Aug 12, 2014

Harold Alfred Eustace [1892 - 1915]

 The forgotten Battle of Sari Bair Range ~ August 1915

Located just 40 minutes south of Burnie in Tasmania, Australia, lies the quiet little town of Waratah.

map showing Mt Bischoff and Waratah in Tasmania.

Map of Tasmania, a southern state of Australia.

This was the birthplace of the Tasmanian tin mining industry and introduced Tasmania to an industrial era.

In 1871, while prospectors searched for gold, silver and osmiridium along the Pieman and Donaldson Rivers, James ‘Philosopher’ Smith found tin at Mt. Bischoff.  This was the beginning of the mining era, a mining era that took the state out of financial crisis and saved Tasmania.

It was here at Mt Bischoff that John Eustace was born in the September of 1848. 
  John's parents and family remained living in this area for many years and it was about 1880 that John Eustace married Mary Duncan. Mary and John had seven known children, two of these children being sons - Harold and John - who worked as miners in the local mines.

Harold Alfred Eustace was born in Waratah on 21st November 1892 and his brother - John Montague Eustace - was born on 31st August 1896.

War was declared in the August of 1914 and just a few weeks later, both John and Harold enlisted in the AIF.  John was 18 years of age and Harold was 21 years of age.  Harold's service number being 1031 and John's was 1032.

They were both admitted into the 15th Battalion, G Company and both embarked Melbourne on 22nd December 1914 on board the HMAT A40 CERAMIC bound for the Middle East.

Harold Alfred Eustace - 1914

On Harold's enlistment papers he is described as being 22 years of age, 5'7" tall (170cm) weighed 11 stone (70kg) had a fair complexion, brown hair and brown eyes and his religion was listed as Church of England. He also had a tattoo on his right forearm.

Their training was undertaken at the Broadmeadows Camp.

Prior to heading off to the Middle East, the 15th Battalion marched through the streets of Melbourne on 17th December 1914.

Crowds line Collins Street, Melbourne to watch the parade of signallers, band and men of the 15th Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J H Cannan, while the 4th Infantry Brigade, under the command of Colonel J Monash VD, marched to and from Broadmeadows Camp. Note the spectators looking from the building windows and roofs.

On 22nd December, 1914 the battalion was marched to Broadmeadows Station and left by two special trains to Port Melbourne where they boarded the HMAT CERAMIC a White Star liner. They steamed out of Melbourne at 2pm bound for Albany, Western Australia where the ship would join the fleet of transports heading for Europe. Owing to the lack of deck space, the training of the troops at sea was difficult. However, four times a day parades were held with instruction in musketry, physical training and rifle exercises. Many of the men suffered from sea sickness in the Great Australian Bight however most were was well enough to attend Church Parade on Christmas Day, 1914 and enjoy a Christmas meal of cold pork, potatoes, haricot beans and tough plum pudding.

Finally on 20th January, 1915 the Ceramic entered Aden Harbour in what is today, Yemen. The harbour had many ships anchored including the Empress of Russia a liner that had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty and armed for active service. As well there were many native craft and before long they had thrown their lines on board and the natives were trading with the troops much to their amusement and delight. The weather was calm and very hot.

On the 30th January the convoy moved single file into the Suez Canal. Priority was given to the troop convoy and emigrant ships such as Orsova and others had to wait for them to pass.

The troops were anxious to disembark; they had heard of heavy fighting on the Suez Canal, however, bad weather prevented their disembarkation until 3rd February at Alexandria. There was a close call with the Ceramic breaking three lines, and she was she was nearly blown onto the Eastville. The next day they landed and loaded their kit bags onto trucks with some kit bags having disappeared from the hold during the trip. Police had difficulty keeping the Egyptians from the gangway and before disembarking the men had been warned not to drink the water, alcohol or not to seek the comfort of local woman as venereal disease was very prevalent. The battalion travelled to Cairo by train arriving the next day.

The Camp at Heliopolis in Egypt

From 3rd February until 5th April 1915, the 15th battalion camped at Aerodrome Camp, Heliopolis and was trained in battalion, brigade and divisional fighting. Despite the warnings given to the men, many succumbed to the temptations of Cairo and charges of drunkenness and absent without leave were plentiful as well as admissions to hospital for venereal disease.

