Centenary of the Great War

RESOLUTE: Australian troops during the advance towards Lihon. Picture: Juan Mahony.
RESOLUTE: Australian troops during the advance towards Lihon. Picture: Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for August 12-18, 1918.

AUSTRALIANS’ ADVANCE 

Mr Gordon Gilmour, special correspondent of the Australian Press Association, telegraphing on Saturday, says: Again there is good news to be told regarding the Australians, who continue to advance swiftly into the enemy country. They are now at some points over 10 miles from Thursday's starting point, having fought forward another five miles on the second day, which was another joyous day of open warfare, commencing at 10 in the morning. There were nine hours of lively activity, practically untroubled by shell-fire. These boys advanced with a swing like troops on manoeuvre. They soon found the Germans, defending at some points resolutely. The Australians went merrily ahead, and the prisoners for the second day numbered nearly a thousand. The enemy endeavoured to make feeble stands in a number of lines farther in the rear, but before nightfall he was running in all directions. The rapidity of the advance, for which the Australians are noted, made the enemy's position one of terror. The Australians advanced in a manner suggesting that they would not stop before reaching Berlin. The attackers included men from all parts of the Commonwealth. The first day was not a rout, the enemy retiring steadily, but all semblance of order vanished by Friday evening. The latest prisoners declare that they did not expect a further advance after the first day, and thought themselves fairly secure in the little cubby-houses dug overnight. I saw scores of German dead round machine gun posts, and many wounded struggling painfully back to our lines. Our casualties were nothing like so many as in previous battles. Little knots of wounded came struggling back across the vast battlefield, mostly with machine gun bullets wounds. Among the captures was the headquarters of a unit, fitted in truly German style, with carpets on the floors, electric light, an elaborate scheme of telephones and deep comfortable dugouts, where an enormous quantity of documents and gear were abandoned. An officer here found a packet of 250 Iron Crosses ready for distribution. The Australians showed a woman's curiosity in inspecting everything the Germans left behind. There was an amazing litter in some German dugouts, including signalling sets, typewriters, gramophones, beds and bedding, libraries of books and personal belongings, proving the haste of the retreat. Congratulations are already showering on the Australians and other troops responsible for the advance. 

LOST ON THE WARILDA

Among the published names of the 15 Australians believed to have been lost when the hospital ship Warilda was torpedoed appears that of Private Arthur Lawson, Mechanical Transport Company. Private Lawson, who was 28 years of age, enlisted in July 1916. At the time of enlistment he was advertising specialist in the employ of Scott's Limited, Newcastle, a position he had occupied since March 1913, and he was held in high esteem by the firm. 

LIEUTENANT SCHRODER, M.C.

Lieutenant John Schroder, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Schroder, of Barton Street, Mayfield, who enlisted at the beginning of the war, has been awarded the Military Cross, and also a bar to the medal. General Birdwood wrote as follows to Lieutenant Schroder on May 3: “I write to congratulate you very heartily on the award of the Military Cross, which you have thoroughly deserved for your conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations in the vicinity of Corbie and Hamelet from March 29 to April 9. Owing to the new dispositions of battalions, no telephonic communication existed, and very little wire was available. I know that you worked day and night for nearly 36 hours salving wire and erecting it until every command and battalion were in close liaison with the brigade, which also had communication with the brigades on either flank and a neighbouring division. On April 24 you again rendered conspicuous service of this nature, and throughout maintained communications in spite of very heavy enemy shelling. Thank you very much for your fine soldierly conduct, and with good wishes.” In a further letter dated June 5, General Birdwood says: “I am indeed pleased to have this further opportunity of congratulating you, this time on the award of a bar to your Military Cross in recognition of your conspicuous ability, gallantry, and devotion to duty during the operations near Villers Bretonneux on April 24. Although the whole area was being heavily barraged by the enemy with high explosives and gas shell, you very gallantly improvised means of communication between the advanced headquarters of the brigade and the battalion engaged in the attack, which resulted in the recapture of the village. As soon as the battalion had reached their final objective, you established and maintained lines between them and the forward brigade command post despite the heavy shelling and counter-attacks by the enemy.”

WESTON

Private Wilfred Jaeger, son of Mr. A. Jaeger, of Third Street, Weston, has recently returned home from the front, after having experienced two years and two hundred and nine days service, is still under seventeen years of age. He was passed for service when only fourteen years of age, but gave his age to the recruiting officer as eighteen years and seven months. He went into camp at Rutherford with the 34th Battalion, and sailed in May 1916, direct to England. The battalion encamped at Larkhill, but after remaining there for about three weeks he was transferred to the 55th Battalion. In October he left with the 55th Battalion for France, and saw action at the Somme. There he went into the lines three times, but on the last occasion contracted trench feet, and was invalided back to England. He spent Christmas in England, but joined his battalion again in France in June 1917. Shortly after he had returned to his battalion, they were sent to a place near Belgium, to be further trained. They next went into action at Kemmel and Lindonhope, but came out for Christmas. They returned to Kemmel in February 1918, but at the end of that month he was sent to the Australian Corps School, and remained there until the big offensive started. He served in the offensive for a while, but received orders to report at the Australian Reinforcements Camp, for the purpose of proceeding to England and then to Australia for being under age. Although Private Jaeger is classed as a war baby, he is a big, lusty young fellow, full of life.

WOOL FOR SOLDIERS' SOCKS

The shortage of knitting wool is interfering with the work of the Red Cross, and in order to overcome the difficulty, the committee of the Newcastle branch is making a special effort to extend the work of the spinning circle. Demonstrations in the use of the spinning wheel will be given each day next week, in the windows of Mr Neve's establishment. 

ENLISTMENTS

Harold Ernest Crowley, Kurri Kurri; Percy Alexander Ireland, Muswellbrook; Samuel Richard Simpson, Scone; Karl Oscar Wessman, Barrington.

DEATHS

Pte George James Anderson, Merewether; Pte Walter Caldwell, North Stockton; Pte Michael Thomas Carmody, Raymond Terrace; Pte Thomas Denis Condron, Islington; Pte Albert Charles Dawkins, Allynbrook; Pte Joseph Dempsey, Merewether; Pte John William Gallagher, Wootton; Pte James Gill, East Maitland; Pte Tom McLoughlin, Cooks Hill; Pte Walter Horace Sentance, Hamilton; Pte Albert Joseph Spratt, Merriwa; Pte Thomas Wallbank, Cooks Hill.

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