TO commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, the Gloucester Advocate and the Gloucester RSL sub-branch has compiled a list of those who never made it home.
The list is not quite complete and there are likely others who the Advocate and RSL may not know about.
Much of the information on the soldiers is basic with the data obtained through the Australian War Memorial records.
Other information has been compiled with the assistance of historian Mark Rogers.
Several of those killed have surnames that would be familiar or shared by those still living in the Gloucester district.
Anyone that may have photographs or further information on any of the soldiers listed here or others not listed can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lest We Forget.
Cyril Wilton Akhurst
Was born in Minmi before relocating to Gloucester as a timber merchant.
His mother was Y B Akhurst and his father was F B Akhurst.
Cyril Akhurst was a corporal in the 55th Australian Infantry Battalion.
He enlisted on August 2, 1915 and was killed in action in Bullecourt, France, on May 10, 1917. He was 22.
Cyril Wilton Akhurst’s name is located at panel 160 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Peter Boyce Bryce
Was born in Glasgow, Scotland and immigrated to Gloucester where he became a stockman.
Peter Bryce enlisted as a private on January 15, 1915, in the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion.
He was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 7, 1915. He was 23.
Peter Boyce Bryce’s name is located at panel 68 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Austral Hunter Burns
Was born in Manly on May 30, 1893, the fifth and last child and only son of Charles James Burns and Beatrice Alice (nee Moore).
His parents divorced by the time he was three and his father seems to have had little or no involvement with the family after that.
Probably at about this time (1896) he moved from Manly to ‘Roycroft’, a grace and favour property owned by the NSW government at Dawes Point (destroyed when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built) with his mother and four sisters.
This was almost certainly arranged by his paternal grandfather who had only left State politics a few years previously and seems to have been still in good favour.
His mother died when he was 14 and from then it seems he and his sisters lived alone. According to his daughter Iris, Austral attended Fort Street School, which seems very likely.
In childhood his best friend was Cobden Parkes, the youngest son of Sir Henry Parkes. Austral’s grandfather had served as Sir Henry’s treasurer when Sir Henry was NSW Premier.
In an unpublished manuscript held in the State Library of NSW, Cobden Parkes recalls “my sister Aurora had dear friends in the Burns family, four girls and one boy. They lived in an old stone fortification at Dawes Point. The old battery had been converted into a residence, for the residence next to that occupied by the Burns family was lived in by Dr Paton … ‘Roycroft’ was a large stone residence of single storey. The girls were Lu Lu, Abby, Nancy and Marjorie. The boy was Austral, about my own age and a handsome lad of likeable disposition. Austral and I became firm friends, and this friendship lasted until his death with the AIF in France in 1916. Whenever possible I would be at ‘Roycroft’ with Austral. I was about 17 years of age at the time. We had built a small canvas canoe, mainly Austral’s skill, and we paddled about the harbour and did some fishing. The residence was very comfortable and the girls’ income was derived from letting some of the rooms. At the time swimming baths existed along the harbour foreshore on the western side of Dawes Point and nearby was a boatshed where we kept the canoe. We frequently rode down the incline from ‘Roycroft’ to the water in a homemade trolley cart. Returning from our days outing it would be necessary to pull the trolley cart back up the hill. We enjoyed wonderful weeks at ‘Roycroft’ and often had the company of a couple of the Paton boys about our own age’.
Cob Parkes goes on to recall staying many holidays at ‘Bonnie Doon’ in Rawdon Vale with Austral prior to WWI where Austral worked as a jackaroo on the property owned by Austral’s brother-in-law Alex Laurie (who was married to Austral’s sister Nancy).
Austral joined the AIF in 1914 with Battalion number 501 in the 1st Battalion.
