Remembering 58 Percy Frederick HIRST – MM


58 Patrick 'Percy' Hirst portrait
58 Percy Frederick Hirst – MM


Percy Frederick Hirst was a rare individual, his bravery at Gallipoli affording him a special mention by his officers in the unit diaries and later further recognition whilst  continuing his great work in the trenches in France.  Percy was later awarded the Military Medal .

Sadly  Percy died from his wounds he suffered at the “Battle of Pozieres”.

WW1 - Military Medal - For Bravery In the Field
WW1 – Military Medal – “For Bravery In the Field”

Percy died on the 25th July 1916 and will always be remembered for his service and the sacrifice he made for his nation.

Read More….. Percy Hirst Story

Remembering 50 Lionel George Fuller Burton


Lionel George Fuller Burton

50  Lionel George Fuller Burton

Lionel George Fuller Burton was born in 1895 in Otago New Zealand. Lionel lost both his parents whilst still a young boy.

As a young man Lionel was later under the care and guidance of his famous step-father, Benjamin John Fuller. Lionel had adopted the hyphenated surname of Fuller-Burton and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces in 1914.

Lionel was originally wounded along with fellow sapper 234 Archibald Bland at the ” Battle of Pozieres”. Sadly for both men their wounds would prove fatal.

Lionel George Fuller- Burton died on the 25th July 1916 , 100 years ago to this day. He will always be honoured and remembered for his service to the commonwealth and as an original ANZAC.



READ MORE ……………Lionel’s Story



Remembering 215 William ALLAN (WHELAN)

Searching for a Portrait
Searching for a Portrait

215 William Patrick Allan (Whelan)

William Patrick Allan (Whelan) was the mischievous type , perhaps a well liked trouble maker, a bit of a modern day larrikin.

His trouble making behaviour was probably always expected by his officers but was never overlooked or went unpunished, however persistent.  None the less his superiors must have always seen the soldier in William.

In his final moments as an original with the 1st FCE he demonstrated the bravery and courage that proved his true soldiering spirit.

William made the ultimate sacrifice at the “Battle of Pozieres” attempting to save a mate.

“everyone said he ought to get the V.C . he went out in the very thick of the firing”

Australian Memorial – Villers Bretonneux Somme

William Whelan served as William Allan and will always be remembered for his bravery, and courage.  Missing from the 23rd of July, officially it was recorded he was killed in action on this day 25th July 1915.

READ MORE ……..William Allan Whelan’s Story

Remembering – 234 Archibald BLAND

Portrait Courtesy  Manly Library

At age 25 Archibald Everett Bland arrived in Australia in May 1911 on the “Otway” from London. His occupation at the time was as a Porter. Shortly after settling in New South Wales he had met Belle (Isabella) Emery from Hamilton NSW and they were married in 1912.
Like other fellow sappers Fred Reynolds, Alfred Taylor, and William Phillips,  Arch and Belle were all living at the popular beachside haven of Manly.

The call to war in 1914 would bring their idyllic Australian lifestyle to a halt.

When Arch enlisted in September 1914 he was nearly 30 years of age, noted as an engineer, he later embarked with 1st FCE Reinforcements under Lieut. Henry Bachtold.  The 1st Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, aboard HMAT Berrima (A32) on 22 December 1914. On board Arch formed his closest friendships with fellow sappers 237 Evelyn Lloyd, 230 Robert Osborne Earle and 242 Thomas Cook.

Arch Bland was immortalised in the photo  – “The Water Carrier” and will always be remembered as one of the great ANZAC’S.

234 Archibald Bland  AWM P04318.001
234 Archibald Bland

2nd Corporal Archibald Bland died on this day 23rd July 1916 –  100 years ago at the “Battle Of Pozieres”

Read More……..Archie’s Story

Sources:  AWM, NAA, NLA, Manly Library NSW

The Battle of Pozieres 1916


The Battle of Pozieres

The village of Pozières, is located in the Somme Valley, France.  The main road running along the ridge, in the middle of the British sector of the Somme battlefields ran from the towns of Albert to Bapaume and close by stood the village of Pozieres, the highest point on the battlefield.

On the 19th July 1916 the men of the 1st Field company Engineers had bivouacked just outside of Albert, approximately 3 miles from the front lines. On the 21st July they marched into Albert and commenced helping to dig a communications  trench that same night. The heavy bombardments from the Germans had already commenced and were relentless.

