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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

First Australian killed on the Western Front ?


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Hi All

Today I was researching a unknown grave in Le Cateau Military Cemetery and came across

a interesting find.

The grave was that of a Corporal of the Royal Field Artillery probably dating from

August 1914.

Although it was quickly apparent that there was to many possibilities Geoff,s search engine

exposed the following.

Corporal Frank Letherbarrow 122nd Battery Royal Field Artillery K.i.a 26.8.1914

son of Mr and Mrs P L Letherborrow of "Roseville " Nichol Street Lakemba N.S.W Australia.

Until now I believed that Lieutenant W M Chisholm of the 1/East Lancashire Regiment

d.o.w 27.8.1914 was probably Australia,s first fatality.

Does anybody know anything more regarding Corporal Letherborrow?


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There are 21 pages of service record on Ancestry UK. What a fortunate man you are !


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The records on Ancestry will no doubt settle the issue in this case, but was a man whose parents lived in Australia necessarily an Australian himself? There must have been instances where a family emigrated to Australia but one or more of its members remained in Britain - perhaps a married daughter or a son serving his apprenticeship and boarding with a relative.

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Took a look at the pages,most are for pre-War service (1909 Royal Regt of Artillery) and not a lot about War service. A bit babout the War and a torn copy of the death telegram with the recipient's address lost !


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Thanks very much for your help

It,s somewhat disappointing that the address is missing .

You sometimes come up against these barriers.

Next time I,m back in Aus I,ll see if there is a birth certificate ,etc

Siege Gunner

Yes the definition of who is Australian at this period of our history is somewhat open to interpretation.

Many men who had been born overseas but were to fight under the flag no doubt considered

themselves Australian.

Equally many of those born in Australia to say British parents who returned to the U.k considered themselves

British.I know of at least two officers who where to be killed in 1914 who would probably fit into this cataegory.

As this is August 1914 and relating to the B.E.F I would define a Australian as someone born in Australia

with parents who were residing in the country at the time of their sons death or who had died there themselves.

Thanks again


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I seem to remember that there was a thread some time ago about the first Australian-born casualty of the war, but I can't find it. There were also some instances of British-born men who happened to be 'visiting' Australia (as opposed to having established themselves there permanently), who enlisted in the Australian forces. Some technicalities are perhaps best not pursued to the nth degree.

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The Letherbarrow family can be found in both the 1891 and 1901 census living at Reading, Berkshire .

Francis (Frank) B Letherbarrow was born in 1891 at Reading. His father was either Luke Francis or Francis Luke (not P.L.), born in Banbury, Oxfordshire and his mother was Mary Cecilia born in Ireland. Obviously they moved to Australia sometime between 1901 and 1914 as both his parents died in NSW during the 40's and his other siblings have died there throughout the years.

One of Frank's brothers served in the AIF as 4432 Private John Letherbarrow, 1st Pioneer Battalion. John died in NSW during 1977.

Whether Frank ever came to Australia with the family (probably) or if he can be considered the first Australian killed in WW1 are questions open to debate.


Tim L.

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Thanks for that information.

It probably explains why Lieutenant Chisholm is excepted as being the

first Australian to die in the Great War.

Unless you were born down under it is now difficult to prove someones status.

Siege Gunner

The thread your probably thinking of is the one regarding Corporal of

Horse Leggett .I think it was last year and titled 14th October 1914.

I remember posting the names of a few other Australians who were

killed on the Western Front during that period.

Thanks again for your input


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Another of Frank's brothers served in the British forces & died in 1915.


Initials: T

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Unit Text: 2nd Bn.

Age: 22

Date of Death: 16/05/1915

Service No: 18551

Additional information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Letherbarrow, of "Roseville," Nickoll St., Lakemba, Sydney, Australia.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 16 and 17.


Both are commemorated on the Australian War Memorial Commemorative Roll.

Cheers, Frev

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Thanks for that mate.

I wonder if the parents placed any pressure on their

remaining sons not to enlist considering the families

early losses?


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