Centenary of the Great War

EFFORT: Australian machine gunners with the tools of their trade. These soldiers played a crucial role in supporting advancing parties. Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony
EFFORT: Australian machine gunners with the tools of their trade. These soldiers played a crucial role in supporting advancing parties. Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for August 19-25, 1918.

TOTAL CASUALTIES 

The return issued by the Defence Department last Saturday shows that the casualties in the Australian Imperial Force to date now number 271,110. Details are as follow: Dead, 50,881; missing, 108; prisoners, 3374; wounded, 142,577; sick, 73.955; unspecified, 215. The figures for dead, missing, prisoners and unspecified are actual net totals; but those relating to sick and wounded are in excess of the actual number, as many men have been admitted more than once.

GERMAN LOSSES 

It is reported from Paris that the German armies during the war period have lost over 6,000,000 men in killed, wounded and missing.

It is estimated that 1,400,000 of the Germans were dead to the beginning of the 1918 campaign.

AMERICA'S FORCES 

It is repointed from Washington that General March, the chief of the United States General Staff, conferring with the Senate Military Committee, stated that the United States has now 3,000,000 men under arms, and 1,400,000 overseas. He anticipated a further German retirement on the West front, though he did not know its possible extent.

AUSTRALIAN RAIDS 

Mr Gordon Gilmour, special correspondent of the Australian Press Association, reporting on Sunday, says: A pretty little man-grabbing expedition was the only activity on the Australian front during the past 24 hours. The impromptu affair serves to remind the enemy that the Australians are still on his tracks. Although no longer going ahead in full force, the Australians call these operations peaceful penetrations, designed to cause the Boche the maximum of discomfort at night time, interfere with his patrols, stealthily capture machine-guns, occupy his posts, and generally convince him of his inferiority. The Australians revel in these perilous wanderings in No Man's Land, and invariably succeed in bagging some unhappy patrol. New South Wales troops who had just taken over portion of the line, learned that a machine-gun post was giving trouble, and acted immediately. Two officers and 20 men crept out past our advanced posts at three in the morning, and located a strong post 250 yards distant. They crawled up unobserved, threw in bombs, shot several Germans, who were running away, and rushed into the post. Only one man offered fight, the remaining seven men were taken prisoner, including a sergeant wearing the Iron Cross. Three machine-guns, which were subsequently brought in, were immediately turned on the enemy in the vicinity. The patrol heard warning noises, telling that the Germans wore preparing counter-attacks on three sides. They abandoned the idea of remaining in the post, and returned to our lines with their captures. The promptitude with which counter-attacks are organised are proof of the enemy's touchiness at being garroted by the Australians. General von der Marwitz's stern warnings of constant alertness, and brisk counter measures against the Australians' night marauding will be a historic document. Nothing could have heartened the Australian patrol parties more than the enemy's admission of the harassing nature of those silent surprise raids, frequently taking entire posts without firing a shot. The line between the Somme, Villers Bretonneux, and Chaulnes railway are already beginning to show small bulges where the Australians “peacefully” penetrated.

AUSTRALIAN FIGHTING 

The official Australian correspondent telegraphs: There has been hard fighting for the last few days on wide fronts on the Australian portion of the battlefield, but all has been fighting between patrols, not regular battle formations. The Germans have all been instructed in their duty to fight hard and hold on to their positions to the last, in order to cover whatever movements are going on behind. The result of our troops' outpost fighting is that our line has been steadily advancing along a good part of the front, penetrating for a quarter or half a mile at a time. But the Germans have been hitting back in places very hard with artillery, and strong compact infantry forces, carrying out well the instructions given them. How difficult the Germans found it to compete with our patrols during the months before this battle is shown by the fact that an order has been captured authorising £10 to be paid to three German soldiers for capturing two British soldiers on a sector of this present battle front.

THE KING TO AUSTRALIANS 

Mr Gilmour states: One of the first places the King visited, accompanied by General Birdwood, was the Australian headquarters, where General Monash and staff received His Majesty. The King chatted with the officers and men who had fought during the past few days victorious battles eastward of Villers Bretonneux, and congratulated them on the magnificent results. He inspected upwards of fifty captured guns and much material. He said: “Those trophies tell plainer than words your great part in this fighting. Best luck to you, gallant Australians.”

LAMBTON 

Mr William Curtis, of Young Road, Lambton, has been advised that his son, Private Stanley Curtis, is returning to Australia invalided. Private Curtis has been 2½ years on active service. He contracted trench feet during last winter, necessitating the amputation of both feet. In recent letters to his parents he wrote cheerfully, and stated that he could move about and get along splendidly with the artificial feet.

NEWTON RETURNS

Private Donald Newton returned home from the front on Monday evening, and was met at the railway station by a large number of friends and relatives, who gave him a hearty reception. Private Newton in October last was wounded in the left arm and leg, portion of the former having been amputated. He was entertained at his residence, where a large number again assembled. Mr. E. Turner, in proposing the toast of the guest, spoke of the good qualities of Private Newton, and trusted he would soon recover from his wounds.  

MAILS FOR SOLDIERS 

A mall for parcels, packets, and newspapers for the Expeditionary Forces in England and France, will close at Newcastle on Saturday evening next, at six o'clock, and for letters at 8.45 o'clock on Monday morning.

DEATHS 

Pte Herbert Abell, Merewether; Pte William Albert Bennett, Forster; Lieut Vincent Charles Callen, Stockton; Pte Albert Bland Chappell, Abermain; Sgt Victor Emmanuel Costa, Newcastle; Pte Thomas George Dando, Newcastle; Pte Benjamin Bertrand Dutton, Newcastle; 2nd Lieut Sydney Charles Fry, West Maitland; Pte James Alfred Gammidge, Wickham; Pte Frederick Page Gardiner, Newcastle; Cpl Leslie Victor Gilson, Hamilton; Pte Arthur Holmes, Carrington; Pte William Leeming, Weston; Pte Augustus Lester, Mount Olive; 2nd Lieut John McGinnes, Kurri Kurri; Sgt James Nash, Newcastle; Pte James Nash, Gloucester River; Staff Sgt Charles Henry Nichols, Lambton; Pte William Phillips, Newcastle; Pte Burton Pearson Powell, Cessnock; Gnr Everard Digby Rippon, Merriwa; Pte Edward August Roberts, Mayfield; Pte William James Stockdale, Cardiff; Pte Archibald Allan Stokes, New Lambton; Pte Arthur Tanney, Weston; Dvr William Henry Taylor, Lambton Heights; Spr George Guy Turner, Swansea;  Pte Frederick Woodmansey, Hamilton.

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