The 15th Battalion left Alexandria on the transport ships Australind and Seang Bee bound for Lemnos Island. The Seang Bee arrived at Lemnos on the 14th April. The troops were trained in disembarkation of the ship into cutters and horseboats until the 24th April. On the 25th April the Australind  with headquarters staff, B & D Companies reached the entrance to the Dardanelles and witnessed the landing and bombardment of the landing British troops.

The Seang Bee anchored at about 4.00 pm opposite the disembarkation point and, at 4.30 pm a destroyer took off 2 companies, however, they were not landed until 10.30 pm. While waiting the destroyer came under fire from shrapnel and four men were hit.

From May to August the 15th Battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the Anzac Beachhead.

The August Offensive in the Sari Bair Range, 6–10 August 1915

Turkish  artillery in action on Gallipoli, 1915.
Turkish artillery in action on Gallipoli, 1915.
[AWM A05290]

On 6th August, the Allies launched an offensive in an effort to try to break the deadlock, during which the 15th Battalion attacked the Abdel Rahman Bair heights, which was known to the Australians as "Hill 971".

In reading the account of
The August Offensive in the Sari Bair Range, 6–10 August 1915  it certainly brings to the fore
the sheer numbers of loss of life and the overwhelming numbers of the severely wounded.

In one of these valleys Private Ormond Burton, New Zealand Medical Corps, witnessed the plight of some 300 wounded:

No-one appeared to be responsible for them. Their wounds were uncared for and in the heat some were in a shocking state. They had no food and no water .... Many were hit a second and third time as they lay helplessly … Many died there–some able to see the hospital ships with their green bands and red crosses no distance out to sea. On one trip I gave my water bottle to a Turkish officer with four or five of his men about him. He gave every drop to his men and took not a mouthful himself. I saw nothing more dreadful during the whole war than the suffering of those forgotten men.

Stretcher-bearers at work during the August offensive in the Sari Bair Range. They are probably members of the 4th Australian Field Ambulance at Walden Grove
From the diary of the 15th Bn on the afternoon of the 7th August 1915

WIA on 7th August 1915 at Gallipoli
admitted and transferred to Mudros
prior to being admitted 'dangerously ill' to Hospital in Alexandria via HS DELTA

In the early hours of 8th August, three battalions of the 4th Brigade–the 14th, 15th and 16th–set out. Dawn found them nowhere near the approach to Kocacimentepe. As the Australian battalions advanced over an exposed slope, Turkish machine guns opened up. Against this concentrated Turkish fire little progress was made. In the words of the Australian official history, the 15th Battalion, with most of its officers dead or wounded, ‘broke southwards’ for cover. One Australian who disappeared on 8 August as the 15th came under attack was Sergeant Joseph McKinley of Yass, New South Wales. A comrade wrote:

The men fell under furious fire. It was terrible; the men were falling like rabbits. Many were calling for mothers and sisters. They fell a good way, in many cases, from the Turkish lines. Sgt McKinley … did very good work on the Peninsula. It was commonly believed that he was killed on that morning during the advance. He was never seen again.

Harold Eustace was admitted to the 17th General Hospital is Alexandria on 11th August 1915 and the notes in his service records state "seriously wounded with a gun shot wound to the pelvis, buttock and right thigh". He later developed pneumonia and died on 7th September 1915. One month after he was wounded in the Battle of Sari Bair Range at Gallipoli.

He is buried at in Plot H grave 19.
Chatby War Memorial Cemetery at Alexandria, Egypt.

Below is a letter from his father - John Eustace of Zeehan, Tasmania - to The Minister for Defence in Melbourne requesting the date in which Harold was killed.


Mr. J. Eustace of Rosebery has received word from the Secretary for Defence that his son Private Harold Eustace succumbed to his wounds at the 17th General Hospital, Alexandria. The deceased went with the Second Expeditionary Force, and resided at Burnie a few years ago. He was 23 years of age. His brother, John Eustace, who has been twice wounded, is at present an inmate of the 1st Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis.

