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Remembered Today:

23rd Battalion, AIF - 6899 Pte. James Turner


Tom Morgan
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Earlier this week I was in the village of Quesques, Pas de Calais, to visit the grave of 6899 Pte. James Turner, 23rd Battalion, AIF.

Pte. Turner is buried in the churchyard. His grave doesn't have a CWGC stone, but is in a similar style to the local civilian graves which surround it. He died on February 5th, 1918. His memorial was "erected by his comrades of 23rd Battalion."

The soldier's diary which led me there says that the local people had promised they would look after the grave and this they seem to have done to this day, as the grave is very tidy, with a pot containing a flowering plant placed on it.

The inscription says that Pte. Turner was "accidentally killed."

Does anyone know what happened, exactly?

Tom

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Tom,

Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to your question. But here is his entry from the AIF Project:

Regimental number 6899

Place of birth Euston, New South Wales

Place of birth Ballarat, Victoria

Religion Roman Catholic

Occupation Labourer

Address Swan Hill, Victoria

Marital status Single

Age at embarkation 23

Next of kin Mother, Mrs Freda Turner, Railway Hotel, Mystic Park, Victoria

Previous military service Nil

Enlistment date 17 October 1916

Rank on enlistment Private

Unit name 23rd Battalion, 19th Reinforcement

AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/40/5

Embarkation details Unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A11 Ascanius on 11 May 1917

Rank from Nominal Roll Private

Unit from Nominal Roll 23rd Battalion

Fate Died as a result of accident 6 February 1918

Place of death or wounding France

Age at death 23

Age at death from cemetery records 23

Place of burial Quesques Churchyard (Near North-East corner of Churchyard), France

Panel number, Roll of Honour,

Australian War Memorial 100

Miscellaneous information from cemetery records Son of Mrs. Emily TURNER, 99 Cremorne Street, South Richmond, Victoria.

It appears that his service record hasn't been digitized by the Australian Archives yet (Item barcode 1920618).

Best Regards,

Matthew

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You'll find the Red Cross files at www.awm.gov.au under 'biographical databases'. There are nine pages to Turner's file. Here are a couple of them.

Tim L.

post-2918-1127500657.jpg

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Thanks, Myrtle and Tim. Mystery solved! Your info, together with Matthew's tell me all I could have hoped for. An excellent result for which I'm really grateful.

Best wishes -

Tom

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Hi Neil - yes there is. The answer is that the grave/memorial we see today was set up while the war was still on. After the war, when the Imperial War Graves Commission set about marking graves with the standard headstone, they found this grave already permanently marked, so they left it as it was. There is another example of a grave memorial set up during the war itself in Heilly Station Cemetery, on the Somme. This was also left as it was. (This grave was also that of a soldier killed accidentally, this time in a grenade accident, with this grave also being provided by comrades.)

Tom

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Tom

This thread has made me think about Pte. George Morgan, Herefordshire Regiment who died from wounds received at Gallipoli. His uncle QMS Edward Pryce Morgan with the 25th RWF placed a private tombstone over George's grave in Alexandria in 1916. A photograph appeared in the local newspaper at the time, showing a grave with a large stone cross but now, according to the CWGC listing for Chatby cemetery Alexandria, it seems that George is buried in K65 which sounds like a standard Commonwealth War Grave.

Sadly Edward Morgan also died in Egypt on 14th February 1918. He is buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.

I wonder if it was the family's or the authority's decision to change George's Memorial, that is if it was changed.

Myrtle

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Tom,

His death is also mentioned briefly in the battalion history.

On 5th February, Private James Turner of A Company, was killed in an unfortunate accident, and on the next day he was buried in the local Quesques Cemetary. A subscription was taken up by the battalion and a headstone erected over his grave, with the local citizens promising that his grave "will be attended to and kept green all the time".

Austin, Ron. Forward Undeterred : The History of the 23rd Battalion 1915-1918, p. 143.

Rgds

Tim

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Tim - thanks for that - it completely agreees with the record in another soldier's diary, expecially the bit about the local people promising to look after the grave.

Myrtle - It might depend on whether or not the grave was moved. Both of the private markers I know about - Pte. Turner's grave and the one in Heilly Station Cemetery - are still in their original locations.

Tom

Two pictures below - one of Heilly Station Cemetery with the non-standard grave-marker visible (it's a tall round column with a cross on the top.) This picture was shamelessly borrowed from the Mother Site. Then my own picture of Pte. Turner's grave at Quesques.

post-7-1127557740.jpg

post-7-1127557776.jpg

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Tom,

I followed up an AIF soldier who was accidentally killed and where I assumed there must have a been a court of enquiry. You can request acccess to Australian records which have been unclassified. The service is free and if the records are not currently in digital form you request that they do this. You then join a queue. In this case it took three months but gave me the soldier's entire army file. An amazing service!

The link is http://naa12.naa.gov.au

Phil

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You'll find the Red Cross files at www.awm.gov.au under 'biographical databases'. 

Tim

Thanks for this. Great bit of the site that I hadnt really noticed before. Picked up a fair bit of information about a few of my Aussies.

John

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