Reading Ypres-Passchendaele; Destruction witnessed, 60 remembered.

Darragh Christie, 6 August 2021 · #

Eyewitness to destruction

Troops of the 5th Division walking along a winding duckboard, known as Jabber Track, through the waterlogged and sodden valleys in Albania Woods, in the Ypres sector. On this date, the 3rd and 4th Division were engaged in the attack on Passchendaele Ridge, seen in the distance.

Scan of Allsop diary page quoted below

Portrait of W. J. A. Allsop, 8th Field Ambulance. Source: Fickr

‘Allan’ Allsop with the 8th Australian Field Ambulance diarised his impressions of the medieval town:

Ypres is a pitiful sight – smashed to the ground. It is one of those old fashioned towns surrounded by a wall and ditch, with gateways leading out onto the main roads. In peacetime, Ypres must have been a beautiful place, but now it is much more knocked about than Bapaume. There isn’t a building with a roof on it, and there are only a few walls of buildings left. It reminds one of acres of scattered bricks. The one time Church is now practically wiped out.

Hurley, James Francis (Frank) An unidentified Austrailan soldier standing amidst the ruins of Ypres, Belgium, and looking towards the remains of the Cloth Hall.

Postcard of Ypres in 1913.

An unidentified Australian soldier looking at a portion of the ruined Cathedral at Ypres.

View of the battlefield near Garter Point, in the Ypres sector, showing a stretcher party of Australians bringing in wounded along a duckboard track.

Recommended reading

The series of battles fought for Passchendale, was one of the most destructive and wasteful events in human history.

There are good online resources to learn about the third Ypres campaign. Books on the subject I can recommend include:

Local author Paul Ham’s more recent Passchendaele: requiem for doomed youth is a very good place to start on the topic. It looks at the ‘Big politics’ and the horror of men struggling through the muddy horror on the ground.

The following books give excellent overall coverage of tactics and Harts book draws on veterans recollections collected by the Imperial War Memorial.

Joe Maxwell’s (VC, MC & Bar, DCM) everyman’s account Hell’s Bells and Mademoiselles. is a great read. It is written in a style of Australian English now rarely heard. Dry, laconic, humourous, with a healthy scepticism of authority and empathy for his fellow man. Maxwell was a stretcher-bearer at Gallipoli and in France was promoted (and demoted) through the ranks from 1914-1918. The book was co-written in the 1930’s.

Absent at roll call, but remembered

Scrolling through the names below gives some idea of the impact on local communities. Up to one in five of Mosman’s dead in the Great War fell from July to November 1917 in the battles for Messines Ridge and Passchendaele:

Two unidentified soldiers look at the inscriptions on the crosses at the cemetery at Vlamertinghe, near Ypres. Where a number of Australians, who were killed in the Ypres operations, were buried.

ANGLES, John Noel 23; KIA 4/10/1917; 8 Field Artillery Brigade; Passchendaele. Clerk. Born Mosman. Parents Jules and Mary, 4 Bardwell Road, Mosman

ARNOLD, Benjamin Samuel 26; DOW 31/10/1917; 14 Field Company; Passchendaele. Plumber. Educated Mosman Public School. Address, Georges Head. Mother Cecilia, 6 Gouldsbury Street, Mosman. Served five years in 37th Fortress Engineers. Eight were killed by a shell which killed Arnold.

BARKER, Eric Hugh 28; KIA 7/6/1917; 45th Battalion; Messines. Orchardist. Parents Theo & Edith, 48 Cowles Road, Mosman.

BISHOP, Joseph Lewis 19; DOW 27/7/1917; 4th Field Artillery Brigade; Dickebusch, Belgium. Clerk. Parents Joseph & Alice, “Narbethong” Killarney Street, Mosman.

BLAKEMAN, Percival Albert 29; KIA 25/10/1917; 1st Pioneer Battalion; Passchendaele. Plumber. “Arcadia” Edward St, North Sydney. On 17 September 1920, Blakeman’s mother in a letter to Army Records wrote: My late husband, the father of our son the late 3009 Sgt P A Blakeman 1st Pioneer Battalion is dead, he died of a broken heart through the loss of our son.

BROPHY, James 20; KIA 4/10/1917; 36 Heavy Artillery Group; Passchendaele. Grocer and serving with 4th Royal Australian Garrison Artillery. Parents Patrick & Rachael, 77 Ourimbah Road, Mosman.

BROWNLOW, Leonard Rockley 24; KIA 12/10/1917; 33rd Battalion; Passchendaele.Arts I and Divinity student, University of Sydney. Parents William & Fanny, 4 Bond Street, Mosman.