The North Western Advocate 30th September 1915


Harold Alfred Eustace
1892 - 1915

his brother - John Montague Eustace - returned to Australia after being wounded. His story will appear at a later date.

with grateful thanks to the following websites for help & support
but especially for the use of their data and images so that we can have access to 

The Anzac Landing

some of the above detail in the blog post 

regarding the actual voyage 
of HMAT Ceramic in 1914
came from the diary of

Herbert William Cooke

who was also in the 15th Battalion and
was born in Dundatha in 1893 in Queensland


Aug 8, 2014

James Andrew RALPH [1897 - 1915]

James Ernest Ralph is the second child of Alfred Ernest Ralph and Mary Annie Brennan who were married at Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia on 29th April 1893.

James (or Jim as he was known) was born in Carlton,  a suburb of Melbourne on 7th January 1897 and it was probably around 1909 before the family moved to Coolamon in New South Wales.

Jim left his family home at Coolamon, NSW, and unbeknown to his family, enlisted at Liverpool (Sydney) on 19 Jan 1915, and was given the service Number 2013.  His enlistment papers, first copy, are in his own handwriting, and allow the reader to appreciate the human side of his character when compared to subsequent sanitised copies of the form.   Jim gave his age as 21, yet he was born in 1897, making him 17 on enlistment.   He was aware that he needed his parents permission to join, and knowing that wouldn't be given, he cheated and upped his age.  

By the time his parents became aware he had enlisted, it was too late, he had left Australia.  On 13 Apr 1915 he boarded HMAT A55 "Kyarra" enroute from Sydney via Perth to Gallipoli.  

His enlistment form also shows his immaturity and lack of education.   He spelt his birth place Melbourne without the "e".   He left the "r" out of Andrew.   He nominated his "Farther" as his next of kin.   He claimed his occupation as a "Farm Woker", on another form "Farm Wroke".  

None of this should detract from his love of freedom for his nation, his desire to serve his country, and his love of his family.

Jim was 5' 8" tall (170cm) with a chest measurement of 31", expanding to 33 1/2".  He weighed 134lbs, (about 58kg).  His complexion was fair, eyes were blue and his hair was fair.   His religion was RC.  Various subsequent enlistment documents show a variety of "distinctive marks".    Varying from one form to the next he had a vaccination scar (location not stated), on another he had a "scar on right side forehead".   Another states he had only a "scar on left forearm".

While Jim was 'at sea' on board the Kyarra,
his Battalion - The 4th Battalion - took part in the Anzac landing on 25 April 1915 as part of the second and third waves.

This blog posting is perhaps more about the 4th Battalion and the Battle of Lone Pine than of James Ralph himself. It is because we know so little about him personally and quite a bit more is available regarding the 4th Battalion and the Battle of Lone Pine!

The 4th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions it was recruited from New South Wales and, together with these other battalions, formed the 1st Brigade.
The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on 2 December. The battalion took part in the Anzac landing on 25 April 1915 as part of the second and third waves. The commander of the 4th Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel A. J. O. Thompson, was killed the next day.

At Anzac, the battalion took part in the defence of the beachhead and in August 1915, along with the rest of the 1st Brigade, led the charge at Lone Pine. This is when Pvt James Andrew Ralph was killed.

The battalion served at Anzac until the evacuation in December.

On 17th June 1915, James joined his Battalion at Gallipoli and the following day (18th) he was at McLaurin's Hill where they were doing Trench Garrison Duty.  There was heavy fighting during this time, but they continued with "trench duty" until early August.

On 1st August 1915 the 4th Bn was relieved by the 8th Battalion and withdrew 'for some rest'. 

McLaurin's Hill is named after Colonel H. N. McLaurin who was KIA 27 April 1915 and is buried here McLaurin's Hill.

The "Ottoman Empire" was the original name for Turkey

When going through the diaries of the 4th Battalion, I came across one of the 'messages'.  These 'messages' were delivered by 'runners' usually.  Their duties were quite straightforward - to carry messages to and from the officers, from a Commander stuck in a trench to his battalion CO; from the Battalion to Battalions, and so on.

Clearly identifiable - at least in daylight - by the red arm-bands fixed around their left forearm, trench runners (or messengers) were drawn from both a specialised and everyday background.  The function of a runner was not simply to bear messages from one area or command unit to another, although this featured prominently.

More critically - and requiring specialisation - qualified runners would be expected to closely familiarise themselves with areas of the front line into which a battalion would soon enter, generally so as to relieve the line's present occupants. In order therefore to be able to guide the newly-arriving troops with accuracy - particularly given that many such troop movements were undertaken nocturnally under cover of darkness - runners would need to excel both at map-reading and at reconnaissance, generally working in pairs and often with perhaps eight working upon the same task at various parts of the line.

