‘D’ Company, 53rd Battalion, 14th Brigade
Captain Arblaster; March 1916 to July 1916 (PoW/DoW)
Captain Ramsay MC; September 1916 to September 1917 (WiA)
Second Lieutenant Cooper; March 1917 (Temp; KiA)
Captain Lindsay MC; September 1917 to September 1918 (WiA)
Lieutenant Waite MC and Bar; September 1918 (Temp)
Captain Wilson MC; September 1918 (KiA)
Captain Cooke; October 1918 to November 1918
Company Sergeant Majors
CSM Green; February 1916 to November 1916 (revert at own req)
CSM Loney; December 1916 to September 1917 (KiA)
CSM Cooling MM; January 1918 to April 1918 (WiA)
CSM Cooling MM; June 1918 to September 1918 (WiA)
T/CSM Lineham MM; September 1918 to December 1918 (Temp)
Veterans mixed with Green
(February 1916 to July 1916)
The 53rd Battalion was born with the ‘doubling of the AIF’ in February 1916 following the somewhat disastrous Gallipoli Campaign. The newly-formed 53rd Battalion was composed of members from the 1st Battalion- a New South Wales Battalion. Joining the 14th Brigade in the 5th Division, the Battalion Commander was to be Lieutenant-Colonel Ignatius Norris, a former Militia Officer. At the time of formation, the Battalion was retained in the old 1st Battalion lines at Tel-El-Kebir.
In March 1916, ‘D’ Company got its first official Company Commander; Charles Arblaster. Hailing from Melbourne, Charles had entered the Royal Military College at Duntroon in 1912, graduating shortly after war was declared in October 1914. He then enlisted in Broadmeadows in November 1914 joining the 8th Light Horse Regiment as a Subaltern. He had been a temporary Captain prior to a wounding on Gallipoli and after recuperating was unable to return to the 8th Light Horse Regiment. The fact that his Temporary-Captaincy had elapsed also made him feel neglected. Then came opportunity- the 53rd Battalion. Arblaster was accepted into the 53rd Battalion and appointed Captain, OC ‘D’ Company. They were trained in Egypt until they were transported to France, arriving there on June 27th, 1916. Captain Arblaster’s diary notes that throughout the first-half of July they inspected the ‘very simple breastwork trenches’. He was obviously not too impressed in the trenches, however they were to use this trenches in an upcoming attack near a places called Fromelles
Captain Arblaster, whilst still a Light Horse Officer. Dated 1915
At 11am on July 19th, the Battalion was under heavy enemy shelling, likewise the Germans across No Mans land. After a wait of over 6 hours, the step-off time lurched closer. At 5:43pm, ‘A’ Company (under Captain Thomson) went over the top in the first wave. This was followed closely by ‘B’ Company (under Captain Murray) in the Second Wave. ‘C’ Company (under Major Sampson) made up the third and ‘D’ Company (under Captain Arblaster) the fourth wave. The battalion took the enemy lines but faced fierce counter attacks. Second Lieutenant Charlie Mudge OC 14 Platoon was hit by a shell around the time the Battalion took the first lines, shrapnel punctured his lungs. Private Gowndrie of his platoon said later ‘he (Mudge) said “Gowndrie, I’m done”. I asked him if I could do anything for him but he said “no”’. Lieutenant William Noble had also made it into the first line of trenches, where he was badly wounded ‘covered in blood and dirt and never a move out of him’. Within the first hours of the fighting, Lieutenant Noble and Second Lieutenant Mudge were dead; Lieutenant Colonel Norris, his Adjutant and the most senior Company Commander were also dead. Captain Arblaster apparently took command of the Battalion following the destruction of the Battalion chain of command, and over the night of July 19th/20th proved himself to be a ‘cool and brave leader’. In a counter attack, the good Captain evenly distributed bombs to the men along the line and personally led a charge into the open; It was either then, or during a retreat that Captain Arblaster was gravely wounded in both arms. Either way, the Battalion retreated at 9:30am on July 20th, leaving the brave Captain behind. He was captured by the Germans and subsequently sent to hospital. He died of septicaemia in Douai due to his wounds a few days later. Major Hughes (32nd Battalion) shortly after the war wrote to the parents of Captain Arblaster and commented on his death.
“The poor fellow (Arblaster) was very badly wounded. What happened before he arrived at the Hospital I cannot say, but in Hospital he was well treated and all possible was done for him. The first day, he was conscious, though suffering great pain. His wounds were dressed then, but nothing further was done. The next day his arms (both were broken) were set, under an anaesthetic. He appeared somewhat easier that night. Next morning he was again given attention, but the Surgeon told me that his case was very serious. Towards mid day he appeared to lose consciousness, and died in the early afternoon.”
When the 53rd Battalion exited the line following the Battle of Fromelles on July 20th, the strength of the Battalion stood at an eye watering 4 Officers and 222 men. Due to the manpower shortage, the 4 Companies were merged into 2 composite companies; that is, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Company under Captain Thomson, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Company under Captain Murray. The Battalion didn’t see much action for the following months; however by September 1916 they were climbing back up to an adequate strength. By this time, Major Croshaw was now a Lieutenant Colonel commanding the Battalion. Croshaw was a British Army regular, attached to the Australian Imperial Force. He had seen service on the veldt with the Hussars and as a Brigade Major on Gallipoli. He was Second in Command of the 53rd Battalion at Fromelles, however was detached for Brigade duties and therefore saved from death.
Enter Captain Robert ‘Bob’ Ramsay MC (pictured on civi street towards right); He had served on Gallipoli where he was commissioned in the field and won the Military Cross for actions at Lone Pine. He had been originally assigned to the 53rd Battalion, however was reassigned as Brigade Bombing Officer. Due to an accident in Egypt he was hospitalized, then he was invalided to England before he was passed as fighting fit. Reassigned to the 53rd Battalion, he joined the Battalion at Fleurbaix on September 4th. A week later at Lamotte, the Battalion went back to its traditional format with ‘D’ Company now under the command of Captain Ramsay. Ramsay was described by his Battalion Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Croshaw as ‘(the) devil, but if hell were peopled with devils of his ilk, I should ask for bi-annual leave there from the other place.’ The Battalion Chaplain, a fairly popular man by the name of Kennedy (who later authored the Whale Oil Guards) wrote of him ‘Among the officers there was Captain Bob Ramsay. Bob, while yet a Lieutenant, had been awarded the Military Cross for bravery in Gallipoli. In the line, there was no more capable Company Commander. He was a father to every man in his company. He understood Australians thoroughly, and though he maintained strict discipline, was perhaps the most popular officer in the battalion. In the trenches he never touched alcohol. His care for the men's safety and comfort won him the regard and admiration of the Colonel. In No Man's Land he was as happy as if he were stalking kangaroos in the bush of Queensland, and was as unconcerned under a machine-gun barrage as if it were only a summer's shower-burst. In the line no officer was truer to his trust. Out of the line no officer was more irresponsible. His escapades were nightly occurrences. Many of them were laughable in the extreme. On one occasion he persuaded the driver of a motor waggon to give him a ride to Amiens. Bob's first care on arrival was to fill the unsuspecting Tommy with strong liquor and so put him out of action for at least twenty-four hours.Ramsay was perhaps the most talented officer in the old regiment. He was certainly the most interesting problem in contradictions I've tried to sole. Had Bob Ramsay, when younger, adopted soldering[sic] as a profession, had he in addition been possessed of the advantages that a liberal education bestows, I am quite sure that his military career would have been exceptionally brilliant. Even as things were, with only an ordinary education but with considerable natural ability, he was a company commander who would make his mark in any regiment. At any rate he was an asset to us. In the line he thought of nothing else but his job. Out of the line he was the most rollicking and apparently the most irresponsible officer in the Battalion. Nevertheless he was never absent from morning parade, and always appeared trim and soldierly. His laugh was a speciality, and so was his gift of winning men's affection. Captain Bob, as the men called him, could lead the way to the most dare-devil and hazardous stunts, and there was not one N.C.O., or Private, who wouldn't follow him.’
I believe that around this time, Second Lieutenant William Waite joined ‘D’ Company from the Light Horse. Second Lieutenant Waite was raised from the ranks and an original 1914er, having joined the 4th Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli in May 1915. Later serving with the Light Horse in France, he joined the 53rd Battalion to replenish losses, joining their ranks in mid-late September 1916. Waite was to prove his worth the following years in trench-raids and at Peronne. Second Lieutenant Waite’s arrival was followed by Second Lieutenant Hill, also of the Light Horse, who arrived at the battalion in October 1916 and thereupon joined ‘D’ Company.
