535 Sapper Stephen Downes [WIA]
19th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division &
8th Field Company Engineers, 8th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
1st Australian Imperial Force 1914-19

This file last updated 18 September, 2019 14:38


Stephen Downes circa 1945
Stephen Downes, circa 1945
[Photograph Clive Mitchell-Taylor]

Details concerning the 19th Battalion taken from The Fighting Nineteenth:History of the 19th Infantry Battalion AIF 1915-1918, Wayne Mathews and David Watson, Australian Military History Publications, 2011.

Clive Mitchell-Taylor - 18 Jun 2018 - grandson of Stephen Downes.

View Stephen Downes' Service Record, Roll of Honour entry, WW1 Embarkation Roll entry, or WW1 Nominal Roll entry.

While later documents indicate that discharge was due to gun shot wounds (GSW), the actual cause of injury was shrapnel from an artillery shell burst. After recuperating in England, he took his furlough at his Aunt's farm at Dacre, Yorkshire, and was repatriated to Australia as Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI).

In 1919 Rosa Houseman travelled to Australia by ship under arrangements put in place by the government, and they were married the next day in Stockton, NSW.

A further anomaly exists with the entry indicating a transfer on initial enlistment to the 7th Company Army Service Corps as there is no information to support the fact that the transfer actually occured, and no date of effect for the entry. The only conclusion is that the transfer was perhaps intended but never took place.

Abbreviations or acronyms which have a dotted underline can be expanded by moving the cursor over the term - e.g. WIA. This is gradually being incorporated into the site, replacing the the current expansion of abbreviations. There may be a discernable delay of about a second before the expansion is first provided. There is also a separate list of abbreviations which is available through the menu at the top of this page or the hyperlink here.

Some of the service record pages may be duplicated. This generally occurs when the unit and Army records are amalgamated on discharge or death in Service.

Service numbers in WW1 were unique to the unit (e.g. Battalion) or Corps (e.g. Artillery). In WW2 Service Numbers were unique to the State in which they were allotted. For further information about identity numbers for Service personnel, see Regimental and Service Numbers

The following information and chronological table are a summary of the entries from the service record of Stephen Downes.

Enlistment Details

Service Number



Stephen Downes

Born at

Burnt Yates, Town of Harrowgate, County of Yorkshire, England


24 years 11 months at time of enlistment [Born 16 Mar 1890]

Trade or Calling




Marital Status


Next of Kin

Brother - Mr Joseph Downes, Bowbridge, Embsay, Shipton, Yorkshire, England

Previous Military Service


Attested at

Liverpool, NSW

Date of Enlistment

4 March 1915


5 foot 5¾ inches [167cm]


148 pounds [10 stone 8 pounds or 67.3Kg]


323½ - 35½ inches [82.5 - 90cm]


Good Blue



Religious Denomination

Church of England


19th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division
8th Field Engineer Company, 5th Divisional Engineers
7th Company Army Service Corps, 4th Divisional Train [notional - transfer did not occur]

Chronological Events






Enlisted, appointed to B Company, 19th Infantry Battalion, initial training at Liverpool Army Camp

4 Mar 1915


Transferred to 7th ASC Coy


Never took effect


Embarked on HMAT "CERAMIC" (A40) for Middle East

24 Jun 1915


Disembarked Alexandria, Battalion accommodated at Aerodrome Camp near Heliopolis, Egypt

23 Jul 1915


Unit embarks from Alexandria on HMAT Saturnalia for Lemnos

16 Aug 1915

The Greek island of Lemnos, 50km from Gallipoli was the staging post for soldiers going to and from the peninsular. Mudros was the port, and the island was also home to part of the ANZAC HQ and fixed hospital facilities.


Admitted No 1 ASH Lemnos with Diarrohea

21 Aug 1915


Admitted No 1 ASH Lemnos with Diarrohea from Trans Convalescence Depot

27 Aug 1915


Admitted No 24 CCS Mudros with Disentery

27 Aug 1915


Discharged 24 CCS, rejoins 19th Battalion on Gallipoli

30 Aug 1915

18 Sep 1915

19th Battalion assigned to Pope's Post

18 Dec 1915

430 all ranks of 19th Battalion leaves Pope's Post at 1730 hrs leaving a rear-guard of 187 all ranks.

