Centenary of the Great War

ORDEAL DRAGS ON: The eyes of this Australian soldier say it all. Four long years with still no end in sight. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

ORDEAL DRAGS ON: The eyes of this Australian soldier say it all. Four long years with still no end in sight. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for 5-11 August 1918.

THE BRITISH ADVANCE

Field-marshal Sir Douglas Haig reports: The British Fourth Army and the French First Army, Sir Douglas Haig commanding, attacked on a wide front eastward and south-eastward of Amiens at dawn on Thursday. First reports to hand indicate that the attack is progressing satisfactorily. The operations begun Thursday morning on the Amiens front by the French First Army, under General Debeny, and the British Fourth Army, under General Rawlinson, are proceeding satisfactorily. The allied troops assembled under cover of night, unnoticed by the enemy. At the hour of the assault, French, Canadian, Australian and English divisions, assisted by a large number of British tanks, stormed a front of over 20 miles, from the Avre, at Braches, to the neighbourhood of Morlancourt. The enemy was surprised, and we made rapid progress at all points. At an early hour our first objectives were reached on the whole front. During the morning the infantry's advance continued, actively assisted by British cavalry, light tanks, and motor machine-gun batteries. The German resistance was overcome at certain points after sharp fighting, and many prisoners and guns were captured. The French gallantly attacked, and crossed the Avre despite opposition, and carried the hostile defences. The greater part of our final objectives, northward of the Somme, were gained before noon, but in the neighbourhood of Chipilly, and the southward of Morlancourt, the enemy made prolonged resistance. Finally our troops broke down his resistance, and gained their objectives with gallant dash. The Allied infantry, southward of the Somme, gained, during the afternoon, our final objectives on the whole front, assisted by light tanks and armoured cars. Our cavalry passed through the infantry, and beyond their objectives, riding down German transport and limbers in retreat. They surrounded and captured villages, talking many prisoners. We reached the general line, Plessier, Arvillers, Beaucourt, Caix, Frameville, Chipilly, and westward of Morlancourt It is impossible to estimate the prisoners, guns, and material captured, but several thousand were taken prisoner, and many guns have been taken. Our aviators dropped over 17 tons of bombs in the daytime on Thursday, with good effect. Fifteen hostile machines were brought down, and seven driven down uncontrollable. 

TOTAL CASUALTIES TO DATE

The return issued by the Defence Department on Saturday shows that the casualties in the Australian Imperial Forces to August 3 total 269,400. Details are: Dead, 50,568; missing, 135; prisoners, 3376; wounded, 141,609; sick, 73,497; unspecified, 215.

WAR ANNIVERSARY

In Newcastle a public meeting was held in front of the recruiting depot, Newcomen Street, during the forenoon on Sunday. The troops in camp at Broadmeadow marched into the city with their horses, field guns, and commissariat waggons under Major Starke, and the men formed a hollow square in front of the platform. A body of Boy Scouts and the Cook's Hill School Band were also in attendance. Alderman Moroney, the Deputy Mayor, presided. The proceedings commenced by the Municipal Band and the Cook's Hill School Band playing the National Anthem, at the conclusion of which Trumpeter H. C. King, R.A.G.A., sounded The Reveille. The chairman moved the following resolution: “On this, the fourth anniversary of the declaration of the righteous war, this meeting of citizens of Newcastle records once more its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle to maintain that ideal of liberty and justice, which is the common and sacred cause of the Allies.” He said that each year since the commencement of the war a similar resolution had been unanimously carried with the wish that before the closing of another year the war would be finished. It was, however, not finished, but they could now say in all sincerity that the prospects were far brighter than on the previous anniversary. 

CONDITIONS AT THE FRONT

The official Australian correspondent states:  It has now been raining for four days on the Western Front. Tuesday's showers culminated in one continuous drenching downpour, lasting almost without interval from before daylight till long after dark. The climate appears, as last year, to be compensating for a beautiful spring and glorious early summer by an almost continuous rain during the late summer, when it is usually dry. The conditions this year, however, are very different from last year, when the British troops in many parts were occupying craters in fields torn by heavy bombardments. This year almost everyone in the front zone is occupying little trenches out in the wheat fields. These only catch the rain which falls directly into them, and do not have a wide catchment like a crater. By baling them in the same way as boats, and by making steps, as well as other means, the men manage to keep them much drier than the old trenches of the Somme and Ypres. The Germans south of Amiens retired to a slightly better defensive line, and similarly those holding Albert. This looks as if the offensive against Amiens was definitely given up at last. The preservation of that fine city will always be owed largely to a nation on the other side of the world.

ROLL OF HONOUR

ANDERSON-NATTRASS. In loving memory of my dear husband, Private W. N. Anderson, 35th Battalion, who died at Bulford Hospital, June 9, 1917, aged 29 years. Also, my dear father, Private G. C. Nattrass, 35th Battalion, aged 47 years, who died in France, August 7, 1917. They sleep in heroes graves. Inserted by his loving wife and children, daughter, and grandchildren, Millie, George, Con, Lorna and Jackie.

SIMPSON. In loving memory of our dear daddy, Lance Corporal G. C. Simpson, killed at Gallipoli August 6, 1915. He gave his life for his country, For honour, faith, and right; With us his memory ever lives, He fought a noble fight. Inserted by his loving children, Alex and Cissy, Kurri.