Bully Beef and Whale Oil
(December 1916 to March 1917)
During the reconstruction period of the Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Oswald Croshaw made the decision for the men to apply whale oil to their helmets to make them look smarter, thus earning the battalion the name ‘The Whale Oil Guards’. Also during this period, a young Private James Marshall joined ‘D’ Company when he was merely 18. He kept a diary on him throughout his service, describing his experiences as well as drawing them. In early 1917, he experienced his first patrol with Lieutenant Waite and the effect of the whale oil against the moon.
‘Well for our first night out on patrol, Mr Hill and Mr Waite tossed to see which would go out and Mr Waite won. There were twenty of us altogether, so felt pretty confident if we should meet Fritz. It was a brilliant moonlit night and with the snow on the ground, it was very bright indeed. We had hardly started out when we realised the great effect of our 'whale oiled' tin hats in the light. After wandering around for about an hour or so, we de[c]ided on a definite course of action. Mr Waite went one way with most of the party and Frank Cooling took four of us with him. We had barely gone 50yds when we saw a blaze of light in front of us and felt machine gun bullets in dozens around us. I was in a shell hole very quickly (before the bullets had time to reach us I think) and found Frank on the edge hanging on to the Germans rifle we had souvenired from a sniper earlier,; I tried to get him into the hole with me during which time our faces were about nine inches apart. Fritz firing at our radiant headgear was lobbing his missiles right between us, & it was (a) mighty unpleasant feeling too. One scratched the top of my helmet, & another went through the back of Frank's tunic. He soon opened up on the others though, who were attempting to get away, and so we took advantage of our chance, only to run into a 'flare king' about 50yds away. The rest of the patrol then saw us and we got out of a nasty position thanks to them. As the gunners saw the lot of us by the flare, we soon went home, and very quickly too.’
A sketch drawn by Private James Marshall in France in 1917 at Le Transloy; Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
‘Another night we went out and found a party of men in a trench whom Mr Hill challenged, all of us thinking that at last we had some Germans at our mercy. Imagine our chagrin at getting our own password back from each one of the party. It was one of our own outposts who had started out to come home an[d] got lost. Another night though, we did bag a Germans party and left an officer & a couple of men there. The next morning as it was very misty we decided to go out and collect any papers or souvenirs on them. Tom Lucas and myself went out and found them, collecting various maps and papers, also a watch. I took an Iron Cross ribbon and on shewing it to Mr Hill was much surprised when he told me that they carried the Cross with them. He got out first and collected a brand new [Iron] Cross of the 1st class. I had to be satisfied with a helmet badge which I got later.’
Lieutenant Waite’s trench raids were noticed by the powers that be. From his Military Cross citation, ‘This officer took out strong patrols at night many times between 13th March and 5th April 1917. He performed exceptionally good work and showed great skill in the conduct of these patrols, thereby obtaining most valuable information which led to the entering of enemy lines at, and near [LE] TRANSLOY, and started the advance of the whole line. The information obtained by this officer and his patrols was also very largely responsible for the successful attack on DOIGNIES and LOUVERVAL on April 2nd. This work entailed lying out close to, and sometimes inside, the enemy's wire on several wet nights in succession’.
By this time, a fairly older subaltern by the name of Lieutenant William Lindsay had joined the 53rd Battalion. Lindsay had been working for a cement company when he joined the Militia in Portland in early 1914. He had been promoted to Lieutenant in July 1914 and had assisted in home-defence schemes shortly after war was declared. When 1915 came about he changed his tone to recruiting, working alongside Captain Eade at Lithgow. By 1916 he had been an instructor at Bathurst Camp when he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in March 1916. He took his first patrol out in March 1917. He described it in a letter home..
"On the night of the 16th I was detailed to take out my first patrol. I went out about midnight to some old gun pits well in front of our line and there found two other patrols; all of us under a Captain."
"After trying to find out information in the usual way, we were all sent out in turn to make a diversion. I was the last sent out. I had orders to do a certain thing which I accomplished with my heart in my mouth. I was then ordered to push into the enemy trench, so I started off feeling very scared, but luckily for me the Germans went out as we came in, and we had the satisfaction of capturing the trench we had been pounding at all winter."
"I found out afterwards that the other two patrols had got in about half an hour before me. I had charge of that portion of the trench for a few hours till my Coy. Commander came up with reinforcements and took over, when the Battalion advanced about a mile."
Identified is Lieutenant Waite in the bright overcoat in the front. Possibly to Waite’s left with his cap reversed is Captain Bob Ramsay; Dated Early 1917
During March 1917, it appears Second Lieutenant Albert Cooper had temporary command of ‘D’ Company. He was however killed when a shell blew him up on March 29th, 1917. In the Red Cross report, a soldier said ‘A couple of men (LCpl Clark, Ptes Whitton, Coe and Adams) were buried by a shell and he (Cooper) rushed out with a shovel to try and dig them out and was killed himself’. Second Lieutenant Waite erected a cross on his grave; they both had risen from the ranks of the 4th Light Horse Regiment. Speaking of shellfire, Second Lieutenant Waite made good use of the time according to Private Marshall who wrote ‘One day during a heavy bombardment by Fritz Mr Waite and I passed a very good hour or so in studying the mechanism of Germans rifles and various kinds of bombs. Though it seems rather a prevarication, we quite forgot that there was a bombardment on.’. Second Lieutenant Waite was also a souvenir hunter; Private Marshall recalls a hilarious incident involving Waite and souvenirs, ‘There was also the day when we had a 24 hours battle over a souvenir. In front of one of our bombing posts there was a big crater with several defunct Germans in it. The Adjutant, Quack, our O.C. and Mr Waite were very keen on souveniring them and at last the latter took the risk and hopped over. On looking over the other side he naturally got rather a shock to see that Fritz had a bombing post there, and he soon knew it was occupied too. He came back at the ‘toot’ followed by dozens of ‘broomstick’ bombs. He retaliated with a dozen or so of Millsies. Fritz then gave us some pineapples, which was answered by Captn. Ramsay with several rounds from the Stokes, giving one Germans a fine rise in life. As he went up about fifty feet he saw things from a very lofty aspect. We then got some of his Minnies, and had a casualty through it, which set the Captain going. After withdrawing the men from the post he got the 18pdrs. onto it and completely obliterated it.’
A drawing by Private James Marshall, ‘D’ Company, 53rd Battalion of the Somme; Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
On March 14th, Captain Ramsay had a lucky escape. He had been near Captain Trevor Francis of ‘B’ Company when a shell blew him and ‘B’ Coy’s CSM to bits, however leaving Captain Ramsay unscathed by some luck. An OR was killed by accident when a bomb went off near them on March 23rd whilst in the line, else it was mostly smooth sailing at Le Transloy.
‘Toots’ and ‘Broomstick’ bombs
(April 1917 to August 1918)
For the first half of April the Battalion was poised at Thilloy. On April 15th, both Second Lieutenants William Waite and Reginald Hill were promoted to two-pip Lieutenant. A week later on April 22nd, the Battalion was transported to Becourt Camp, spending their ANZAC Day there. From the 1st to 6th of May, the Battalion trained and took part in sports at Becourt. They moved off to the Reserve Line on May 7th at Beugny-Ypres line, the following day moving up to the frontline occupying a point near Beugnatre. This location was near a location known as Bullecourt where plenty of Australians had fallen fighting over less than 5 days prior. Their location was plastered with gas shells upon their arrival. On May 10th, Lieutenant Hill got a Blighty wound- a gunshot wound in the left hand, leg and foot. The following day saw 3 Other Ranks killed as well as 16 wounded by artillery fire. The day after that saw heavier artillery, 2 Other Ranks killed and 17 wounded. The following day had lighter artillery, and they were relieved on the night of May 13th/14th by the 54th Battalion in the line. The relief was complete by 2:15am on May 14th. Upon daylight breaking, they took up the Support Line near Noreuil. Compared to the previous line, the artillery was a lot less active, however, gas shells were fired on the evening of May 14th, wounding 2 Other Ranks. On the night of May 18th/19th, the Battalion moved to the frontline to relieve the 54th Battalion. The relief was complete by 1:45am. During that same period, a few reinforcements joined the Battalion. On May 22nd, the Battalion saw movement out in No Man's Land, moving towards their line. Upon the unknown object moving closer, it turned out it was a pair of 16th Battalion men who had escaped their captors. The Battalion was relieved once more on May 25th by the 12th R.R.R. By the end of the month, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Company were training at a place called Bealencourt.