19/20 Dec 1915

1740 hrs 98 all ranks leave Pope's Post, at 2330 hr 57 men leave, 0200 ten men and the last ten at 0255 leaving the post empty.

19th Battalion casualties on Gallipoli are 69 killed in action (KIA), including 19 missing in action (MIA) or died of wounds (DOW), 185 wounded in action (WIA), 40 evacuated sick, mainly typhoid or disentery.


Transferred from 19th Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade AIF as Sapper to 8th Field Coy Engineers, 5th Infantry Brigade

29 Dec 1915


Embarked BEF ex Alexandria on Manitou

17 Jun 1916


Disembarked Marseilles

25 Jun 1916


Wounded in Action - Somme River, France

9 Feb 1917

Small shrapnel wound to left buttock, deep furrowed shrapnel wound across front of left thigh


Admitted to 15 AFA, transferred to CCS

9 Feb 1917


Admitted to CCS, transferred to Ambulance Train

10 Feb 1917


Admitted to 8th ASH Neivereux

10 Feb 1917


Transferred to England

13 Feb 1917


Embarked on HS CAMBRIA for England ex Bouloigne

13 Feb 1917


Admitted Ontario Military Hospital, Orpington Kent

13 Feb 1917


Transferred to 1st AH

16 July 1917


Discharged for furlough - Harefield

25 July 1917


Report to Weymouth ex furlough

8 Aug 1917


March in from AHQ London

8 Aug 1917


Admitted Hospital for return to Australia per HMAT SS Pakeha for Change

27 Aug 1917

'Change' was an arrangement whereby those who were wounded or otherwise impaired would be sent back to Australia for a year to recuperate and, theoretically, then return. I have not identified anyone who returned to active service after 'Change'.


Discharged 2nd Military District, unfit for further service, totally incapacitated.
Pension of £3.0.0 per fortnight from 22 Nov 1917
Address given as: "Wickendon" 615 Illawarra Road, Marickville NSW

21 Nov 1917

Medals and Dress Embellishments

1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-1920, and Victory Medal.

One Wound Stripe for 9 Feb 1917.

Entitled to wear ANZAC 'A'.

Two Long Service Stripes, one red and two blue Overseas Service Chevrons.

Use the hyperlinks or scroll down to see further information on the badges.

Background - Infantry Battalions

[Based on information in Redcoats to Cams, Ian Kuring.]

In December 1914, battalions of about 1000 men were organised into eight companies each divided into half of 60 men and then into two sections of around 30 men. Command was highly centralised with companies commanded by a Captain, half-companies by Lieutentants and sections by a Sergeant.

In early 1915 Australia reduced the number of Companies to four, but doubled their size to more than 220 men. Each rifle company had a headquarters and four platoons. Each platoon had a headquarters and four rifle sections of 10 men commanded by corporals.

From early 1916 light machineguns replaced medium machine guns and were eventually issued to each rifle platoon.

During 1917 rifle platoons were reorganised to have a light machine gun section, a rifle grenade section, a hand grenade/bombing section and a rifle assault section.

By mid 1918, the number of officers had increased to 38 but the number of other ranks had declined to 900. At the same time, the firepower of the battalion was greatly augmented with hand and rifle grenades and Lewis Guns, of which there was 34 per battalion.

Rifle, Short Magazine Lee-Enfield .303in, Mark III
Rifle, Small Magazine Lee-Enfield .303in, Mark III with sword bayonet

19th Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]
Unit Shoulder Patch
19th Infantry Battalion

Entitled to wear ANZAC 'A'

The 19th Battalion was raised at Liverpool in New South Wales in March 1915 as part of the 5th Brigade. A large number of the 19th's original recruits had already served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) in the operations to capture German New Guinea in 1914. The 19th left Australia in late June, trained in Egypt from late July until mid-August, and on 19 August landed at ANZAC Cove.

At Gallipoli the Battalion participated in the last action of the August Offensive ' the attack on Hill 60 ' before settling into defensive routine in the trenches. From mid-September, until its withdrawal from the peninsula on the night of 19 December, the 19th Battalion was responsible for the defence of Pope's Hill.