Cob recalls the early army experience ‘Austral had promised to come down to attend the ball with us and stay with us a couple of days. He arrived next morning in error and contacted me about 10am at the office. After overcoming his disappointment our conversation drifted to the position of the war and we decided to enlist. It was August 16, 1914 and I obtained two hours leave from the office and actually did not return for over five years, apart from calls for a presentation and farewells. Austral and I caught a tram to Victoria Barracks in Oxford St, Paddington and waited our turn for interviews by the chief recruiting officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Antill. While waiting we filled in the attestation papers - in other words two large sheets of questions - on both sides of the sheets. We immediately found some trouble. While both were accepted for overseas service we were marked down for different units. Austral, because of his bushman’s experience, was put with the artillery. With my city life I was included with the infantry draft. The artillery was initially being assembled at the Royal Agricultural Showground and the infantry at the Sydney Cricket Ground next door. After our completion of the forms we collected on the parade ground and although raw recruits lined up in some sort of military formation by a regimental sergeant-major who asked if any present had any previous military training. One smart man said he had such experience, a man named Melville. He was placed in charge of about 50 men and ordered to march off to the cricket ground. On arrival we were put through some process of sorting out and were then issued with a uniform. I could not find a suitable pair of boots and wore black patent boots that evening. Late afternoon we had leave until 9am next morning and according to an earlier arrangement made for our home ‘Windeslei’ in Piper St, Lilyfield. There Austral soon arrived to talk over our experience. We agreed to let matter take its course for the present and we would try to join forces at the first opportunity. Within a few days we were moved to Kensington Racecourse under canvas, and our army life soon began. We eventually had nine men to a bell tent with our feet toward the centre. We became part of the 1st Infantry Battalion and soon changed the formation of companies to the German formation of companies divided into four platoons. We became ‘B’ Company under a very fine officer Captain Pat Maguire. Lieutenant Les Hempton was our platoon commander but not for long when we changed to a younger man, about 19 years of age, Lieutenant Phil Price, whose brother did so well in the 3rd Battalion. One day early in our career the whole battalion was called to parade and issued with numbers. My number was 455. Austral, Tom Hicks and Arthur Wither were near me and we received consecutive numbers. Later in life we four became firm friends. After not seeing Austral Burns during the first week at Kensington we had forgotten him as a soldier when to our amazement he turned up at Kensington late one afternoon with his kit bag and all gear. We asked how he had managed the switch of units, because I was unable to make any headway in my effort to transfer to artillery and we were flabbergasted as he told his story. Apparently some days previously he asked permission to see the lieutenant in charge of his section and had explained he and his particular friend had enlisted together with the intention to remain together, but had been separated and he sought permission to transfer to the infantry at Kensington. The officer said ‘no’. Austral repeated the performance next evening and the lieutenant said ‘didn’t you ask me this yesterday?’ and Austral replied ‘yes sir’ and the officer said ‘what did I say’ and the reply was ‘you said no sir’. The lieutenant said ‘it is still no’. Austral went on to tell us he repeated again next evening but did not get far with his request when the lieutenant said ‘you have asked me before and I have refused your request and I do so again, go away and do not bother me again’. Austral said he repeated his request twice more when the officer became infuriated and said ‘son, I will give you this. You are stubborn. You can go. Yes, you can go to hell for all I care, get your gear together and go before I change my mind and never come near me again’. Austral continued ‘and so I am here’. I had a friend Pat Kennedy (a public servant) in the orderly room and Austral was through the various stages to become a member of the platoon. He immediately became one of our ‘inseparables’ until wounded at Gallipoli. I last saw him when I was in hospital in Alexandria. A great friend’.
Austral married Alice Laurie at ‘Stobo’ on October 15, 1914 and sailed on the troopship HMAT Afric three days later, on October 18, 1914, bound for Egypt.
Austral was severely wounded at Gallipoli (gunshot wound to the leg) and after recovering in Egypt returned to Gallipoli before returning to Egypt and transferring to the 53rd Battalion to serve in France.
He was killed in action at Fromelles in France on July, 19 1916. He was 23.
At time of death he was a sergeant. Shortly before his death he had been posted to the Paris Exhibition.
He has no known grave but is commemorated in VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, France.
Austral Hunter Burns’ name is located at panel 156 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Was born in Wingham and worked as a labourer.
His brother was P J Byrne.
Arthur Byrnes was a lance corporal and enlisted in the 18th Australian Infantry Battalion on July 7, 1915.
He was killed in action in France on February 26, 1917. He was 28.
Arthur Byrnes’ name is located at panel 84 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Aubrey Claude Dare
Was born in Gloucester and worked as a cordial maker.
His father W Dare lived on Barrington St.
Aubrey Dare enlisted as a private in the 1st Australian Machine Gun Company on April 25, 1916.
He was killed in action aged 32 in Belgium on September 26, 1917.
Aubrey Claude Dare’s name is located at panel 177 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Herbert William Everett
Was born in Dungog and moved to Gloucester to work as a farmer.
His father was J Everett.
Herbert Everett enlisted as a private in the 20th Australian Infantry Battalion on November 4, 1915.