The first half of June 1917 was spent training at Bealencourt, until June 15th when they were transported to Bouzincourt via a train ride from Varennes and a route march to Bouzincourt. A few shells were dropped, however they arrived safely at Bouzincourt at 4:30pm. The rest of the month was spent training once more. During their training there, Sergeant George Mitchell of ‘C’ Company died in a fire. On June 27th, Second Lieutenant Robert ‘Roy’ Lee (pictured right) joined the Battalion and was appointed Platoon Commander in 'D' Company. Roy, a native New South Welshman, had served in the New South Wales Lancers in peacetime and was commissioned into the AIF in January 1917 when he was 23. On July 3rd, Lieutenant Lindsay got a pip-up to Captain, making him the second-in-command to Captain Ramsay. On July 3rd, the Battalion marched to Bolton Camp. On the 18th, they were in Rubempre. The youthful Second Lieutenant Robert Lee then was sent to the ANZAC Corps School for an Infantry Course on July 22nd. Shortly before Polygon Wood, Lieutenant Hill was marked ‘P.B’, as was Private Marshall as he recounts in his diary..
‘Mr Hill was marked P.B. and could not get up the Battalion as he wished, so I did not forget to jib him about it. There was naturally a little excitement on the day when he was orderly officer and could not at first be found. The R.S.M. was in my tent discussing it when he (Mr Hill) found that he could not stay under the table any longer so he had to come out and do his duty. Rather rough on him as he was no soldier. Just before the Polygon Wood stunt came off he went up with a draft to see the Battalion but they would not let him stay as he wished to do. So he had to come back and moan with me. We both detested the place and the crowd that infested it and would have been glad to get away from it. Eventually he did while I was in hospital.’
On September 1st, Lieutenant Colonel Oswald Croshaw reassumed command of the 53rd Battalion at Lynde, having been wounded by a shell some 6 months earlier. 2 weeks later the whole Battalion route marched to Reninghest. On the 22nd they were recorded at ‘Halfway House’. On the night of September 24th/25th, they moved to the support line in front of Glencorse Wood. At midnight on the night of 25th/26th, the Battalion moved up to take its position at the assembly line. At Zero Hour, 5:50am on September 26th, the barrage opened up on No Man’s land and the Battalion rose out of their trenches, to the barrage. 2 Companies of the 53rd led the attack and advanced towards the Butte whilst remaining 60 yards short of the barrage to avoid shrapnel. 2 Platoons captured the Butte after short hand-to-hand fighting. They captured the main objective by around 6:25am, however Lieutenant-Colonel Croshaw was missing and command had fallen to Captain Roberts. This marked the end of the battle but by no means the end of the combat. ‘D’ Company’s Company Sergeant Major Frederick Loney was killed shortly afterwards and Captain Ramsay suffered a Blighty wound with a bullet fracturing his left tibia. Captain William Lindsay, Captain Ramsay’s Second-in-Command then took over as the Company Commander probably on September 27th/28th, 1917. Total Battalion casualties for the action stood at 8 officers and 342 other ranks killed, wounded or missing
A drawing by Private James Marshall, ‘D’ Company, 53rd Battalion of 'on the road at night on the Somme'; Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
On October 1st, the 53rd Battalion was given a new commanding officer- Lieutenant Colonel W.J.R Cheeseman MC, late 30th Battalion. The following day, the battalion was transported to Reningheist Staging Camp arriving there on October 3rd. After a short spell of re-training, the Battalion re-entered the line with their CO on October 17th, entering the support line on ANZAC Ridge near Zillebeke. They remained in the support line until the 21st when they were relieved by the 30th Battalion. They were then transported to a place called Dickebusch, then onto Wippenhoek Area where they remained from October 25th to November 4th when they were transported to Neuf Berquin Area. On November 10th they were transported to the Locre Area, and the following day to the Kemmel Area, then the day after that to the support line at Wytschaete Area. On the night of November 13th/14th the Battalion assumed a position in the front line, relieving the 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment; ‘D’ Company 53rd was to relieve ‘B’ Company Wiltshires in the Left Support Line. On the night of November 15th/16th the 54th Battalion relieved the 53rd Battalion’s left and as a result, ‘D’ Company relieved ‘B’ Company in the Right Support Line. The Battalion held the front line until the night of November 28th/29th when they were relieved by the 60th Battalion. From there, the Battalion was transported back to the Kemmel Area. On December 1st, the Battalion was bivouacked at Ramillies Camp and just under 2 weeks later the Battalion was transported to Desvres, then on the 14th to Menty. For the rest of December 1917 the Battalion was entrained with little else occurring of note.
In January 1918, Captain Lindsay appointed his new Company Sergeant Major- Samuel ‘Frank’ Cooling. He had proved himself at Polygon Wood where he was recommended for the MM (which was promulgated in the London Gazette on January 14th 1918 on page 845). During this time, the Battalion was settled in Menty. On January 31st, the Battalion would wind up in the reserve line at Wyschaete. They moved up into the frontline nearly 3 weeks later on February 20th relieving the 56th Battalion; ‘D’ Company 53rd relieved ‘D’ Coy 56th. On the night of March 1st whilst still in the line, the ‘D’ Company was in support near the line near Hollebeke. A party was sent out on a wiring expedition, containing 1 Officer, 10 men. From what can be pieced together, a minenwerfer landed in between the party at around 10pm and this was the result.
Officer Commanding the party is unknown [Possibly Lt Anslow]
Lance Corporal Keith Comb was blown to bits by the shell
Private Stan Mears was killed by the shell
Private Ralph Pendleton was mortally wounded in the body and thigh
Private Hill was mortally wounded and apparently killed from concussion
Private Fred Kafer was wounded in the head and buttocks
Private Johnston was wounded
Private Joe Taylor returned unwounded
Private James McDonald returned unwounded
Private Arthur Whiteford returned unwounded
Private Nathaniel Wheatley returned unwounded
Private Walmsley said after the fact that ‘(they) were so badly blown about that we could not even find their paybooks’. A temporary cross was erected on the point and the bodies were reburied after the war in the Somer Farm Cemetery. Comb and Pendleton and buried together as are Hill and Mears. On March 21st and 3 weeks in the front line, a barrage fell on the 53rd Battalion’s forward posts in the line. After a few casualties had been taken, they were relieved by the 56th Battalion on the same day. They were transported to the Wippenhoek area on March 26th, then the Louvencourt on the 28th followed by the Harponville area on March 31st and remained there for nearly a week.
Members of ‘C’ Company, 53rd Battalion in the reserve line. Dated April 1st, 1918
On the night of April 5th/6th, the 53rd Battalion relieved the 17th Lancers in the Front Line near Villers-Bretonneux. ‘D’ Company was to be held in reserve, ‘C’ Coy in the support line and ‘A’ and ‘B’ Coys to take up a position in the frontline; a total of 20 officers and 498 other ranks entered the line. On April 8th, two lighting patrol were sent out containing 30 men from ‘D’ Company each under two Subalterns from another company. They patrolled no man's land during the night and reported no enemy movement upon their return. On April 9th, Captain Lindsay was seconded to the 175th [or 174th] Brigade as a Liaison Officer, during which time Captain Albert Jackson MC took over as temporary Company Commander. The following day was dull, however on the morning of April 11th, Captain Jackson was slightly wounded. He was not moved down the line and remained at his post. On April 17th at 4:30am, the company was badly shelled with gas. Casualties included the Battalion Commander (Cheeseman), ‘D’ Coys Lt Roy Anslow and CSM Cooling; all of whom were ‘gassed’ in the shelling. On April 28th, Lieutenant Robert Lee along with 3 other subalterns and 62 other ranks reported to the Battalion Headquarters to be taken onto strength. Lieutenant Lee was assigned to ‘D’ Company. Captain Lindsay relieved Captain Jackson of the role of Company Commander on May 3rd after returning from his secondment. Shortly after Captain Lindsay returned, it is noted that Lieutenant Robert Lee was the OC 14 Platoon in a report. Speaking of which, it is in this period that a few fieldbook excerpts from Captain Lindsay survive. Below are the surviving pages which record promotions, recommendations, reports and plenty of information on a company level.
