Centenary of the Great War

FALLEN: Newcastle’s Sergeant Max Arkell, who died of wounds on August 28, 1918. Sergeant Arkell enlisted on the same day that his brother, Private Eric Arkell, was killed at Fromelles. Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony

FALLEN: Newcastle’s Sergeant Max Arkell, who died of wounds on August 28, 1918. Sergeant Arkell enlisted on the same day that his brother, Private Eric Arkell, was killed at Fromelles. Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for August 26-September 1, 1918.


A return issued by the Defence Department on Saturday showed that the casualties to the Australian Imperial Forces to August 24 totalled 273,233, the details being: dead 51,135; missing 93; prisoners of war 3384; wounded, 144,185; sick 74,223; unspecified 215. 


The official Australian correspondent states: The following order from General Rawlinson to General Monash, dated August 16, has been handed to me: “I desire to express officially to all ranks of the Australian Corps my sincere appreciation of their splendid victory over the enemy on August 8 and succeeding days. The task allotted to them depended largely for its success on the element of surprise. Despite the difficulty the assembly of the corps, the distribution of tanks, and the disposition of a large force of heavy and field artillery was accomplished by night, without attracting attention. From zero onwards everything went according to program without a hitch. It was no ordinary feat to win all the objectives allotted, to effect penetration for ten miles into a hostile position, and to reach the most distant objective half an hour before scheduled time.Three points I desire specially to eulogise. One, the splendid gallantry of the infantry; two, the thoroughness and precision of the staff work of corps divisions and brigades; and three, the skill and rapidity with which the mobile artillery was brought forward in close support of the infantry for the attack of more distant objectives. I offer my heartiest congratulations and warm thanks to all ranks of the Australian Corps, though I feel that whatever words I may use, all Australians will realise that victory is our reward. It was a splendid performance; as fine a feat of arms as any this war can produce. H. Rawlinson, General Commanding Fourth Army.”


A telegram from Paris states that from an early hour thousands flocked to the Champ de Mars to see the great gun captured by the Australians, who have baptised it “Little Bertha.” The gun, which was taken with its own locomotive, was exhibited with four trucks containing shells, spare parts, repair shops, and gunners' quarters. The gun weighs 150 tons, has a tube 26ft long, and shells 5ft high. It can only be fired in one direction, and accordingly is moved on curved rails. The detachment of Australians who captured the gun mounted guard, and visitors all day long cheered and congratulated them. Many visitors travelled long distances from the provinces. It is understood that it will later be exhibited in London.


Mr Gullett, the official Australian correspondent, telegraphing from Cairo, states: The summer spent by the Australians in the Jordan Valley was the most severe since the crossing of the canal, the heat being at the extreme shade temperature for months, never below 100 degrees, and frequently above 102. The enemy is always aggressive, and fights are frequent and sharp. Our lines are resolutely maintained, with heavy Turkish and German losses. A highly successful campaign for the prevention of malaria has been conducted by the medical service, this having alone made the valley habitable. The sick and wastage are relatively low. The weather is rapidly improving, and men and horses are in fine fighting trim. General Allenby, in presenting 38 decorations to the Anzac Mounted Division, warmly congratulated the troops on their brilliant and consistent work. He expressed his always increasing appreciation of the fighting qualities of the Light Horse, and referred to the great part being played by the Australians in France.


During the past few days the Aberdare Soldiers' Comforts Committee have been busily engaged packing Christmas parcels, and 46 were despatched in one consignment. Each parcel was valued at about 16s each, the contents being as follows: biscuits, butter, camp pie, chocolates, salmon, tinned cheese, potted ham, sardines, cigarettes, tobacco, chewing gum, cigarette papers, loaf sugar, and tin cream.


A public meeting was held on Tuesday night for the purpose of devising means to erect a memorial to the men of Adamstown who have served in the war. The mayor, Alderman Cameron, presided. The town clerk read a communication from the Department of Repatriation, declining to give permission to collect funds for a costly memorial. When the expenditure involved does not exceed £25, no objection is taken, but by the erection of costly permanent memorials, a large sum of money would be raised without tangible benefit in the way of war relief and the opinion was expressed that when peace was declared, and more pressing problems have been disposed of, it would be time enough to embark upon projects for permanent memorials.


Mr P. Vercoe, secretary of the Newcastle branch of the Returned Soldiers' League, made application to Newcastle Council on behalf of two returned soldiers, for permission to sell papers on stalls in Hunter Street. He had been assured that some of the newsboys were at present making up to £3 a week. Mr J. R. Flanagan addressed the council on the application, and pointed out that it was going to be a difficult matter for the repatriation committee to find employment for the returned men. Many of the men were suffering from shell shock, and could not undertake hard work. The application was granted.


