535 Sapper Steven Downs WIA

19th Infantry Battalion,
5th Brigade,
2nd Division

8th Field Company Engineers,
8th Brigade,
5th Division
1st Australian Imperial Force

This file last updated 26 September, 2023 15:10


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.

Mary Ann Dobby's Carr Lodge Farm, 1989

Stephen was the youngest of three sons of William Downs, bootmaker, and his housekeeper Elizabeth Clarkson, born in RIPLEY, YORKSHIRE 16 Mar 1892. While the circumstances are uncertain - his elderly father was allegedly quite brutal - he is recorded on the 1901 Census record aged 11, as living with his widowed aunt, Mary Ann Dobby on her farm at DACRE in the WEST RIDING, about a mile and a half from the Housemans at PADSIDE GREEN and a mere 200 or so yards from another farm owned by the Houseman family.

Rosa Houseman's home at Padside Green,
1989 (Now unfortunately demolished)

There is some uncertainty about the family name - whether it was spelt Downs or Downes. William's census records over the years has both versions. This may be due to the vagaries of the various census takers, but when Stephen took passage to Australia aboard the SS OTRANTO from LONDON it was as Stephen Downs. From the time he disembarked in SYDNEY on 16 Mar 1911 he was known as Downes and he maintained this spelling during his enlistment and for the rest of his life. His death certificate (see below) gives his birth name and the name of his father as William Downes.

He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 Mar 1915 and was allotted to the 19th Infantry Battalion. After recovering from dysentery on LEMNOS, the AUSTRALIAN command headquarters and hospital location, he joined the unit on GALLIPOLI on 30 Aug 1915 and withdrew from there on or about 21 Dec 1915.

On withdrawal from GALLIPOLI his unit was transferred to LEMNOS, there being insufficient accommodation in EGYPT, and was transferred to the 5th Field Company Engineers as the Australian contingent to WW1 was expanded from two Divisions, one supplemented by the New Zealanders, to five all-Australian Divisions.

At the same time as new units each with a cadre of GALLIPOLI veterans were being created in EGYPT, units with the same name were being created in AUSTRALIA and then sent to EGYPT, causing more than a little confusion.

An entry on his record indicates that he was initially appointed to the 7th Company Army Service Corps but there is nothing to support the fact that the transfer actually occured, and no date of effect for the entry. Either the transfer was at one stage intended, but never took place or there was a transfer to the 7th Field Company, Engineers - an entirely different unit - and the overwriting in his record changed the 7th to the 8th Field Company.

In any event, later in EGYPT and FRANCE he served the 8th Field Company Engineers as a Sapper, and he served with that unit until badly wounded just before the Battle of Fromelles. 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 on return to LONDON was repatriated to AUSTRALIA for "Change", a scheme whereby soldiers who were wounded or shell-shocked were send home for a year and, theoretically returned to combat when recovered. I have yet to find a record where the soldier was actually returned to combat. Stephen Downes was classified as Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) and unable to continue his service. He remained in AUSTRALIA and was awarded a disability pension of £3/-/- per fortnight (later recorded in the documents supporting his application for free passage of Rosa Houseman to £-/30/- shillings (which was £1/10/- or $3.00).

His furlough was apparently quite a happy time, as Rosa Houseman travelled to AUSTRALIA by ship under free passage arrangements put in place by the government, in 1919 and they were married the next day in STOCKTON, NSW.

In the time between repatriated and Rosa arriving in AUSTRALIA he was employed in "irregular light work at Mount Kembla Colliery and his earnings average about £2/6/-" ($4.60). This was recorded in the letter approving free passage for Rosa Houseman on 3 May 1918. [The Mount Kembla Colliery was at the escarpment overlooking WOLLONGONG] The letter was also annotated with a statement that "Above applicant has also applied to Lands Dept of N.S.W. for assistance to enable him to start in bee-keeping, as per file A/18/325." which was initialled "R.G 8/5/18". The letter is registered as 3147-3149 over the date 10/5/18. The letter also gives his former unit as the 7th Field Coy, proving that the earlier military confusion with unit titles and numbering was the gift that keeps on keeping on.

He soon started a carrying business in STOCKTON, NSW and later moved to TAMWORTH with his family. In about 1929 he leased a small section of Piper & Sons' skin depot at 237 Peel Street and used it to set up a furniture selling business. About a year later, he moved to a bigger shop at 350 Peel Street, a few doors down from the now Westpac Bank. There, in addition to selling furniture, he advertised 'linos, bedding and floor coverings'.