On the night of May 4th/5th, the 53rd Battalion moved from the reserve line to the front line, relieving the 54th Battalion. ‘D’ Company 53rd relieved ‘D’ Company 54th Battalion in the line on the right. At 11pm on May 6th, Lieutenant Hill (‘D’ Coy) took a patrol of 10 men out into no mans land. Voices were heard however no enemy sighted and they returned without incident at 1am on May 7th. On the night of May 8th/9th, the 54th Battalion relieved the 53rd Battalion and the former moved down to the reserve line. A week later in the late evening of May 16th, the Battalion relieved the 30th Battalion in the Hamel Sector. ‘D’ Company 53rd relieved ‘B’ Company 30th in the Right Reserve. At 12:10am on May 18th, Lieutenant Hill took out a patrol with 11 men; They found the location of a forward post with atleast 12 enemies, a wiring party was heard before the patrol returned at 1:40am. On the afternoon of May 18th, 18 pounders fired accidentally onto the 53rd Battalion’s front line. One of the shells badly wounded an other rank who nearly had his whole leg severed off by a shell. At 12am on May 23rd/24th, Lieutenant Hill took out another patrol with 4 men. They moved up the Vaire-Hamel road and reconnoitered the area. An enemy trench was found full of men but else nothing of note was found. They returned to the friendly lines at 1:15am. On the night of May 28th/29th, the 53rd Battalion was relieved by the 55th Battalion and the Battalion moved down to the reserve line. On the night of May 31st/June 1st, the 53rd Battalion was relieved in the reserve line by the 13th Battalion; they proceeded to settle in the Querrieu area. Whilst out of the line, new uniforms were issued, boots fixed, barbers at work and so on. On June 7th, Lieutenant Waite MC arrived back at the battalion, following a bullet in the buttocks at Polygon Wood during September last. He had an interesting time in England - moreover, losing his seniority after using a forged railway ticket and presenting said ticket to a Railway Transport Officer. An altercation and he loses seniority, though he still remains a Lieutenant and platoon commander. On June 11th, the ‘Kookaburras’, otherwise the 5th Division Concert Party supplied the Battalion with ample entertainment, performing for them in Querrieu. On June 15th, Lieutenant Hill and Major Roberts DSO were marched out to form a nucleus alongside 63 other ranks, depriving ‘D’ Company of atleast 1 officer. That same day, the Battalion moved up to the reserve line at the Franvillers System. They were to remain there until the night of June 26th/27th when they relieved the 30th Battalion in the front line. ‘D’ Company 53rd relieved ‘B’ Company 30th in the reserve. On June 30th, Lieutenant Waite (‘D’ Coy) took out a patrol and returned with an enemy machine gun, 2 belts, containers, pack, rifle and greatcoat. After quite the spell in the front line, the Battalion was relieved by the 55th Battalion on the night of July 10th/11th, and thereon moved to the support line. On the night of July 17th/18th the 53rd Battalion relieved the 54th Battalion in the front line, however moved back down to the reserve line after being relieved by the 54th Battalion on the night of July 19th/20th. By this time it was evident that there was a stunt planned in the air.
A photograph of Lieutenant Waite taken whilst in England. His Military Cross is pinned up. Dated 1918
On July 27th, the Battalion moved from the reserve line to the Front Line in preparation for the stunt. By nightfall, the battalion stood at 23 officers and 543 Other Ranks. By the morning of July 28th, ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Company were in the line whilst ‘D’ Company was in support. The 53rd Battalion was to participate in an action at Morlancourt on July 29th, 1918. ‘D’ Company had the pure luck to be a carrying party for the action. At 1.25am, the attack began. Information into what ‘D’ Company did throughout the day is not mentioned in the War Diary, however a recommendation was written up for Captain Lindsay, explaining what the Company was doing. This recommendation didn’t lead to anything, however it read in part..
This Officer was incharge of 2 platoons who acted as carrying parties for the attacking troops in the attack on the enemy trenches near Morlancourt.
It was owing to his excellent judgment and personal direction and supervision that the carrying parties (strength 45) were able to cross and re-cross “No Mans Land” in the open although subjected to Artillery and Machine Gun fire with the loss of 1 man.
Great quantities of stores, rations and water were carried by these parties and dumps established in the captured enemy line. During the night following the attack(,) ration parties carrying hot food to the men in the front line were caught in a severe enemy artillery ‘strafe’ lasting from 10.15pm to 5.am next morning.
Captain LINDSAY personally led these parties to their destination in doing so exposing himself to very great danger and although on one occasion he was badly shaken by a shell he still continued his work.
On July 30th, the Battalion came out of the line and was moved to Vaux-en-Amiénois, to which they arrived at on July 31st at 6am. August 1st saw the whole Battalion getting haircuts and company inspections across the Battalion. The next few days passed without notoriety. On the night of August 4th, the Battalion marched to the bivouacs at Querrieu, arriving at said location at 2am. The following day on the 6th, battle orders were received from the brass and the whole of the battalion was overcome by a wave of excitement for the upcoming stunt. They remained at Querrieu until the morning of August 8th, 1918..
The Last Hundred Days
(August 1918 to November 1918)
On August 8th, 1918 at 1.45am, the Battalion moved from Querrieu to the start line for the forth-coming advance. The strength of the 53rd stood at 24 officers at 432 Other Ranks. After 2 hours of waiting for Zero Hour, the trench whistles blew at 4.20am. The Battalion advanced into the morning mist. After 5 minutes of stumbling around at dawn, elements of the brigade captured the trenches near Villers-Bretonneux. By 7am, the 53rd Battalion consolidated on the recently-captured trenches in preparation for another advance. By midday, the Battalion was at Cerisy Valley. At 4pm the Battalion was advancing onto Bayonvillers where they halted and fully consolidated. During the advances on August 8th, Captain Lindsay was riding a horse when a shell landed next to the horse; the horse was blown to bits and two men wounded, however it left Captain Lindsay unscathed. These casualties would be the only ones suffered by the 53rd Battalion on that day. By the end of the day, the men were exhausted from the 12 mile advance, however the men were galvanized when they heard of the successes along the line. Private Marshall who had served in D Company before a transfer to Headquarters Company recorded the actions at Morlancourt in his diary ‘We stayed near Corbie till the barrage started, then we began to advance. The trip to our starting point was not without it’s excitement. Fritz planes were very busy and at one halt, when the troops were all smoking, he came in our direction at a great pace. But nothing extraordinary happened. We stayed on the right of the village of Villers Brettonneux(sic) for a few hours, and moved on again. We knew that it was going successfully as there were no enemy guns firing, and that was a great comfort to us too. Our big guns had been brought right up under the Germans’ noses on the night before so they had no need to move forward then. There were crowds of prisoners everywhere, and the troops spent a good deal of time in souveniring them. All of the prisoners were sure that they had lost the war, and that we would go right on to Berlin. Just before we moved off, there was a little excitement. We were all sitting about talking, when there was a terrific explosion just behind us. A big shell of a new ‘toute suite’ variety had landed about 20 yards off. There had been absolutely no sound of it’s approach at all. Naturally we all had the wind up about some more coming unannounced, but the next went further off and we heard the report of the gun first, then the shell hurtling overhead. They were fired [at] long intervals and all over the country. So we knew that he had one gun still.’ The following day, the Battalion remained in the positions captured the previous day. Strength was increased to 28 Officers and 552 Other Ranks.
On August 22nd, Second Lieutenant Rupert Dent joined ‘D’ Company as a Platoon Commander. He was a new boy, however a Duntroon man (Dec 1916) making him very desirable, considering that most Duntroon men had been repurposed into sandbags or rear-echelon duties. He had applied for a commission in 1915 but only arrived in England in May 1918. After a spell of training, he was on his way to France with the 53rd Battalion. Despite his higher education, Second Lieutenant Dent was still the new boy and the officer with the least seniority in ‘D’ Company, however still better educated. He was to be in a stunt after nearly a week at the front.