Reporting on the proposed plantation roll of honour in Shedden Park, the city engineer said there were not sufficient paths to accommodate the number of trees required to provide one tree for each soldier who left Newcastle for active service. There was a site adjacent to the site of the proposed fresh water lake, where a rectangular plantation could be made to accommodate up to 320 names. As an alternative, a road around the inside of the park proper, following its boundaries, would accommodate up to 400 trees, leaving out the Melville Street frontage. The first proposal (near the lake) would necessitate the building up of six acres of ground, about 3ft in height. In the cheapest possible way of doing it, this would cost £1400. If built into mounds, similar to what he had done in Parry Street, and along the creek, the mounds would cost £350. Referred to the works committee.


Private J. Russell, recently returned from the front, was on Saturday evening entertained by the employees of the Elermore Vale Colliery, and presented with a gold medal. The function was held in the Masonic Hall, and Mr H. Hughes was chairman. The chairman proposed the loyal toast. Mr H. F. Maddison, in making the presentation, said that when Private Russell was going away he had promised that on his return his work would be ready for him at the colliery. That promise, held good, and as soon as he was able to start a place would be found for him. On behalf of the employees he had pleasure in asking his acceptance of the medal as a token of their esteem. Private Russell, in responding, said he was pleased to be back at Wallsend.


Owing to a miniature rifle going off accidentally at the Shepherd's Hill fort on Tuesday evening, two casualties occurred. Fortunately they are not serious. Signaller James B. Clarence was shot in the left foot, and Signaller John Thornton sustained a slight cut on the right knee, caused by a piece of cement chipped from the floor by the bullet. The rifle was being handled by Leading Signaller Hayes when it exploded. The bullet ricocheted off the concrete floor, and lodged in Clarence's foot. Dr Nickson dressed the wounds, and ordered the injured men to the Newcastle Hospital. Thornton, after treatment, was able to return to the fort. Clarence was admitted to the hospital, where the bullet was extracted.


Pte Alfred Joseph Brossmann, West Maitland; Pte Amos William Cullip, Newcastle; Pte Samuel Holmes Etheridge, Aberdare; Pte Earl Cecil Fleming, Hamilton; Gnr Hedley Cuthbertson Watson, West Maitland; Pte Eric Rainsford Wells, Widden.


L/Sgt Max Kenneth Dick Arkell, Newcastle; Pte Peter Barloge, Parkville; L/Cpl William Picken Barrie, Jesmond; Sgt Roland Murray Biggs, Boolaroo; Pte William Brining, Newcastle; Pte Joseph William Cameron, Scone; Pte William Carratt, The Junction; Pte Alfred Stanley Cotterill, East Maitland; Pte Arthur Courtney, Cooks Hill; Pte William Thomas Curnow, Cessnock; Lieut Leslie Davies, Merewether; Pte Harley James Doherty, Muswellbrook; Pte Francis Edwin Elliott, Branxton; Cpl Reginald Everitt, West Wallsend; Pte Leslie Allen Fairhall, Branxton; Cpl Norman Vincent Folpp, Baerami;  L/Cpl Bertram Francis, Weston; Pte William John Fraser, Newcastle; Sgt Albert Victor Goodsir, Toronto; L/Cpl Frederick Charles Harris, Hamilton; Pte Edgar Wade Holmes, East Gresford; Pte George Hopwood, Catherine Hill Bay; Pte David Marshall Hutton, Neath; Cpl Clarence William Lambley, Wards River; L/Cpl Albert Kingston Laurie, Rawdon Vale; Pte John Albert Lloyd, Merewether; Pte Henry Masson, Newcastle; Pte William Maitland Masson, Hamilton West; Pte James McIlwee, West Maitland; Pte James McLeod, Barrington; Lieut John Tyler Mitchell, Waratah; Pte William Walter Moore, Islington; Pte Albert Ernest Mudford, Wards River; Sgt Michael Neylon, East Maitland; Lieut Walter Herbert Oldham, Stockton; Pte Patrick O'Sullivan, Denman; Pte Henry Parkinson, Greta; Pte Charles Leonard Parnell, Newcastle; L/Cpl William Henry Pearce, East Maitland; Pte George Edwin Peebles, Ravensworth; Pte Lionel Charles Pinchin, Hamilton; Gnr Robert Probert, Wallsend; Pte Claude McInotte Richards, Newcastle; Pte James Russell, Hamilton; Pte William Simm, Kurri Kurri; Sgt Albert Charles Stout, West Maitland; Sgt John Tunney, Pelaw Main; Pte Arthur Francis Williams, Merewether; Pte John Wilson, Kurri Kurri.

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