BULL, Rupert Clark 26; DOW 13/10/1917; 10th Field Ambulance; Passchendaele. Clerk. Parents Thomas & Sarah, “Carcoar” Bradleys Head Road, Mosman. A comrade wrote of him: a big fine man, fair, nicknamed Beau.

CANNON, Reginald George 23; KIA 6/12/1917; 8th Machine Gun Company; Passchendaele. Clerk. Parents George & Eleanor, 76 Belmont Road, Mosman. Brother of William John Cannon 3rd Australian General Hospital.

CHIPPERFIELD, Sydney James 29; DOW 24/12/1917; 54th Siege Battery; Passchendaele. Serving soldier. RAGA. Artillery Barracks, Sydney. Wife, Kathleen, 24 Middle Head Road, Mosman.

CLARKE, Alfred Reginald 29; KIA 25/9/1917; 57th Battalion; Passchendaele. Insurance inspector. Wife Essie, 9 Price Albert Street, Mosman.

COSTE, Augustus George 35; DOW 12/6/1917; 36th Battalion; Messines. Labourer. Father Augustus, Spit Road, Mosman. Brother, Victor, 18th Battalion.

COWAN, Oliver Edward 20; KIA 8/10/1917; 19th Battalion; Poelcappelle, Passchendaele. Pastrycook. Sister Phoebe Miller, 293 Military Road Mosman. Was small and thin, he was called Ted. He came as a bugler.

CREW, Joseph Edward 34; KIA 20/10/1917; 2nd Field Artillery Brigade; Passchendaele. Permanent Soldier. Name added to Mosman War Memorial in 2008. He went to France in July 1915 with an Ammunition Park of the AIF, the first unit of the AIF to land in France. Brother of Eric John Crew, 1st Australian General Hospital. …very popular with all the men of the battery.

CROSSMAN, William John Brown 30; KIA 27/10/1917; 2nd Battalion; Paschendaele. Mason. “Rougemont” Vincenz (later Awaba) Street, Mosman.

DAVIS, Royce 20; KIA 4/10/1917; 1st Battalion; Passchendaele. Labourer, North Shore Gas Company. Not positively identified.

DAVIDSON, William Robert MC MID 27; KIA 16/8/1917; 46th Battalion; Passchendaele. Grain salesman. Wife Enid, 8 Shadforth Street, Mosman.

DAVEY, Robert Samuel 24; KIA 13/10/1917; 45th Battalion; Passchendaele. Bricklayer. Parents Stephen & Agnes, 11 Hale Road, Mosman.

DAVIE, James 31; DOW 6/10/1917; 1st Field Ambulance; Passchendaele. Medical practitioner. Wife Edith, “Beulah” Reginald Street, Mosman.

FALLICK, Percy Hobson 27; KIA 7/6/1917; 47th Battalion; Messines. Clerk. Parents John & Prudence, Government Savings Bank, Mosman. Attended St Clement’s Church, Mosman. Brother of Cecil Fallick, 24th Battalion, died 1924. Tall, dark, stoutish build, an athletic man, impediment in speech.

FERNANCE, Darcy Lyle 22; KIA 29/9/1917; 4th Field Artillery Brigade; Passchendaele. Farmer. “Eothen” Melaleuca Street, Mosman.

FISHER, Albert Victor 35; KIA 29/7/1917; Auckland Infantry Battalion. Labourer. Mother Sarah Jane Fisher, 107 Ourimbah Road, Mosman.

FORSYTH, Kenneth McQuarrie served as Forsyth, Harry Kenneth 26; DOW 16/10/1917; 57th Battalion
Tramway guard, BHP. Mother Charlotte, “Avoca” 88 Avenue Road, Mosman. I heard him say ‘I’m alright’ but he was worse than he thought for I know he died of wounds.

GARLING, Leslie MID 35; KIA 7/6/1917; 45th Battalion; Messines. Bank clerk. Mother Mary, 107 Spencer Road, Mosman. Brothers: Frederick Hubert Garling, KIA 5 5 1917, Arras, when serving with British Columbia Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force; Gerald 4 FAB; Phillip 20th Battalion. … thick-set man and very baldvery popular.

HARDING, Harold John 29; KIA 2/10/1917; 9th Battalion; Passchendaele. Mercer. Father, Robert 26 Noble Street, Mosman. He was about 30 years old, fair, medium build and had not been with us long.

HARRISON, Arthur Gordon 32; Died of tuberculosis 19/7/1917; 4th Battalion. Bookkeeper. 41 Shadforth Street, Mosman.