Second Lieutenant Rupert Dent. Date unknown
At 1am on September 1st, the Battalion was treated to a hot meal- for some, it would be their last. At 3.30am, the battalion moved into ‘Florine’ and ‘Prague’ Trench. As ‘C’ Company was taking up their position they were met with the most interesting sight- Germans in their trench. A quick fight ensued, with the Germans firing an SOS flare leading to a barrage falling very nearby with ‘C’ Company coming out ontop. At 6am, the whistle blew and the Battalion began their attack. The positions of the companies were ‘A’ Company - Right ; ‘B’ Company - Right Support ; ‘C’ Company - Left ; ‘D’ Company - Left Support
In the initial advance, the Battalion was met by a heavy wire belt which was supposed to be cleared in an earlier artillery barrage. Despite heavy fire raining down on them, soldiers from Waite’s platoon started to cut the wire with the motivational support of their Lewis Gunners. After what felt like an eternity, a passage was forged through the wire, allowing the attack to continue.
The ‘heavy wire belt’ that the 53rd Battalion had to cut through. This particular photograph was taken on September 2nd, 1918; Only a day after the fact with the bodies still remaining
The Company broke through the heavy wire belt and advanced. During the advance through Anvil Wood in the morning performed by ‘A’ and ‘B’ Company, a 77mm Field Gun was spotted nearby and manned by the enemy. Private Currey from ‘B’ Company didn’t hesitate, and taking a Lewis Gun and firing from the hip either dispersed or killed all the enemy manning the gun. Not too long afterwards, Major Murray sent an urgent message to ‘D’ Company to inform them that his left flank was in the air. Captain Lindsay moved his company to the flank of ‘C’ Company with the aim of providing support due to the absence of the 23rd Battalion. ‘D’ Company provided splendid support however sustained severe casualties via machine guns. At 11am, Lieutenant Anslow was with his 16 Platoon in an entrenched machine gun position. They were all bunched up in the trench when a barrage of 5.9inch shells landed around their position. A shell landed in the middle of the platoon, killing Lieutenant Anslow, Sergeant Taylor, Corporal Hayward, Lance Corporals Upton and Barrie as well as Privates Masson and Ries. The shell also wounded 3 others, but either way 16 Platoon was severely hindered by the loss of their senior NCOs and their officer.
Burial marker for the Anslow and his men killed by the shell. Dated 1918
At some point not too long after Anslow’s death, Lieutenant Waite had spotted an unmanned German 77mm Field Gun that had been recently liberated by Private Currey. He sent Signaller Hopkins to get it ready for action. When Hopkins arrived there he was assisted by Private Crank. The pair loaded and fired the gun to great effect on the enemy despite no knowledge about firing a field gun. They began firing on the enemies amassing on the left flank despite heavy machine gun fire. After a great many shells were fired, the enemy dispersed and both men returned to their companies.
At around 4:40pm, Captain Lindsay had suffered a gunshot wound; a bullet that fractured his left tibia. Despite his wound, he led an attack, supervised consolidation before allowing stretcher bearers to take him back to the RAP. Lieutenant Dent also was wounded by a burst from a machine gun which found its mark in his left shoulder. By 5pm, Lieutenant Waite was the last officer of ‘D’ Company still in the fight. He led the company with vigor towards St Denis [62c.I.22] via the St Denis-Mont St Quentin Road, killing 12 Germans along the way, settling in a location known as the Sugar Factory, with the object of making it a forward post. Corporal Charlie Smith assisted by collecting bombs, ammunition and other items to resupply the men; when they reached the Sugar Factory, he volunteered to keep a casting eye over the enemy, reporting their movement to Waite. Whilst holding the Sugar Factory, the Company wiped out a machine gun nest some 200 yards away to his front. However, unbeknownst to Waite, he had lost contact with his own Battalion and was under threat of being completely cut off and therefore risked capture.
Above is the rough ground that Waite and his Company advanced through on September 1st, 1918 towards the Sugar Factory. Infact, towards the centre-left of the photograph in the distance following along the mini-rise on the right, you can see what remains of the Sugar Factory- 3 corner pillars. Dated September 15th, 1918.
Messengers were sent out to try and tell him to fall back, yet no one found him. Shortly after midnight, a certain Private Currey (‘B’ Company) volunteered to find Waite in the dark to tell him to withdraw. He went out for the first time, not running into any Germans by some luck. When he came back to friendly lines, he went out again to no avail. The third time his Company Commander said it had to be done, to which Currey said ‘If I can’t find Mr Waite, I will stand up and shout to him’. Currey went out to find Lieutenant Waite and his party once more at 3am. When 8am rolled around and he still hadn’t found Waite, Currey yelled out ‘Waitsey, Come Back!’. A reply was met with machine guns, bolt actions, the whole kitchen sink. Luckily for everyone involved, Lieutenant Waite heard the message from Currey and quickly began bringing his company out of the Sugar Factory back to friendly lines. Private Patrick Allan, a machine gunner, was the last to leave the Sugar Factory position. Waite withdrew the Company under a smoke screen to the crossroad near Saint-Denis (62c.I.22.a.7.6) under the cover of a bank. He remained there until told to fall back by Major Murray. Peronne was a success by all accounts, with Mont St Quentin and Peronne falling over the next day or two. ‘D’ Company had gone into the line with 4 Officers and 90 other ranks - the whole battalion suffered 11 officers and 241 Other Ranks as casualties - of whom 4 officers and 47 other ranks were killed (11 other ranks to DoW). Captain Lindsay suffered a Blighty wound; fractured tibia on the left leg, similar to his previous Company Commander some 11 months previous. He also was to score a Military Cross at Peronne. ‘D’ Company was only left with 1 officer who had survived unwounded.. Dent had also got a Blighty wound (GSW right shoulder) and Anslow was killed with his men, leaving Lieutenant William Waite MC, as last officer standing from ‘D’ Company and by default took command of ‘D’Company after Captain Lindsay. Coy Sgt Major Cooling had also copped it and was evacuated to hospital, making Sergeant Lineham the acting CSM until Cooling would return shortly after the wars end. Oddly enough, Waite also scored a decoration, earning a Bar to his Military Cross. Lieutenant Waite assumed command of ‘D’ Company shortly after Peronne, presumably the day after on September 2nd. It is unknown how long he was in temporary command, however whilst Waite was Company Commander he had time to write up a recommendation to the Commanding Officer. It read..
53rd BATTALION A.I.F
I wish to bring before your notice the conspicuous gallantry and bravery in action of NO.2153 PRIVATE CRANK during the recent operations at PERONNE.
During the early stages of the attack, a 77mm Field gun was captured with about 70 rounds of ammunition. Private Crank in company with another man*, at once set to work to find out how to detonate the shell and fire the gun. Having ascertained this, he at once brought the gun to bear on the enemy who were massing, apparently for a counter attack on the left flank of the Battalion.
Immediately upon the 77mm gun opening fire, the enemy brought intense artillery and Machine Gun fire to bear on the gun; notwithstanding this, Private Crank and his comrade continued to fire with great rapidity, causing heavy casualties, and finally compelling the enemy to disperse. He then rejoined his Company.
Later in the day noticing the enemy again massing on the left flank, he, in company with another man**, remanned the captured gun and continued firing it until all the ammunition was exhausted, despite renewed enemy artillery and Machine Gun activity, and despite the fact, that there being no way of cleaning the gun there was grave risk of the barrel bursting.
(Signed) W.Waite Lieut.
O.C “D” Company 53rd Battalion A.I.F
*The other man was Lance Corporal Cec Weatherby; later a DCM
**Cec was wounded shortly after the first gun instance, the other man was Private Arthur Hopkins; later an MM
Thanks to Lieutenant Waite’s recommendation, Crank was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal despite an original recommendation for a Victoria Cross. In the days following Peronne, Lieutenant Hill would return from his leave, assuming command of his platoon once more. On September 4th at the bivouacs at Herrecourt, the General Officer Commanding 5th Division, with Brigadier 14th Brigade, inspected and addressed the men of the 53rd Battalion with great praise in respect of the actions at Morlancourt and Peronne. The following day saw a thunderstorm roll onto them whilst they moved their bivouacs. By this time, the Battalion stood at 23 officers and 281 men. On September 7th whilst the Battalion was camped at Le Mesnil, Major Lucas and Lieutenant Waite went back to Peronne to check that all battalion dead were buried. It had turned out that the 1st Brigade had been bivouacked at Peronne and had buried all the dead. On September 12th, a few German planes were spotted overhead. 2 were shot down and 3 turned tail and ran. On September 26th, some 2 weeks after the aerial attack, Lieutenant-Colonel Cheeseman called a conference of all Company Commanders. During this conference, the Colonel outlined an upcoming stunt to come in the following days. At 7:30pm the following day, the Battalion marched out of Le Mesnil and moved towards a place near Hervilly.