By Sunday the 23rd July the company had moved in closer to the front lines at Pozieres and commenced construction of a strong point for a machine gun placement.

Original 233 Cpl Thomas Arkinstall reported that the section  was in front of Pozieres about 100 yards past the village , and were digging an advanced Machine Gun position overlooking two roads leading to Pozieres and Bapaume.

For four days, Pozieres would be pure hell for the men of the 1st Field Company Engineers.


Major Richard John Dyer was the young officer in charge of the 1st Field Company Engineers during the Battle of Pozieres.

Major Richard Dyer remarkably not quite 23 years old was the very able and hardened Gallipoli veteran, famous for his single handed efforts at  Gallipoli and his bravery at the German Officers Trench, creating his own landmark at what became known as “Dyers Crater”.

The young Major was no stranger to putting himself at great risk. However as Major and commanding officer, he was now placing his men at great risk and his diary entries show his hesitance in despatching the sections whilst under extremely heavy bombardment from the Germans.

Link to the full  1st FCE Unit diary July 1916 –July 1916 RCDIG1008590-1

The drawings above from the unit diaries showing the detailed plans for the construction of the “Strong Point” and machine gun placement.

Original 29 Bob Lundy recorded in his diary on the 23rd July the casualties and the devastation of the day, noting that there were dead laying all along the track and every inch of ground was just shell holes.

Within the first four days of the operations the return lists for the engineers prepared by  original Lieut. Robert Osborne Earle for Major Richard Dyer outlined the devastation to the men of the 1st Field Company..

The casualties list recorded the men who were either killed, wounded, missing , gassed or suffering shell shock,  between the 22nd and 26th July 1916.


Fourteen of the originals were included on this list of casualties…..58 Percy Hirst was listed as killed, 215 William Allan (Whelan) was listed as missing, 234  Archibald Bland  and 50 Lionel Burton-Fuller were listed as wounded.

Also wounded was 88 George Casburn, a gun shot wound to the right hand and shoulder and  163 William Rice also a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

123 William Goodwin, 76 James Hamilton, 184 Donald Clark, 237 Evelyn Lloyd..  all wounded.

336 Alfred Girdler and 157 Frederick Newson were gassed,  and 242 Thomas Cook and 26 Roland King were both listed suffering from shell shock.

Interestingly  the brothers of  fellow originals 14 Edmund Banks and 139 James Pasfield were also on the same casualty list.

Pozieres  Main street 1914                 Pozieres  Main street 1916

 On the 23rd July 234 Archie Bland died from his wounds, two days later on the 25th July both  58 Percy Hirst and 50 Lionel Fuller Burton also died from their wounds.


 Above Left to Right – 234 Archie Bland, 50 Lionel Fuller Burton, 58 Percy Hirst

215 William Patrick Allan Whelan  was originally reported missing on the 23rd, all later enquiries confirmed that he was killed in action on the 25th .

Searching for a Portrait
Searching for a Portrait

Still searching for a portrait of 215 William Whelan

During what became known as the “Somme Offensive”,  between the  23 July and early September 1916, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions of the Australian Imperial Forces were involved in 19 attacks on German positions in and around the ruins of Pozieres.

Although the British and Australian artillery were no match for the German artillery and machine guns, despite that, they held their positions and subsequently held Pozieres at great cost. The Australians suffered 23,000 casualties while advancing only two kilometres.

Australian official historian Charles Bean  declared that the Pozières Ridge ..” is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth”- Charles Bean


Story ©Vance Kelly 2016

Sources: AWM, NLA, NAA, Manly Library














139 James Albert Pasfield


139  James Albert Pasfield

Scott Wilson, fellow writer, and researcher has kindly shared his story written about “original” 139  James Albert Pasfield.

Scott details the circumstance of how he came to write about James Pasfield and brings his story back to life.

“In late 2014 I had a story published that I had written about 160 Driver Percy Thompson’s experiences around the Ypres Salient in late 1917. Shortly afterwards I was contacted by Greg Pasfield, a grandson of 139 Sergeant James Albert Pasfield. Greg told me of his grandfather and two uncles who had all served with the 1st field Company Engineers during the course of the war.

Later Greg supplied many photos of the brothers and other details and I agreed to write about their experiences during the war. The stories that follow are a record of their service during the war and I would like to thank Greg for the use of photographs and other information.” – Scott Wilson

Follow this link to the James Pasfield Story


All photos are and remain the property of the Pasfield Family.

Story © Scott Wilson 2016