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Remembered Today:

Australian Soldier of 1918 Battles


Mark Hone
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As I have mentioned on previous threads , my 2008 school tour will be a 90th anniversary commemoration of the 1918 battles. Amongst other places we shall be visiting Villers-Bretonneux and Bellenglise. As always I like to base the tour around personal stories. I already have plenty of material for the British, Canadians and Americans, but would like to incorporate something for the Australians as well. I have some first-hand accounts from books, but do any of our Aussie Pals have any particular stories, accounts, gravesites etc of relatives or people from their neck of the woods that I could incorporate into the tour? I have a personal link with Ballarat and Melbourne as my great-great-great grandfather Edwin Wattis went out in the 1850's goldrush, made and lost a couple of fortunes and ended up as a freeman of the City of Melbourne , before being run over by one of Melbourne's famous trams in 1913 at the age of 83!

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Mark

Would appreciate if you and your school tour could stop and remember

at the Australian 2nd. division Memorial at Mont .St. Quentin.

My Grandfather , Cpl. W. H. Rath 2195 was involved in the (depleted) 17th.

Battalion attack on the Mont at 0530 , 31st August 1918 , where to give the

impression of superior numbers they attacked the slopes and summit

"Yelling like Bushrangers".

The Monument on the Mont was dedicated in 1971 as the original memorial

depicting a bare headed Digger bayoneting the Imperial Eagle was removed by

the German Forces in 1940.

A small replica of the original monument is in the Anzac Museum above the

Villers- Bretonneux school.

My grandfather returned to Australia in 1919.

Peter

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Mark,

As a project for the kids, you could:

1) search the CWGC for some names off the Villers Brett Memorial and cemetery, then

2) Search the National Australian Archives (www.naa.gov.au) for their service records

Then the kids can research 'their' digger - who he was, where he came from, what did he do before the war, was he married, etc - write a short eulogy for him, and place a flower or tribute on his grave or name.

A few Australian schools have started doing this and are reporting that it has a huge emotional impact on the kids involved. I know many Australians who would be delighted that this was done for their countrymen.

Have a look in Villers Brett cemetery for the gravestone on the right hand side of the front entrance (I think, from memory) - the family's epitaph reads something like: "Lives lost, families destroyed - for what?" One of the saddest graves I've ever seen.

Bob

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It is highly rewarding to pick a soldier at random, do some research then actually visit their memorial or grave site.

I did this in October at Ypres, it was an amazing experience.

I am now fully researching 'my lad'.

Good luck.

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Peter - no problem. I only found this site a month or so ago. It is an excellent piece of work.

Mark - if you are looking for a name on the V-B memorial how about Percy Black? Bean called him the "bravest man in the AIF". He was a Major with the DSO killed at Bullecourt, so perhaps a little early for you? Plenty in Bean about him, and Bean available to download from the AWM site.

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Mark,

My Great Uncle, 6360 Private Victor George HILL was killed at Herleville on 18th August 1918. He is buried at Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres. I have a photo of him and one of his company, his service record, Red Cross files of witnesses describing his last moments and a fascinating detailed letter from his Company commander describing the action of his platoon on that day (most were either killed, wounded or captured). Of course I can also supply details of his personal life before the war.

Both Vic and his family were from Port Melbourne which ties in nicely with you're wishes. Oh, and strangely his father was run over by a Melbourne bound train in 1907!

If this fits the bill and you'd like to use his story, just let me know and I'll forward all the info.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Can I suggest Ernest Harbour Cpl, 34th Battalion AIF, killed 15th June 1918 on patrol in no-mans land. If you get his service records from AWM you will see he was hospitalized several times with bronchitis prior to him being kiled in no-mans land.

Did he cough? He is on our local memorial here in Balerno, Edinburgh but was a native of Blackburn England and his Grand nephew is in Blackpool. If you can't get his records email me.

Aye

Malcolm

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Thanks very much for the suggestions. As Pals who have had to endure my postings on previous tours may know a particular feature of our trips is commemorating old boys of the school (97 of whom died in the Great War) and relatives of people on the tour. For example on this tour we shall be visiting the scene of one of the boy's great-great uncle's death on 21st March 1918 and the graves of several old boys, including the last former BGS pupil to die in action: 19 year-old Lt. Joseph Morris, Lancashire Fusilers, who was killed on 4th November 1918 and , as we found out on our 80th anniversary tour in 1998, has the school motto inscribed on his grave. Our school roll of honour contains six Canadians and a Kiwi but no Australians. I shall follow up the suggestions when planning my detailed itinerary and report back.

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Hi Mark,

8 of our old boys and one master died at Villers Bretonneux, and their names are on the memorial wall. We found them all on our recent visit, and then climbed the tower to look over the battlefields.

I look forward to your itinerary

Cheers

Shirley

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If you are going near Peronne, I have photographs of 2 Australians (56th Bn and 60th Bn) killed there a day apart (Sept 1st and 2nd, 1918) by German artillery. They are both buried in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension.

Chris

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Mark,

Transcripts/Photocopies of diaries of three Australians who fought on 8th August 1918 sent by email yesterday. Have just received email notification that the emails have not yet been delivered but that the system will try again for next two days. Please advise if you don't receive them by say Tuesday and I will try again.

cheers

Chris

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