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Do you have an ANZAC in the family

The Albany History Collection invites members of the community to participate in their “Do you have an ANZAC in your family?” project. Anecdotal information received from families personalises the histories of our ANZACs when considered alongside official histories such as service records. Telling the histories of those who served in the First World War recognises the contributions and sacrifices made by these servicemen and women and their families.

Albany Public Library acknowledges the support of Albany Plaza Shopping Centre towards this project.

Albany Plaza Shopping Center

Pte Cyril Arthur BENNETT. 2 ASH & Tpr Roy BENNETT 10 LHR

1204, [WX29216]  Pte Cyril Arthur BENNETT, 2 ASH
365 Tpr Roy BENNETT, 10 LHR

It could be said that the Bennett family’s proud military tradition began with the enlistment of two brothers in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at the outbreak of the Great War.

At 19 years of age Pte Cyril Arthur BENNETT, 1204 [WX29216] sailed from Fremantle on 14th December 1914 aboard the transport Kyarra A55, one of the troopships comprising the Second Convoy.  He served with the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital (ASH).  His older brother Roy also enlisted, serving with the 10th Light Horse Regiment (10LHR).

Cyril was employed as a clerk in the family’s grocery business, Bennett and Burnside in Fremantle.  Established in 1902 by his father Phillip and partner William Burnside, the store was located in Adelaide Street near the Town Hall.  Building a reputation as purveyors of fine locally produced and imported foods, the business was considered one of the best grocery and hardware stores in Fremantle.  Not only was an extensive customer base established in Perth, with a branch opening in Subiaco, orders from country clients were welcomed with a promise of careful packaging and prompt delivery!

One of ten children, Cyril was born in Fremantle and educated at Fremantle Boys School.  In 1909 he was awarded dux of the school, winning the headmaster’s special prize.  He joined the cadets and was training as a senior cadet at attestation. Leaving Fremantle, the 2nd ASH sailed to Egypt, quickly establishing medical facilities to accommodate an outbreak of disease and infection.  By 24th April 1915, the unit was positioned at Lemnos with orders to supply medical officers and personnel for the transports stationed nearby.  The horrendous outcome of heavy casualties at Gallipoli saw hospital ships engage in the critical evacuation of thousands of wounded from Gaba Tepe on the peninsula, to Alexandria.

After Gallipoli, Cyril was attached to the Assistant Director of Medical Services (ADMS) staff and served with the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance (LHFA) in the Middle East.  He advanced through the ranks, being promoted to Staff Sergeant (S/Sgt) in 1917. 

Cyril had spent more than four years abroad with the AIF, but his war service did not end with his discharge in 1919.  In 1940 he re-enlisted in the army, serving with the 8th Australian Casualty Clearing Station and 103 Convalescent Depot at Ingleburn.  Gaining a rank of lieutenant on enlistment, he served as a quartermaster and was promoted to captain in 1941.  He remained with the 2nd AIF until 1946, volunteering for service in the demobilisation period.

Cyril returned to the family business at the end of the First World War for a short time before moving to Melbourne for work.  He married there and returned to Western Australia in 1925, securing work with the State Steamship Line as chief steward.  After the Second World War, Cyril was employed as an accounting officer with the Ordnance Depot at Midland.  He remained there until retirement in 1956.  
Cyril died 1981 aged 87 years and is memorialised in the Garden of Remembrance at Fremantle Cemetery.  He is remembered by his family as a quietly spoken ‘gentle giant’ and whilst he had a strong sense of duty, he was admiring of the Turks, regarding them as honourable men and soldiers, unlike Churchill!

Cyril’s brother, Tpr Roy BENNETT, 365 embarked at Fremantle with the 10LHR in February 1915. At 23, he also worked in the family business as a bookkeeper.  On 29th August during the final phase of the notorious August Offensive, Trooper Bennett was mortally wounded at Hill 60.  He died in Egypt on 11th September 1915 and is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.  

Continuing the family’s military association were Cyril’s sons, Phillip and Peter.  Highly decorated Duntroon graduate, General Sir Phillip Harvey BENNETT, AC KBE DSO gained postings to Japan, Korea and Vietnam, amongst others.  His distinguished career culminated with the appointment of Chief of the Defence Force 1984-1987 and Governor of Tasmania in 1987.  He now lives in Canberra.   
Phillip’s younger brother Peter also attended Duntroon, choosing to pursue a post war career with the RAAF as a navigator.

Cyril sends a note home telling of his arrival at Alexandria The gravesite of Trooper Roy Bennett The gravesite of Trooper Roy Bennett thumb-1

Cpl Donald Humfray  HASSELL, 10 LHR

112, Cpl Oscar Donald Humfray  HASSELL, 10 LHR 

Local stockman Humfray Hassell enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 5th October 1914.  He was 23 years old.  Humfray was the seventh son and one of nine children of Albert Young Hassell and Ethel Clifton, both prominent pioneering families associated with the pastoral industry, maritime and shipping.

Humfray was born in 1891, quite possibly in the family home Hillside where his brother Harold was born.  With rural landholdings some way from Albany, the family built the home on its town property which comprised around 50 to 60 acres on the slopes of Mount Melville. The stately residence still stands today. 

In his early years, Humfray attended ‘Camfield’, a school run by the Christian Brothers on Serpentine Road.  His secondary education was undertaken at Geelong Grammar School together with his brother Harold, to whom he was particularly close.  They would return to Albany annually during vacation.  A sea chest used by the two boys on their voyages from Albany remains with the family to this day. 

After completing his education in Victoria, Humfray returned to Albany, working on the Hassell family farm ‘Jarramungup’ with Harold.  The landholding of around 24,000 acres was originally taken up by their grandfather John, opening the area up around 1850. It was named for its abundance of yate trees, with its spelling derived from local aboriginal pronunciation.  The property would eventually be sold to the Commonwealth for the soldier settlement scheme around 1950, establishing the area of Jerramungup.

The Hassells were respected pastoralists and well known for the horses they bred on the Jarramungup property.  It was from this stock that Humfray is said to have taken his horse to the front.  Humfray embarked at Fremantle with the 10th Light Horse Regiment aboard HMAT Mashobra on 8th February, 1915 The transport carried 408 men and 333 horses bound for the training camps of Egypt. 

A keen correspondent, Humfray’s letters home form a diarised account of his experiences. His strong connection to the Australian bush is regularly reflected in his vividly detailed descriptions of the harsh environment in which he finds himself and the comparisons he draws to that of his home.

The 10LHR of spirited West Australians was raised early in October 1914. Humfray was part of its foundation unit, ‘A’ squadron and amongst the many to volunteer for dismounted service in the trenches at Gallipoli.  During the infamous charge at the Nek on 7th August 1915, Cpl Hassell was killed in action at Walker’s Ridge.  Trooper Hassell is memorialised at Lone Pine and on the headstone of his family’s gravesite in the pioneer cemetery on Middleton Road in Albany.

Not only was the war unforgiving on the family in claiming the life of Humfray, two Clifton cousins also were killed in action, at Gallipoli and in France.  Another connection to the Hassel family was indigenous serviceman Pte Michael CONNOR, 4258 who was raised by the family at their Warriup property near Green Range.  Michael served with in 48th Battalion and died of illness in France in 1916, less than six months after leaving Australia.  He rests in Levallois-Perret Cemetery, Paris.

10th Light Horse, D troop, A Squadron at training Humfray writes details of his regiment. Humfray Hassell in the front row, third from left Trooper Hassell, sitting on the far right Cpl Oscar Donald Humfray Hassell A written letter home from Gallipoli A written letter home from Gallipoli Humfray writes to his brother Harold before leaving Western Australia

Pte George Davies JOHN, 10 LHR

624, Pte George Davies JOHN, 10 LHR
3600, Pte William Lewis JOHN, 10 LHR
1600, Pte David JOHN, 10 LHR
1847, Pte Benjamin Arthur JOHN, 44 Bn
645, Pte Joseph Davies JOHN, 28 Bn

Pte George Davies JOHN, 624, 10LHR enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 20th October 1914.  He was 23 years old.  After undertaking basic training at Blackboy Hill army camp in Guildford, Pte John embarked on the troopship Surada at Fremantle on 17th February 1915 with other members of the 1st–14th Reinforcements of the 10th Light Horse Regiment (10LHR).

Following further training in Egypt, Pte John set off for the shores of Gallipoli in May, 1915.  He was at Anzac for five months when he was struck down with influenza and enteric fever.  After two months hospitalisation at Malta and Port Said, the debilitating effects of typhoid forced Trooper John’s return to Australia.  He was honourably discharged in June, 1916.
George John was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales and was one of nine children.  He emigrated to Australia in 1909 to pursue a life on the land, taking up and clearing 500 acres of bush to establish himself farming around Gnowangerup and Borden.  With his brother William, George established the property ‘Pembroke’.  Prior to emigrating, George had spent eighteen months with the Pembroke Imperial Yeomanry in Wales.

George was one of five brothers to have enlisted in the AIF, with his twin William and younger brother David also serving with the 10LHR.  Of two other brothers, Benjamin served in the 44th or ‘Westralian’ Battalion and Joseph with the 28th, a battalion raised at Blackboy Hill in 1915.  Both infantry units were heavily involved in some of the fiercest and most costly battles on the Western Front.  Joe was killed in action during the unit’s first major engagement, the Battle of Pozières, on 29th July, 1916.  He was 22.  Youngest brother Bertie, who remained in Wales, was killed in action in France whilst serving with the 18th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers.

After the war, George returned to the family farm before leaving the industry to move to Cranbrook in the 1930s.  There he retained his connection with agriculture, establishing a carrying and cartage business to meet the increasing demand for a more mechanised means of transport and freight.  The venture was the first of its kind in Cranbrook with George purchasing a KB International for the job! 

A horseman of some renown, George was a popular local figure who epitomised the Australian character of generosity and goodwill, attributes our Anzacs were pivotal in forming. 
Whilst skilled on horseback, George’s driving credentials were of different acclaim.  Legend has it that barely a fence, gate or ramp in the district remained untouched by George.  Indiscretions were quickly forgiven with most farmers having a ready supply of strainer posts on hand.  His warm-heartedness and good nature endeared him to the community and ensured his farm visits were always a welcome form of communication for those in the district.

Never one to dwell on his war time experiences, a quiet moment of reflection brought George to comment -
None of us were heroes.  The fastest runners were the lucky ones . . . that is what we did [and when] you are running for your life trying to jump over the bodies, especially if a body had been there for three days or more [and] was swollen up and you chanced to land on it, I am telling you, that is nothing to brag about”.
George died in 1974 at the age of eighty three.  He rests in the Cranbrook Cemetery.

Of his brothers after the war, William moved out of farming to take up butchering in Broome. He is said to have been the first taxi driver there.  The accumulated effects of war took their toll on William and he spent many years convalescing in Edward Millen Hospital in East Victoria Park.  He passed away in 1932.  Prior to enlisting, William was a councillor on the Gnowangerup Road Board, being elected in 1913.

