 139; prisoners of war, 3358; wounded, 140,002; sick, 73,346; casualty not specified, 213. Total, 267,379.


Complaints have been made that returned soldiers suffering from shell shock had been discharged shortly after landing, with the consequence that they were still suffering from that disability and unable to follow their civil occupation. It was asserted that cases were known of some of these men being treated by Chinese herbalists, to whom they were paying 25 shillings out of their weekly pension of 30 shillings.

Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, said that the statements were absolutely incorrect. The Medical Board determined whether shell shock patients were sufficiently recovered to be discharged, or whether they should receive further treatment. These men could receive the attention of the best specialists at the various military hospitals, and in addition, the military authorities here were in touch with specialists abroad, who kept them up to date in regard to the latest method adopted in neurasthenics. Of course, the Minister added, men could not be prevented from going to Chinese herbalists, but should any discharged man have a recurrence of his disability he could always return to the Base Hospital for treatment by a specialist.


In the course of a newspaper interview on the launching of HMAS Adelaide, Mr J. Cook, referred to the considerable services the Australian Navy had rendered in the Pacific in the early days of the war, when the Australian unit was able to join up as part of the British Fleet. This was due, he said, to the aid rendered by officers and men lent by the British Navy and to the principle adopted of uniformity in training. The prophecies made at the inception of Australia's programme, first, that the Australian Navy would not be at the Admiralty's disposal in time of danger, and, secondly, that it would be useless from a naval standpoint, had been completely falsified. Australia had ideals of self-reliance and self-help which were expressed in part by the creation of the navy. There was a time when it was very difficult to induce the Commonwealth to vote £200,000 yearly as a contribution to the fleet, but today the Commonwealth Parliament readily accepted a scheme of naval defence involving an expenditure of £5,000,000 annually. Parliament did that because the proposals appealed to the dignity of the Australian nation, which Australia claimed to be. Every unit added to the fleet might confidently be regarded as an addition to the might and power of the Empire.


The following message has also been despatched on behalf of the Commonwealth to the Australian troops on the different fronts: “On the commencement of the fifth year of war the people of Australia wish to assure the troops of their unbounded confidence in their valour and endurance, which have been tried and proved so well at Gallipoli, in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and on the historic battlefields of Europe. Australia is proud of her soldier sons, and feels sure that their gallant record will be maintained till peace with victory rests with the Allied arms.”


Amsterdam reports that the Kaiser has sent the following message to the army and navy: “It is not the arrival of the American and numerical superiority that will win victory, but the spirit animating the German soldiers and sailors. We will fight on until the enemy's will to destroy us is broken.”  He lauded the submarines' gallant efforts to prevent American forces crossing the Atlantic.


Private Shilling.  Mrs Shilling, late of Frederick-street, now of Berner Street, Merewether, has been advised that her husband, Private G. S. (Jack) Shilling, has been wounded (second occasion). Private Shilling left with “Carmichael's First Thousand” in May, 1916.

Captain Percy.  Mr G. T. Percy, town clerk of Hamilton, has been advised that his brother, Captain H. H. Percy, M.C., has been reported wounded.

Lieutenant Bruce. Mrs Bruce, of Pelaw Main, has been advised of the death in action, in France, of her husband, First Lieutenant James Bruce, DCM, MC, on July 17. The deceased officer left Maitland with the 34th Battalion, and distinguished himself on several occasions. On October 12, 1917, he took part in the fight at Passchendaele where the late Captain Jeffries, VC, was killed. For splendid service rendered in the engagement he was awarded the DCM.


A large crowd assembled at the Wickham Public School on Saturday afternoon, when the roll of honour, containing names of former scholars of the school, was unveiled by the Mayor, Alderman R. J. Bond. Mr J. L. Fegan, who presided, said he deeply regretted the occasion which called for their assemblage, but, at the same time, it was such gatherings which marked the genuineness of the tribute that had to be paid to those who had given all that God had given them to give. A few years ago people would have laughed to think that between 300,000 and 400,000 men would have left the shores of Australia to take part in the greatest war that had ever scourged humanity. When at the commencement of the war Mr Cook offered 20,000 to the empire, people were astonished that such an offer should be made. Since then, Australia had sent almost 350,000 men from these shores. From the municipality of Wickham 600 men had gone to the front. (Cheers.) The school from its roll of boys, who had been more or less pupils from time to time as far as could be ascertained, had sent nearly 400. (Cheers.) There were also a few girls of Wickham School who were doing duty nobly as nurses. He contended that the Australian girls had upheld the honour of the country equally as well as the men who had gone to fight. In conclusion, Mr Fegan said he was grateful to those who had assisted in making the honour roll worthy of the great school of Wickham. He realised that there were mothers who had given their only sons, fathers who had bid their boys goodbye, and sisters who would no more see their dear ones. Later on, however, they would rejoice when the world had been relieved of barbarism and desperation.