He was killed in action in Battle of Bullecourt, France on March 2, 1917 and was buried at Buffe De Wallacourt. He was 24.
Herbert William Everett’s name is located at panel 91 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
John Henry Foster
Was born in Kneesall, England and immigrated to Gloucester aged 30 where he worked as a labourer.
His mother was Elizabeth Foster.
John Foster was a corporal in the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion.
He was killed in action, aged 32, in Gallipoli on August 22, 1915.
John Henry Foster’s name is located at panel 69 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
George Thomas Germon
Was born in Stroud and worked as a farmer in Gloucester.
His mother was Mary Elizabeth Germon.
George Germon enlisted as a private in the 30th Australian Infantry Battalion.
He was killed in action aged 25 in Fromelles, France, on July 31, 1916.
George Thomas Germon’s name is located at panel 117 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Resided at Girvan where he worked as a farmer.
Archibald Gray enlisted as a private in the 34th Australian Infantry Battalion.
He died of illness while camped at Messines, Belgium, on July 1, 1917. He was 24.
Archibald Gray’s name is located at panel 123 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Herbert Thomas Harris
Was born at Copeland in 1896 to William Harris and Alice Clough.
A clerk and member of the 14th Battalion Senior Cadets, he enlisted in the AIF on August 27, 1914, at the age of 19.
Private Harris left Australia for Egypt in October 1914 and took part in the landing at Gallipoli on the morning of April 25, 1915.
He was five foot 4.5 inches tall with a fair complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.
He was wounded during the Turkish attacks opposite Jolly and Wire Gully on May 19, 1915.
After a stay in hospital he rejoined his unit at Gallipoli on July, 13 1915 and was wounded a second time (bullet wound to the arm).
He was later evacuated to Egypt with influenza.
After rejoining the battalion on December 30, 1915, Private Harris was promoted to corporal on February 17, 1916.
He embarked at Alexandria for service on the Western Front on March 22, 1916 aboard the ‘Grampian’ and arrived at Marseilles on March 28, 1916.
After suffering a second bout of influenza which put him in hospital for two months, Corporal Harris rejoined his battalion in June 1916.
He was killed in action at Pozieres in France less than a month later on July 20, 1916. Corporal Harris was 20 at the time of his death.
He was buried at Sausage Valley near Pozieres, but he has no known grave.
Corporal Harris was the younger brother of Lance Corporal Stanley Harold Harris, 3rd Battalion, who was killed in action during the Second Battle of Bullecourt on May 5, 1917.
Herbert Thomas Harris’ name is located at panel 36 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Stanley Harold Harris
Was born at Copeland in 1894 to William Harris and Alice Clough.
A shop assistant before enlisting on August 3, 1915, Private Harris left Australia for Egypt with the 7th Reinforcements in December 1915.
He was two months short of his 21st birthday.
Private Harris was five foot seven inches tall with a dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.
He initially went to Egypt on the HMAT ‘A29 Seuvic’, departing Sydney on December 20, 1915.
After transferring to the 3rd Battalion on February 4, 1916, as part of the ‘doubling-up’ of the AIF, he embarked aboard HMTS ‘Grampion’ at Alexandria on March 22, 1916, landing at Marseilles on March 28, 1916, for service on the Western Front the following month.
After a promotion to Lance Corporal on February 26, 1917, he was killed in action during the Second Battle of Bullecourt on May 5, 1917, aged 22.
He was buried in the vicinity of Maricourt Wood before being re-interred at Tynegot Military Cemetery near Passchendaele.
Lance Corporal Harris was the older brother of Corporal Herbert Thomas Harris, 3rd Battalion, who was killed in action at Pozieres in France on July 20, 1916.
Stanley Harold Harris’ name is located at panel 36 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
William Bruce Higgins
Was born in 1896 to Thomas Higgins and Sarah Crick of Heatherdale.
A 19-year-old grazier prior to his enlistment with the 30th Australian Infantry Battalion as a (horse) driver on August 2, 1915, Higgins embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT Beltana on November 9, 1915.
At time of enlistment he was five foot nine inches tall with a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair.
Driver Higgins reverted at his own request to a private on May 8, 1916, in Egypt immediately prior to embarking for France.
He was reported missing in action at the Battle of Fromelles on July 20, 1916.
According to his Australian Red Cross wounded and missing enquiry bureau file, Private Higgins was ‘well up in the communication trench when a raid was made; they bombarded the Germans and in the counter attack Higgins got further away and was cut off by the Germans and taken prisoner’.