LATE LIEUTENANT MARSDEN

Mrs J. B. Marsden, of Young Street, Lambton, has received a letter from Lieutenant-colonel Morshead giving details of the death of her husband, Lieutenant Marsden, who was killed in action March 30, 1918. Colonel Morshead says: “On March 30th the battalion was ordered to attack. It was while leading his men forward under exceptionally heavy rifle and machine-gun fire that your husband was killed. He was shot in the head by a bullet, death being Instantaneous. Of his splendid dash and great gallantry, especially in this action, I can speak only in the highest terms. Had he lived he would have been recommended for a decoration, but, unfortunately, the V.C. is the only decoration posthumously awarded. By his death the battalion lost one of its finest soldiers, and in a battalion that, happily, had so many, such a well-earned tribute says much. He always took a very keen interest in any work he was set to do. He could be entrusted with any duty, and it was always well done. In battle and in the trenches he displayed courage of a high order, coolness, and determination. His work as regimental sergeant-major was of a very high order, and no one in the whole battalion earned promotion more than he, and knowing what he was with us, I can understand your grief and sorrow. Officers, non-commissioned officers, and men all join in offering you most heartfelt sympathy in this your sad bereavement. He was buried just east of what we called Lancer Wood, which is east of Bois-de-Hangard, and about 1½ miles south-east of Villers. I regret to say that this position was later captured by the enemy from English troops, who relieved us early in the morning of March 31st.”

PRIVATE HILLIER

Mr W. Hillier, district officer of the Newcastle Fire Brigades, has received word that his only surviving son, Private C. H. Hillier, has been wounded. Private Hillier, at the time he enlisted, was an apprentice in the railway works, Newcastle. He left for the front two years ago, and went with the battalion from Egypt to France. He has taken part in nearly all the battles since the Australians reached France. 

DUDLEY

Mr John Chadwick, of Dudley, has been advised that his son, Signaller G.G. Chadwick is returning to Australia. Signaller Chadwick enlisted from Lambton, and was attached to the 35th Battalion. He was early wounded at Villiers-Bretonneux, and underwent amputation of his right foot.

LAMBTON POLICE COURT

Captain Anderson and Sergeant M. Langworthy summoned the following cadets for neglecting to attend the required number of drills for the period ended June 30: Joseph Pearse, Cyril Andrew Doyle, John Moy, Thomas Henry Scott, Esmond Maddison and Andrew Selby Miller. The defendants all pleaded guilty, and they were ordered to be detained by the military authorities for periods ranging from 14 to 20 days, also to pay three shillings costs. Esmond Maddison was also charged with committing a breach of discipline by smoking while on parade. Captain Anderson stated that the trainee had given considerable trouble to the officers. He did not press for a heavy penalty, but wished the proceedings to act as a warning to others. 

MINMI

Mr William Murnane, who recently returned from the front, is In receipt of a letter from his brother, Private Thomas Murnane, from France, enclosing portion of a French Gazette referring to the pluck of one of Minmi's soldiers, which reads as follows: “No.1063, Private Harold Beaird, 35th Battalion. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as runner during a long period. He has carried out many dangerous and difficult tasks, and has set a splendid example for determination and courage to his comrades.”

Private Beaird, who is a nephew of Mrs McLeish, of Purple Hill, Minmi, has been on active service for over three years, and was recently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

ENLISTMENTS

Francis Thomas Beech, Newcastle; Ernest Stanley Cleaves, Merewether; Victor Henry Glover, Hamilton; Allen Cyril Hancock, Weston; Pierce William Irwin, Muswellbrook; Pearson Jackson, Hamilton; Franz Otto Johanson, Hamilton; Frederick Charles Kirby, Mayfield; Charles Lovell, West Maitland; Bertram Charles Sharp, Maryville; Alfred Westfield, Kurri Kurri; Claude Widders, Glennies Creek.

DEATHS

Pte James Allan, Abermain; Cpl Stratford George Bird, Scone; Cpl Herbert William Bowen, Boolaroo; Pte William Henry Burgess, Carrington; Pte Alexander Campbell, Holmesville; Pte David Campbell, Scone; Pte Eric Harold Carter, Stewarts Brook; Dvr Charles Keare Clayton, Hamilton; Cpl Edward Grey Curley, Merewether; Sgt Ray Besant Davis, South Cessnock; Dvr Maurice Dix, Hamilton; Pte John Joseph Dunlop, Kurri Kurri; L/Cpl Valentine George Hall, Ellalong; Pte Archibald Hanley, Kurri Kurri; Pte James Frederick Harvey, Murrurundi; Pte David James Jones, Lambton; Pte Michael Alphonsis Kirwan, Dungog; Pte John Hazel Lay, Wallsend; Pte Cecil Ernest Madden, Singleton; Pte Cornelius Mahony, Newcastle; Sgt Leopold Maynard, Singleton; Pte John Henry Mitchell, North Lambton; Pte Thomas Musgrove, Wickham; Pte James Bede Nicholson, Morpeth; Pte Thomas Patrick O'Brien, Raymond Terrace; CSM Alfred Henery Oswald DCM, Scone; Pte Albert Ernest Palmer, Newcastle; Pte William Joseph Punshon, North Waratah; Pte Alfred Alexander Reed, North Waratah; Pte James William Richardson, Neath; Pte Archibald Hamilton Shields, Newcastle; Pte Arthur Leonard Steel, Stroud; Bdr Erle Victor Weiss, Glendon Brook; Pte William Weston, Teralba.

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