After further training in Egypt, the 19th Battalion proceeded to France. It took part in its first major offensive around Pozieres between late July and the end of August 1916. After a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium, the 2nd Division, which included the 5th Brigade, came south again in October. The 19th Battalion attacked near Flers between 14 and 16 November, in conditions that Charles Bean described as the worst ever encountered by the AIF.

In 1917, the 19th was involved in the follow-up of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and was one of four battalions to defeat a counter- stroke by a German force, almost five times as strong, at Lagincourt. The Battalion took part in three major battles before the year was out, second Bullecourt (3-4 May) in France, and Menin Road (20-22 September) and Poelcappelle (9-10 October) in Belgium.

The spring of 1918 brought a major German offensive that the 19th Battalion helped to stop. For his actions during the fighting around Hangard Wood on 7 April, Lieutenant Percy Storkey was awarded the Victoria Cross. With this last desperate offensive defeated, the 19th participated in the battles that pushed the German Army ever closer to defeat: Amiens on 8 August, the legendary attack on Mont St Quentin on 31 August, and the forcing of the Beaurevoir Line around Montbrehain on 3 October. Montbrehain was the battalion's last battle. The casualties of 1918, combined with long-term leave for 1914 enlistees, and dwindling new enlistments had sapped the strength of the AIF. On 10 October 1918 the 19th Battalion was disbanded to reinforce other battalions in the brigade.

Battle Honours:

Somme 1916-18, Pozieres, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodeseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916-18, Suvla, Gallipoli, Egypt 1915-16

Background - Engineer Field Companies

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]
Unit Shoulder Patch
8th Field Company

Entitled to wear ANZAC A

Each Division had three Field Engineer Companies under command, numbered the same as the Brigades of the Division. The 5th Division thus had the 8th 14th and 15th Field Company of Engineers on strength.

During WW 1 the Engineers undertook a raft of tasks broadly divided into mobility, counter mobility and construction as well as survey and mapping, and specialised tunnelling and mining operations. The Field Companies' scope of works concentrated on the former rather than the latter.

They undertook a broad range of tasks including preparation and supervision of the construction of defensive and gun positions, excavation of trenches and dugouts, erection of wire and other obstacles, preparation of command posts, signalling and water supply, field engineering, road and bridge construction and route maintenance. They also undertook obstacle breaching and crossing. For example in the lead up to the attack at Mont St Quentin the Engineers were required to carry out two river crossing / bridging operations.

Engineers also had responsibility for signalling although this function became more specialised as the war progressed, eventually leading to the creation of a separate Signals Corps.

8th Field Company Engineers

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]

Formed Egypt August 1915 from 6th Brigade and reinforcements for 2nd Division as 5th Field Company. Renumbered 8th Field Company 18 January 1916 and reassigned to Fifth Division, February 1916. Battle Honours are Gallipoli, Egypt, Western Front

Battle Honours

Gallipoli, Egypt, Western Front

Memorial Plaque - Melbourne

A plaque commemorates those who servied with the 8th Field Company Engineers during World War One. The plaque was at the base of tree which was planted on the 4th of August 1934 and was No 34 in the ballot.
Location:  &emsp"; Birdwood Avenue, Shrine Reserve, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

1914-15 Star

[Extract from Ribbons and Medals: Naval, Military, Air Force and Civil, Captain H. Taprell Dorling, DSO RN,
George Philip & Son, 33 Fleet Street, London EC4, 1940]
1914-15 Star

The decoration consists of a four-pointed star in bright bronze as shown, with the date 1914-15 on the central scroll. The reverse is plain, and is stamped with the name and unit of the recipient. The ribbon is red, white and blue, shaded and watered, worn with the red nearest the centre of the breast. It is atached to the medal through a ring.

It is similar in shape and description to the 1914 Star, to which few, if any, Australians were entitled. Those entitled were those who had already served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) in the operations to capture German New Guinea in 1914.

The decoration, sanctioned in 1918, was issued "to all officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the British, Dominion, Colonial and Indian Forces, including civilian medical practitioners, nursing sisters, nurses and others eployed with military hospitals, who actually served on the establishment of a unit in a theatre of war as defined in Appendix 'A'. Individuals in possession of the 1914 Star will not be eligible for the award of this decoration."