David and Benjamin both returned to the land with David droving sheep around Gnowangerup before moving to Boddington to farm.  He was secretary for the Marradong Road Board.  Benjamin managed many properties in Pootenup to Frankland before moving to Cranbrook as the bottle-o.

For Joe, a street in Borden bears the family name, recognising his ultimate sacrifice and honouring a family’s selfless contribution to the war.

Pte George Davies John Pte Joseph John, killed in action 1916

Sgt James Thomas MAGEE MM, 1FAB

1444, Sgt James Thomas MAGEE, MM, 1FAB

Victorian soldier Sgt James Thomas MAGEE, MM, 1444 was amongst the thousands of young men who left for war in 1914 with the first convoy of troopships from Albany.  Our shorelines would be the last view of Australia he would see. 

Tom served with the ammunition column of the 1FAB [Field Artillery Brigade].  He was almost 26 when he enlisted at St Kilda in August 1914, embarking at Melbourne on HMAT Shropshire A9 on 20th October.  Three other transports of the first convoy, HMAT Karroo A10, HMAT Armadale A26 and HMAT Miltiades A28 sailed from Melbourne that day.  On reaching Albany five days later, Tom comments in a letter to his mother “This is a very big boat.  There are over 1300 soldiers, 250 sailors and 480 horses on board”.  He adds “We can’t get stamps here so have to post without any”. 

Born at Woodstock-On-Loddon near Bendigo, Tom’s family had emigrated from Ireland, bound for the goldfields in Victoria.  Prior to the war, Tom is understood to have worked for the large agricultural machinery manufacturers Sunshine Harvester Works, a company significant for the role it played in the progression of Australian industrial and workplace relations and the establishment of a ‘basic wage’.

Over the course of the war, it is the letters Tom writes to his mother Mary which give a very personal and heartbreakingly frank account of the feelings and emotions he experiences.
Leaving the army training camp at Broadmeadows he comments, “it is a great sight for anyone to see, there is a great city of tents and bands playing at night time”.  But his sense of anticipation is tempered by the raw emotion of bidding farewell, where at St Kilda he “said goodbye to them, they all broke up and the old lady especially howled” and “on the station platform 8 girls I know started howling and going on and made me look like a fool to say nothing of being down in the dumps ever since”.

To his mother are comforting words “am very sorry that you are taking it so hard . . . a person has only to die once . . . there is no use me trying to get out of it as you suggested”.
Through his letters we share this young soldier’s enthusiasm, empathise with his sorrow and can only imagine the horrendous realities of his experiences on the battlefield and engagements with the enemy.  The carnage of the Emden, the relentless demands of Gallipoli and the deafness from exploding shells are experiences laid bare.  The buoyant mood of his early correspondence flattens through the course of the war, reflecting his utter exhaustion and deteriorating health.

 Debilitated by illness, Tom was evacuated from France early in October 1918 in preparation for a return home. Physically weakened by exposure to gas, Tom contracted a chill whilst crossing the English Channel.  Gripped by the effects of influenza and pneumonia he tragically passed away in a British hospital on 25th October 1918.  He is buried in Efford Cemetery, Plymouth.

Tom had served in the AIF with distinction.  He was awarded the Military Medal for displaying “great courage and coolness” when containing a fire from an exploding shell in Westhoek, France.  Exposing himself to burns, his actions with two others enabled a way out for the many soldiers trapped in their dugouts in the area.

Tom’s words of consolation remain indelibly poignant “So goodbye now dear mother, for the present and don’t let it worry you.  Think that there are hundreds of other mothers just in the same position as you”.

Sgt James Thomas MAGEE A Memorial Scroll was issued to the next of kin of those who died on active service. Tom writes to his mother from Albany on 25th October 1914.

Pte Archibald Carmichael NEWMAN, 9 LHR & Pte Harold Clive NEWMAN, 9 LHR

726, Pte Archibald Carmichael NEWMAN, 9 LHR
727, Pte Harold Clive NEWMAN, 9 LHR

South Australian brothers, Archibald Carmichael NEWMAN and his younger sibling Harold Clive NEWMAN enlisted with the AIF [Australian Imperial Force] in November 1914, serving in the 9LHR [Light Horse Regiment].  After training in Melbourne they left together on the transport Surada on 6th February 1915 with 59 military personnel, en route to Fremantle.  At Fremantle HMAT Surada took on additional troops and their mounts, embarking from there on 17th February with 205 men and 230 horses.

Raised in South Australia, the 9LHR was comprised mostly of men from that state with approximately a quarter of the regiment recruited from Victoria.  It was one of three regiments comprising the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, which included the famous West Australian 10LHR. 

Pte AC Newman, 726 (Arch) and Pte HC Newman 727 (Clive) were brought up in a family of seven sons and seven daughters in the rural town of Charleston in the Adelaide Hills on the Onkaparinga River.   The family were respected pioneers of the district, being amongst the first to take up land there in 1837.  They were known for their industry and enterprise in agriculture growing record crops, establishing lucrative dairy operations and exhibiting award winning horsemanship.

At the time of their enlistment Arch was 24 and farming at Charleston. Younger brother Clive was 19 and working as a clerk in the Postmaster General’s Department (PMG).  He would go on to pursue what became an illustrious career in the public service after the war.

After training in Egypt, the light horse regiments were not deployed as a mounted formation at Gallipoli, but rather were attached as reinforcements to the infantry divisions, given the extensive casualties of the Gallipoli landings.   Both Arch and Clive landed at Gallipoli late in May 1915 and remained there until evacuation on the night of the 19th December. Whilst it may have been fortuitous that the 9LHR was the reserve regiment for the brigade’s disastrous attack at the Nek, it suffered extensive casualties at Hill 60 almost three weeks later.  At only 50 percent strength it continued in a defensive role on the peninsula until evacuation.

Both men returned to Egypt to rejoin their brigade which had become part of the ANZAC Mounted Division, instrumental in its defence of the Suez Canal and driving the Turks back across the Sinai Desert.  Clive, with three years cadet experience behind him at attestation, was promoted to Corporal in 1916.

Arch and Clive did not come away from the war unscathed.  Both were wounded during the course of the campaign in Palestine, with Clive debilitated by a gunshot wound to his elbow.  He was demobilised in October 1917.  Arch too was wounded and affected by shell shock, remaining in service until his return to Australia in 1919.  Both Arch and Clive had served with distinction.  After the war the more reserved Arch returned to dairy farming, also practicing as a Justice of the Peace on the local court circuit. 

Clive returned to work in the postal service, completing his education and continuing his study in accountancy.  He held senior positions in the public service, rising to become Commonwealth Auditor General.  He was honoured with two commendations including an OBE in 1954 as Assistant Secretary (Defence) of the Treasury, and a CBE in 1960 as Commonwealth Auditor General.  Held in high regard for his diligence, expeditious manner, civic responsibility and sportsmanship Clive remained a public servant until retirement in 1961.  In 1975 Clive led a pilgrimage back to Gallipoli commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of ANZAC.  At the dawn service ceremony of remembrance, he recited the benediction and laid a large wreath on behalf of the Returned Services League. 

Clive died in 1983 and is buried in Charleston.  He was 87.  Arch died in 1965 aged 75 and he also rests in the Charleston Cemetery.

Returned servicemen are led by Clive Newman in the ANZAC march, Canberra [ca 1960] Clive Newman leads the ANZAC day march in Canberra. [ca. 1960] Archibald Carmichael Newman, left and Harold Clive Newman in uniform.

Pte Willie WOOLDRIDGE, 11BN & Pte Harry WOOLDRIDGE, 51BN

5232, Pte Willie WOOLDRIDGE, 11 Bn
3752, Pte Harry WOOLDRIDGE, 51 Bn

Pte Willie WOOLDRIDGE 5232 enlisted with the AIF early in 1916 and served with the 16th Reinforcements of the 11th Bn.  His younger brother Harry 3752, requiring his father’s consent, joined up a year later.  Both boys were working on the family farm “Hollinup” about 8 miles north of Kojonup at their time of enlistment.

Bill, Harry and younger brother Joe set out for Australia in 1911 with their father Caleb, arriving in Fremantle on board the Ophir.  Caleb was a miner in England and raising the three boys on his own, saw Australia to offer greater opportunities for his sons.  The family headed south to Kojonup, taking up land which they cleared and developed into a viable farming enterprise.

 
Bill’s introduction to army training was at Blackboy Hill spending ten days there before being drafted to Bunbury for a further eight weeks.  Four days leave were granted before embarkation, his contingent bound for Tel-el Kebir, the largest training camp for Australian troops in Egypt at that time.  About 40,000 troops were said to have been stationed there.  The intense heat dictated that drill took place in the mornings between 6 and 8am and again in the evenings from 4 to7pm.

In recollections of his service, Bill comments on his first experiences of war in the trenches near Ypres.  Working mostly at night and with the noise of exploding shells around him, his biggest fear was common to many, not of the incessant bombardment but of making a fool of himself by doing a ‘gel’, panicking during those first days on the front line.  He spent almost three years on active service.

Harry served with the 51st Bn before being taken on strength with 44th, a battalion recognised for its part in breaking the defences of the Hindenburg Line in the final stages of the war.
He married in England and was amongst the last to be demobilised in 1919.  Two of Harry’s four sons enlisted in the army in the Second World War.  Gilbert served in the Middle East with the 2/16th Bn and Gordon in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo with the 2/32nd.

When Bill and Harry returned from the war they both went back to the land, with varying degrees of success!  Bill ventured out on his own purchasing a property “Lonsdale” just north Kojonup, close to where the airstrip is today.  Using suitable clay from the property he made mud batts which he used in the construction of his home.  He married local Albany girl Dorothy Murray, the daughter of dairy farmers at Robinson. 

Bill supplemented his income from the farm with other work, such as dam sinking and blade shearing with his brother Joe.  In 1942 he enlisted with Joe in the 6th Bn Volunteer Defence Corps.  He continued farming until retirement, moving into aged care in Narrogin in the late seventies.

Bill is remembered for his jovial disposition and preparedness to chat openly with family about his wartime experiences.  He became progressively reclusive as he got older however, feeling a strong sense of injustice at the lack of government support offered to returning servicemen.  He died in 1981 aged 85 years.

Caleb Wooldridge with his sons from left, Harry, Willie and Joe Joe writes to his brother Willie, recuperating from wounds. Willie in Edinburgh, just before the end of the war. Willie writes from Edinburgh, just before the end of the war. Pte Willie Wooldridge, 1917 Pte Willie Wooldridge, 1918

Cpl Godfrey LYTH MM, 6 FCE

3433, Cpl John Godfrey LYTH, MM, 6 FCE

If leadership, comradeship and truth of character were considered strong family traits, then Godfrey Lyth upheld them in every respect. Cpl John Godfrey LYTH, MM, 3433, served with the 6 FCE [Field Company Engineers] in the Australian Imperial Force [AIF].  He was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous service, displaying great composure, exceptional courage and devotion to duty in an operation he led on the outskirts of Ploesteert in Belgium.