Speed and accuracy were essential in ensuring that the relieving force were in place before daylight; in short, before the enemy force could catch troops in the open with artillery fire.

The following is one of those message's written on 20th July 1915 from the First Infantry Brigade and it reads as:

Propose to occupy crater opposite 4th Bn. tonight (?) please instruct your night unit and Japanese Mortar not to fire in this direction.

One has to wonder how accurate these messages were, or at the very least how often were they believed or taken notice of?

In the afternoon of Friday 6th August 1915, The Battalion was formed at 3.15pm preparatory to moving to attack in Lone Pine. An attack was launched at 5.30pm.

The Battalion suffered severe casualties and returned to Anzac Cove on 9th Aug.
The Battle of Lone Pine (also known as the Battle of Kanlı Sırt) was fought between Australian and Ottoman Empire (now known as Turkey) forces during the First World War between 6 and 10 August 1915. Part of the Gallipoli campaign, the battle was part of a diversionary attack to draw Ottoman attention away from the main assaults against Sari Bair, Chunuk Bair and Hill 971, which became known as the August Offensive.

The Australians, initially at brigade strength, managed to capture the main Ottoman trench line from the battalion that was defending the position in the first few hours of the fighting; however, the fighting continued for the next three days as the Ottomans brought up reinforcements and launched numerous counterattacks in an attempt to recapture the ground they had lost. As the counterattacks intensified the Australians brought up two fresh battalions.

Finally, on 9 August the Ottomans called off any further attempts and by 10 August offensive action ceased, leaving the Australians in control of the position. Nevertheless, despite the Australian victory, the wider August Offensive of which the attack had been a part failed and a situation of stalemate developed around Lone Pine which lasted until the end of the campaign in December 1915 when the Australian troops were evacuated from the peninsula.

above image .....

A trench at Lone Pine on 8 August 1915. The scene captures something of the savagery of the action. Sergeant Apear de Vine, 4th Battalion, NSW, of Maroubra, Sydney, wrote of the dead:

they are stacked out of the way in any convenient place sometimes thrown up on to the parados so as not to block the trenches, there are more dead than living

[De Vine, quoted in Bill Gammage, The Broken Years, Ringwood, 1990, p 84] [AWM A04029]

Lone Pine was a strong and important position to the Turks. They had not expected such an attack here and the order was quickly given to retake lost positions. For three days and nights Australians and Turks struggled in the trenches and dark tunnels of Lone Pine until the area was choked with the wounded, dying and dead:

The wounded bodies of both Turks and our own … were piled up 3 and 4 deep … the bombs simply poured in but as fast as our men went down another would take his place. Besides our own wounded the Turks’ wounded lying in our trench were cut to pieces with their own bombs. We had no time to think of our wounded … their pleas for mercy were not heeded … Some poor fellows lay for 30 hours waiting for help and many died still waiting.

[Private John Gammage, 1st Battalion, quoted in Les Carlyon, Gallipoli, Sydney, 2001, p 360]

Lone Pine was a battle of bombs, bullets and bayonets fought to defend sandbag walls built by both sides to block up a trench at the forward most point of the advance or counter attack. The Australians tried to hold what they had taken; the Turks fought equally determinedly to expel them from it.

James Andrew Ralph was KIA sometime between 6th and 9th of August 1915 at Lone Pine, though it is believed to have been 6th August when most of the fierce battle took place.

Some readers may be aware of the 4th Battalion Parade Ground Cemetery near Anzac Cove.

The 4th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was drawn from New South Wales. From the end of April to the beginning of June 1915, it buried its dead, and six from other units, in a cemetery on the road from Wire Gully to Anzac Cove (Bridges Road). This burial ground became known as the 4th Battalion Parade Ground Cemetery; and it was enlarged after the Armistice by the concentration of 76 graves from two smaller cemeteries and from the surrounding battlefields. The cemetery now contains the graves of 107 soldiers from Australia, three sailors or Marines from the United Kingdom, and six men whose unit in our forces is not known. Seven of the graves are unidentified by name. The area is 636 square yards.

Further information on the above Cemetery is here.

Pvt James Andrew Ralph - aged 18 years - was one of the 4,934 Australian and New Zealand troops killed in the sector that were never identified and have no known grave.