Later that year, a communication was received from the Germans which included Private Higgins’ identity disc and a report confirming he had been killed in action at Fromelles.
After the war his grave could not be located and he was commemorated on the VC Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial in Fromelles, France.
In 2008 a burial ground was located at Pheasant Wood, France, containing the bodies of 250 British and Australian soldiers including Private Higgins.
All of the remains were reburied in the newly created Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery.
At the time of the official dedication of the new cemetery on July 19, 2010, 96 of the Australians including Private Higgins had been identified through a combination of anthropological, archaeological, historical and DNA information.
William Bruce Higgins’ name is located at panel 117 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Alexander Duncan Gordon Laurie
Was born on December 15, 1892, at Dingo Creek near Wingham.
He was the son of Joseph Laurie and Margaret McPherson of Invergordon.
At the time of his enlistment in the AIF on August 2, 1915, he was grazier.
He was five foot 10 inches tall with a fair complexion, yellowish hair and brown eyes.
Alexander Laurie was a private in the 30th Australia Infantry Battalion and embarked on the HMAT ‘Katuna’ on December 16, 1915.
After spending some time at Alexandria in Egypt he arrived in Marseilles on the ‘Hororat’ on June 23, 1916.
His obituary published in the Dungog Chronicle on September 19, 1916, read ‘he was vigorous and stalwart of form, cool and resolute in danger, generous and unselfish, ever thoughtful of others and always ready to do a kindly act. That rare old smile of his made him a favourite with everyone, and one always felt the better for meeting him. A deadly shot and a lover of horses. He, like his uncles, the McPherson family, was a fearless horseman. He knew that his going would be keenly felt and that he could be ill spared at home. His sense of duty, however, was so strong that it overcame all other thoughts, and he joined the colours to do his bit for the old flag. He was a long time in the transport service in Egypt, but fearing he would not see service in the firing line, he got transferred to the infantry, and was sent to France’.
He was killed in action at the Battle of Pozieres on July 20, 1916, aged 23 and has no known grave.
A Red Cross file states that he is believed to have been buried in Rue Petilleon Cemetery.
Alexander Duncan Gordon Laurie’s name is located at panel 117 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Albert Kingston Laurie
Was born in 1894 in Stroud to Joseph Laurie and Emily Bignell.
Albert Laurie was an excellent all round cricketer and was also a renowned buckjumper.
He worked as a grazier before enlisting with the 18th Australian Infantry Battalion on July 2, 1915 as a private.
He embarked from Sydney aboard the HMAT ‘Euripides’ on November 2, 1915.
Laurie was wounded three times during his three years of military service.
In June 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal for his enterprise, with a companion, in capturing a German outpost, the occupants of which were engaged in directing the fire of the enemy guns on the Australian trenches.
Laurie and his colleague took the place of the Germans and directed the enemy battery fire on the enemy trenches, occasioning considerable damage.
He was killed at Mont St Quentin in France on August 31, 1918, after Laurie and two companions volunteered to silence a gun.
They silenced the gun, but all three died in the effort.
Albert Laurie was 24.
Lance Corporal Laurie had been offered a field commission on several occasions but declined saying he would rather remain a ‘Digger’.
He was buried at Peronne Communal Cemetery in France.
Albert Kingston Laurie’s name is located at panel 86 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Clifton William Joseph Laurie
Was born at Washpool in 1893, the fifth son of James Laurie and Jessie Farley of Maudville.
He was educated at Invergordon Public School.
After leaving school Clifford worked on his father’s estate.
He became a skilled horseman, a good shot, learned bush lore, and gave every promise of becoming an expert in the management of cattle.
Clifford was the first man in the district to enlist in the AIF.
During the period of training, his inherent cheerfulness made him a favourite with his comrades-in-arms.
Just prior to embarking for the Dardanelles, in his last letter to his mother he wrote ‘this might be the last letter you will get, but I hope not. We will soon see what Australians are made of. If I get shot, I’ll die fighting for my country as an Australian should’.
When news came of the daring dash of the Australians at Gallipoli, the list of wounded was headed with the name of Lance Corporal Laurie.
He died of his wounds on May 8, 1915, aged 21 in the 17th General Hospital at Alexandria in Egypt.
As no cable was sent the parents it was hoped that the wound was not dangerous.
Nine days afterwards the Reverend E L Slade-Mallen was asked to bear the sad news that Lance Corporal Laurie had died of wounds received in battle.