I am grateful to the Tamworth Historical Society for this further information concerning his life in TAMWORTH. Thank you! My grandfather died before I was born and there was little or no information other than the fact that he had a furniture shop and my mother stated that it was not unusual for her to arrive home from school and find that her clothing and other possessions were stacked on the floor as her father had sold her bedroom furniture.

After World War One, Stephen never returned to England while Rosa did return to her home county and extensive family there, once with youngest daughter Roslyn who went to school there as the visit was quite lengthy.

During 1939 Stephen Downes began looking for bigger premises. He eventually moved to the building which had been vacated by Gordon Gow at 416-418 Peel Street. In 1942 ill-health prompted him to take another TAMWORTH furniture business owned by Roy Piper into partnership and Piper closed his own shop at 453-455 Peel Street to enable him to concentrate on his work with Stephen Downes. A couple of years later, further deterioration in health prompted him to sell his share to Roy Piper and retire.

Steven Downes was involved with the community as a highly successful lawn bowler, representing NSW, and as an Alderman and Deputy Mayor of TAMWORTH from 1944 to until his death on 8 Mar 1947 in TAMWORTH, of a lung abcess, stomach ulcer and carcinoma of the stomach and leg.

This record was prepared and presented by Clive Mitchell-Taylor - 18 Jun 2018 and updated 17 Dec 2022 - grandson of Stephen Downes.

Documents of Stephen Downes and Rosa Downes, née Houseman are:

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Abbreviations or acronyms which have a dotted underline can be expanded by moving the cursor over the term - e.g. WIA. The cursor will be replaced by ? and the expanded abbreviation will be displayed. 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.  Abbreviations are inconsistent, even within a single occurence where a term is abbreviated.

There are a number of sources for tracing abbreviations used in Australian and New Zealand service records. Those used when operating with the British or US forces can generally be found, especially in World War 1. Abbreviations used solely within Australia in WW2 are most difficult to trace, particularly when they are regional. Sometimes a 'best guess' is the only answer.

Duplicated Pages

Some of the service information may appear to be duplicated although individual occurrences are not in the same order and different abbreviations used. This occurs when the unit and Army records are amalgamated upon discharge or death in Service.

Service Numbers

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

Dates of Occurrence and Reporting

The date of reporting an incident may be hours, days or months after the date on which incident actually occurred.

The original service record is amended only when the incident is reported which means that events are not necessarily recorded in in strict chronological sequence. This is the date shown on the left of the page of the original record, and also on the left in my transcription but readers should note that at times there may be no date of reporting at all, particularly when service personel are repatriated for discharge at the end of hostilities.

To assist the reader, when transcribing the military record I have done my best to record events in their chronological sequence. This is date is on the right of the page of the original record and also on the right in my transcription.

For clarity I have transcribed all dates into the format d MMM yyyy.

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


Australian Coat of Arms



Attestation paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad




   DOWNES, Stephen   


19th Infantry Battalion
7th Company, Australian Service Corps
8th Field Company, Engineers


3 March 1915

Questions to be put to the Person Enlisting before Attestation


What is your Name?


Downes, Stephen


In or near what Parish or Town were you born?


In the Parish of Burnt Yates, in or near the Town of Harrogate in the County of Yorkshire, England


Are you a natural born British Subject or a Naturalised British Subject? (N.B.— If the latter, papers to be shown.)




What is your age?


24 years, 11 months [DoB 16 Mar 1892]


What is your trade or calling?




Are you, or have you ever been, an Apprentice? If so, where, to whom and for what period?




Are you married?




Who is your next of kin? (Address to be stated)


Joseph Downs (Brother)
Bowbridge Embsay, Shipton, Yorkshire


Have you ever been convicted by the Civil Power?




Have you ever been discharged from any part of His Majesty's forces, with Ignominy, or as Incorrigible and Worthless, or on account of Conviction of Felony, or of a Sentence of Penal Servitude, or have you dismissed with Disgrace from the Navy?




Do you now belong to, or have you ever served in, His Majesty's army, the Marines, the Militia, the Militia Reserve, the Territorial Force, Royal Navy, or Colonial Forces? If so, state which, and if not now serving, state the cause of discharge.




Have you state the whole, if any, of your previous service?