In addition special memorials commemorate 182 Australian and 1 British soldier thought to be buried in the cemetery but whose graves have not been identified.

This year’s artwork by noted Australian artist Drew Harrison was commissioned especially for the 2013 Sands of Gallipoli Collection. It depicts the initial Lone Pine assault late in the afternoon of August 6 as three Australian battalions of the 1st Brigade storm open ground to challenge the main Turkish front trenches. Despite superb fortification by the Turks the Australian battalions took just 20 minutes to win the ground. Over the next three days a bloody battle ensued as Turkish soldiers relentlessly fought to regain the lost territory.

James Andrew Ralph
was one of the above brave men 
that stormed the Turkish trenches
but lost his life in doing so.

may he rest in peace

The short and tragic Army service of James Andrew Ralph was rewarded by the posthumourous awards of :

     *   1914-15 Star. (13Aug1920)

     *   British War Medal 1914-20. (15Jul1921)

     *   Victory Medal (1922).

     *   Memorial Scroll and King's message, (15Aug1921)

     *   Memorial Plaque.

      *   Anzac Commemorative Medallion 1965.

AIF Postcard: This "Au Revoir" AIF postcard was not signed by James Andrew Ralph. It is assumed that James intended to send the card to his family, but his death at Lone Pine intervened. It was lovingly kept with his service medals and his War Graves of the British Empire Cemetery Register amongst the private possessions of his sister, Myrtle. Prior to her death in 1977, she passed these only mementos of her favourite brother to her son Robert John Matthews upon his return from active service in South Vietnam.

James Andrew Ralph's 
name will be projected onto the exterior of the
Hall of Memory at AWM in Canberra on:

Wed 20 August, 2014 at 9:03 pm
Sat 4 October, 2014 at 4:37 am
Thu 27 November, 2014 at 12:16 am
Wed 21 January, 2015 at 2:20 am
Sat 14 March, 2015 at 12:50 am
Tue 28 April, 2015 at 12:43 am
Mon 8 June, 2015 at 1:34 am
Wed 15 July, 2015 at 6:31 pm

These dates and times are estimates.
The actual time of projection could change as a result of weather and other factors, so it is advisable to check closer to the date. In the rare  event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.

1914-15 Star, may be awarded to those who saw service in a prescribed Theatre of War between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915, commonly referred to as "Pip". (2) British War Medal, for service during and immediately after WW 1, known as "Squeak". (3) Victory Medal, awarded to all members of the 14 Allied Powers who entered a theatre of war on duty in WW 1, known as "Wilfred".
Nicknames came from comic strip characters published in the Daily Mirror.

From Robert Matthews....

James sister, Myrtle Ralph, aged 8 at the time of his death, had a lifelong belief that Jim was buried at Lone Pine Cemetery in Grave Site 23.   In April 2008 it was established that Jim's body was never identified, he has no known grave, but is presumed buried with his other 4900 "unknown" comrades and foe, at Lone Pine, known only unto their God.  
His death is commemorated on Panel 23 at the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli.

In Feb 2010, the son of Myrtle - Robert Matthews - was researching stories of other "Unknown" soldiers killed in WWI.  

He came across a poem, written by Michael Edwards called "The Visitor".   The poem illustrates the distressed feelings of the lost soul of a lonely Unknown Soldier, lost for almost one hundred years, and underlies the relief when family eventually came to the cemetery and reclaimed, not his unknown lost body, but his lost soul.

"I half awake to a strange new calm
And a sleep that would not clear
For this was the sleep to cure all harm
And which freezes all from fear.

Shot had come from left and right
with shrapnel, shell and flame
And turned my sunlit days to night
Where now none would call my name.

Years passed me by as I waited,
Missed the generations yet to come,
Sadly knew I would not be fated
To be a father, hold a son.

I heard again the sounds of war
When twenty years of sleep had gone,
For five long years, maybe more,
Til peace once more at last had come.

More years passed, new voices came,
The stones and trenches to explore,
But no-one ever called my name
So I wished and waited ever more.

Each time I thought , perhaps, perhaps,
Perhaps this time they must call me,
But they only called for other chaps,
No-one ever called to set me free.

Through years of lonely vigil kept,
To look for me they never came,
No-one ever searched or even wept,
Nobody stayed to speak my name.