Godfrey was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, one of ten children born to Annie and John Burdsall Lyth.  He attended Wesley College and later qualified as a civil engineer at Sheffield University.  Leaving England he ventured to New Zealand for a short time where his brother Ernest was practicing medicine.  He settled in Western Australia just prior to the outbreak of war on an acreage that ran from the Lower Kalgan River.

Seeking the fertile, heavy loam soils along the river, landholdings had been purchased in the Kalgan and King River area by Godfrey’s father, a physician, practising surgeon and Justice of the Peace in Gloucester.  Residing in England, Dr Lyth had bought the properties for two of his sons, Godfrey and Harold, and daughter and son-in-law Winifred and Henry Cecil Poole to farm. 

Together, the families made a considerable contribution to the development of the Kalgan and Albany communities. Harold had studied agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College prior to settling in the district and became active in the Lower Kalgan Farmers’ and Settlers’ Associations.  He left farming to pursue a career in the Methodist ministry in the Eastern States.  Cecil Poole, also a civil engineer became a surveyor and Town Clerk for the Albany Town Council, 1919-1921.

As one of the earliest of his family to arrive in the area, Godfrey quickly became a popular member of the local community, actively participating in social events and sporting activities. He was a keen cricketer and valuable bowler for Kalgan River in the local competition.  At over 6 feet in height, he would have made a formidable opponent on the cricket pitch.  In October 1913 he announced his engagement to Maida McKail, the only daughter of prominent local resident Nathanial William McKail.

Godfrey enlisted at Albany in August 1915 aged 28 years, leaving Australia for the front in November.  As a sapper Godfrey was responsible for constructing lines of defence, associated infrastructure and anything requiring mechanical solutions to problems, activities crucial to successful military operations in the field of trench warfare.  He was quickly recognised by his commanding officers to be exceedingly capable and an inspiring influence upon others with his energy, talent and unflappable nature.

He rose through the ranks, being promoted to Second Corporal.  In his first operation when in charge of a Lewis gun detachment, Godfrey’s talents shone through.  His strategic use of the gun was effective in keeping enemy machine gun fire down in a hostile counter attack, enabling him to successfully cover his party.  His initiative was recognised with the award of a Military Medal.

When volunteers from the Australian Engineers were called for to set up and put into operation an observation post near Pozières, Godfrey along with many other Australians did not shy away from the responsibility.  Attached to the 283rd Siege Battery, RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery) Godfrey set about the undertaking.  With the task nearing completion, he and a fellow NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) dismissed their fellow Australians whilst they undertook the final stages of the operation.  On the evening of the 24th August 1918, tragedy struck when Godfrey was critically wounded when a bomb was dropped from an enemy aircraft.  He died the next day in the Australian Field Ambulance Station and was buried just outside Etineham on the Somme.

Described as a young man full and energy and fun, he endeared himself to those around him.  Held in high esteem by his superiors and peers, he was loved and respected by all.  Godfrey served with distinction.  A gifted soldier, his gallantry, dedication, ingenuity and compassion and concern for the welfare of others would remain enduring qualities for which he will be remembered.

Sapper John Godfrey Lyth The engineers at Blackboy Hill.  Godfrey stands fourth row from the front on the right. Christmas greetings are sent home from the front in 1916. A Christmas card is sent from the front.

Pte Tom SHARP, 11 BN

950, Pte Tom SHARP, 11 Bn

Pte Tom SHARP, 950 was 19 when he volunteered for service with the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914.  He served with the 11th Battalion.

Tom was the second son of Edward and Sarah Sharp.  He was born in Leeds, Yorkshire but due to the effects of rheumatic fever on his young body, it was recommended he leave the industrial city for a healthier lifestyle in Australia.  Arriving on his own in Fremantle as a 15 year old in 1910 and with a £5 note sewn in the lining of his jacket, Tom headed south to Albany where his uncle Jack was working as a carpenter.  Tom’s father, mother, sister and brother emigrated eight months later, granted an assisted passage to take up a parcel of land at Torbay near Wilgie Hill.

At the outbreak of war Tom enlisted. He passed his medical assessment and proceeded to Blackboy Hill camp to train with many other young men from Albany.  The 11th Battalion was one of the earliest battalions raised and the first to be fully comprised of Western Australian recruits.  With preliminary training of only two weeks, the contingent sailed for Egypt on HMAT Ascanius A11, one of the two troopships of the first convoy to leave Fremantle on 2nd November 1914.

Tom was never to see active service.  Whilst in Egypt on further training, he was considered medically unfit after being diagnosed with a dilated heart.  He left there in March 1915, returning to Melbourne, then to Perth.  He was discharged in May that year.

Returning to Albany, Tom found employment in various areas including the wharf where he was a tally clerk and active on the committee of the Waterside Workers’ Federation.  He also helped his uncle Jack build group settlement houses in 1920s and later worked for Edward Barnett & Co and Drew Robinson & Co.  During the Second World War Tom was manpowered to the Midland Railway Workshops, later returning to Albany to work at the Albany Freezer Works and large meat exporting company Borthwick’s as a scales clerk.

Although Tom had worked briefly on the family farm helping to build a house there prior to leaving for the war, he did not return there to live for any length of time.  Not only was the property limited in size and productive capacity, the family had had no previous experience in the industry.  Tom’s father Edward found work as a fettler with the WAGR (Western Australian Government Railways) only to be thrown from a railway trike at Young’s Siding and accidentally killed in 1926.  Tom himself had desperately sought to find employment with the railways but was refused on the grounds of his medical condition.  The remains of the small tin hut built by Tom and his uncle Jack can still be seen on the property today.

Tom was well known in Albany for his fine singing voice.  Active in local musical societies he regularly performed popular items which were presented at the Albany Town Hall and the Empire and Regent Theatres.  As a member of the Albany Choral Society, he was part of its inaugural concert in 1924 following a 10 year hiatus associated with upheaval of war. The society’s first concert was held in 1913.  Tom was a popular bass baritone and sang in many public concerts and private performances.  The Albany Choral Society was renowned for undertaking ambitious productions such as Gounod’s ‘Faust’, a landmark given it was the first time the opera had been performed in Western Australia by a society. It is understood that the society hired costumes from Melbourne for many of their local performances.

In 1960, Tom died tragically in a car rollover on the Albany Highway near the 153 mile peg near Kojonup.  He was 65.  Cremated in Perth, his ashes were scattered in the gardens at Karrakatta.

Tom with the Albany boys at Blackboy Hill army training camp.  He is in the middle row third from the right looking away. The Albany Choral Society’s inaugural concert programme in 1924. Faust is performed in Albany by the Albany Choral Society On stage with the Albany Choral Society, Tom sits, centre right.  Pte Tom Sharp Tom and Olive Sharp on their wedding day The programme for Stainer’s oratorio The Crucifixion, performed by the choir of the Presbyterian Church on the Wednesday before Easter in 1941.

Pte William Albert BETTS, 10 LHR

706, Pte William Albert BETTS, 10 LHR


When volunteers were called for at the outbreak of the Great War the impact upon small rural communities was immense.  Young men who enlisted from these areas were not only known to each other, they were close mates, often through familial bonds.  The settlement of Tenterden, a small siding on the Great Southern Railway near Cranbrook was no exception.  Of no less than seven mates who enlisted, only two were to return.


Private William Albert BETTS, 706 served with the 10 LHR [Light Horse Regiment].  Born in York his family were amongst some of the earliest settlers of the state.   Willie’s great grandfather had arrived in the Swan River Colony as part of Thomas Peel’s ambitious but disordered colonisation scheme.   Taking up land at Guildford to establish the property ‘Turtle Creek’, the Betts family forged lasting links to the agricultural industry with subsequent generations operating successful farming businesses at Tenterden and Dangin.


Willie Betts was working on his father’s property ‘Ronaldshaw’ at Tenterden when he enlisted at the area office in Albany late in November 1915.  Assigned responsibility for allocated farm jobs as a child, he became adept at bush practice from an early age, acquiring the skills keenly sought for a posting to the 10th Light Horse.  Obtaining a rudimentary education at the local state school, his heart was in the bush with much enjoyment derived from roving the scrub and honing his skills with a firearm.  He became a skilled marksman, winning many awards at the Cranbrook Rifle Club.  In anticipation of securing a place in the 10th LHR he would proudly but humbly describe himself as a good horseman, bushman and rifleman. 


Unsuccessful in the first intake, Willie stayed in Perth at his grandfather’s farm at Guildford.  His patience would be rewarded with a posting to the 2nd Reinforcements of the 10th LHR of which 2nd Lieutenant Hugo Throssell VC was the commanding officer.   He embarked at Fremantle on HMAT Itonius in February 1915 and proceeded to Egypt to join the many Australians training at Abbasich and Mena Camps.


Willie was transported to the Gallipoli peninsular where he took part in an operation at Quinn’s Post.  The event would be cataclysmic in changing the course of his life.  The shrapnel wounds received to his shoulder and the loss of his right eye would cause immeasurable and chronic suffering for the rest of his life.  Exhibiting the spirit for which our ANZACs are renown, his physical incapacitation and emotional trauma did not stop him from attempting to re-enlist, or in later years winning trophies for golf.


Deemed medically unfit for any further participation in the war, Willie was repatriated back to Australia and discharged.  Granted a soldier settlement landholding at Dangin he became increasing despondent and progressively reclusive, withdrawing from family and from society.  He took solace in re-educating himself, immersing himself in literary classics.  A favourite spot of escape on the property was a thatched tea-tree bush hut with its very own [pet] carpet snake.    


Willie retired to Subiaco, living there for five years.  He was a frequent visitor to his local library and recognised around the suburb wearing his pork pie hat on his jaunts down to the Shenton Park Hotel. He enjoyed regular visits back to the farm at Dangin and down to Tenterden.  He is remembered by his family with great love and affection as a quiet, gentle and unassuming man with a warm sense of humour.  He died in 1955 aged 65 years and is buried at Karrakatta.

Pte William Albert Betts, 1915 Writing to his dad from Blackboy Hill, Willie tells of his posting to the 10 LHR. A letter home from Guildford as Willie awaits his posting.

Pte John HOST, 16 BN

7016, Pte John HOST, 16 Bn

The discovery of an old tin trunk was the catalyst which brought a young granddaughter to know an aspect of her grandfather’s life she could not have imagined.  Its contents of letters, diaries, postcards and photos were the means by which a greater understanding of an unspoken history was developed and a familial bond strengthened.


When Jack Host died in 1971, the family set about preparing his Northam property for sale.  In the course of tidying up, the tin trunk proved to be a constant source of fascination for his young granddaughter. With persistent pleas for safekeeping acceded to, a soldier’s wartime experiences began to unfold.