Have you ever been rejected as unfit for His Majesty's Service? If so, on what grounds?




(For Married Men and Widowers with children)—
Do you understand that no Separation Allowance will be issued to you before or after embarkation during your term of servie?



Ar you prepared to undergo innoculation against smallpox and enteric fever?



I,     Stephen Downes     do solemnly declare that the above answers made by me to the above questions are true, and I am will and hereby voluntarily agree to serve in the Military Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia within or beyond the limits of the Commonwealth.

* And I further agree to allot not less than two fifths / three fifths of the pay payable to me from time to time during my service for the support of my wife / wife and children.

Date    3 / 3 / 15    

   Signature of person enlisted   

* This clause should be struck out in the case of unmarried men or widowers without children under 18 years of age

†Two-fifths must be allotted to the wife, and if there are children three-fifths must be allotted.


The foregoing questions were read to the person enlisted in my presence.

I have taken care that he understands each question, and his answer to each question has been duly entered as replied to by him.

I have examined his naturalisation papers and am of opinion that they are correct.

Date    3 / 4 / 15 [sic]    

   Signature of Attesting Officer   


I,     Stephen Downes     swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Australian Imperial Force from 4 / 4/ 1915 [sic] until the end of the War, and a further period of four months thereafter unless sooner lawfully discharged, dismissed or removed therefrom; and that I will resist His Majesty's enemies and cause His Majesty's peaceto be kept and maintained; and that I will in all matters appertaining to my service, faithfully discharge my duty according to law.


   Signature of Person Enlisted      

Taken and subscribed at     Liverpool     in the State of     New South Wales     this     4th     day of     March    1915 before me :—

   Signature of Attesting Officer      

* A person enlisting who objects to taking an oath may make an afformation in accordance with the Third Schedule of the Act, and the above form must be amended accordingly. All amendments must be initialed by the Attesting Officer.

Description of     DOWNES, Stephen     on Enlistment

Age   24   years    11    months

Distinctive Marks

Scar on neck
Mole on abdomen

Height   5   feet       inches


Weight      148    lbs


Chest    32½ — 35½   inches

[82.5 — 90cm]

Complexion   Fair

Eyes   Good Blue

Hair   Fair

Religious Denomination   C of E

[Church of England]


I have examined the above-named person and find that he does not present any of the following conditions, viz:—

Scrofula; phthisis; syphilis; impaired constitution; defective intelligence, defects of vision, voice or hearing; hernia; haemorhoids; varicose veins, beyond a limited extent; marked varicocele with unusually pendant testicle; inveterate cutaneous disease; chronic ulcers; traces of corporal punishment, or evidence of having been marked with the letters D. or B.C.; contracted or deformed chest abnormal curvature of spine; or any other disease or physical defect calculated to unfit him for the duties of a soldier.

He can see the required distance with either eye; his heart and lungs are healthy; he has the free use of his joints and limbs; and he declares he is not subject to fits of any description.

I consider him fit for active service.

Date    1 / 3 / 15 [sic]   

Place    Melbourne    

    Signature of Examining Medical Officer    


I CERTIFY that this attestation of the above-named person is correct and that the required forms have been complied with. I according approve and appoint him to B Company 19th Infantry Battalion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Date   1st Apr 1915    

Place    Liverpool    

    Signature of Officer Commanding    

Chronological Events

I have satisfied myself of the general accuracy of this report and concur therewith except






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

3 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, broken left femur


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

Army Form B179

Medical Report on Invalid

Station No 1 Australian Auxilliary Hospital, Harefield
Date 20 Jul 1917

1. Unit 8th Field Company Engineers AIF

2. Regimental No. 535

3. Rank Sapper

4. Name DOWNES, Stephen

5. Age last birthday 27 years

6. Enlisted on 3 Mar 1915 at Sydney N.S.W.

7. Former Trade or Occupation Miner [sic]

8. Disability G.S.W. [sic] left thigh and right buttock

Statement of Case

Note:— The answers to the following questions are to be filled in by the Officer in medical charge of the case. In answering them he will carefully discriminate between the man's unsupported statements and evidence recorded in his military and medical documents. He will also carefully distinguish cases entirely due to venereal disease.

9. Date of origin of disability

10 Feb 1917

10. Place of origin of disability

Somme River, France

11. Give concisely the essential facts of the history of the disability, noting entries on the Medical History Sheet bearing on the case.

