Memorials to 2 of our WWI Fallen located
Soon after ANZAC Day 2019, Coromandel Valley and Districts Branch of the National Trust SA (CVDNT) was delighted to receive an email, via this website, from the Australian Embassy Baghdad.
The Officer, who we will not identify, has a strong interest in Australian Military history and took the opportunity afforded by his posting to do some research including visiting memorials to the fallen and cemeteries.
Having found Percy’s and Harold’s headstones, he went online to see if he could learn more about these brave young South Australian men – a search that led him to the “Our Fallen” section of this website.
CVDNT committee member Geoff Lock, who researched each of the men remembered in that section of our website, responded to the international inquiry and as the discussion proceeded received the following poignant information.
“Percy and Harold were both unfortunate enough to be captured (as you know) by the Turks at the same moment, 09 August 1916, in the Romani campaign. They were assisting a group of Machine gunners when they were ordered to return to their lines. They were too far from their horses and were overrun and captured.
Both died of disease working on the Berlin-Baghdad railway. Percy died 28 December 1916 of dysentery and Harold on the 11 February 1917 of Enteritis. As they were buried in Angora Cemetery their graves were not marked and they were stripped naked before being buried, effectively eliminating any chance of identification when the War Commission decided to consolidate the various cemeteries into Baghdad in the 1920s. At the time all the NOK (Next of Kin: Editor's note) of the various soldiers were sent a letter explaining what was going on and were told whether their loved one had been:
1. Identified and moved
2. Not identified but moved with a group of other unidentified soldiers and therefore ‘Buried near’ this spot
3. Not found at all
All soldiers whether identified, unidentified or never recovered were given a headstone with their details on it and the families were given the chance to have an inscription on the headstone. The Kipling and Angora memorials spoken of were just a section of the cemetery that all the headstones of the guys they couldn’t find were grouped into. So, both Percy and Harold have actual headstones but their bodies are still in Turkey somewhere.
Please find attached a picture of their headstones and as you can see Percy’s has his mother’s inscription ‘Born at Cherry Gardens South Australia’. Harold’s has ‘He died for us'.”
We are grateful to the Baghdad-based Officer for his dedication and willingness to share his research.
You can learn more about the 21 local men who are listed on the Blackwood and Coromandel Valley War Memorials as having made the ultimate sacrifice here.