Private John Host, 7016 was thirty when he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] in 1916.  Married and with a young family living at Seabrook near Northam, he sailed from Fremantle with the 16th Battalion two days before Christmas 1916, leaving behind his wife and two young daughters to care for the family farm.


A fitter and turner by trade, Jack had left his home town of Adelaide to head west.  Arriving in Fremantle in 1910 he ventured to the eastern goldfields, settling in Boulder where he met and married Emma [Dot] Pybus McKnight a year later.  Jack worked at the Golden Horseshoe gold mine for seven years, a mine considered to have one of the richest and most significant deposits of telluride in Kalgoorlie.  Joining the local militia unit in Boulder, he spent four years with C Company of the Goldfields Infantry Regiment. 


From the moment of embarkation, Jack was astute in maintaining a detailed diary of his journey overseas, recording his experiences along the way.  Keenly perceptive, a valuable insight is given into the life of a soldier.  Whilst accounts of the journey are personal and honest expressions of the feelings and emotions he experiences with all the elements of excitement and wonder attached to the adventure of a lifetime, an equally graphic account is given of the horrors of war, of what is unimaginable to most of us.    


The 16th Battalion, comprised mostly of West Australians, took part in many of the major battles and bloody trench warfare of the Western Front, sustaining heavy casualties in this most decisive theatre of the war.
In 1917 the 16th was in Belgium, advancing to the Hindenburg Line.  On the evening of 21st October 1917, Jack was taking up a position near Passchendaele Ridge.  Experiencing a night of relentless shelling and high explosive shrapnel, Jack and his mate found themselves buried with bricks when two shells hit a wall three feet from their position. With only his head exposed and the arm of his mate, the two were rescued.  With a crushed knee, and mangled arm and shoulder, Jack was evacuated to the Poperinghe Casualty Clearing Station.  Repatriated to England, he took no further part in the war. 


Demobilised in 1919, Jack returned to the farm at Seabrook, developing the property into a market garden.  He remained there until retirement, when he moved into Northam. 


Jack is remembered by his family as having an affinity with the land and a great respect for nature.  He was one who loved life and all it had to offer with a wonderful sense of community and helping those in need.  He was committed member of the Returned Services League until his death.


Like so many, Jack never spoke of the war but in placing aside his correspondence, diaries and photographs he effected an enduring legacy.


Jack’s younger brother Pte Frank Host, 2059 also enlisted with the AIF, serving with the 11th Battalion on Gallipoli.  Jack’s eldest son Edward served with the 2/11 Battalion on Crete in the Second World War.

Pte John [Jack] Host, centre back, with other members of the 16th Bn, 1917. Jack with Dot and family before leaving Australia for war, 1916. Jack writes of his final goodbye to Dot, 1917 A diary entry from Messines, 1917 A tender note is written home, Pte John Host, 1917. The destructive force of a shell explosion on the Western Front 1917.

Cpl Frederick Henry Allan JOHNSON, 23 HB and BAC

21997, Cpl Frederick Henry Allan JOHNSON,23 HB and BAC

When Cpl Frederick Henry Allan JOHNSON, 21997 volunteered for service in the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] he was posted to the 23 HB [Howitzer Brigade] and Brigade Ammunition Column as a gunner.  Enlisting in 1915, Fred was already participating in military service with one of Western Australia’s local militia units, the 38th Battery AFA [Australian Field Artillery], training at Guildford each Saturday.

The oldest of five children, Fred was born in the inner city suburb of Abbottsford, Melbourne. He came to Western Australia with his family when he was two.  Although his father had initially taken up work on the goldfields water supply and in the timber mills of the south west, the family had significant connections to the print and publishing industry. His New Zealand born mother was the daughter of William Henry Baxter, partner in well known printers’ brokers, Matthews, Baxter and Co in Dunedin.  His father, a bookbinder would gain employment with the WA Government Printing Office in Perth.

Fred was educated at Perth Boys’ Central School in James Street, winning a scholarship in 1910 to attend the state’s first public secondary school, Perth Modern School.  Built in 1909, the school had its first intake of students in 1911, Fred making history being one of them.  In 1915 he became a trainee teacher at Thomas Street Senior State School and upon turning 18, took unpaid leave from the Education Department to join up.
After being billeted to the Claremont showgrounds for initial training, Fred left for Victoria for three months of advanced artillery training at the Maribyrnong Field Artillery Camp.  He embarked at Melbourne in 1916 bound for Larkhill, a military training camp on Salisbury Plain west of London.  He left for France on New Year’s Eve, taking part in some of the most significant battles of the Western Front over the course of the war.  

On  reading T D Bridger’s history ‘With the 27th Battery in France: 7th Bde, Australian Field Artillery’ published in 1919, Fred made some notations of his own recalling that his artillery unit worked continuously at Messines “in 4 hour shifts, 4 on, 4 off and during the 4 off we could get no sleep owing to gas. . . I developed the habit of sleeping with a mask on”.  At Passchendaele, the gruelling experience of moving heavy artillery through challenging and waterlogged conditions becomes acutely apparent with Fred describing yoked horses working in teams of ten, straining to drag guns across no man’s land in an operation that took six hours.  His recollections are lightened by “it was a lively spectacle”, with further comment that whilst manning an aiming post he had his “braces blown off by a shell burst” behind him.  Given up “for lost” by his mates, “yours truly came up smiling”.

Suffering the debilitating effects of gas poisoning, Fred was granted furlough.  He completed a teaching course at London Day Training College in a scheme where special courses were offered to servicemen whose study was interrupted by war service.    

Demobilised at the end of 1919 Fred returned to Australia, enrolling at Claremont Teacher’s College to complete his qualification.  Taking up a teaching position at his old school Perth Modern where he would remain for 17 years, he continued his study, completing an Arts degree at the University of Western Australia in 1925.   He was promoted to Deputy Headmaster in 1939 and subsequently held the position of Headmaster at high schools in Kalgoorlie, Albany, Northam and Bunbury, retiring there in 1963. 

At the time of the Second World War during his tenure at Bunbury, Fred again volunteered, serving in the 19 Garrison Battalion and naval auxiliary patrol. Maintaining the family’s commitment to military service were his three younger siblings. Brother Cyril served with the 2/32 Battalion in Palestine, New Guinea and Morotai, sister Mavis served with the RAAF as a Corporal at 5 Embarkation Depot based on the Swan River foreshore and another brother Raymond enlisted with the RAAF.  Second eldest sibling Ernest, an army cadet in 1916, was manpowered on his farm at Wagin during WWII.

Fred Johnson died in 1971 aged 73.  He is buried in the Bunbury cemetery.

Pte Frederick Johnson, London 1916. Pte Frederick Johnson, 1916. Army cadet Ernest Johnson, Perth 1916.

Pte Frederick Lloyd MARTENS, 10 LHR

027, Pte Frederick Lloyd MARTENS, 10 LHR

Private Frederick Lloyd MARTENS, 1027 served with the 6th Reinforcements of the 10 Light Horse Regiment in the Australian Imperial Force, embarking at Fremantle for the Middle East in June 1915.  He was working as a horse driver in Narrogin when he enlisted, his father writing a letter of consent for him to join up.  

Fred was born in Merriton, South Australia.  Of German ancestry, his grandfather Johann Mertens, a blacksmith, had fled Prussia in 1848 escaping the political turbulence and religious repression building in Europe.  Joining earlier German settlers in the South Australian village of Klemzig, the family moved, establishing themselves in the towns of Hope Valley, Grace Plains, Clare and Port Germein.  After leaving Domitz in Prussia, the family surname became Martens.   

Arriving at Albany in 1903 with his parents, brother William and four sisters, Fred and his family travelled by train to Narrogin where his father Bill continued an occupational tradition attributed to all Mertens men as a skilled blacksmith, gunsmith and machinist. He quickly established himself as a highly respected and popular blacksmith in the town, working at Mr Thomas P O’Connor’s smithy.  Upholding his artisan heritage, Fred worked as a carpenter after leaving school but soon became interested in working with horses, having learnt much about them from his father. 

Completing his mandatory training at Blackboy Hill, Fred proceeded to the training camps in Egypt.  By September 1915 he was on Gallipoli, seeing action there for five weeks before being hospitalised with illness.  Returning to duty and with the campaign moving to the Sinai Peninsula, Fred’s unit was involved in an ill fated advance on a Turkish garrison at Bir el Mazar on the 17th September 1916. 

Aware of the futility of the advance given the Turkish stronghold and that military support units had failed to arrive, the order was received to withdraw.  Drawing heavy fire from the enemy, Fred received a gunshot wound to his left leg, shattering his tibia.  With the wound remaining undressed for three days, the injury turned septic.  Critically ill, Fred was transported to Port Said for treatment, where he recovered in the 14th Australian General Hospital at Abbassia.  The troopers involved in the attack were not impressed to later learn that the Turks had abandoned their position two days after the offensive!

Fred was discharged in June 1917 and granted a fortnightly pension of 15/- (shillings). After the war he returned to live in Narrogin, taking up work with the Western Australian Government Railways as a fireman working on the Pinjarra line.  He married and remained in Narrogin until 1922.  Taking up a land grant at Pingrup, Fred and his family farmed there until 1950, retiring to Perth. 

Remembered by his family as a man aspiring of a good education for his children and with an acute awareness of civic responsibility, Fred and his wife Frieda were very active in the local Pingrup community.  He was instrumental in improving telephone communication in the district, helping establish the south Pingrup party line, operating the exchange from his home.  He worked with the education department to set up a school in the district, offering a home on his property as a classroom and accommodation for a teacher in order that children did not have to travel too far to go to school and he was involved in discussion surrounding the establishment of a hotel to provide accommodation for travellers to the area.  He was a keen sportsman and musician and actively involved in the Returned Services League.

When war broke out in 1939, Fred did not hesitate to re-enlist, serving in 6 Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps.  Continuing the family’s military tradition, his son William Lloyd Spencer Martens also enlisted, serving in 10 Australian Light Horse patrolling the Western Australian coastline. Fred’s future daughter-in-law, Isodore Melville Clayton also served as a nurse, a captain at the 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station.  Fred’s daughter Nola was keen to join the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) but was too young, so joined the junior Red Cross in Perth instead. 

Fred’s older brother Pte William Henry Martens, 4250 served with the 11th Battalion in the First World War and his son, Cpl James Henry Martens, 7212 served with the RAAF in the Second World War.
Fred Martens died in Perth in 1964, aged 69.  He is buried at Karrakatta.

Trooper Fred Martens, 1915 Private Fred Martens, 1915 A camp decoration at the head of the lines in Eygpt, 1916.Tpr Martens on his charge at Blackboy Hill, 1915 Fred writes home from Abbassia, 1916 Troops on board the transport, 1915

Pte Arthur Cecil TAYLOR, 51 BN

3028, Pte Arthur Cecil TAYLOR, 51 Bn

Pte

The Albany History Collection invites members of the community to participate in their “Do you have an ANZAC in your family?” project. Anecdotal information received from families personalises the histories of our ANZACs when considered alongside official histories such as service records. Telling the histories of those who served in the First World War recognises the contributions and sacrifices made by these servicemen and women and their families.