He got shell wounds of the left thigh and right buttock. The wound on right buttock was small. He got a deep furrowed would across front of left thigh in middle third. The fragment passed right across front of thigh.

12. (a) Give your opinion as to the causation of the disability.

Active service

12. (b) If you consider it to have been cause by active service, climate or ordinary military service, explain the specific conditions to which you attribute it.

(See notes on page 3)


[Note the disparity between the descriptions in paras 8 and 12(b) and the detailed response in para 11 which gives, properly, the cause of the wounds as shrapnel not gunshot]

13. What is his present condition?

Weight should be given in all cases when it is likely to afford evidence of the progress of the disability.

There is a small scar on right buttock. This is quite healed and causes no disability. There is a deep furrowed scar across front of left thigh at about 3 inches [7.6cm] long and 1½ inches [3.8cm] across and is irregular, soft and unhealthy. There is a tendency for it to break down. Swelling takes place at left knee joint on walking a very short distance. There is much weakness of the thigh.

14. If the disability is an injury, was it caused

(a) In action?

(b) On field service?

(c) On duty?

(d) Off duty?





15. Was a Court of Enquiry held on the injury?
If so — (a) When?
             (b) Where?
             (c) Opinion?

Not applicable

16. Was an operation performed? If so, what?

Yes, incision for drainage

17. If not, was an operation advised and declined?

Not applicable

18. In case of loss or decay of teeth. Is the loss of teeth the result of wounds, injury or disease, directly* attibutable to active service?

Not applicable

19. Do you recommend
      (a) Discharge as permanently unfit, or
      (b) Change to England?

B2B Temporarily unfit for general and home service for six months

Officer in medical charge of case

Station [Stamped: No 1 Australian Auxilliary Hospital, Harefield Park, Middlesex]

Date [Stamped 23 Jul]

Officer in charge of Hospital

* Loss of teeth on, or immediately after, active service should be attributed thereto, unless there is evidence that it is due to some other cause.

† Delete this word if no exceptions are to be made


Discharged for furlough - Harefield

25 July 1917


Report to Weymouth ex furlough

8 Aug 1917


March in from AHQ London

8 Aug 1917


A further document following a final review at Weymouth has a final entry which states that the wound is healed but the patient complains of back-ache and headaches at times. It is followed by the statement "Unfit for Service"

10 Aug 97


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

27 Aug 1917

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


Letter from Senior Officer Invalids and Returned Soldiers, to Officer in Charge, Base Records, Victorial Barracks, Melbourne
Reporting that 535 Sapper Downes, S, 8th Field Company Engineers who returned to Australia per HMAT PAKEHA on 25 Oct 1917 was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force in consequence of medical unfitness on 21 Nov 1917, and that documents relating to the man's discharge are herewith completed.

12 Nov 1917

The document reporting his discharge was completed before he was actually discharged.


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

No. 70 Griffin Avenue,
Tamworth N.S.W.
27th March 1967

The Secretary Department of the Army, CANBERRA.

Dear Sir,
Re distribution of ANZAC Medallions

Referring to a recent announcement in the press on this subject, as his widow and Next-of-kin, I hereby make formal application for the Medallion to which my late husband would have been entitled.

His service particulars are as follow —
Name    Stephen DOWNES   No.    535     Rank   Sapper.
Unit   8th Field Engineers. Attested at Liverpool N.S.W. for the Aust. Imp. Exped. Force.
Service towards completion of engagement    —    2 yrs 263 days.
Service Abroad    —   2 years 122 days
Discharged at Sydney 21st November 1917.
Medals —   1914/15 Star. R.S. Badge issued 36111.

Yours faithfully
Mrs R. Downes

I hereby CERTIFY that I have sighted Discharge No. 8428 and that the particulars of Service as quoted above have been taken from the Certificate.

I further Certify that Mrs. Downes is personally known to me and that she is the Widow and Next-of-kin of Ex-Serviceman Stephen DOWNES.

41 White St.,

The medals actually issued were 1914/15 Star No 17467, British War Medal No 14833 and Victory Medal No 14639.

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, 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]


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]


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 1914-20

[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 1919 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 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.

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 the spirit of ANZAC.

There are a number of versions of the genesis of the badge, the most widely accepted being that it derived from a Trophy of Arms - various swords and bayonets mounted on a 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'.

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]