On September 30th, Colonel Cheeseman was sent away to a conference at 3am on an upcoming attack that was to occur later that day. With zero hour fixed for 6am, they were expected to step off at below adequate fighting strength. The Battalion’s 4 Companies were instead now 2 to keep up to adequate strength for an upcoming stunt. As a result, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Company became a composite company under Captain William George Wilson MC (pictured to left); Wilson had been commanding ‘C’ Company since shortly after Peronne. ‘A/B’ Company was to fall under the command of Captain Charles Jhonson MC. Captain William Wilson was a Melbournian School Teacher in the pre-war period, obtaining a commission in the 24th Battalion in 1916. He joined the 53rd in November 1916 but went to the newly formed 61st Battalion in England as a Lieutenant. Gassed in March 1918, he scored a Military Cross at Morlancourt. The Battalion passed the jump-off point just a few minutes past 6am; the role of ‘C/D’ Company was ‘that of mopping up the (Bellicourt) Tunnel and vicinity’. On the advance to the tunnel, the company came under intense machine gun and artillery fire. Captain Wilson ably led his Company past the first line of trenches at 9am, before he was shot through the neck (severing his windpipe) with a machine gun bullet. He fell, his death almost instantaneous. Around this time, Lieutenant Hill was leading his platoon on the left flank of the company, but due to heavy casualties being taken he was eventually separated from the company, leaving himself and 6 of his men isolated on that flank of the line. It is said that he continued the advance with merely Sergeants Smith, Callaghan and Quantrill, a Corporal and 2 other men to avoid the flank of the battalion collapsing. After a short advance they were met with a most unusual sight- a machine gun strong post which was pouring enfilading fire on the battalion. Lieutenant Hill didn’t hesitate; he personally led a skeleton charge against the post, killing 20 Germans and capturing 3 machine guns. It was only a very short time before he became a double entrance dugout which had machine guns on each entrance.. Lieutenant Hill, assisted by Sergeant Charlie Smith, collected a few stick grenades and gallantly ran towards the bunker with revolver in hand, shooting 3 men along the way and lobbing grenades all the while. When the smoke cleared, he had killed 15 along the way basically singlehandedly, also capturing 2 machine guns. He then received immediate orders to assist ‘A/B’ Company at the Le Catalet Trench System at around 2pm. Upon reaching said location, he ‘commenced bombing up the trench, and cleared it for a distance of 600 yards’. He and five men in that bombing party had killed 20 odd and captured 7 machine guns, however was obliged to withdraw 200 yards when he was too far from the line. Upon falling back, he established a vital bomb block with the valuable assistance of Sergeants Smith and Dick Callaghan at around 3pm. The bomb block is listed at location A.22.d.45.65. The bomb block was held until midnight. During the action, Lieutenant Hill is also listed to have captured 2 German 77mm field guns.
On October 1st, Lieutenant Hill, Sergeant Quantrill and a handful of other ranks went out on patrol to find the German line. They were successful in this, also locating some German machine gun posts in the process; in that daylight patrol, no one was wounded despite the machine gun fire. At 9:30pm on October 2nd, the Battalion was relieved by the 6th Inniskilling in the line. At the end of it, Lieutenant Hill was the subject of many letters. Lieutenant Cooke, Sergeants Quantrill, Charlie Smith and the Corporal involved all sent in recommendations to Colonel Cheeseman. As a result of his exemplary gallantry, Lieutenant Hill was given a DSO for his actions. Sergeants Dick Callaghan and Charlie Smith got the DCM, Quantrill the MM.
Then-Second Lieutenant Hill. Dated perhaps 1916-17.
On October 3rd, the Battalion buried Captain Wilson MC, Lieutenant Althouse and Second Lieutenant Ralph MM at Tincourt. Also, Captain Jhonson MC, OC of ‘A/B’ Company was to die of wounds sustained in the action on October 2nd, 1918. Despite the casualties, spirits were apparently high whilst the battalion billeted at Villeret. The following day, Lieutenant-Colonel Cheeseman MC addressed the troops, thanking them for their effort in the battle just a few days prior. Reorganization is said to have taken place during this time. On October 5th, they winded up at Le Mesnil then onto St Maxent on October 7th. Upon arrival at St Maxent, the Battalion stood at 24 Officers and 306 Other Ranks. For nearly a week it rained on the Battalion in varying strength until the clouds cleared on October 13th. Around this time, Lieutenant Justin Cooke, 53rd Battalion was appointed Captain which coincided with his taking command of ‘D’ Company, 53rd Battalion in October 1918. He had started out as a recently-married Second Lieutenant in 1915 with the 8th Battalion in Victoria and had worked his way up to Captain with only one wound stripe on his sleeve for a gas attack in April 1918. For the rest of October 1918, inter-battalion competitions took place with men from each company representing their companies. Decides from that, the war diary states ‘(St Maxent) is mostly without extraordinary incident’. On October 22nd, the strength of the Battalion was depleted and stood at 27 Officers and 289 Other Ranks. Lieutenant-Colonel Cheeseman saw the positives of the depleted numbers by stating ‘it is possible to train every man (on) the Lewis Gun, and the Battalion in consequence is becoming a Battalion of Lewis Gunners, which is most useful knowledge to have in case of emergency’. By the turn of the month the battalion had only risen to 29 Officers and 328 Other Ranks. On November 8th the ‘Miss Lina Ashwells Concert Party’ performed a few sketches for the Battalion in St Maxent. On November the 11th, 1918, Colonel Cheeseman paraded the battalion under unknown pretenses. He began reading parts of Prince Litchnowsky’s disclosures showing why Germany was to blame for the war, and commented at the end as a side note “By the way, hostilities will cease at 11am today”. Everyone was rejoicing, less a few who didn’t believe that it was actually over. When the whole village found out, ‘the village immediately became almost festive with bunting’.
The surviving members of ‘D’ Company, 53rd Battalion were photographed with merely 5 officers* and 42 men with their appropriate webbing on. At the end of the war, soldiers of the Company returned home and were subsequently discharged in 1919/20, returning to civilian life.
*One of the officers may be Temporary Company Sergeant Major Lineham
Identified is Lieutenant William Waite MC (Later Bar); second from front, sixth from left. Also identified is Lieutenant Justin Cooke who is on Waite’s left shoulder with a tall posture.
It is worth noting that Lieutenant Rupert Dent, who had been wounded at Peronne on September 1st was getting acquainted with Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon; later known as the Queen Mother to most. He met her whilst he was recuperating at Glamis Castle in Scotland and they became good friends and very fond of eachother. They took walks in the garden and taught Elizabeth a thing or two. When Rupert was to be Returned to Australia, Elizabeth's mother wrote in a letter ‘I want to thank you for the good advice you gave my Elizabeth. I profited by it even more than she did. I needed it more than she does. Do let us hear from you from time to time. We shall never forget you’. Dent destroyed the letters to avoid embarrassment however his family still knew about it all. When he was asked by his children about how close they were, Rupert responded ‘Well, we took lots of long walks together. A gentleman doesn't tell’. In 2013, surviving letters of the affair were found in an old drawer and later sold for the large sum of $3600 AUD.
Second Lieutenant Dent. Date unknown
A final bit worth of mention; Company Sergeant Major Samuel Cooling MM had joined the 53rd Battalion in Egypt in 1916. He then served at Fromelles where he was wounded; later wounded at Polygon Wood; then wounded on April 17th during an attack; then finally wounded at Peronne. He had been wounded at every major attack committed by the 53rd Battalion with the exceptions of the quiet period at Le Transloy, the battle near Bellicourt and actions on August 8th 1918. He finished the war with 4 wound stripes to his name.
Survivors of ‘D’ Company
Even though the war had concluded, there was still another war to be fought at home.. Below are the names of those who served in the Company throughout the war who survived the war. Ofcourse this list may not be completely accurate but it paints a perspective.
Note: This list is those who I have confirmed to have served in ‘D’ Company at one point or another.