Albany Public Library acknowledges the support of Albany Plaza Shopping Centre towards this project.

Albany Plaza Shopping Center

Pte Cyril Arthur BENNETT. 2 ASH & Tpr Roy BENNETT 10 LHR

1204, [WX29216]  Pte Cyril Arthur BENNETT, 2 ASH
365 Tpr Roy BENNETT, 10 LHR

It could be said that the Bennett family’s proud military tradition began with the enlistment of two brothers in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at the outbreak of the Great War.

At 19 years of age Pte Cyril Arthur BENNETT, 1204 [WX29216] sailed from Fremantle on 14th December 1914 aboard the transport Kyarra A55, one of the troopships comprising the Second Convoy.  He served with the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital (ASH).  His older brother Roy also enlisted, serving with the 10th Light Horse Regiment (10LHR).

Cyril was employed as a clerk in the family’s grocery business, Bennett and Burnside in Fremantle.  Established in 1902 by his father Phillip and partner William Burnside, the store was located in Adelaide Street near the Town Hall.  Building a reputation as purveyors of fine locally produced and imported foods, the business was considered one of the best grocery and hardware stores in Fremantle.  Not only was an extensive customer base established in Perth, with a branch opening in Subiaco, orders from country clients were welcomed with a promise of careful packaging and prompt delivery!

One of ten children, Cyril was born in Fremantle and educated at Fremantle Boys School.  In 1909 he was awarded dux of the school, winning the headmaster’s special prize.  He joined the cadets and was training as a senior cadet at attestation. Leaving Fremantle, the 2nd ASH sailed to Egypt, quickly establishing medical facilities to accommodate an outbreak of disease and infection.  By 24th April 1915, the unit was positioned at Lemnos with orders to supply medical officers and personnel for the transports stationed nearby.  The horrendous outcome of heavy casualties at Gallipoli saw hospital ships engage in the critical evacuation of thousands of wounded from Gaba Tepe on the peninsula, to Alexandria.

After Gallipoli, Cyril was attached to the Assistant Director of Medical Services (ADMS) staff and served with the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance (LHFA) in the Middle East.  He advanced through the ranks, being promoted to Staff Sergeant (S/Sgt) in 1917. 

Cyril had spent more than four years abroad with the AIF, but his war service did not end with his discharge in 1919.  In 1940 he re-enlisted in the army, serving with the 8th Australian Casualty Clearing Station and 103 Convalescent Depot at Ingleburn.  Gaining a rank of lieutenant on enlistment, he served as a quartermaster and was promoted to captain in 1941.  He remained with the 2nd AIF until 1946, volunteering for service in the demobilisation period.

Cyril returned to the family business at the end of the First World War for a short time before moving to Melbourne for work.  He married there and returned to Western Australia in 1925, securing work with the State Steamship Line as chief steward.  After the Second World War, Cyril was employed as an accounting officer with the Ordnance Depot at Midland.  He remained there until retirement in 1956.  
Cyril died 1981 aged 87 years and is memorialised in the Garden of Remembrance at Fremantle Cemetery.  He is remembered by his family as a quietly spoken ‘gentle giant’ and whilst he had a strong sense of duty, he was admiring of the Turks, regarding them as honourable men and soldiers, unlike Churchill!

Cyril’s brother, Tpr Roy BENNETT, 365 embarked at Fremantle with the 10LHR in February 1915. At 23, he also worked in the family business as a bookkeeper.  On 29th August during the final phase of the notorious August Offensive, Trooper Bennett was mortally wounded at Hill 60.  He died in Egypt on 11th September 1915 and is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.  

Continuing the family’s military association were Cyril’s sons, Phillip and Peter.  Highly decorated Duntroon graduate, General Sir Phillip Harvey BENNETT, AC KBE DSO gained postings to Japan, Korea and Vietnam, amongst others.  His distinguished career culminated with the appointment of Chief of the Defence Force 1984-1987 and Governor of Tasmania in 1987.  He now lives in Canberra.   
Phillip’s younger brother Peter also attended Duntroon, choosing to pursue a post war career with the RAAF as a navigator.

Cyril sends a note home telling of his arrival at Alexandria The gravesite of Trooper Roy Bennett The gravesite of Trooper Roy Bennett thumb-1

Cpl Donald Humfray  HASSELL, 10 LHR

112, Cpl Oscar Donald Humfray  HASSELL, 10 LHR 

Local stockman Humfray Hassell enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 5th October 1914.  He was 23 years old.  Humfray was the seventh son and one of nine children of Albert Young Hassell and Ethel Clifton, both prominent pioneering families associated with the pastoral industry, maritime and shipping.

Humfray was born in 1891, quite possibly in the family home Hillside where his brother Harold was born.  With rural landholdings some way from Albany, the family built the home on its town property which comprised around 50 to 60 acres on the slopes of Mount Melville. The stately residence still stands today. 

In his early years, Humfray attended ‘Camfield’, a school run by the Christian Brothers on Serpentine Road.  His secondary education was undertaken at Geelong Grammar School together with his brother Harold, to whom he was particularly close.  They would return to Albany annually during vacation.  A sea chest used by the two boys on their voyages from Albany remains with the family to this day. 

After completing his education in Victoria, Humfray returned to Albany, working on the Hassell family farm ‘Jarramungup’ with Harold.  The landholding of around 24,000 acres was originally taken up by their grandfather John, opening the area up around 1850. It was named for its abundance of yate trees, with its spelling derived from local aboriginal pronunciation.  The property would eventually be sold to the Commonwealth for the soldier settlement scheme around 1950, establishing the area of Jerramungup.

The Hassells were respected pastoralists and well known for the horses they bred on the Jarramungup property.  It was from this stock that Humfray is said to have taken his horse to the front.  Humfray embarked at Fremantle with the 10th Light Horse Regiment aboard HMAT Mashobra on 8th February, 1915 The transport carried 408 men and 333 horses bound for the training camps of Egypt. 

A keen correspondent, Humfray’s letters home form a diarised account of his experiences. His strong connection to the Australian bush is regularly reflected in his vividly detailed descriptions of the harsh environment in which he finds himself and the comparisons he draws to that of his home.

The 10LHR of spirited West Australians was raised early in October 1914. Humfray was part of its foundation unit, ‘A’ squadron and amongst the many to volunteer for dismounted service in the trenches at Gallipoli.  During the infamous charge at the Nek on 7th August 1915, Cpl Hassell was killed in action at Walker’s Ridge.  Trooper Hassell is memorialised at Lone Pine and on the headstone of his family’s gravesite in the pioneer cemetery on Middleton Road in Albany.

Not only was the war unforgiving on the family in claiming the life of Humfray, two Clifton cousins also were killed in action, at Gallipoli and in France.  Another connection to the Hassel family was indigenous serviceman Pte Michael CONNOR, 4258 who was raised by the family at their Warriup property near Green Range.  Michael served with in 48th Battalion and died of illness in France in 1916, less than six months after leaving Australia.  He rests in Levallois-Perret Cemetery, Paris.

10th Light Horse, D troop, A Squadron at training Humfray writes details of his regiment. Humfray Hassell in the front row, third from left Trooper Hassell, sitting on the far right Cpl Oscar Donald Humfray Hassell A written letter home from Gallipoli A written letter home from Gallipoli Humfray writes to his brother Harold before leaving Western Australia

Pte George Davies JOHN, 10 LHR

624, Pte George Davies JOHN, 10 LHR
3600, Pte William Lewis JOHN, 10 LHR
1600, Pte David JOHN, 10 LHR
1847, Pte Benjamin Arthur JOHN, 44 Bn
645, Pte Joseph Davies JOHN, 28 Bn

Pte George Davies JOHN, 624, 10LHR enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 20th October 1914.  He was 23 years old.  After undertaking basic training at Blackboy Hill army camp in Guildford, Pte John embarked on the troopship Surada at Fremantle on 17th February 1915 with other members of the 1st–14th Reinforcements of the 10th Light Horse Regiment (10LHR).

Following further training in Egypt, Pte John set off for the shores of Gallipoli in May, 1915.  He was at Anzac for five months when he was struck down with influenza and enteric fever.  After two months hospitalisation at Malta and Port Said, the debilitating effects of typhoid forced Trooper John’s return to Australia.  He was honourably discharged in June, 1916.
George John was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales and was one of nine children.  He emigrated to Australia in 1909 to pursue a life on the land, taking up and clearing 500 acres of bush to establish himself farming around Gnowangerup and Borden.  With his brother William, George established the property ‘Pembroke’.  Prior to emigrating, George had spent eighteen months with the Pembroke Imperial Yeomanry in Wales.

George was one of five brothers to have enlisted in the AIF, with his twin William and younger brother David also serving with the 10LHR.  Of two other brothers, Benjamin served in the 44th or ‘Westralian’ Battalion and Joseph with the 28th, a battalion raised at Blackboy Hill in 1915.  Both infantry units were heavily involved in some of the fiercest and most costly battles on the Western Front.  Joe was killed in action during the unit’s first major engagement, the Battle of Pozières, on 29th July, 1916.  He was 22.  Youngest brother Bertie, who remained in Wales, was killed in action in France whilst serving with the 18th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers.

After the war, George returned to the family farm before leaving the industry to move to Cranbrook in the 1930s.  There he retained his connection with agriculture, establishing a carrying and cartage business to meet the increasing demand for a more mechanised means of transport and freight.  The venture was the first of its kind in Cranbrook with George purchasing a KB International for the job! 

A horseman of some renown, George was a popular local figure who epitomised the Australian character of generosity and goodwill, attributes our Anzacs were pivotal in forming. 
Whilst skilled on horseback, George’s driving credentials were of different acclaim.  Legend has it that barely a fence, gate or ramp in the district remained untouched by George.  Indiscretions were quickly forgiven with most farmers having a ready supply of strainer posts on hand.  His warm-heartedness and good nature endeared him to the community and ensured his farm visits were always a welcome form of communication for those in the district.

Never one to dwell on his war time experiences, a quiet moment of reflection brought George to comment -
None of us were heroes.  The fastest runners were the lucky ones . . . that is what we did [and when] you are running for your life trying to jump over the bodies, especially if a body had been there for three days or more [and] was swollen up and you chanced to land on it, I am telling you, that is nothing to brag about”.
George died in 1974 at the age of eighty three.  He rests in the Cranbrook Cemetery.

Of his brothers after the war, William moved out of farming to take up butchering in Broome. He is said to have been the first taxi driver there.  The accumulated effects of war took their toll on William and he spent many years convalescing in Edward Millen Hospital in East Victoria Park.  He passed away in 1932.  Prior to enlisting, William was a councillor on the Gnowangerup Road Board, being elected in 1913.

