Jul 22, 2014

Arnold Henry Thomas Ralph [1885 - 1917]

Richard Ralph and Frances Diana Lamb were married at Maldon in Victoria, Australia in 1884.  They had five children, four sons and one daughter.

Maldon, Victoria, Australia.

Their first child - a son - was named Richard Howard Ralph, and born at Maldon in 1885.  At the age of 31 he joined the AIF. He embarked from Melbourne in April 1916 on board the HMAT Euripides and returned to Australia three years later, in 1919.

His younger brother - Arnold -  soon followed in his footsteps, signing his Attestation Papers for entry into the AIF at Melbourne on 22 Sep 1916. He was not accepted until 3 Nov 1916, although his documents show he commenced training on 6 Oct 1916.   Records show he was allocated the service number 7040 and allocated to 23rd Re-Enforcements, 8th Battalion.   He declared he was 26 Yrs 7 mth of age, was a fireman by previous occupation and was unmarried.  
The 8th. Battalion, was mainly a Ballarat raised Battalion, with some men coming from the Western District, around the Camperdown area.

In the 4 1/2 years, that the 8th. Battalion existed, 50 Officers, and 827 "Other Ranks", were either K.I.A. or died of wounds, the number of wounded men was, 91 Officers, 2319 "Other Ranks".

There were 3 Victoria Crosses, awarded to members of the Battalion, all in all, the 8th. Battalion, was very highly decorated.

Arnold nominated his father, Mr Richard Ralph, Chapel St, Maldon, Victoria as his Next Of Kin and nominated that address as his permanent address, but nominated his postal address as 10 Craig St, Spotswood, Victoria.

He stated that he had never been convicted by the Civil Power, nor had he ever been rejected as unfit for His Majesty's Service.   Arnold was 5' 10" tall, weighed 187lbs, had chest measurements of 38-40", with fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair.   His religion was Methodist.  

He had three vaccination marks on his left arm, a scar on his right knee and a mole on his right arm.
Troops from 23rd Reinforcements, 8th Battalion prior to boarding HMAT Hororata (A20).
Identified, front row, sitting second from right is: 7104 Private (Pte) Leonard Cuthbert Mabbott. Also possibly in the group (identified by the name on the white kitbag at far left) is: 7040 Pte Arnold Henry Thomas Ralph. Pte Ralph died of wounds on 27 October 1917 and is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

On 6 Oct 1916 Arnold joined 22nd Depot Battalion at Royal Park and was then transferred to 23rd Re-Inf, 8 Bn as a Private on 3 Nov 1916.  

He embarked at Melbourne for overseas service on board HMAT A20 "Hororata" on 23 Nov 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth, England on 29 Jan 1917.   He was placed in 2nd Training Battalion and proceeded overseas to France embarking at Folkestone on 3 May 1917 and from Etaples France proceeded to join his unit and was taken on strength 8th Bn, France, on 21 May 1917.

The HMAT A20 Hororata weighed 9,400 tons with an average
cruise speed of 14 knots or 25.92 kmph.
It was owned by the New Zealand Shipping Co Ltd, London,
and leased by the Commonwealth until 11 September 1917.

On 5 Jun 1917 Arnold signed his will leaving all his estate to his father, Richard Ralph.

 Arnold was sent to hospital, sick, (*PUO) on 29 Aug 1917, transferred to 1st Aust Casualty Clearing Station on 30 Aug 1917 and transferred by Ambulance Train to Etaples. 

* PUO : Pyrexia of Unknown Origin (medical term usually applied to Trench Fever).

Throughout September 1917 he was moved about in hospital care, mainly in Etaples, France.   By 7 Oct 1917 he was at Havre and rejoined his unit in the field on 15 Oct 1917.
From March 1916 until late 1918 the 8th battalion was heavily involved in operations against the German Army.  

On 27 Oct 1917 Arnold was Wounded In Action in Belgium, SW (Shell Wound) was later changed to GSW (Gun Shot Wound)  Right Thigh and at 2.00pm that day - at the 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station in Belgium....

'died of wounds received in action'.

He was buried at Lijssanthoek Military Cemetery, 1 3/4 miles SW of Poperinghe, France. 

An undated note on his records states that 2 photographs of his grave were sent to his Father.

The Regimental Conduct Sheet for Ralph AHT was unsullied at the time of Arnold's death.

Arnold's father on 19 Sep 1918 inquired regarding the location of Arnold's personal effects.   They were received by his father on  4 Oct 1918, and included: Metal watch and strap, Rosary, Purse, Razor, Comb, Wallet, Belt, Cigarette lighter in case, 4 Badges, Brush, French book, Pencil, Cards, Photos, Letter, 10 Coins, Scissors, Religious book.

  comb and (part) razor as issued to AIF in WW1.

On 23 Oct 1920, in reply to a letter of request from Base Records, Arnold's father advised that "we thought a star would look very nice on the Headstone but as we do not belong to the Jewish religion please put a cross on the Headstone".

Arnold was not eligible for the 1914-1915 Star as he joined the AIF in 1916.   He was awarded the British War Medal on 20 May 1921, and his father received his Memorial Scroll on 13 Jan 1922, his Memorial Plaque on 5 Oct 1922 and his Victory Medal on 18 Apr 1923.

Maldon Casualty. On Friday the Rev. Jones was notified by the defence Department that Pte Arnold RALPH, son of Mr and Mrs R. Ralph of Chapel St, Maldon had died on 27th Oct from wounds in the right thigh received in action. 

The deceased was 26 years of age and enlisted about 12 mths ago. For several seasons he was known as Maldons leading ruckman on the football field and was a member of the Fire Brigade and rifle club.

at the Australian War memorial in Canberra:

extra information on the HMAT HORORATA:

Extra information on books available regarding the history of the 8th Battalion:


Reginald Percy Bartram was KIA three weeks prior to the death of Arnold Henry Ralph. Reginald was killed in the Battle of Broodseinde at Passchendaele, Ypres, Belgium on Thursday 4th October 1917.

Reginald Bartram was also in the 8th Bn, 23rd Reinforcements and had embarked Melbourne on board the HMAT A20 HORORATA on 23rd November 1916.

Another family member - James John Roberts - was on board the HORORATA in November 1916 as well. He was in the 22nd Bn. He returned to Australia and died in 1968.

Both Reginald and James were on the same ship, same departure date as Arnold Ralph.  Arnold and James being in my maternal line and Reginald in my paternal line, I now wonder if they were good mates or even if they knew each other?

*update July 2014:
Arnold Henry Thomas Ralph's name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory at the AWM in Canberra on:

  • Thu 7 August, 2014 at 1:25 am
  • Sat 20 September, 2014 at 3:59 am
  • Mon 10 November, 2014 at 5:24 am
  • Sun 4 January, 2015 at 1:48 am
  • Thu 26 February, 2015 at 4:22 am
  • Wed 15 April, 2015 at 2:09 am
  • Tue 26 May, 2015 at 11:54 pm
  • Sat 4 July, 2015 at 12:41 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.

other posts on family members that enlisted in the AIF

* Still more to be added


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