Captain Robert Ramsay MC, MiD (1888-1965) - A few misgivings in the interwar period. Rejoined in the Second World War, becoming a Major. He was involved in the Cowra Breakout and shortly thereafter resigned his commission. Died May 23rd 1976
Captain William Frederic Lindsay MC, ED (1880-1940) - stayed in the Militia, gaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and an ED. His men respected him greatly. Died June 11th 1940
Captain Justin Sidney Cooke (1888-1949) - Born in England however immigrated when he was a baby. He married in 1915 and was a Victorian. Gassed in April 1918 and rose to command the Company. Died July 25th 1949.
Lieutenant William Waite MC and Bar (1888-1976) - Became a farmer and suffered many hardships with the terrible land. Rejoined in the Second World War as a Lieutenant in ‘C’ Company, 8th Garrison Battalion; his divisional commander was General Murray- a former 53rd Battalion officer. Died August 28th 1976
Lieutenant Rupert Octavius Dent (1890-1982) - Whilst recuperating in England met the Queen’s Mother and made friends with her. CMF Captain during the Second World War, serving at home. Died December 31st 1982.
Lieutenant Reginald Valentine Hill DSO, MiD (1892-1928) - Being gassed and wounded led to his early death. Died August 15th 1928
Lieutenant James Patrick Joseph Sullivan (1893-1965) - Recommended for Officer Training and also for an MM at Peronne. Given the King's Commission 5/1/1919. Died August 16th 1965
Lieutenant Robert Arthur ‘Roy’ Lee (1893-1956) - Joined the Battalion in June ‘17, spending the best (latter) half of 1918 at schools. Died September 8th 1956.
Company Sergeant Major Samuel Frank Cooling MM (1890-1977) - CSM from 15/1/1918 after the death of CSM Loney at Polygon Wood. Wounded 4 times, probably more than anyone else in the Company. Later Second World War VDC Lieutenant. Died July 9th 1977
Temporary Company Sergeant Major Cuthbert Claude Lineham MM (1892-1971) - T/CSM after CSM Cooling wounded at Peronne, also scored the MM at Peronne. Settled in Canberra; Died May 29th 1971
Company Quartermaster Sergeant Daniel Madden DCM (1888-1934) - Settled in Wellington and then Dubbo as a Barman after the war. Died September 20th 1934
Private Harley Augustus Rudd (1882-1960) - Died in 1960.
Private James Marshall (1899-1959) - Diarist; was only 17 when he enlisted in 1916. Enlisted into the AFC in 1920, then RAAF in 1921, discharged 1928. Enlisted as a Flying Officer in a Second World War RAAF; Home Service. Died July 10th 1959
Private George St Clair Griffin (1893-1950) - Diarist. Found work as Boatshed Proprietor. Died July 23rd 1950
Sergeant Francis William Thompson (1885-1940) - T/CSM after CSM Cooling gassed on 17/4/1918. Died 1940
Sergeant John Laing (1875-1947) - RAN Officer 39-45. Died in 1947
Sergeant Charles Smith DCM (1895-?) - Recommended for a DCM and MM for actions in late 1918. Unsure on fate.
Sergeant Norman Cresswell Ruddel Condell (1895-1972) - Former Light Horseman; in 1954 he was a Farmer in Wagga Wagga. Died October 10th 1972
Company Sergeant Major (or Sergeant) Frank Charles Linaker (1897-1955) - AWL at Durban on 10/9/1919 and was tried by Court Martial whilst on RTA. Acquitted. Found work as a Police Constable. Died June 22nd 1955
Sergeant John Timothy Doherty (1886-1955) - Worked as Labourer prior to the war. Died June 14th 1955
Sergeant David William Levy (1894-1956) - Served in the Second World War. Died January 10th 1956
Corporal Charles Taylor MM (1894/1897-?) - MM at Bellicourt on 30/9/1918 to 2/10/1918. Died sometime after 1960.
Corporal Thomas Rawson (1889 - 1966) - Wounded in Action 26/3/1918 and invalided home. Died November 11th 1966
Sergeant Richard Quantrill MM (1892-?) - Later found work at the Civil Transport Office at Dar-as-Salaam in Tanganyika. Last recorded at said location in October 1920. Unsure when he died.
Corporal James Henry Harrop MM (1894-1944) - Won the MM at Bullecourt. Died May 30th or June 1st 1944
Lance Corporal Erle Russell Ewin (1896-1959) - Settled in Blayney after the war. Died April 22nd 1959
Lance Corporal Albert Victor Stimson (1890-1979) - Lived in Cabramatta/Canley Vale in the interwar period. Died December 10th 1979
Lance Corporal Albert Edward Lonsdale ‘Brickie’ Smith MM (1888-1964) - Recommended for a DCM at Peronne however got an MM instead for manning a Lewis Gun. Re-enlisted for the Second World War, retired to Bega. Died December 8th 1964
Temporary Corporal John Charles Varcoe (1897-1986) - After the war he became a drover, breaking horses. Settled in Boggabri, NSW. Died September 18th 1986
Lance Corporal Stewart Gideon McGlashan (1897-1964) - Found work as a carpenter after the war. Died June 5th 1964
Private John James Baker (1891-1971) - Postwar Timberworker. Died December 22nd 1971
Corporal Henry Hibbert DCM (1893-?) - DCM whilst a stretcher bearer. Promoted to Cpl at Peronne.
Lance Corporal Eli Bramall (1889-1973) - Carpenter postwar; Died February 8th 1973
Private Alfred Abbiss (1882-1968) - Horse Driver. Enlisted for the Second World War. Died August 20th 1968
Lance Sergeant Arthur Lawrence Harrison (1893-1970) - Captured at Fromelles 19/7/1916. Died July 19th 1970
Private Robert James Bassett (1880-1924) - Pioneer with D Coy. Died of War Injuries (Gassed) February 11th 1924
Private Frederick Arthur Hollands (1899-1927) - Underaged. Died in 1927
Private Henry John Walter Phillips (1894-1962) - Died August 2nd 1962
Private George James Fyvie (1891-1940) - Died September 29th 1940
Private William John Gillman (1896-1963) - Died March 11th 1963.
Private James Stephen Johnson (1885-1947) - Died October 10th 1947
Private Robert Sinclair Fitzsimmons (1899-1985) - Transferred to AMC. Served in the Second War. Died December 13th 1985
Sergeant Richard Leslie ‘Dick’ Callaghan DCM (1893-1937) - DCM for Bellicourt. Died October 30th 1937
Private James Alfred Amey (1896-1971) - Later transferred to the 3rd Battalion. Died July 18th 1971
Private John Thomas Black (1891-?) - Untraceable.
Private Herbert George Radford (1891-1962) - Served in the Second War in the 11th Garrison Battalion. Died July 1st 1962
Driver Frederick Francis Riley (1892-?) - Untraceable
Corporal Thomas Charles Akeroyd (1881-1942) - Died in 1942
Private John Bateman (1891-?) - Untraceable
Private Patrick O’Malley (1885-1938) - Died February 5th 1938
Lance Corporal William Keith ‘Bill’ Wilson (1895-1965) - Died May 20th 1965
Lance Corporal James Denston (1890-1942) - Died October 5th 1942
Private Joseph Essex Hodges (1881-1958) - Died November 1st 1958
Private Harry George Walker (1885-1932) - Died in 1932
Private Alexander Wright (1881-?) - Untraceable
Lance Corporal Edward Clarence Skelley (1890-1950) - Charged with Manslaughter in 1909 (bail). Died January 4th 1950
Private Edward Wallace Waites (1894-1968) - Married in England in 1918. Died April 13th 1968
Private William John Simmons (1876-?) - Tram Conductor and a Kiwi.