Until that summer day I heard
Some voices soft and stained with tears,
Then I knew that they had come
To roll away those wasted years.

Their hearts felt out to hold me,
Made me whole like other men,
But they had come just me to see,
Drawing me back home with them.

Now I at peace and free to roam
Where 'ere my family speak my name,
That day my soul was called back home
For on that day my family came."

with grateful thanks to the following websites for help & support
but especially for the use of their data and images so that we can have access to what is needed for us to remember our fallen hero's:

AWM 4th Battalion War Diaries

Australian War Memorial

Australian National Archives

Wikipedia - Battle of Lone Pine

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sands of Gallipoli

and many thanks to Rob Matthews (nephew of James Ralph)

for the help, support and of course, the extra data!



Aug 5, 2014

Allan Wesley Walkeden 1897 - 1916

The following is a studio portrait of 2062 Private (Pte) Allan Wesley Walkeden, 3rd Reinforcements, 26th Battalion, of Derby, Tasmania, aged 18.

Pte Walkeden enlisted on 22 June 1915 and embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Makarini on 10 September 1915. He was killed in action on 5 August 1916 at Villers-Bretonneux, France.

The DALITZ Brothers of Horsham and Raymond BARTRAM of Richmond also set sail on board the HMAT MAKARINI in September 1915

Allan - a baker by trade - was born in 1897 at Sale, Victoria, Australia to James Richard Henry WALKEDEN and Harriet Melinda FOGWILL.

At the time of enlistment in 1915 Allan was living in Tasmania with the rest of his family and mentioned that he spent two years in the Army Cadets.

Allan - or WALKIE as he was known in the 26th Battalion - embarked Melbourne on 10th September on board the HMAT Makarini bound for the Greek island of Lemnos, arriving at the port of Mudros on 30th November 1915.  The original division of the 26th Battalion were already at Gallipoli at this time and were calling for more men.

Mudros gained wartime significance with the determination of the Allies - chiefly the British and largely through the enthusiasm of Winston Churchill.


"Walkie" was taken on strength with the 26th Battalion at Gallipoli on 9th December in the area known as Mule Gully and Russell Top. Three days later he was on a troopship back to Mudros and they were marched to Sarpi Camp. Just two days after Christmas in 1915, he was punished for reasons unknown other than "Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline" and was awarded 72 hours field punishment. I am not so sure that it was an 'award'!

On 9th January 1916 the 26th Battalion disembarked (ex Mudros) on board HMT Hororata and arrived at Alexandria at 0830 and entrained for their next camp Tel-El-Kebir at 1800.

According to the Battalion diaries,  all of January and February 1916, the 26th Battalion were at Tel-El-Kebir training 'as usual'.  March 1916 they were at the staging camp at Ismailia digging trenches for defences. Two weeks later - on the 15th March - "Walkie" departed for Alexandria at 8.30pm arriving in Marseilles, France by the 21st.

According to the diaries, it was a rough sea trip on board the HMT Northland and many men were sea sick.

On 24th March the 26th Battalion were marched in falling snow to Morbecque, w
here they took up their first billets on French soil which was a school and three farms. The billets were dirty, and the remainder of the day was spent in cleaning them up and getting settled. It was cold, snowy weather and the change from a warm climate was felt severely.

The icy weather made life during the day miserable – but the drop in temperature at night was even worse.

They stayed here in Morbecque until the 4th April when they moved out towards
the famous Armentieres, a march of about eleven miles.  On their way they passed Hazebrouck, Merris and Outlarsteene. Arriving at Hallebean late afternoon on the same day.   They did not reach Armentieres until 7th April where they were housed in billets around Rue Marle.

It is now 9th April 1916 and it has been raining for quite sometime, the Battalion is getting ready to take over the firing line by the 11th.

From the 11th April through till the end of May 1916, "Walkie" (Allan Walkeden)
and the rest of the Battalion were moved into the front-line trenches near Armentières, in an area dubbed “the nursery”.

Although the Australians were in a relatively quiet sector, there were periods of sharp fighting, shelling, and some heavy raids; by the end of June over 600 men had been killed. Only a few days earlier, Private William Jackson became the first man of the AIF to win the Victoria Cross in France. He rescued wounded members of his raiding party from no man’s land until his arm was blown off by a shell.

