World War 1

Some members of my family (direct or indirect) who served in World War 1


Granduncle (son of Rosetta Jane Foster & John Campbell)

Born 18 June 1898, Mitta Mitta, Victoria, Australia and died 5 October 1918, Montbrehain, Aisne, Picardie, France.

John enlisted on 27 March 1918. He was 19 years and 7 months. His occupation was a Labourer. He was Single. His next of kin is named as Mother: Rosetta J Courtney, Tallangatta, Victoria; Father: Deceased. His brother, Sgt. James Foster Campbell, was still abroad.

He embarked on board the “Euripides”, from Sydney, 1 May 1918.  On 15 June 1918 he was transferred to “HMS Tentonie”.  On 3 July 1918 he was with the 5th Training Battalion in England.  He proceeded overseas on board the “Rovant” on 21 September 1918.  Marched out to the 24th Battalion on 28 September 1918. Killed in action on 5 October 1918, Montbrehain. – Like many AIF battalions, the 24th was very weak at the beginning of 1918 … The battalion’s last battles of the war were at Beaurevoir on 3 October and Montbrehain on 5 October.

He died 5 October 1918, on the day the 21st and 24th Infantry Battalions took the village of Montbrehain.  He was 20.

MELBOURNE CEMETERY, MONTBREHAIN, on the South side of the Montbrehain-Ramicourt road, containing the graves of 15 Australian soldiers (13 of whom belonged to the 24th Battalion, from Victoria,) who fell on the 5th October, 1918. [Commonwealth War Graves Commission]

In December 1918, Rosetta returns letters she had received after John was reported missing.

John Maxwell Campbell23

Dear Sir, I am forwarding the letters of my son’s, which I received after it was verified of his being missing.  We have not received any mail now for some weeks from France. I am looking forward to get some news of my poor boy as his brother is also in France. If I should get any word before you are notified, I will let you know. I am yours respectfully, Rosetta J Courtney.

Reported Missing - John Maxwell Campbell


Granduncle (son of Rosetta Jane Foster & John Campbell)

Born September 1888, Mitta Mitta, Victoria.

Enrolled 28 October 1916. He was 29 and 6 months. His occupation was a Sleeper Cutter.  His next of kin was: Mother – Rosetta Courtney, Tallangatta.

He embarked 24 January 1917 on board the “Anchises”, from Sydney, NSW with the 34th Battalion, 7th reinforcement. He was transferred to the 3rd Machine Gun Battalion on 29 June 1918. He went off sick on 9 October 1918 (after the death of his brother, John Maxwell?) and returned 17 November 1918. On 1 January 1919 he was detached to Cookery School, A.B.D. HQ.


1st Cousin 2 x removed (son of William Waterson & Anne Folster)

Born 12 August 1895, Yackandandah, Victoria.

He enlisted on 8 December 1916. He was 21 years and 3 months of age. His occupation was an Engine Cleaner. He was Single. Next of kin was: Father – William Waterson, of Yackandandah, Victoria.

Thomas embarked from Melbourne, 19 February 1917, on board the “Ballarat”. He served with the 3rd Machine Gun Battalion.  Awarded the Military Medal June 1919:

Military Medal
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On the 2nd September, during the attack by the 11th A.I. Brigade near Allaines he continually moved his gun forward from position to position, giving the best possible support to the attacking infantry. This he accomplished in full view of the enemy, and continually coming under direct machine gun fire. His tenacity and pluck in getting up stores and ammunition was most praiseworthy. ‘Source: ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 115, Date: 10 October 1919.

Yackandandah Times, July 19th 1917:
Soldier’s Letter
Gunner T Waterson, of Bruarong, has written our editor an interesting account of his voyage on the “Ballarat”, which was torpedoed and sunk.

“I left Port Melbourne with the 7th Reinforcement of the 10th Machine Gun Coy, on Monday February 12th. Our voyage to Albany W.A. was rather rough as I knew to my sorrow, being seasick the whole way. We stayed at Albany for a night and a day, and left there again for Fremantle, our next port of call on the 23rd February, getting there a couple of days later. We had to stay in Fremantle for four days on account of our boat taking on a large cargo of apples. We were granted leave every day so I can tell you we had a good time going from one place to another. Railway travelling being free to soldiers in W.A., the railway was well patronised, especially between Perth and Fremantle.