David and Benjamin both returned to the land with David droving sheep around Gnowangerup before moving to Boddington to farm.  He was secretary for the Marradong Road Board.  Benjamin managed many properties in Pootenup to Frankland before moving to Cranbrook as the bottle-o.

For Joe, a street in Borden bears the family name, recognising his ultimate sacrifice and honouring a family’s selfless contribution to the war.

Pte George Davies John Pte Joseph John, killed in action 1916

Sgt James Thomas MAGEE MM, 1FAB

1444, Sgt James Thomas MAGEE, MM, 1FAB

Victorian soldier Sgt James Thomas MAGEE, MM, 1444 was amongst the thousands of young men who left for war in 1914 with the first convoy of troopships from Albany.  Our shorelines would be the last view of Australia he would see. 

Tom served with the ammunition column of the 1FAB [Field Artillery Brigade].  He was almost 26 when he enlisted at St Kilda in August 1914, embarking at Melbourne on HMAT Shropshire A9 on 20th October.  Three other transports of the first convoy, HMAT Karroo A10, HMAT Armadale A26 and HMAT Miltiades A28 sailed from Melbourne that day.  On reaching Albany five days later, Tom comments in a letter to his mother “This is a very big boat.  There are over 1300 soldiers, 250 sailors and 480 horses on board”.  He adds “We can’t get stamps here so have to post without any”. 

Born at Woodstock-On-Loddon near Bendigo, Tom’s family had emigrated from Ireland, bound for the goldfields in Victoria.  Prior to the war, Tom is understood to have worked for the large agricultural machinery manufacturers Sunshine Harvester Works, a company significant for the role it played in the progression of Australian industrial and workplace relations and the establishment of a ‘basic wage’.

Over the course of the war, it is the letters Tom writes to his mother Mary which give a very personal and heartbreakingly frank account of the feelings and emotions he experiences.
Leaving the army training camp at Broadmeadows he comments, “it is a great sight for anyone to see, there is a great city of tents and bands playing at night time”.  But his sense of anticipation is tempered by the raw emotion of bidding farewell, where at St Kilda he “said goodbye to them, they all broke up and the old lady especially howled” and “on the station platform 8 girls I know started howling and going on and made me look like a fool to say nothing of being down in the dumps ever since”.

To his mother are comforting words “am very sorry that you are taking it so hard . . . a person has only to die once . . . there is no use me trying to get out of it as you suggested”.
Through his letters we share this young soldier’s enthusiasm, empathise with his sorrow and can only imagine the horrendous realities of his experiences on the battlefield and engagements with the enemy.  The carnage of the Emden, the relentless demands of Gallipoli and the deafness from exploding shells are experiences laid bare.  The buoyant mood of his early correspondence flattens through the course of the war, reflecting his utter exhaustion and deteriorating health.

 Debilitated by illness, Tom was evacuated from France early in October 1918 in preparation for a return home. Physically weakened by exposure to gas, Tom contracted a chill whilst crossing the English Channel.  Gripped by the effects of influenza and pneumonia he tragically passed away in a British hospital on 25th October 1918.  He is buried in Efford Cemetery, Plymouth.

Tom had served in the AIF with distinction.  He was awarded the Military Medal for displaying “great courage and coolness” when containing a fire from an exploding shell in Westhoek, France.  Exposing himself to burns, his actions with two others enabled a way out for the many soldiers trapped in their dugouts in the area.

Tom’s words of consolation remain indelibly poignant “So goodbye now dear mother, for the present and don’t let it worry you.  Think that there are hundreds of other mothers just in the same position as you”.

Sgt James Thomas MAGEE A Memorial Scroll was issued to the next of kin of those who died on active service. Tom writes to his mother from Albany on 25th October 1914.

Pte Archibald Carmichael NEWMAN, 9 LHR & Pte Harold Clive NEWMAN, 9 LHR

726, Pte Archibald Carmichael NEWMAN, 9 LHR
727, Pte Harold Clive NEWMAN, 9 LHR

South Australian brothers, Archibald Carmichael NEWMAN and his younger sibling Harold Clive NEWMAN enlisted with the AIF [Australian Imperial Force] in November 1914, serving in the 9LHR [Light Horse Regiment].  After training in Melbourne they left together on the transport Surada on 6th February 1915 with 59 military personnel, en route to Fremantle.  At Fremantle HMAT Surada took on additional troops and their mounts, embarking from there on 17th February with 205 men and 230 horses.

Raised in South Australia, the 9LHR was comprised mostly of men from that state with approximately a quarter of the regiment recruited from Victoria.  It was one of three regiments comprising the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, which included the famous West Australian 10LHR. 

Pte AC Newman, 726 (Arch) and Pte HC Newman 727 (Clive) were brought up in a family of seven sons and seven daughters in the rural town of Charleston in the Adelaide Hills on the Onkaparinga River.   The family were respected pioneers of the district, being amongst the first to take up land there in 1837.  They were known for their industry and enterprise in agriculture growing record crops, establishing lucrative dairy operations and exhibiting award winning horsemanship.

At the time of their enlistment Arch was 24 and farming at Charleston. Younger brother Clive was 19 and working as a clerk in the Postmaster General’s Department (PMG).  He would go on to pursue what became an illustrious career in the public service after the war.

After training in Egypt, the light horse regiments were not deployed as a mounted formation at Gallipoli, but rather were attached as reinforcements to the infantry divisions, given the extensive casualties of the Gallipoli landings.   Both Arch and Clive landed at Gallipoli late in May 1915 and remained there until evacuation on the night of the 19th December. Whilst it may have been fortuitous that the 9LHR was the reserve regiment for the brigade’s disastrous attack at the Nek, it suffered extensive casualties at Hill 60 almost three weeks later.  At only 50 percent strength it continued in a defensive role on the peninsula until evacuation.

Both men returned to Egypt to rejoin their brigade which had become part of the ANZAC Mounted Division, instrumental in its defence of the Suez Canal and driving the Turks back across the Sinai Desert.  Clive, with three years cadet experience behind him at attestation, was promoted to Corporal in 1916.

Arch and Clive did not come away from the war unscathed.  Both were wounded during the course of the campaign in Palestine, with Clive debilitated by a gunshot wound to his elbow.  He was demobilised in October 1917.  Arch too was wounded and affected by shell shock, remaining in service until his return to Australia in 1919.  Both Arch and Clive had served with distinction.  After the war the more reserved Arch returned to dairy farming, also practicing as a Justice of the Peace on the local court circuit. 

Clive returned to work in the postal service, completing his education and continuing his study in accountancy.  He held senior positions in the public service, rising to become Commonwealth Auditor General.  He was honoured with two commendations including an OBE in 1954 as Assistant Secretary (Defence) of the Treasury, and a CBE in 1960 as Commonwealth Auditor General.  Held in high regard for his diligence, expeditious manner, civic responsibility and sportsmanship Clive remained a public servant until retirement in 1961.  In 1975 Clive led a pilgrimage back to Gallipoli commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of ANZAC.  At the dawn service ceremony of remembrance, he recited the benediction and laid a large wreath on behalf of the Returned Services League. 

Clive died in 1983 and is buried in Charleston.  He was 87.  Arch died in 1965 aged 75 and he also rests in the Charleston Cemetery.

Returned servicemen are led by Clive Newman in the ANZAC march, Canberra [ca 1960] Clive Newman leads the ANZAC day march in Canberra. [ca. 1960] Archibald Carmichael Newman, left and Harold Clive Newman in uniform.

Pte Willie WOOLDRIDGE, 11BN & Pte Harry WOOLDRIDGE, 51BN

5232, Pte Willie WOOLDRIDGE, 11 Bn
3752, Pte Harry WOOLDRIDGE, 51 Bn

Pte Willie WOOLDRIDGE 5232 enlisted with the AIF early in 1916 and served with the 16th Reinforcements of the 11th Bn.  His younger brother Harry 3752, requiring his father’s consent, joined up a year later.  Both boys were working on the family farm “Hollinup” about 8 miles north of Kojonup at their time of enlistment.

Bill, Harry and younger brother Joe set out for Australia in 1911 with their father Caleb, arriving in Fremantle on board the Ophir.  Caleb was a miner in England and raising the three boys on his own, saw Australia to offer greater opportunities for his sons.  The family headed south to Kojonup, taking up land which they cleared and developed into a viable farming enterprise.

 
Bill’s introduction to army training was at Blackboy Hill spending ten days there before being drafted to Bunbury for a further eight weeks.  Four days leave were granted before embarkation, his contingent bound for Tel-el Kebir, the largest training camp for Australian troops in Egypt at that time.  About 40,000 troops were said to have been stationed there.  The intense heat dictated that drill took place in the mornings between 6 and 8am and again in the evenings from 4 to7pm.

In recollections of his service, Bill comments on his first experiences of war in the trenches near Ypres.  Working mostly at night and with the noise of exploding shells around him, his biggest fear was common to many, not of the incessant bombardment but of making a fool of himself by doing a ‘gel’, panicking during those first days on the front line.  He spent almost three years on active service.

Harry served with the 51st Bn before being taken on strength with 44th, a battalion recognised for its part in breaking the defences of the Hindenburg Line in the final stages of the war.
He married in England and was amongst the last to be demobilised in 1919.  Two of Harry’s four sons enlisted in the army in the Second World War.  Gilbert served in the Middle East with the 2/16th Bn and Gordon in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo with the 2/32nd.

When Bill and Harry returned from the war they both went back to the land, with varying degrees of success!  Bill ventured out on his own purchasing a property “Lonsdale” just north Kojonup, close to where the airstrip is today.  Using suitable clay from the property he made mud batts which he used in the construction of his home.  He married local Albany girl Dorothy Murray, the daughter of dairy farmers at Robinson. 

Bill supplemented his income from the farm with other work, such as dam sinking and blade shearing with his brother Joe.  In 1942 he enlisted with Joe in the 6th Bn Volunteer Defence Corps.  He continued farming until retirement, moving into aged care in Narrogin in the late seventies.

Bill is remembered for his jovial disposition and preparedness to chat openly with family about his wartime experiences.  He became progressively reclusive as he got older however, feeling a strong sense of injustice at the lack of government support offered to returning servicemen.  He died in 1981 aged 85 years.

Caleb Wooldridge with his sons from left, Harry, Willie and Joe Joe writes to his brother Willie, recuperating from wounds. Willie in Edinburgh, just before the end of the war. Willie writes from Edinburgh, just before the end of the war. Pte Willie Wooldridge, 1917 Pte Willie Wooldridge, 1918

Cpl Godfrey LYTH MM, 6 FCE

3433, Cpl John Godfrey LYTH, MM, 6 FCE

If leadership, comradeship and truth of character were considered strong family traits, then Godfrey Lyth upheld them in every respect. Cpl John Godfrey LYTH, MM, 3433, served with the 6 FCE [Field Company Engineers] in the Australian Imperial Force [AIF].  He was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous service, displaying great composure, exceptional courage and devotion to duty in an operation he led on the outskirts of Ploesteert in Belgium.