July 1916 they were in the trenches at Messines and then moved on to Tara's Hill at Pozieres where the 26th fought in it's first major battle between 28th July and 7th August.

For men thrown into the fighting at Pozières the experience was simply hell. The battlefield had become the focus of artillery fire from both sides. Attacks went in, some ground was taken, and then the enemy would counter-attack.

Throughout this action the fighting was wild, and all the time the shelling tore up the ground, folded the trenches in, and blew away any protection.

Major Walter Claridge wrote to his wife:
I knew you would be ashamed if I played the coward, so I kept straight on at the head of my platoon. I was thankful to get [wounded] as it got me out of the firing line for a rest. Australia may well be proud of the part its boys played in taking Pozières.
The ordeal at Pozières, both physical and mental, was more than men could put up with for very long. Courage made little difference, what each man needed was endurance and luck.

Sergeant R. Baldwin, of the 27th Battalion wrote:

We came out this morning as best we could. We are a very shaken lot. Well, we went in and relieved the first division on the night of August 1, six days ago. I saw some awful things although I never got a mark, we are all on the edge, all our nerves are wrecked, we lost some fine men.

The 26th Battalion took part in the attack on Pozieres Heights at 9.15pm (see attached report) on the 4th August 1916.

The 26th Bn diary has for the 5th August:

repelling enemy attack, took 91 prisoners, killing many others, Bn reassembles at Tara's Hill. 32 KIA.

 It was then that Allan Wesley Walkeden was first reported as Missing in Action.  But later that day was changed to "Killed in Action" according to the Red Cross reports:

Sap / Sapping: In trench warfare, the practice of digging small ‘sap’ trenches at roughly ninety degrees out from existing lines and then digging a new trench line at the front of the saps. A slow, but relatively safe, way of moving forward.

Unfortunately, this 'relatively safe' sap did not save Allan Walkeden from the German shell that exploded in the trench where he was standing.

Walkie's (Allan Walkeden) body was never recovered, but his memorial will forever remain at Villers-Bretonneux.

Allan Wesley Walkeden's
name will be projected
onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory
of the AWM in Canberra on:

Thu 28 August, 2014 at 8:25 pm
Tue 14 October, 2014 at 1:48 am
Sat 6 December, 2014 at 10:27 pm
Sat 31 January, 2015 at 1:50 am
Mon 23 March, 2015 at 2:06 am
Tue 5 May, 2015 at 6:45 pm
Sun 14 June, 2015 at 9:56 pm
Wed 22 July, 2015 at 4:33 am

These dates and times are estimates.
The actual time of projection could change as a result of weather and other factors, 
so it is advisable to check closer to the date.
In the rare event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.


This website will be of interest to those with any family member that fought at Pozieres:

Pozieres Memorial Park

With grateful thanks to the following for information 
and the use of images & data off their sites.:


Jul 30, 2014

Alexander Duncan Cameron 1882 - 1947

The above is a photo of Alexander Duncan Cameron, who was born in Horsham in 1882 - Alec - as he was known - is the half brother to Matthew Matthews that is in my previous post.

At Richmond on 9th October 1915, Alec married Elizabeth May McTavish. Daughter of Donald McTAVISH and Annie CHANDLER.

Alec & Elizabeth - on their wedding day

Both Matthew Matthews and Alec Cameron enlisted in the AIF on 12th July 1915. Alex with the service number 1092 and Mat with the service number of 1190. Both were placed in the 29th Battalion.

As seen here, Alec enlisted in Melbourne on 12 July 1915
the HMAT A11 ASCANIUS on 10th November 1915, bound for the Middle East.

They both embarked on board the HMAT A11 ASCANIUS on 10th November 1915, bound for the Middle East.
It would have been sad for them to be leaving their family home - Highlands - at Brimpaen in the Western District. But exciting in a sense as well, they were young men off on what they would have considered "an adventure".  Many young farmers took up the invite to fight for their country and leave the land for the women to manage.

Highlands at Brimpaen

There really is not much to document on Alec as most of his time in the AIF is recorded in the previous post, so if it seems I am repeating myself - I apologise - for that is what I am doing!