Appendix 'A' included the Western, Eastern, Egyptian, African, Asiatic and Australasian Theatres of war, with commencement dates individual to countries and campaigns.

British War Medal 1940-20

[Extract from Ribbons and Medals: Naval, Military, Air Force and Civil, Captain H. Taprell Dorling, DSO RN,
George Philip & Son, 33 Fleet Street, London EC4, 1940]
British War Medal

This medal was approved by King George V in 19 19 to record the bringing of the war to a successful conclusion and the arduous services rendered by His Majesty's Forces.

The medal, which is supended from its ribbon by means of a straight clasp, without swivel, bears on the obverse the effigy of His Majesty - exactly similar to that on a half-crown - with the legend 'Georgivus V : Omn : Rex et Ind : Imp'.

The reverse bears a design which represents St George on horseback, trampling underfoot the eagle shield of the central powers and a skull and crossbones, the emblems of death. Overhead is the risen sun of victory. The male figure, rather than a symbolical female one, was chosen because man had borne the brunt of the fighting. The figure was mounted on horseback as symbolical of man's mind controlling force (represented by the horse) of far greater strength than his own. The design is thus also symbolical of the mechanical and scientific appliances which helped so largely to win the war.

The ribbon has a orange watered centre with stripes of white and black at each side and with borders of royal blue. It is stated that the colours have no particular signification.

Victory Medal

[Extract from Ribbons and Medals: Naval, Military, Air Force and Civil, Captain H. Taprell Dorling, DSO RN,
George Philip & Son, 33 Fleet Street, London EC4, 1940]

This medal, of bronze, bears on the obverse a winged figure of Victory, full length in the middle of the medal and full face; the borders and the backgound plain, without either incription or date. On the reverse is an inscription. "The Great War for Civilization." and either the names of the different Allied and Associated Powers, or their coats of arms.

The rim is plain, and the medal hangs from a ring. The ribbon is red in the centre, with green and violet on either side shaded to form the colours of two rainbows.

It has also been approved that any officer or man who has been "mentioned in despatches" shall wear a small bronze oak leaf on the ribbon of this medal. Only one oak leaf is so worn, no matter how many "mentions" the wearer may have received.

The medal is designed to obviate the exchange of Allied Commemorative war medals, and is issued only to those who actually served on the establishment of a unit or ship in a theatre of war. [This is an important distinction, as those Australians who served only in Australia, or only in Australia and England, were not entitled to the award.]

The Rising Sun Badge

This version of the Rising Sun Badge was worn by soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Australian Imperial Forces, and the badge has become an integral part of the Digger tradition.

Worn on the the upturned brim of the slouch hat, it is readily identified with thespirit of ANZAC.

There are a number of versions of the genesis of the badge, the most widely acceptedbeing that it derived from a Trophy of Arms - various swords and bayonets mounted ona semi-circular display in Victoria Barracks, Melbourne.

The original version worn in South Africa was modified in 1904 and worn by Australian soldiers through two World Wars.

Later changes were made to the style of the crown and the wording on the scroll. The "King's Crown" is the one shown to the left, while arches of the "Queen's Crown" rise at the same angle as the base of the crown, curve at their highest point to a level mid-way on the orb below the cross and then down to below the orb.

In 1949 the scroll was changed to read "Australian Military Forces".

In 1969 the badge was modified to incorporate the 7-pointed Federation Star with a central Queen's crown over the Torse wreath (a twisted roll of fabric) from the original 1902 version, and the scroll wording changed to "Australia".

In the 75th anniversary year of the the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, there was a drive to return to traditional accoutrements worn by Australian soldiers during the World Wars, which clearly identify the Australian Army. The Queen's crown returned to its central position and the scroll now reads "The Australian Army'.



The brass letter 'A' to represent service related to Gallipoli (ANZAC) was authorised to be worn 'over unit colour patches on both sleeves of the service dress jacket and greatcoat" by Military Order 354 of 18 Aug 17 and AIF Order 937 of 6 Nov 17, as amended in terms of qualification by Military Order 20 of 19 Jan 18 and by AIF Order 1084 of 25 Jan 18.

The size of the letter 'A', introduced as one inch in height (AIF Order 994 of 30 Nov 17), was reduced to three-quarters of an inch by AIF Order 1012 of 11 Dec 17.