Godfrey was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, one of ten children born to Annie and John Burdsall Lyth.  He attended Wesley College and later qualified as a civil engineer at Sheffield University.  Leaving England he ventured to New Zealand for a short time where his brother Ernest was practicing medicine.  He settled in Western Australia just prior to the outbreak of war on an acreage that ran from the Lower Kalgan River.

Seeking the fertile, heavy loam soils along the river, landholdings had been purchased in the Kalgan and King River area by Godfrey’s father, a physician, practising surgeon and Justice of the Peace in Gloucester.  Residing in England, Dr Lyth had bought the properties for two of his sons, Godfrey and Harold, and daughter and son-in-law Winifred and Henry Cecil Poole to farm. 

Together, the families made a considerable contribution to the development of the Kalgan and Albany communities. Harold had studied agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College prior to settling in the district and became active in the Lower Kalgan Farmers’ and Settlers’ Associations.  He left farming to pursue a career in the Methodist ministry in the Eastern States.  Cecil Poole, also a civil engineer became a surveyor and Town Clerk for the Albany Town Council, 1919-1921.

As one of the earliest of his family to arrive in the area, Godfrey quickly became a popular member of the local community, actively participating in social events and sporting activities. He was a keen cricketer and valuable bowler for Kalgan River in the local competition.  At over 6 feet in height, he would have made a formidable opponent on the cricket pitch.  In October 1913 he announced his engagement to Maida McKail, the only daughter of prominent local resident Nathanial William McKail.

Godfrey enlisted at Albany in August 1915 aged 28 years, leaving Australia for the front in November.  As a sapper Godfrey was responsible for constructing lines of defence, associated infrastructure and anything requiring mechanical solutions to problems, activities crucial to successful military operations in the field of trench warfare.  He was quickly recognised by his commanding officers to be exceedingly capable and an inspiring influence upon others with his energy, talent and unflappable nature.

He rose through the ranks, being promoted to Second Corporal.  In his first operation when in charge of a Lewis gun detachment, Godfrey’s talents shone through.  His strategic use of the gun was effective in keeping enemy machine gun fire down in a hostile counter attack, enabling him to successfully cover his party.  His initiative was recognised with the award of a Military Medal.

When volunteers from the Australian Engineers were called for to set up and put into operation an observation post near Pozières, Godfrey along with many other Australians did not shy away from the responsibility.  Attached to the 283rd Siege Battery, RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery) Godfrey set about the undertaking.  With the task nearing completion, he and a fellow NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) dismissed their fellow Australians whilst they undertook the final stages of the operation.  On the evening of the 24th August 1918, tragedy struck when Godfrey was critically wounded when a bomb was dropped from an enemy aircraft.  He died the next day in the Australian Field Ambulance Station and was buried just outside Etineham on the Somme.

Described as a young man full and energy and fun, he endeared himself to those around him.  Held in high esteem by his superiors and peers, he was loved and respected by all.  Godfrey served with distinction.  A gifted soldier, his gallantry, dedication, ingenuity and compassion and concern for the welfare of others would remain enduring qualities for which he will be remembered.

Sapper John Godfrey Lyth The engineers at Blackboy Hill.  Godfrey stands fourth row from the front on the right. Christmas greetings are sent home from the front in 1916. A Christmas card is sent from the front.

Pte Tom SHARP, 11 BN

950, Pte Tom SHARP, 11 Bn

Pte Tom SHARP, 950 was 19 when he volunteered for service with the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914.  He served with the 11th Battalion.

Tom was the second son of Edward and Sarah Sharp.  He was born in Leeds, Yorkshire but due to the effects of rheumatic fever on his young body, it was recommended he leave the industrial city for a healthier lifestyle in Australia.  Arriving on his own in Fremantle as a 15 year old in 1910 and with a £5 note sewn in the lining of his jacket, Tom headed south to Albany where his uncle Jack was working as a carpenter.  Tom’s father, mother, sister and brother emigrated eight months later, granted an assisted passage to take up a parcel of land at Torbay near Wilgie Hill.

At the outbreak of war Tom enlisted. He passed his medical assessment and proceeded to Blackboy Hill camp to train with many other young men from Albany.  The 11th Battalion was one of the earliest battalions raised and the first to be fully comprised of Western Australian recruits.  With preliminary training of only two weeks, the contingent sailed for Egypt on HMAT Ascanius A11, one of the two troopships of the first convoy to leave Fremantle on 2nd November 1914.

Tom was never to see active service.  Whilst in Egypt on further training, he was considered medically unfit after being diagnosed with a dilated heart.  He left there in March 1915, returning to Melbourne, then to Perth.  He was discharged in May that year.

Returning to Albany, Tom found employment in various areas including the wharf where he was a tally clerk and active on the committee of the Waterside Workers’ Federation.  He also helped his uncle Jack build group settlement houses in 1920s and later worked for Edward Barnett & Co and Drew Robinson & Co.  During the Second World War Tom was manpowered to the Midland Railway Workshops, later returning to Albany to work at the Albany Freezer Works and large meat exporting company Borthwick’s as a scales clerk.

Although Tom had worked briefly on the family farm helping to build a house there prior to leaving for the war, he did not return there to live for any length of time.  Not only was the property limited in size and productive capacity, the family had had no previous experience in the industry.  Tom’s father Edward found work as a fettler with the WAGR (Western Australian Government Railways) only to be thrown from a railway trike at Young’s Siding and accidentally killed in 1926.  Tom himself had desperately sought to find employment with the railways but was refused on the grounds of his medical condition.  The remains of the small tin hut built by Tom and his uncle Jack can still be seen on the property today.

Tom was well known in Albany for his fine singing voice.  Active in local musical societies he regularly performed popular items which were presented at the Albany Town Hall and the Empire and Regent Theatres.  As a member of the Albany Choral Society, he was part of its inaugural concert in 1924 following a 10 year hiatus associated with upheaval of war. The society’s first concert was held in 1913.  Tom was a popular bass baritone and sang in many public concerts and private performances.  The Albany Choral Society was renowned for undertaking ambitious productions such as Gounod’s ‘Faust’, a landmark given it was the first time the opera had been performed in Western Australia by a society. It is understood that the society hired costumes from Melbourne for many of their local performances.

In 1960, Tom died tragically in a car rollover on the Albany Highway near the 153 mile peg near Kojonup.  He was 65.  Cremated in Perth, his ashes were scattered in the gardens at Karrakatta.

Tom with the Albany boys at Blackboy Hill army training camp.  He is in the middle row third from the right looking away. The Albany Choral Society’s inaugural concert programme in 1924. Faust is performed in Albany by the Albany Choral Society On stage with the Albany Choral Society, Tom sits, centre right.  Pte Tom Sharp Tom and Olive Sharp on their wedding day The programme for Stainer’s oratorio The Crucifixion, performed by the choir of the Presbyterian Church on the Wednesday before Easter in 1941.

Pte William Albert BETTS, 10 LHR

706, Pte William Albert BETTS, 10 LHR


When volunteers were called for at the outbreak of the Great War the impact upon small rural communities was immense.  Young men who enlisted from these areas were not only known to each other, they were close mates, often through familial bonds.  The settlement of Tenterden, a small siding on the Great Southern Railway near Cranbrook was no exception.  Of no less than seven mates who enlisted, only two were to return.


Private William Albert BETTS, 706 served with the 10 LHR [Light Horse Regiment].  Born in York his family were amongst some of the earliest settlers of the state.   Willie’s great grandfather had arrived in the Swan River Colony as part of Thomas Peel’s ambitious but disordered colonisation scheme.   Taking up land at Guildford to establish the property ‘Turtle Creek’, the Betts family forged lasting links to the agricultural industry with subsequent generations operating successful farming businesses at Tenterden and Dangin.


Willie Betts was working on his father’s property ‘Ronaldshaw’ at Tenterden when he enlisted at the area office in Albany late in November 1915.  Assigned responsibility for allocated farm jobs as a child, he became adept at bush practice from an early age, acquiring the skills keenly sought for a posting to the 10th Light Horse.  Obtaining a rudimentary education at the local state school, his heart was in the bush with much enjoyment derived from roving the scrub and honing his skills with a firearm.  He became a skilled marksman, winning many awards at the Cranbrook Rifle Club.  In anticipation of securing a place in the 10th LHR he would proudly but humbly describe himself as a good horseman, bushman and rifleman. 


Unsuccessful in the first intake, Willie stayed in Perth at his grandfather’s farm at Guildford.  His patience would be rewarded with a posting to the 2nd Reinforcements of the 10th LHR of which 2nd Lieutenant Hugo Throssell VC was the commanding officer.   He embarked at Fremantle on HMAT Itonius in February 1915 and proceeded to Egypt to join the many Australians training at Abbasich and Mena Camps.


Willie was transported to the Gallipoli peninsular where he took part in an operation at Quinn’s Post.  The event would be cataclysmic in changing the course of his life.  The shrapnel wounds received to his shoulder and the loss of his right eye would cause immeasurable and chronic suffering for the rest of his life.  Exhibiting the spirit for which our ANZACs are renown, his physical incapacitation and emotional trauma did not stop him from attempting to re-enlist, or in later years winning trophies for golf.


Deemed medically unfit for any further participation in the war, Willie was repatriated back to Australia and discharged.  Granted a soldier settlement landholding at Dangin he became increasing despondent and progressively reclusive, withdrawing from family and from society.  He took solace in re-educating himself, immersing himself in literary classics.  A favourite spot of escape on the property was a thatched tea-tree bush hut with its very own [pet] carpet snake.    


Willie retired to Subiaco, living there for five years.  He was a frequent visitor to his local library and recognised around the suburb wearing his pork pie hat on his jaunts down to the Shenton Park Hotel. He enjoyed regular visits back to the farm at Dangin and down to Tenterden.  He is remembered by his family with great love and affection as a quiet, gentle and unassuming man with a warm sense of humour.  He died in 1955 aged 65 years and is buried at Karrakatta.

Pte William Albert Betts, 1915 Writing to his dad from Blackboy Hill, Willie tells of his posting to the 10 LHR. A letter home from Guildford as Willie awaits his posting.

Pte John HOST, 16 BN

7016, Pte John HOST, 16 Bn

The discovery of an old tin trunk was the catalyst which brought a young granddaughter to know an aspect of her grandfather’s life she could not have imagined.  Its contents of letters, diaries, postcards and photos were the means by which a greater understanding of an unspoken history was developed and a familial bond strengthened.


When Jack Host died in 1971, the family set about preparing his Northam property for sale.  In the course of tidying up, the tin trunk proved to be a constant source of fascination for his young granddaughter. With persistent pleas for safekeeping acceded to, a soldier’s wartime experiences began to unfold.


