The “Diggers” from the valley…



Many of you would be aware that Wayne Moore has been the driving force behind the Wisemans Ferry Anzac happenings in our Valley… from a website, facebook page, news, updates and most importantly the new Memorial for the commemorative 100 years celebrated last Anzac Day, 2015.

It’s nearly Anzac Day and I thought it would be appropriate to refresh our memories of exactly what our old towns folk sacrificed when enlisting and serving during the “Great War”..

Visit for lots more information…. Below is from the section especially put together for those who enlisted from the Macdonald Valley for service during the Great War of 1914/18.

Attached is a short bio surrounding their death or injury

The “Diggers” from this Valley made up over half of the Wisemans Ferry and District contingent.

7458 Frederick J. CROSS. Enlisted March 1917, age 42. Embarked for Active Service, June 1917. Assigned to 2nd. Infantry Battalion, returned to Australia June 1918.

1215 John E. KEY. Enlisted January 1916, age 21. Embarked for Active Service, August 1916. Assigned to “Imperial Camel Corps”. (Light Horse) “Wounded in Action”, April 1917 during the 2nd. Battle of Gaza. Returned to Australia March 1919.

2nd. Battle of Gaza comprising British , Australian and New Zealand troops of the Desert Column commenced at daybreak on 19th. April 1917. The Camel Corps dismounting about 2.5 miles from the Turks front line advanced on Gaza alongside troops of the 3rd. and 4th.

Australian Light Horse, however, enfilading fire from Turkish rifles and machine guns took a heavy toll on the Australians. The Camel Corps in particular suffering heavy casualties with Tpr. Key suffering a gunshot wound to the right forearm.

Key recovered from wounds and remained in Egypt’s Western Desert transferring to the 6th. Light Horse Regt. following the disbanding of the Camel Corps in June 1918. John KEY died in 1957, age 62.

5358 Percy A. CROSS. Enlisted January 1916, age 26. Embarked for Active Service, April 1916. Assigned to 4th. Infantry Battalion. Invalided to Australia, April 1917.

149 William D. LINCOLN. Enlisted August 1914, age 25. Embarked for Active Service, October 1914. Assigned to 55th. Infantry Battalion. “Wounded in Action” September 1916. Returned to Australia August 1917. Re-enlisted October 1917.

On the evening of 30th. September 1916 around the Village of “Sailly” a patrol from the 55th. Batt. was sent out to inspect enemy fortifications and wire barracades for the purpose of conducting a dawn raid.

On the night of the 30th. the patrol encounted enemy fire resulting in two Australians killed and six wounded, of the wounded, Corporal Lincoln received a gunshot wound to the left forearm. On the 5th.

October he was transferred to the “Queen Mary Military Hospital” in England where his wound was regarded as severe. Returned to Australia and discharged in August 1917. Re-Enlisted October 1917, Embarked for Active Service February 1918.

5460 Arthur HEARNE. Enlisted January 1916, age 22. Embarked for Active Service, August 1916. Assigned to 20th. Infantry Battalion. “Wounded in Action”, April 1918. Returned to Australia, September 1918.

Hearne,(recently promoted to Sergeant) along with the 20th. Battalion was rushed to the area known as “Hangard Wood” in an attempt to halt the advancing German Army during the “Spring Offensive”.  

 The morning of April 7th. 1918, the men of the 20th. were faced with a 400 yard advancement over open ground between them and the German Army. The 20th. Batt. along with their sister unit (19th. Batt) suffered heavy casualties during the advance on the German position that morning with Sgt.

Hearne receiving a gunshot wound to the left forearm. He was evacuated from the field later that day and admitted to the “Colchester” Military Hospital in England three days later.

1152 Robert PEISLEY. (Son of St. Albans resident, Dr. George Peisley) Enlisted January 1916, age 23. Embarked for Active Service, July 1916. Assigned to “Imperial Camel Corps” (Light Horse). Returned to Australia, August 1918.

The Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) was formed from surplus Light Horse volunteers in Egypt’s Western Desert during January 1916 in order to deal with Egypt’s pro-Turkey Senussi Tribesmen.  

The men of the ICC had a rough reputation, mainly because when the Corps was originally formed, Light Horse commanders had seized upon the opportunity to offload some of their more difficult and shady characters although the two closely knit units continued to work side by side until the ICC was disband in June 1918. (AWM).