Provision for wearing the brass letter 'A' was also included in General Routine Order 0.815 of 17 Dec 43 and GRO 310 of 7 Dec 45.

Wound Stripe

Army Order No.204 Headquarters, 1st A.N.Z.A.C., 9th August, 1916. (slightly amended for layout)

Wound Stripes

The following distinction in dress will be worn on the service dress jacket by all officers and soldiers who have been wounded in any of the campaigns since 4th August 1914 :

  • Stripes of gold Russia braid No.1, two inches [2.5cm] in length sewn perpendicularly on the left forearm sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion on which wounded.

  • In the case of officers, the lower end of the first strip of gold braid will be immediately above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men will wear the gold braid on the left forearm sleeve, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the bottom of the sleeve.

  • Subsequent occasions on which wounded, will be placed on either side of the original one at half inch interval.

  • Gold braid and sews will be obtained free on indent from the Army Ordnance Department; the sewing on will be carried out regimentally without expense to the public.

Long Service Badges

[Image from http://www.diggerhistory.info]
Long Service Badges
A.I.F. ORDER No.470, 24 January 1917 (slightly amended for layout)

The question of the issue of a badge to members of the AIF who have completed a certain period of service has received consideration, and approval has been given for the issue of a badge for long service combined with good conduct, subject to the following conditions.

  • The badge will consist of an inverted single chevron of service braid to be worn on the left forearm - the point of the chevron to be 3 inches [7.6cm] above the edge of the cuff.

  • Warrant and non-commissioned officers and men, will be eligible for the badge, which will not carry an increased pay or allowance.

  • One chevron will be worn for each complete year's service in the Australian Imperial Force from the date of embarkation in Australia.

  • No badge will be issued to any man who, during the 12 months, has incurred a regimental entry (i.e. an entry involving forfeiture of pay) in his sheet.

  • Time absent from the unit in hospital or elsewhere on account of wounds or sickness, not the result of misconduct, will count as service towards earning the badge.

  • A man in possession of a badge will forfeit same on being convicted of any offence involving a forfeiture of pay , but will be eligible to regain the badge after 6 months good conduct, from the date of forfeiture.

  • The illegal wearing of this badge will be a crime under A.A. Section 40.

Overseas Service Chevrons

[Image from http://www.diggerhistory.info]

Overseas Service Chevrons

Australian Imperial Force Order No.1053, January 1918 (Slightly amended for layout)

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of chevrons to denote service overseas since the 4th August 1914.

  • Chevrons of two colours have been approved.

    • The first chevron if earned on or before 31st December 1914, will be red.

    • If earned on or after 1st January 1915, it will be blue.

    • All additional chevrons after the first will be blue.

  • The chevrons will be worsted embroidery, 1/4 inch [0.63cm] in width, the arms 4 inches [10.2cm] long. They will be worn inverted on the right forearm:

  • In the case of officers, the apex of the lowest chevron will be 1 inch [2.5cm] above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • In the case of warrant-officers, non-commissioned officers and men, the apex of the lowest chevron will be midway between the seams and four inches [10.2cm] above the bottom edge of the sleeve.

  • The red chevron will be worn below the blue one. They will not be worn on greatcoats.

  • In the case of Australians, the first chevron was earned the date the individual left Australia. Additional chevrons were awarded for each successive aggregate period of 12 months service outside Australia.

Some Government Issued Badges

Nearest Female
Relative Badge

War Widows
Guild Brooch

Silver War Badge

Discharged Returned
Soldier Badge

Government issued badge in enamel and sterling silver issued to the wife, mother or nearest female relative of a serving soldier. Additional bars were suspended below for further individuals.

Membership badge of a Kookaburra in sterling silver, issued by the Government to the widows of men who lost their lives due to their service. Numbered on the reverse.

Awarded to service personnel who sustained a wound, or contracted sickness of disability in the course of the war as a result of which they were invalided out, or to soldiers who had retired during the course of the war.

First issued in 1916. Slight variations are indicative of a number of makers. 267,300 were issued. Numbered on the reverse but the numbers have no link with length of service or Service Number.

[Badge information collated from Australian War Memorial, "Australians Awarded" by Clive Johnson and en.wikipedia.com]