Private John Host, 7016 was thirty when he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] in 1916.  Married and with a young family living at Seabrook near Northam, he sailed from Fremantle with the 16th Battalion two days before Christmas 1916, leaving behind his wife and two young daughters to care for the family farm.


A fitter and turner by trade, Jack had left his home town of Adelaide to head west.  Arriving in Fremantle in 1910 he ventured to the eastern goldfields, settling in Boulder where he met and married Emma [Dot] Pybus McKnight a year later.  Jack worked at the Golden Horseshoe gold mine for seven years, a mine considered to have one of the richest and most significant deposits of telluride in Kalgoorlie.  Joining the local militia unit in Boulder, he spent four years with C Company of the Goldfields Infantry Regiment. 


From the moment of embarkation, Jack was astute in maintaining a detailed diary of his journey overseas, recording his experiences along the way.  Keenly perceptive, a valuable insight is given into the life of a soldier.  Whilst accounts of the journey are personal and honest expressions of the feelings and emotions he experiences with all the elements of excitement and wonder attached to the adventure of a lifetime, an equally graphic account is given of the horrors of war, of what is unimaginable to most of us.    


The 16th Battalion, comprised mostly of West Australians, took part in many of the major battles and bloody trench warfare of the Western Front, sustaining heavy casualties in this most decisive theatre of the war.
In 1917 the 16th was in Belgium, advancing to the Hindenburg Line.  On the evening of 21st October 1917, Jack was taking up a position near Passchendaele Ridge.  Experiencing a night of relentless shelling and high explosive shrapnel, Jack and his mate found themselves buried with bricks when two shells hit a wall three feet from their position. With only his head exposed and the arm of his mate, the two were rescued.  With a crushed knee, and mangled arm and shoulder, Jack was evacuated to the Poperinghe Casualty Clearing Station.  Repatriated to England, he took no further part in the war. 


Demobilised in 1919, Jack returned to the farm at Seabrook, developing the property into a market garden.  He remained there until retirement, when he moved into Northam. 


Jack is remembered by his family as having an affinity with the land and a great respect for nature.  He was one who loved life and all it had to offer with a wonderful sense of community and helping those in need.  He was committed member of the Returned Services League until his death.


Like so many, Jack never spoke of the war but in placing aside his correspondence, diaries and photographs he effected an enduring legacy.


Jack’s younger brother Pte Frank Host, 2059 also enlisted with the AIF, serving with the 11th Battalion on Gallipoli.  Jack’s eldest son Edward served with the 2/11 Battalion on Crete in the Second World War.

Pte John [Jack] Host, centre back, with other members of the 16th Bn, 1917. Jack with Dot and family before leaving Australia for war, 1916. Jack writes of his final goodbye to Dot, 1917 A diary entry from Messines, 1917 A tender note is written home, Pte John Host, 1917. The destructive force of a shell explosion on the Western Front 1917.

Cpl Frederick Henry Allan JOHNSON, 23 HB and BAC

21997, Cpl Frederick Henry Allan JOHNSON,23 HB and BAC

When Cpl Frederick Henry Allan JOHNSON, 21997 volunteered for service in the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] he was posted to the 23 HB [Howitzer Brigade] and Brigade Ammunition Column as a gunner.  Enlisting in 1915, Fred was already participating in military service with one of Western Australia’s local militia units, the 38th Battery AFA [Australian Field Artillery], training at Guildford each Saturday.

The oldest of five children, Fred was born in the inner city suburb of Abbottsford, Melbourne. He came to Western Australia with his family when he was two.  Although his father had initially taken up work on the goldfields water supply and in the timber mills of the south west, the family had significant connections to the print and publishing industry. His New Zealand born mother was the daughter of William Henry Baxter, partner in well known printers’ brokers, Matthews, Baxter and Co in Dunedin.  His father, a bookbinder would gain employment with the WA Government Printing Office in Perth.

Fred was educated at Perth Boys’ Central School in James Street, winning a scholarship in 1910 to attend the state’s first public secondary school, Perth Modern School.  Built in 1909, the school had its first intake of students in 1911, Fred making history being one of them.  In 1915 he became a trainee teacher at Thomas Street Senior State School and upon turning 18, took unpaid leave from the Education Department to join up.
After being billeted to the Claremont showgrounds for initial training, Fred left for Victoria for three months of advanced artillery training at the Maribyrnong Field Artillery Camp.  He embarked at Melbourne in 1916 bound for Larkhill, a military training camp on Salisbury Plain west of London.  He left for France on New Year’s Eve, taking part in some of the most significant battles of the Western Front over the course of the war.  

On  reading T D Bridger’s history ‘With the 27th Battery in France: 7th Bde, Australian Field Artillery’ published in 1919, Fred made some notations of his own recalling that his artillery unit worked continuously at Messines “in 4 hour shifts, 4 on, 4 off and during the 4 off we could get no sleep owing to gas. . . I developed the habit of sleeping with a mask on”.  At Passchendaele, the gruelling experience of moving heavy artillery through challenging and waterlogged conditions becomes acutely apparent with Fred describing yoked horses working in teams of ten, straining to drag guns across no man’s land in an operation that took six hours.  His recollections are lightened by “it was a lively spectacle”, with further comment that whilst manning an aiming post he had his “braces blown off by a shell burst” behind him.  Given up “for lost” by his mates, “yours truly came up smiling”.

Suffering the debilitating effects of gas poisoning, Fred was granted furlough.  He completed a teaching course at London Day Training College in a scheme where special courses were offered to servicemen whose study was interrupted by war service.    

Demobilised at the end of 1919 Fred returned to Australia, enrolling at Claremont Teacher’s College to complete his qualification.  Taking up a teaching position at his old school Perth Modern where he would remain for 17 years, he continued his study, completing an Arts degree at the University of Western Australia in 1925.   He was promoted to Deputy Headmaster in 1939 and subsequently held the position of Headmaster at high schools in Kalgoorlie, Albany, Northam and Bunbury, retiring there in 1963. 

At the time of the Second World War during his tenure at Bunbury, Fred again volunteered, serving in the 19 Garrison Battalion and naval auxiliary patrol. Maintaining the family’s commitment to military service were his three younger siblings. Brother Cyril served with the 2/32 Battalion in Palestine, New Guinea and Morotai, sister Mavis served with the RAAF as a Corporal at 5 Embarkation Depot based on the Swan River foreshore and another brother Raymond enlisted with the RAAF.  Second eldest sibling Ernest, an army cadet in 1916, was manpowered on his farm at Wagin during WWII.

Fred Johnson died in 1971 aged 73.  He is buried in the Bunbury cemetery.

Pte Frederick Johnson, London 1916. Pte Frederick Johnson, 1916. Army cadet Ernest Johnson, Perth 1916.

Pte Frederick Lloyd MARTENS, 10 LHR

027, Pte Frederick Lloyd MARTENS, 10 LHR

Private Frederick Lloyd MARTENS, 1027 served with the 6th Reinforcements of the 10 Light Horse Regiment in the Australian Imperial Force, embarking at Fremantle for the Middle East in June 1915.  He was working as a horse driver in Narrogin when he enlisted, his father writing a letter of consent for him to join up.  

Fred was born in Merriton, South Australia.  Of German ancestry, his grandfather Johann Mertens, a blacksmith, had fled Prussia in 1848 escaping the political turbulence and religious repression building in Europe.  Joining earlier German settlers in the South Australian village of Klemzig, the family moved, establishing themselves in the towns of Hope Valley, Grace Plains, Clare and Port Germein.  After leaving Domitz in Prussia, the family surname became Martens.   

Arriving at Albany in 1903 with his parents, brother William and four sisters, Fred and his family travelled by train to Narrogin where his father Bill continued an occupational tradition attributed to all Mertens men as a skilled blacksmith, gunsmith and machinist. He quickly established himself as a highly respected and popular blacksmith in the town, working at Mr Thomas P O’Connor’s smithy.  Upholding his artisan heritage, Fred worked as a carpenter after leaving school but soon became interested in working with horses, having learnt much about them from his father. 

Completing his mandatory training at Blackboy Hill, Fred proceeded to the training camps in Egypt.  By September 1915 he was on Gallipoli, seeing action there for five weeks before being hospitalised with illness.  Returning to duty and with the campaign moving to the Sinai Peninsula, Fred’s unit was involved in an ill fated advance on a Turkish garrison at Bir el Mazar on the 17th September 1916. 

Aware of the futility of the advance given the Turkish stronghold and that military support units had failed to arrive, the order was received to withdraw.  Drawing heavy fire from the enemy, Fred received a gunshot wound to his left leg, shattering his tibia.  With the wound remaining undressed for three days, the injury turned septic.  Critically ill, Fred was transported to Port Said for treatment, where he recovered in the 14th Australian General Hospital at Abbassia.  The troopers involved in the attack were not impressed to later learn that the Turks had abandoned their position two days after the offensive!

Fred was discharged in June 1917 and granted a fortnightly pension of 15/- (shillings). After the war he returned to live in Narrogin, taking up work with the Western Australian Government Railways as a fireman working on the Pinjarra line.  He married and remained in Narrogin until 1922.  Taking up a land grant at Pingrup, Fred and his family farmed there until 1950, retiring to Perth. 

Remembered by his family as a man aspiring of a good education for his children and with an acute awareness of civic responsibility, Fred and his wife Frieda were very active in the local Pingrup community.  He was instrumental in improving telephone communication in the district, helping establish the south Pingrup party line, operating the exchange from his home.  He worked with the education department to set up a school in the district, offering a home on his property as a classroom and accommodation for a teacher in order that children did not have to travel too far to go to school and he was involved in discussion surrounding the establishment of a hotel to provide accommodation for travellers to the area.  He was a keen sportsman and musician and actively involved in the Returned Services League.

When war broke out in 1939, Fred did not hesitate to re-enlist, serving in 6 Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps.  Continuing the family’s military tradition, his son William Lloyd Spencer Martens also enlisted, serving in 10 Australian Light Horse patrolling the Western Australian coastline. Fred’s future daughter-in-law, Isodore Melville Clayton also served as a nurse, a captain at the 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station.  Fred’s daughter Nola was keen to join the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) but was too young, so joined the junior Red Cross in Perth instead. 

Fred’s older brother Pte William Henry Martens, 4250 served with the 11th Battalion in the First World War and his son, Cpl James Henry Martens, 7212 served with the RAAF in the Second World War.
Fred Martens died in Perth in 1964, aged 69.  He is buried at Karrakatta.

Trooper Fred Martens, 1915 Private Fred Martens, 1915 A camp decoration at the head of the lines in Eygpt, 1916.Tpr Martens on his charge at Blackboy Hill, 1915 Fred writes home from Abbassia, 1916 Troops on board the transport, 1915

Pte Arthur Cecil TAYLOR, 51 BN

3028, Pte Arthur Cecil TAYLOR, 51 Bn

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