Corporal Henry James Rumbelow (1891-1979) - Died in 1979
Private Henry William ‘Bill’ Ough (1892-1973) - Died February 20th 1973
Sergeant John O’Driscoll (1881-?) - Died after 1935
Lance Corporal Arthur Ernest Stonestreet (1896-1990) - Probably last surviving ‘D’ Company digger. Died March 22nd 1990
Corporal Claude William Harris (1899-?) - Died after 1960
Lance Corporal Robert Steele Miller (1881-?) - Died after 1924
Private Carl Magnus Thorston Synnerdahl (1893-1956) - Died March 16th 1956
Private William Walter Jarman (1898-1950) - Died June 17th 1950
Private Cecil Henry Blane (1896-1928) - Died July 18th 1928
Lance Corporal Amos John Leslie Turner MM (1893-1981) - MM at Peronne manning a Lewis Gun whilst badly shot up. Died May 23rd 1971
Private Bernard Aloysius Daly (1897-1971) - Died March 17th 1971
Private James Donald Black MM, MiD (1892-?) - MM at Bellicourt. Second World War WO2; Pacific theatre and MiD. Died after 1946
Corporal George Watson (1888-1935) - Died August 22nd 1935
Private Charles Melton (1868-1945) - Died October 5th 1945
Private William Walmsley (1891-1963) - Died November 16th 1963
Private Harris Page (1891-1951) - Died March 12th 1951
Private James Henry Wigginton (1897-1944) - Died in 1944
Private Albert Victor Payne (1895-1932) - Invalided 1917. Died September 22nd 1932
Private Walter Sealy Joseph Welsh (1896-1978) - Invalided 1917. Died in 1978
Private Joseph Henry Goodman (1894-1970) - Died May 5th 1970
Private Harry Walker Rigby Knight (1892-1953) - A British-born soldier. Was in the Second War as CMF. Died August 18th 1953
Private Joseph Owen Duffecy (1888-1956) - Died May 10th 1956
Private Sidney Francis Griffiths (1879-1958) - Died March 5th 1958
Private Frederick George Smith (1899-1956) - Died in 1956
Sergeant Norman Leonard Mawson (1888-1949) - Invalided 1917. Died April 12th 1949
Private Jack Bass (1895-?) - Died after 1945
Private John Semple MM (1888-1953) - Died August 24th 1953
Private Michael Lennon (1875-1934) - Died September 18th 1934
Private Patrick Joseph O’Brien (1892-1964) - Died June 8th 1964
Private George Henry Kingsmill (1897-1974) - Later 5th MG Btn. Died May 19th 1974
Lance Corporal Frank Weitzel (1886-1971) - Invalided 1918. Died September 21st 1971
Private John Claude McGrogan (1896-1971) - Recommended for an MM at Peronne. Died June 6th 1971
Private Patrick Seymour Allan (1897-?) - Recommended for an MM at Peronne. Possibly Private Jerome Patrick Seymour Allan (1899-1978); else fate unknown
Corporal Henry Hubbert DCM (1883/1887-1958) - DCM for Polygon Wood. Died August 25th 1958
Private Oliver John Jones (1890-1958) - Died March 16th 1958
Private Claude Evans (1893-1972) - Later served in the Second World War at home. Died November 24th 1972
Private Forbes George White (1887-1958) - Later served in the Second War at home. Died June 16th 1958
Lance Sergeant Andrew Alfred Porter (1896-1977) - Died May 3rd 1977
Lance Corporal Frederick Alfred Baber (1892-1959) - Died May 13th 1959
Private Joseph Taylor (1884-?) - Before enlisting he was a Miner. Died after 1920
Private Arthur George Whiteford (1884-1959) - Served in the Second War at home. Died October 9th 1959
Private Reginald Andrew Hamilton (1891-1935) - Died November 7th 1935
Sergeant Norman Leonard Mawson (1888-1949) - Invalided 1917. Died April 12th 1949
Lance Corporal Charles Joseph Roberts (1893-?) - Invalided 1917. Died after 1963
Corporal James Denston (1889-1942) - Died October 5th 1942
Private William Henry Haile (1894-1942) - Signaller, Coy HQ. Died July 28th 1942
Private Arthur Rupert Pike (1891-1934) - Court martialled twice over. Died November 19th 1934
Corporal James Sylvester Lewis McDonald (1891-1935) - Invalided 1918. Settled in Hornsby Died September 7th 1935
Private Nathaniel Thomas Wheatley (1893-1977) - Died January 30th 1977
Corporal Oscar William Smith DCM (1891-1967) - DCM for Peronne as a runner, later served in the Second War. Died July 31st 1967
Private Daniel Michael Regan (1900-1968) - Born 1900 (Claimed 1897) Enlisted 1915 and discharged Underaged 1917. Died April 15th 1968
Private Stanley Alick Dalton (1894-1968) - Shell shocked. Died April 30th 1958
Sergeant Gilbert Alderton (1894-?) - Invalided 1918 after being wounded in May ‘18. Died after discharge.
Corporal Dougald Fittar Stanton (1889-1975) - Captured at Fromelles. Died September 1st 1975
Lance Corporal Thomas Kilroy (c.1890-?) - Untraced
Private Cecil Ernest Vircoe (1899-1966) - Died November 10th 1966.
Honor Roll for ‘D’ Company
Burial party for those of the 53rd Battalion Killed in Action at Peronne on September 1st, 1918. Dated September 21st, 1918.
Note: This list is those who I have confirmed to have served in ‘D’ Company at one point or another.
Captain Charles Arblaster (OC Coy); Died of Wounds July 24th 1916 (PoW)
Captain William George Wilson MC (OC Coy); Killed in Action September 30th 1918
Lieutenant Roy Anslow (OC 16Plt); Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Lieutenant William Edward Noble (OC 15Plt); Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Second Lieutenant Charles Edward Mudge (OC 14Plt); Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Second Lieutenant Albert Edward Cooper (Acting OC Coy); Killed in Action March 29th 1917
Coy Sgt Major Frederick William Loney; Killed in Action September 26th 1917
Sergeant William Stephen Taylor; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Corporal Percy Gladstone Moate; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Corporal Archie Ferdinand Hayward; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Corporal James Gilroy Wilcox; Killed in Action September 27th 1917
Corporal Joseph Lahiff; Died of Illness/Wounds October 23rd 1918
Lance Corporal Peter Alexander Thompson; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Lance Corporal John Frederick Keith Comb; Killed in Action March 1st 1918
Lance Corporal William John Grove; Died of Wounds October 1st 1918
Lance Corporal Clarence Lancelot Upton; Died of Wounds September 1st 1918
Lance Corporal William Picken Barrie; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Lance Corporal Joseph O’Rourke; Killed in Action October 20th 1917
Private James Albert Ahern; Died of Wounds April 27th 1918
Private William Maitland Douglas Masson; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Private Henry Masson; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Private Percy Edward Sowter; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Private George Craig; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Sylvester James Gollan; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Hector Adams; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Private David Roylstone Leslie Abbott; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Robert Henry Scott; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Private Robert Thomas Logan; Killed in Action September 23rd 1917
Private Hector Francis Bowen Trevena; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Private Harry Turner; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Arthur Turner; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Stanley Johnson Mears; Killed in Action March 1st 1918
Private George Roland James Hill; Killed in Action March 1st 1918
Private Ralph Pendleton; Killed in Action March 1st 1918
Private Nicholas Mainger; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private William Bernard Tier (att. HQ Coy); Killed in Action December 20th 1916
Private James Youman; Killed in Action September 30th 1918
Private/Signaller John Victor Wright; Killed in Action September 26th 1917
Private Frederick William Alexander Smith; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Thomas Henry Kidd; Killed in Action November 1st 1916
Private William Howard Birch; Killed in Action September 24th 1917
Private Claude George Coote; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private William Crossman; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Norman Charles Edgely; Died of Wounds July 7th 1918
Private Reginald Ignatius Edgeworth; Killed in Action October 20th 1917
Private Archibald Patrick Lannen; Killed in Action September 23rd 1917
Private Charles Hollingshead Fryer; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private Fines Henry Godding; Killed in Action September 30th 1918
Private John Henry Alfred Coe; Killed in Action March 29th 1917
Private Cecil Grant; Killed in Action March 29th 1917
Private Frederick Alonza Fuller; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private John Clarence Christie; Killed in Action April 6th 1918
Private Patrick Kelly; Captured 6/4/1918; Died September 6th 1918
Private Charles George Ries; Killed in Action September 1st 1918
Private Bertram Stanley Grice; Died of Wounds October 2nd 1918
Private William Hewit; Killed in Action September 23rd 1917
Private Frederick Kafer; Died of Wounds September 1st 1918
Private William Herbert Hilbourne; Died of Wounds September 26th 1917
Private Frank Hill; Killed in Action September 26th, 1917
Private Thomas Henry Kidd; Killed in Action November 1st 1916
Private Nicholas Mainger; Killed in Action July 19th 1916
Private William Wallace John Pruss; Killed in Action March 13th 1917
Private Cyril Herbert Read; Killed in Action January 2nd 1917