A combined memorial service to soldiers from Waratah and Mayfield who have fallen in the present war, was held on Sunday afternoon in the Waratah School of Arts. There was a very large attendance, the building being crowded. The platform was draped with purple and black, and at the rear hung the Union Jack and Australian flag. The service was impressive in character. Hymns appropriate to the occasion were sung. Prayer was offered by the Rev. W. Stewart, and a passage of Scripture read by the Rev. G. O. Cocks. The roll of honour was read by Alderman Griffiths, Mayor of Waratah. The Mayor said, prior to reading the roll, “Included in the list of names are some who were well and widely known throughout the municipality, and some who were known only in certain sections of the community. While it was just possible that one or two were so little known that their names will almost be forgotten with the reading of them, but the remembrance of the sacrifice made by that noble band of men can never be effaced from our memories. We have gathered together in such numbers to honour them, and it does seem to me as we think of the sacrifices that these men have made, that it should act as a threefold incentive, first to a higher sense of loyalty to our God and King. These men were loyal soldiers, and true. Second, to a broader sense of patriotism. They heard the clarion call of Empire and country. Third, in a deeper sense of love of our fellow man. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” “The Last Post” was sounded by Trumpeter King, of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery.


Privates Lamb and McMasters were given a send-off by the young people connected with the Methodist Church at the residence of Mr and Mrs John Lamb, of Hampden Avenue, Adamstown. There was a large gathering, over which Mr R. Cautes presided. Miss A. Harrison, on behalf of the young people of the church, presented Privates Lamb and McMasters each with a case of military brushes and comb, and in doing so she hoped they would be spared to return home safely. Privates McMasters and Lamb thanked their friends for their useful present and good wishes. Refreshments were partaken of, and an enjoyable evening was spent in singing arid parlour games. Among those present were Privates H. Harrison and G. Bower. Private Lamb, who was employed as a draughtsman at the Sulphide Corporation works, Cockle Creek when he enlisted, was given a send-off by the office staff and presented with a wristlet watch.


Private William Chaseling, MM, was welcomed home at Davidson's hall. Mr D. Walker, who presided, congratulated the guest on the distinction he had won on the battlefield. Mr Elliott, in presenting Private Chaseling with a gold medal and a silver cigarette case, said Private Chaseling had seen three years' service in Egypt and France, and had taken part in the battle of Pozieres, and at the fight for Mouquet Farm. Private Chaseling, though wounded in three places, succeeded in carrying an important despatch to headquarters, thus winning his Military Medal. He trusted that their guest would recover permanently from his wounds. Several others expressed their good wishes. Private Chaseling briefly thanked all for their kind welcome and their gifts, which he much prized. Though glad to be back in Australia, he never regretted going to the front. Soldiering was at times hard, but it had many compensations. He had thoroughly enjoyed his rambles in France, Scotland, and England. In Scotland he saw the Grand Fleet. Glasgow was a busy place, but Edinburgh was a beautiful city. His four days' journey through France from Marseilles impressed him with the beauties of southern France.


A gift evening under the auspices of the Lambton Girls' Wattle League was held in the Coronation Hall on Monday. An assortment of useful gifts was received, and these, together with articles of clothing made up by the members of the league, will be shortly sent overseas to the Lambton soldiers.


To assist in making up the parcels for Christmas cheer for local soldiers at the front, the Girls' League held a gift dance, when many useful articles were handed in, but a lot more will be required before the full number of parcels can be made up and sent.


William Crosbie, Scone; Denis Curran, West Wallsend; Albert Thomas Dunk, West Maitland; Richard Goodwin, West Maitland; Charles Price Horn, Plattsburg; Frank James, Bolwarra; George Joseph Kellner, Wallarobba; William Edward Maslen, South Singleton; Stanley James Mitchell, Stockton; Ross Peachey, Muswellbrook; Arthur Edward Pearson, Adamstown; John Richard Robards, Dungog; Stephen William Robards, Dungog; Herbert Victor Schuck, Sandhills; Montgomery William Spencer, Stewarts Brook; James Wallace, Cooks Hill; William Sidney White, Scone.


Captain Frederick George Barnett, West Maitland; Sgt Arthur Franey, Singleton; Pte Albert Ernest Lostroh, Newcastle; Sapper Soren Frank Olsen, Stockton; Pte John Arthur Tiedemann, Wallalong.

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