Robert Peisley died in 1951 age 58.

870 Cyril C. JURD. Enlisted January 1915, age 20. Embarked for Active Service, April 1915. Assigned to 7th. Light Horse Regiment. “Wounded in Action” Lone Pine, Gallipoli, August 1915. Returned to Australia, November 1915.

Gallipoli, 24th. August 1915. As enemy bomb throwing increased along the 7th. Light Horse trench system, men were detailed to be ready with old blankets and partly filled sandbags to smother any Turk bombs landing in their trenches before they burst. The opposing trenches around the 7th. L.H. position were as close as 12 yards.  

 It was on this day that Trooper Jurd suffered a bomb blast to the face, it wasn’t until the 27th. he was able to be evacuated from ANZAC Cove to the awaiting Hospital Ship “Formosa”.

127 Owen P. JURD.

127. Sgt. O Jurd. Cairo 1915.W.I.A. Gallipoli

127. Sgt. O Jurd. Cairo 1915.W.I.A. Gallipoli

Enlisted September 1914, age 28. Owen Jurd embarked for Active Service, February 1915. Assigned to 8th. Light Horse Regiment. “Wounded in Action” Gallipoli, August 1915. Returned to Australia, November 1916.

The Charge at the “Nek”. At on the 7th. August, Lance/Corporal Jurd along with the men of the 8th. and 10th. Light Horse Regiments were given the order to charge the Turkish trenches across the narrow plateau on “Russells Top” named the “Nek”.

In two separate waves the men of 8th. L.H. sprang up and charged the Turkish trenches but as the Turks commenced to throw bombs and under the intense rifle and machine gun fire they were cut down in swathes. The men of the 10th. L.H. suffered the same fate.

L/Cpl Jurd later recalled the previous suicidal attack some weeks earlier by the Turks, “then it came to our turn to attack on the same spot”. L/Cpl. Jurd went on to say “I did not get far before a piece of bomb caught me in the hip and brought me down.

I managed to crawl back with my hands under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, I was later carried to the Hospital Boat by stretcher bearer”.

1626 Alexander POLLOCK. Enlisted April 1915, age 19. Embarked for Active Service, May 1915. Assigned to 17th. Infantry Battalion. “Wounded in Action” June 1918. Returned to Australia, November 1918.

Every Battalion had it’s “Colourful Larrikin”, this teenage drifter (prior to enlisting) worked as a trainee farmer for the Wilson family of “Avoca” & “Riversvale” St. Albans Road, Macdonald Valley.

…… with 5 AWOL’s under his belt, he again rejoined his Battalion in France where they were involved in the “mop-up” stages of the German “Spring Offensive”.

During the advance by the 17th. to halt the German Army, Private Pollock, on the 8th. June 1918 whilst on a cable laying detachment in support of operations near the village of “Hamel” suffered a gas shell wound to the left arm severely fracturing the Humerus. On this day for Pte. Pollock, “The Great Adventure Was Over”.

Alexander Pollock returned to Wisemans Ferry after the war to have his well earned name placed on the district “Nominal Roll” board…..

2017 Samuel WILSON. Enlisted January 1916, age 24. Embarked for Active Service, May 1916. Assigned to 57th. Infantry Battalion. “Wounded in Action” September 1917. Returned to Australia, February 1920.

Late in 1917 as activities moved to Belgium, the 57th. Batt. became heavily involved in the assault on the German stronghold at Polygon Wood, during the advance by the Battalion on September 25th. Pte. Wilson received a gunshot wound to the face.

He was evacuated to the 56th. General Hospital in France but due to the extent of his injuries he was later evacuated to England where he remained hospitalised for the following seven months.

720 George R. FLEMING. Enlisted August 1914, age 24. Embarked for Active Service, October 1914. Assigned to 3rd. Infantry Battalion. “Wounded in Action” 19th. May 1915. “Died of Wounds” 28th. May 1915. Buried, Malta.

“The Turkish Offensive” Shortly after on the morning of May 19th. 42,000 Turkish soldiers made an all out bid to drive the 17,000 ANZAC’s back into the sea.