It was late on Saturday evening when word arrived and the next morning the little church among the hills of Upper Gloucester River, where the Laurie family were regular attendees, was crowded with worshippers, many of whom had ridden miles to honour the memory of their departed friend.
Lance Corporal Laurie is believed to be the first soldier from Gloucester to die in the First World War.
He was buried in Chatby War Memorial Cemetery at Alexandria.
Clifton William Joseph Laurie’s name is located at panel 69 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Frank Walter Matthews
Resided in Gloucester and worked as a mounted police man.
Frank Matthews was a lance corporal in the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment. He enlisted on September 18, 1914.
He was killed in action at Gallipoli on September 17, 1915. He was 27.
Frank Walter Matthew’s name is located at panel 5 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
George William McRae
Was born in Gloucester and worked at Berrico as a farmer.
George McRae was a sergeant in the 55th Australian Infantry Battalion. He enlisted on July 31, 1915.
He was killed in action during the Battle of Polygon Wood near Ypres in Belgium on September 26, 1917. He was 27.
George William McRae’s name is located at panel 161 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Was born at Gloucester River and worked as a farmer.
He enlisted as a private in the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion on July 14, 1915.
James Nash was killed in action while fighting at Proyart in France on August 23, 1918. He was 24.
James Nash’s name is located at panel 33 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Herbert Henry Parish
Was a grocer from Berrico Creek prior to his enlistment in the 54th Australian Infantry Battalion on October 9, 1916.
Private Parish embarked with the 8th Reinforcements from Sydney on HMAT Suevic on November 11, 1916. On September 26, 1917 he was killed in action aged 20.
Initially, he had no known grave, however, in 1923 his remains were recovered and he was re-interred in the Birr Cross Roads Cemetery in Belgium.
Herbert Henry Parish’s name is located at panel 159 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
William Henry Rudkin
Was born at Bungwahl and worked as a labourer in Gloucester.
William Rudkin enlisted as a private in the 17th Australian Infantry Battalion on July 22, 1915.
He was killed in action at Bullecourt in France on May 3, 1917. He was 29.
William Henry Rudkin’s name is located at panel 83 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Herbert Henry Soars
Born at Wards River, Herbert Soars worked as a labourer before enlisting on October 27, 1915.
Private Soars left Australia for Egypt with the 8th Reinforcements in December 1915 and transferred to the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion as part of the ‘doubling-up’ of the AIF before arriving in France for service on the Western Front in March 1916.
Private Soars was killed on Passchendaele Ridge, Belgium, on November 8, 1917, just four days after rejoining the battalion from four months in hospital with an infection. He was 32.
Herbert Henry Soars’ name is located at panel 34 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Spencer Godfrey Tibbenham
Was born in London, England and immigrated to Gloucester aged 23 to work as a draper.
Spencer Tibbenham was a sergeant in the 45th Australian Infantry Battalion.
He died of wounds at Messines in Belgium on May 30, 1917. He was 29.
Spencer Godfrey Tibbenham’s name is located at panel 140 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Clarence John Wellard
Resided in Gloucester where he worked as a farmer.
Clarence Wellard was a lance corporal and enlisted in the 20th Australian Infantry Battalion on October 25, 1915.
He was killed in action at Bullecourt in France on May 2, 1917. He was 21.
Clarence Wellard was a recipient of the Military Medal.
Clarence John Wellard’s name is located at panel 52 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
George William Witt
Was born in Newcastle and worked in Gloucester as a labourer.
George Witt enlisted as a private in the 33rd Australian Infantry Battalion on May 15, 1916.
He died of wounds in a wood near Saint-Quentin, France, on September 3, 1918. He was 31.
George William Witt’s name is located at panel 123 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Richard Alfred Yardy
Was born in Dungog and moved to Gloucester to work as a stockman.
Richard Yardy enlisted as a private in the 30thth Australian Infantry Battalion on August 2, 1915.
He was killed in action at Fromelles, France, aged 25 on July 20, 1916.
Richard Alfred Yardy’s name is located at panel 118 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.
Frank William York
Was born in Bedfordshire, England and immigrated to Barrington aged 26 where he worked as a labourer.
Frank York was a lance corporal and enlisted in the 17th Australian Infantry Battalion on February 19, 1915.
He died of his wounds near Heilly in France on November 23, 1916. He was 32.
Frank William York’s name is located at panel 84 in the commemorative area at the Australian War Memorial.