Left Fremantle on March 1st and then had three dreary weeks voyage to Cape Town. We didn’t even pass a vessel to break the monotony in that three weeks sail. We had to stay at Cape Town for five days while the boat was getting coaled. Leave was granted to us every day so there was not much of Cape Town and surrounding district that we did not see. The scenery in places there is well worth anyone seeing especially on and around Table Mountain. The Cecil Rhodes monument on the side of Table Mountain is a very fine monument indeed. There is also another pretty spot a few miles out of the town known as Camp’s Bay. To reach this sport you take an electric tram which passes over a part of Table Mountain and down the other side through some very fine scenery to the Bay. The return journey is made around the beach and the distance covered by the tram is 11 miles, and the fare is only one shilling.

Our stay in Cape Town came to a close on March 24th. We then had a fortnight’s sail to our next port of call, which was Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa. We reached this place on Good Friday morning, and anchored in the bay till the following Tuesday. No leave was granted to us there. We experienced terrific heat while we anchored at Freetown, also when crossing the equator. It is too unhealthy for many Europeans on account of the fevers that are so bad in these tropical parts. The natives used to come out round our boat in their little canoes by the hundreds, trying to sell us fruit, and after arguing the point with them for about half an hour you would get your money’s worth.

When we left Freetown our convoy consisted of four transports and one cruiser. We were now getting into the danger zone of submarines. Nearly every day we would get boat drill, that is learning to get to your life boats in as quick a time as possible, in case we should get torpedoed. Well I suppose you know that we all got the opportunity of putting our boat drill to some purpose when on the 25th of April we were torpedoed by a submarine and our boat was sunk.

Two days before this we were met by British Destroyers and then our convoy split up and each boat went in a different direction in charge of a destroyer. All went well with us until the date I mentioned above, we all had arrangements made for a service in memory of Anzac Day; it was two o’clock in the afternoon and I was one of the few up on deck, when all at once I saw something coming through the water straight for the engine room of our boat, it was the torpedo. I can’t describe the sensation that went through me while standing there waiting for the boat to be hit. We were not long in getting to our life boats and getting away in them after being hit, we had not very long to drift about in these little boats, as destroyers came rushing to our rescue from all directions after receiving our distress signal, and very soon had us safe on board.

It was a wonderful sight from the destroyer. I was one to see all the little life boats drifting about, the destroyers all round, two seaplanes flying about in the air looking out for the submarine, and the poor old Ballarat slowly sinking. The destroyers had most of us safely landed at Devonport within six or seven hours from the time we were torpedoed. We were all kept at the Devonport Naval Barracks for that night and the next day. The sailors there treated us splendidly; it was very laughable seeing us getting about for two days after we landed. We had lost most of our clothing and were knocking about in any sort of clothing we could get hold to. Some were without boots, others without hats and so on, “a real rag time army”.

The conduct of all the troops on board was splended, and goes to hold up the reputation of all the Australian troops. We have received congratulations and praises from King George, General Birdwood, Andrew Fisher and other high officials since we landed, in reference to bravery and conduct shown by all the troops that were on board. I am now at Grantham going through a few weeks training before going to the front.”

Yackandandah Times August 28th 1919
A very enthusiastic reception was accorded returned soldiers on Wednesday evening at Yackandandah Shire Hall, when eight of the boys who have recently returned were welcomed home at the usual social gathering. A good program was contributed by local artists, and addresses of welcome were made by the Chairman, Councillor R.Riddington, Mr Clune and Revs Fletcher, Day & Preece. The following soldiers were welcomed:-Lieut Booth, Privates Hocking, T.Charles, D.Blair, Sergt J.Donovan, J.R. Ward, Gnr T.Waterson, MM, and Nurse Priestly. Gold medals, suitably inscribed, are being obtained for each. The soldiers suitably responded.


Maternal Grandfather of Husband (son of James O’Beirne & Anne Theresa Fitzpatrick)

Born 12 March 1893, Franklin, Tasmania.

John enlisted on 7 June 1916. He was 23. His occupation was a Motor Driver (Chauffeur, Parliament House, Hobart). He was Single. Next of kin was his mother, Mrs Annie O’Beirne, of 130 Melville Street, Hobart, Tasmania.  His Unit on enlistment was the 40th Battalion, C Company. He embarked from Hobart, Tasmania, on board the “HMAT A35 Berrima” on 1 July 1916.

He was a Private with the 40th Battalion 12 October 1917, when he received a gun shot wound in his right arm.  He was transferred to East Leeds War Hospital, England. John returned to Australia on 30 November 1918.

John Bede O'Beirne10

[Excellent website on the 40th battalion - ]


2nd Great Granduncle (son of Joseph Onslow & Mary Ann Wade)

Born  11 September 1877, Gundowring, Victoria.

Joseph enlisted on 8 January 1915, aged 34 years and 3 months. His occupation was a Labourer (Farmer). Next of Kin was named as Kate Turner, Park Street, Kalgoorlie, WA. His Unit was the 10th Light Horse Regiment*, 4th Reinforcement.