HOGAN, Patrick Francis 31; KIA 21/9/1917; 19th Battalion; Passchendaele. Journalist. Parents Denis & Winifred “Avignon” Bradleys Head Road, Mosman. Served Gallipoli.

HOLTSBAUM, Thomas Richard 21; DOW 4/10/1917; 33rd Battalion; Passchendaele. Farmer. Parents Frederick & Annie 90 Belmont Road, Mosman.Brother, William 17th Battalion. He was a very big fellow, dark.He was very popular in the Battalion and always will do anything for anybody.

HOLROYD, Leonard Parkes 29; KIA 12/10/1917; 36th Battalion; Passchendaele. Master plumber and sanitary inspector. Wife Lillie, “Ayesha” 36 Spit Road, Mosman; daughter Patricia. He was a popular chap – dark with a baldish head.

HULM, Frederick Cornelius 27; KIA 2/9/1917; 20th Battalion. Cook. “Leawood” Military Road, Mosman.

KELLY, Valentine William 26; KIA 18/9/1917; 2nd Battalion; Westhoek Ridge, Passchendaele. Draper. Parents James & Emily, “Alda” Calypso Avenue, Mosman.

KENNEDY, Malcolm Wallace 23; KIA 9/10/1917; 17th Battalion; Passchendaele. Ironmonger. Parents Alexander & Jane, 62 Cowles Road, Mosman. Served Gallipoli. Brother Aubrey Kennedy, 17th Battalion.

LADD, Bruce 30; KIA 6/6/1917; 7th Field Artillery Brigade; Messines. Shipping clerk. “The Pah” 1 Boyle Street, Mosman.

LE QUESNE, Claude Hamilton 20; KIA 9/10/1917; 2nd Machine Gun Battalion; Passchendaele. Warehouseman. Parents Winter & Jane, “Waipa” St Elmo Street, Mosman. Attended St Clement’s Church, Mosman. Great uncle of Suzanne Ploeg of Mosman.

LUTHER, Frank Mordaunt 39; Died of trench fever & multiple neuritis 5/9/1917; 13th Battalion. Grazier. Wife Vivien, “Babbacomb” Tivoli Street, Mosman.

McFADDEN, Robert Joseph 29; KIA 9/6/1917; 45th Battalion; Messines. Commercial traveller. Parents Joseph & Maude, 55 Dalton Road, Mosman. Brothers, Ronald Arthur McFadden 13th Battalion, Clealand George McFadden MM 42nd Battalion and Walter Alexander McFadden 10th Battalion.

McKELL, Victor Cleveland 28; KIA 20/6/1918; 18th Battalion; Messines.` Bank clerk. Mother, Isabella McKell, 16 Killarney Street, Mosman. Served Gallipoli. Lieutenant McKell was just a young fellow and clean-shaven.

McKERN, Stewart Hessle George MM 22; KIA 4/10/1917; 1st Field Company; Passchendaele. Licensed surveyor. 17 Redan Street, Mosman. Attended St Clement’s Church, Mosman.

McLEOD, Daniel Baker 32; DOW 4/10/1917; 5th Machine Gun Company; Passchendaele. Electrical mechanic. Mother Alice, 24 Cabramatta Road, Mosman. Had served Royal Navy pre War.

MASSEY, Theodore Alfred 28; KIA 4/10/1917; 19th Battalion; Passchendaele. Manager picture theatre. Wife Jeannie, “Myee” Raglan Street, Mosman. Attended St Clement’s Church, Mosman.

McCALLUM, Sidney Walter 19; KIA 12/10/1917; 36th Battalion; Passchendaele. Woodworker. Sister, Irene McCallum, 10 Musgrave Street, Mosman.

MARTIN, Thomas James Benedict 27; KIA 15/10/1917; 34th Battalion; Passchendaele. Munition worker. Wife Dulcie, Quakers Road off Central Ave, Mosman. A letter from the Red Cross stated: “Mrs Martin at present refuses to believe her *husband was killed.”

MOORE, Charles Joseph 25; KIA 14/6/1917; 10th Field Artillery Brigade; Messines. Salesman. Mother Elizabeth, “Wariona” Moruben Road, Mosman. A shell blew up an ammunition dump at Messines – 19 deaths, including Charles Moore. Brother of Leo Paul Moore KIA.

MOORE, Roy George 30; KIA 21/7/1917; 36th Battalion. Manager Butter Factory. Wife Ada 11 Spofforth Street, Mosman. Brother, Lieut. Harold John Moore 33rd Battalion. Moore was well-liked by the boys. The only words he spoke were some regrets for his wife.