By July 1916 the 29th Battalion was moving through Erquingham to Strazeele near Hazebrouck. They had marched from Erquingham (at 1930 on 10th July ) to Bois Grenier and occupied the front line of trenches. There were no casualties and the men were in good spirits according to the 29th Bn diary. The Bois Grenier Line is a support trench that was about 70 yards to the rear of the front line.

A week later, they marched (at 0130 on 15th July)  to Fleurbeaux billets. (Fleurbaix, Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France) at 2330 Gas Alarm was given from the front front line but not felt here (Fleurbeaux) According to the diary, everyone was prepared. On 19th July the Battle of Fleurbaix commenced near Fromelles. The Australian 5th Division is committed in a poorly planned and executed attempt to take German trench lines.

This Battle was part of the Battle of Fromelles.

Overnight of July 19/20,
Alec was wounded, but discharged from hospital 4 days later. There is no documentation of his wounds that I have located to date.

At this same time Mat received a GSW (Gun Shot Wound) to the head and right arm and was transferred to England within days. One of 'the large number of wounded' brought in both by date & night. The 29th Bn were still holding the front line alone - at the Battle of Fleurbaix.

Mat (Matthew Matthews) ended up being under medical care for over three months and did not rejoin his unit until late 1916 when they were at Etaples in France. On 29th July 1918 he was KIA at Morlancourt.

Alex returned to his unit and three months later was admitted to hospital with Pyrexia.

Fever (also known as pyrexia or febrile response) is one of the most common medical signs and is characterized by an elevation of body temperature above the normal range of 36.5–37.5 °C (97.7–99.5 °F) due to an increase in the temperature regulatory set-point. This increase in set-point triggers increased muscle tone and chills)

Alec is seen here on the left (marked with a X) and is possibly at the Hospital in Ipswich (not confirmed)

By May 1917 he was stationed at Wareham in Dorset when he joined the Australian Provost Corps. 

A.P.S served in Egypt, Palestine, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom during 1916 - 1918.

The primary tasks for the Australian military police (or the APC) were the same as for rest of the British Army:

  • The detection of crime and the arrest of offenders
  • The maintenance of order and military law
  • Traffic control and assisting the maintenance of march discipline
  • The surveillance and control of all civilians within the area occupied by their formations
  • Custody of prisoners of war
  • Protection of the civilian population from acts of violence by soldiers, and
  • The prevention of contact between soldiers and such ‘undesirable characters’ such as prostitutes, hawkers, and sellers of liquor.

one of the diaries - in part reads -:

Returns – Crimes and Offences. Nov – Dec 1918.
- On the evening of the 14th inst., about 9.30 pm two of the MP here were violently assaulted whilst in the execution of their duty, by a gang of about 20-30 Australians. One of them L/Cpl Harding, was badly knocked about the head and is under medical treatment. I proceeded to the spot, and found that the men had fled, but that they appeared to belong to the transport Section of No 6 Aust. Field Ambulance. I called on the CO, and it was arranged to have the whole lot inspected at the following morning.
This was done, and two of the culprits identified by the marks on their faces, and the presence of a police cap badge in the possession of one of them. These [men] are to be sent to Court Martial.

Not much is recorded in the service records for Alec over this period, but it seems he was admitted to hospital quite frequently and the last time was in June 1919 when he was at Tidworth Military Hospital in Wiltshire, England with bronchitis.


Alec was "invalided back home" after a severe bout of bronchitis on board the S.S. KANOWNA arriving in Melbourne on Thursday 23rd October in 1919.  The soldiers were transported to the 11th Australian General Hospital (Caulfield Military Hospital)

The following images are of the Caulfield Military Hospital at the end of WW1.

I have no idea how long Alec was here at the hospital, but am sure he would have been back home at Laharum as soon as was possible!

Alec & Elizabeth had a daughter - Nancy - that was born in May 1926.

Alec Cameron died at Horsham on 14th June 1947 and is buried at the Brimpaen Cemetery alongside his wife Elizabeth who died in 1963.


Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal


Alexander Duncan Cameron
enlisted 12 July 1915 ~ 29th Bn

his two half brothers:

Arthur Robert MATTHEWS
enlisted 17 October 1916 ~ 37th Bn

enlisted 12 July 1915 ~ 29th Bn

With grateful thanks to the following for information 

and the use of images & data off their sites.:

State Library of Victoria
National Library of Australia - Trove
The Australian War Memorial
The Australian National Archives
Australians on the Western Front