He served in Malta, Gallipoli, and was wounded at Walker’s Ridge*, July 1915. Declared medically unit, 16 July 1917, and returned to Australia November 1917.

*…The ridge led down to the sea in only two places – at either end of the semicircle – by the steep slopes of Plugge’s [Plateau] on the right, and by a tortuous spur (afterwards known as Walker’s Ridge) on the left. –


1st Cousin 2 x removed of husband (son of William Kerslake & Selina Penelope Crooks)

Born 27 November 1894, Launceston, Tasmania and died 5 August 1916, Middle East.

Basil enlisted on 10 September 1914.  He was 20. His occupation was a Reporter. Next of kin was his Mother, Mrs S P Kerslake, 14 Law Street, Launceston, Tasmania. Basil embarked on board the “HMAT A36 Thirty Six” on 21 December 1914, from Newcastle, New South Wales, with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, 1st Reinforcement. He died of wounds, 5 August 1916, aged 21.

Basil Kerslake - August 1915
Examiner, Saturday 7 August 1915, pg7 -
Notice that Trooper Basil Kerslake had fallen ill on embarkation at Malta, 28 July 1915.

The Mercury, Tuesday 17 October 1916, pg6:
Mrs S P Kerslake, Launceston, yesterday received official advice that her son, Trooper Basil Kerslake, Light Horse, died of wounds on August 5.

At the time of enlisting the deceased was a member of the “Examiner” literary staff. He joined the forces shortly after the outbreak of the war, and saw service in the Soudan and at Gallipoli. After the evacuation of Gallipoli he went back to Egypt, and was in the great battle of El Romani, wherein he received wounds from which he died the next day.

Trooper Kerslake was in his early twenties, and full of enthusiasm. He had the chance of being engaged as official shorthand writer on the Headquarters Staff, but preferred to go on active service.

Basil Kerslake - Reporting of death 17 October 1915
Reporting of Trooper Basil Kerslake’s Death – North Western Advocate & the Emu Bay Times, Tuesday 17 October 1916, pg3


2nd Cousin 1 x removed (son of John Henry Courtney & Mary Ellis)

Born 20 August 1891, Mitta Mitta, Victoria.

Allan enlisted on 21 February 1916, at the age of 24 years and 6 months. His occupation was a Farmer. His next of kin was his Father, John Henry Courtney, Golden Bower Mine, Marysville, Victoria. Allan enlisted with the 13th Light Horse Regiment, 12th Reinforcement, and embarked with the Unit, from Melbourne, Victoria, 20 October 1916 on board the HMAT A30 “Borda”.  He transferred to the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade and died of pneumonia at the Inverness Military Hospital, Scotland on 6 December 1918.  He was 27. Allan is buried at the Inverness (Tomnahurich) Cemetery, Scotland.

“Argus”, Wednesday 18 December 1918, pg. 1:
COURTNEY – On the 5th December, at Inverness Military Hospital, Scotland, of pneumonia, Driver Allan Henry Ellis, dearly loved eldest grandson of Mrs S? Ellis, “Millbrook”, Tallandoon, loved nephew of Mr & Mrs Frank Treyrand?, East Malvern.

COURTNEY – At Inverness Military Hospital, Scotland, of pneumonia, Driver Allan Henry Ellis, much loved brother of D & M McCann, and loving uncle of little Lyndon, Drummond State School.

Framed Photographs of the late Allan Courtney and John Maxwell Campbell
Framed Photographs of the late Driver Allan Courtney and Private J M (John Maxwell) Campbell … Argus, Monday 11 December 1922, pg4


Great Granduncle (son of William Stafford Edwards & Margaret Stewart Fleming)

Born 28 October 1894, Guildford, Victoria.

He enlisted, aged 20 years and 9 months, on 10 November 1915, Melbourne, Victoria and was a Private with the 22nd Battalion, 7th Reinforcement. His occupation at the time was a Porter (Railways). His next of kin was William Stafford Edwards, Father, of Jumbunna, Victoria. The Unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board the “HMAT A73 Commonwealth” on 26 November 1915. He returned to Australia, 19 October 1918, with the 5th Pioneer Battalion.

Joined the 57th Bn in Egypt, 23 February 1916; transferred to 5th Pioneer Bn, Tel-el-Kebir, 4 March 1916. Embarked from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 25 June 1916.

Wounded in action (mustard gas), 17 April 1918; transferred to England, 21 April 1918, and admitted to Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, Southampton, 22 April 1918. Transferred to 3rd Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, 14 June 1918. Discharged to No. Command Depot, Hurdcott, 17 June 1918. Admitted to Brigade Hospital, Hurdcott, 28 June 1918 (influenza); discharged to No. 2 Command Depot, Weymouth, 21 August 1918.