PARK, Robert 29; KIA 26/9/1917; 4th Tunnelling Company, Mining Corps; Passchendaele. Soldier. Royal Australian Engineers, Mosman.

PASCOE, Russell Keith 20; KIA 21/9/1917; 19th Battalion; Passchendaele. Photographer. Parents William & Susie, ‘Havilah’ Royalist Road, Mosman.

PENLY, Ernest Roy Glanville 25; KIA 12/6/1917; 13th Battalion; Messines. Warehouseman. Parents George & Eva, 340 Military Road, Neutral Bay. Brother of William Penly AN&MEF and 55th Battalion. Well thought of by his mates.

RITCHIE, Eric Cecil Howard 27; KIA 20/9/1917; 3rd Battalion; Passchendaele. Bank clerk, Bank of Australasia. “Demora” Clanalpine Street, Mosman. Served as a sergeant on Gallipoli. Commissioned three weeks before his death. Lieutenant Ritchie was looked upon as one of the finest men in the army.

ROBBINS, William Reginald 30; KIA 31/10/1917; 2nd Field Ambulance; Passchendaele. Labourer. Wife Mary, Central Avenue, Mosman. Left five children.

ROWLANDS, Herbert Forsyth 33; KIA 10/10/1917; 19th Battalion; Passchendaele. Electrical engineer. Parents George & Annie, “Orita” Gouldsbury Street, Mosman. Brother Edgar Harold Rowlands 1st Battalion. Pte J Gooderham wrote from Georges Heights Hospital to the Australian Red Cross: …he was well-liked by his mates.

SMITH, Charles 33; KIA 4/10/1917; 2nd Battalion; Passchendaele. Carrier. 118 Military Road, Mosman.

SMITH, Teesdale (Teasdale) Boake 26; KIA 4/10/1917; 2nd Battalion; Passchendaele. At Landing. Wounded twice. Accountant. Mother, Florence Violette Smith, 63 Awaba Street and sister Mrs M Mathers, “May Cottage” Lennox Street, Mosman. Brothers Barcroft Smith 14th Battalion, and Henry Boake Smith 1st LHR and 67 Squadron AFC.

SMITH, John Roy 20; KIA 24/7/1917; 1 Div. Signal Company; Passchendaele. Postal assistant. Bardwell Road, Mosman.

ST CLAIR, Percy Augustus 27; DOW 8/6/1917; 9th Machine Gun Company.Orchardist. Father John, 21 Dalton Road, Mosman. Attended St Clement’s Church, Mosman. Brother Gordon St Clair 1st Tunnelling Company.

VAUGHAN, Henry Joshua 29; DOW 12/11/1917; 9th Battalion; Polygon Wood, Passchendaele. Accountant, Colonial Sugar Refining Company. “Nara” Prince Street, Mosman. Vaughan served in the AN&MEF and then on Gallipoli. Returned to Australia with enteric fever, he rejoined his unit in France in 1916. Pte R C Miller wrote: He was a great mate of mine…killed in the Polygon Wood stunt.

WEEDING, Archibald Gilbert 26; KIA 4/10/1917; 3rd Battalion; Passchendaele Jeweller’s shop assistant. “Truro” Raglan Street. Mosman. Weeding was killed by a shell. The ground was held.

WESTBROOK, Alfred Rowland 22; KIA 27/8/1917; 2nd Field Artillery Brigade; Passchendaele. Parents Rowland & Matilda, “Cooringa” Harbour Street, Mosman.

WILSON, Oliver William 41; KIA 26/9/1917; 55th Battalion; Polygon Wood. Electric fitter. Mosman associations, 11 years in RN as a diver. “… a good comrade and was a great favourite.”

WILSON, William 38; KIA 27/9/1917; 50th Battalion; Passchendaele. Labourer. Mother Emily Jane Wilson, 2 Boyle Street, Mosman. Brother of Francis Wilson, 10th Battalion

YOUNG, William Lancelot MC MID 26; KIA 21/6/1917; 31st Battalion; Messines. Commercial traveller. 6 Milton Avenue, Mosman. Served Gallipoli. Brother Bruce Young, 10th Battalion.

Passchendaele, Belgium. A section of the Tyne Cot Cemetery which contained 11848 service graves including 609 of members of the AIF. (Donor Sir Herbert Ellison)

Source: George Franki’s Their Name Liveth for Evermore

Individual records can be found in the Doing our Bit, Mosman 1914-18 database.

Ypres, Belgium. An aerial view of the Menin Gate Memorial with the city behind it. (Donated by Captain A.T. Owen) The town was re-built stone by stone, after the war.


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