The Turks suffered 10,000 casualties inc. 3,000 killed, the ANZAC’s lost 160 killed plus 470 wounded in the carnage which lasted until the 24th. A truce was arranged at on the morning of the 24th.

owing to the foul stench from the rotting corpses.  The well documented “May 24th. Ceasefire” arranged by the Turkish“Red Crescent” and the allied “Red Cross” lasted about 10 hours in which Australian and Turkish soldiers alike exchanged cigarettes and badges as the dead and wounded were carried from the battlefield.

Of the 470 wounded, Private Fleming was evacuated from “No Mans Land” suffering a wound to the head and arm, he also had his left thumb severed in the battle.

Pte. Flemings fate was verified by his mate, Pte Arthur Bone, an English migrant Fleming had met on enlistment. Pte. Bone stated on official records that Fleming was “badly wounded in the head probably about 19th. May” which would indicate that Fleming lay wounded for up to five days before evacuation.

Records state that he was admitted to hospital on the 24th. May where his leg was later amputated due to wounds. Pte. Fleming died of wounds four days later and was buried at Malta Military Cemetery.

46327 Amos T. ROSE. Enlisted April 1916, age 31. Assigned to “The Newcastle Depot Training Battalion”. Died of Illness. Newcastle Hospital, 13th. August 1916.

6086 Valentine M. STARKEY.

6086. Valentine Starkey. K.I.A. France 1917

6086. Valentine Starkey. K.I.A. France 1917

Enlisted January 1916, age 21. Pte. Starkey embarked for Active Service, August 1916. Assigned to 4th.Infantry Battalion. “Killed in Action” May 1917. “No Known Grave”.

As the 4th. Battalion was participating in operations following the German withdrawal back to the Hindenburg Line, the Battalion came under heavy bombardment from retreating German artillery around the village of Lagnicourt taking the life of Pte. Starkey, 8th. May 1917.  

Pte. Starkey’s known remains were never recovered from the battlefield.                                              

32005 Darcy Lyle FERNANCE.

32005. Darcy Fernance. K.I.A. Belgium 1917.

32005. Darcy Fernance. K.I.A. Belgium 1917.

Born and raised at St. Albans  NSW, Darcy enlisted in the A.I.F. October 1916 age 20,  naming his father James Fernance as Next of Kin.  On arrival in France, he was assigned to the 10th. Battery, 4th. Field Artillery Brigade as No. 32005 Gunner Fernance.

As operations moved to Belgium, the 4th. F.A.B. became heavily involved in support of Allied forces during the 3rd. Battle of Ypres, (31st. July-10th. Nov. 1917). It was on 29th. September 1917 during activities at “Polygon Wood” that Gunner Fernance was fatally wounded by a shell from German Artillery.

 It was during this battle (four days earlier) that fellow Wisemans Ferry compatriot Samuel Wilson suffered severe facial wounds.
Gunner Fernance’s body was recovered from the battlefield and taken by stretcher to the Casualty Clearing Station.

He was buried at Reningheist Military Cemetery, Belgium.

6947. Albert Lyall BAILEY.

6947. Albert Bailey. K.I.A. France 1917.

6947. Albert Bailey. K.I.A. France 1917.

Born and raised at St. Albans NSW, Albert enlisted in the A.I.F. October 1916, age 23, naming his father Albert Bailey (snr) as Next of Kin.  Arriving in France as a reinforcement, Albert was assigned to the 15th. Infantry Battalion.

Following the occupation of “Messines Ridge” in June 1917 by the Battalion, the men of the 15th. were temporarily relieved from the front. On the 9th./10th. July, 450 men were called on to assist the engineers in carrying out general support duties.

It was on the 10th. July whilst carrying out repairs to the 15th’s support trench system, the men were fired upon by German Artillery and small arms fire.

Pte. Bailey receiving a severe head wound died from loss of blood at the 2nd. Casualty Clearing Station after being evacuated from the front by stretcher bearer.

There are few communities across Australia that was not touched by World War One.

In 1914 the whole male population of some small communities signed up to defend “King and Country”.

Sadly, over 60.000 did not return. Over 18,000 have “NO KNOWN GRAVE”.

Of those, 7,000 were recovered but not identified. The Unknown Soldier. “KNOWN UNTO GOD”.

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