Commenced return to Australia on board ‘Sardinia’, 19 October 1918; disembarked Melbourne, 27 December 1918; discharged (invalid), Melbourne, 20 February 1919.


1st Cousin 3 x removed (son of George Coysh & Anna Elizabeth Catherine Klippel)

Born 7 June 1894, Cudgewa, Victoria.

William was 21 on enlistment, 13 September 1915. He was Single, and his occupation was a Sadler. His next of kin was his mother, Mrs Annie Coysh, Cudgewa, Victoria. William embarked, 22 December 1915, on board the HMAT A23 “Suffolk”, from Sydney, NSW, with the rank of Driver, 7th Field Company Engineers. He returned to Australia, 4 June 1919.


1st Cousin 3 x removed (son of Thomas John Britton & Elizabeth Grealy)

Born 1893, Yackandandah, Victoria.

Enlisted 26 July 1915, aged 21 years and 9 months, with the 15th Reinforcement, 7th Battalion. His occupation was a Labourer. Next of kin was his father, Thomas John Britton, Yackandandah, Victoria. Walter was discharged prior to leaving Australia. Sadly, he died aged 30, Yackandandah, Victoria.


1st Cousin 3 x removed (son of John Lang Campbell & Jane Edwards)

Born 1894, Flemington, Victoria.

William was born in Flemington, Victoria but attended the Kalgoorlie Central School, West Leederville, Clarement, Western Australia. He enlisted on 5 January 1917, at the age of 22, with the Railway Unit, Section 3. He was Single, and his occupation was a Clerk. His next of kin was his father, John Campbell, Trahalda, Princess Road, Claremont, Western Australia.

William embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board the HMAT A28 “Miltiades” on 29 January 1917. He died 11 November 1918, from pneumonia, Duston War Hospital, Northampton, England.

In Memory of
1007, 5th Coy., Australian Engineers
who died age 24
on 11 November 1918
Son of John Lang and Jane Campbell, of “Trahalda,” Princess Rd., Claremont, Western Australia. Born at Flemington, Victoria.
Remembered with honour


1st Cousin 2 x removed (son of Joseph Courtney & Mary Jane Boomer)

Born 18 August 1878, Belfast, Antrim, Ireland and died 30 October 1917, 5 1/4 miles from Ypres, Belgium.

William served with the Canadian Infantry, 72nd Battalion Company, and enlisted 29 April 1916, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He died aged 38, 30 October 1917, Ypres, and was buried at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium. Son of Joseph Courtney and Mary Jane Boomer (his wife) of Belfast, Ireland. Brother of John. Step-son of Elizabeth Courtney of Newtownards, County Down, Ireland.


Great Granduncle (son of James Andrew Paton & Frances Collins)

Born 10 May 1892, Thougla, Corryong, Victoria.

Thomas enlisted on 24 May 1915, aged 23. His occupation was a Grazier. He was Single, and living at Kalymna, Thougra, Corryong, Upper Murray. Thomas next of kin was his father, J Paton, Kalymna, Thougra, Corryong, Upper Murray. His rank on enlistment was a Driver, Field Artillery Brigade 2, 9th Reinforcement. He embarked, 15 September 1915, Melbourne, Victoria, on board the HMAT 55 “Makarini”. Returned to Australia, 12 April 1919.


1st Cousin 3 x removed (son of Sydney Britton & Charlotte Melbourne)

Born 1890, Yackandandah, Victoria.

Enlisted 7 March 1916, aged 26, with the 37th Battalion, D Company. His occupation was a Farmer. Next of kin was his father, Sydney Britton, Yackandandah, Victoria. Sydney embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A34 “Persia?”, 3 June 1916, 2nd Pioneer Battalion. He returned to Australia, 4 June 1919. Family/military connections Brother: 1663 Sapper George Britton, 2nd Pioneer Battalion, returned to Australia, 29 May 1919.


Granduncle (son of Robert Wesley Courtney & Sarah Todd)

Born 23 April 1876, Portadown, County Armagh, Ireland.

Robert enlisted 9 March 1916. His occupation was a Farmer. Date of Enlistment from Nominal Roll 24 February 1916; Rank on Enlistment – Gunner, Medium Trench Mortar Battery Reinforcement 1; AWM Embarkation Roll No. 13/129/2; Unit embarked from Sydney, NSW on board HMAT A47 “Mashobra” on 14 September 1916; Rank – Driver; Unit from Nominal Roll 1st Divisional Ammunition Column; Fate – returned to Australia 22 September 1919.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s