Remembering 208 Walter Gilchrist M.C MID – 3rd May 1917

Capt Walter Gilchrist MC

Captain Walter Gilchrist was an original sapper with the 1st FCE.  On this day, in 1917, he was an officer in the 6th Field Coy. Engineers, and known to be a popular officer among his men.

Several witness accounts on this day state that he was in command of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd sections of the company at Noreuil. It was recorded that on the morning of the 3rd of May he volunteered to lead an infantry battalion across to the Hindenburg Line, Bullecourt, as all the battalion’s officers had been killed or wounded.

The official war historian Charles Bean tells us what happened next…………

“None … knew who their leader was, but for half an hour or more he would be seen, bareheaded, tunicless, in grey woollen cardigan, his curly hair ruffled with exertion, continually climbing out of the trench to throw bombs or to call to the men in the shell-holes, begging them to charge.” – Charles Bean

Major William Henry Ellwood M.C  24th Infantry Battalion wrote ” Capt. Gilchrist was the bravest man I have ever known”

Sapper 14540 Palmer…. stated he saw Walter fighting with his revolver without his hat or tunic out in the open, “All the odds were against him. Then I saw him hit by a shell and killed outright.”

Sapper 14945 W.Fairley  another witness to the events  stated  “he was a specially fine soldier who did not know what fear was. I have heard that if he had lived he probably have got the V.C.”

Captain Walter Gilchrist was killed in action in France on 3rd May 1917.

He will always be remembered.

Read More…………..






The small town of Bombala, New South Wales in 1930 commemorated ANZAC Day and published a masterpiece of expression that was perfection then and is just as perfect today.


It is well that Australia should have one day in the year set apart as a day for the remembrance of sacrifices made in the Great War by the virile manhood and womanhood of our embryo nation;
of the sadness and sorrow brought to many homes; and of the glorious deeds accomplished by the bravery of those who went from our shores to fight for the freedom which we value so dearly.
And it is fitting that the day chosen should be that day on which so many of our men received their baptism of fire, and attempted that almost impossible task of capturing the Gallipoli Peninsula from the Turks.
So each year we keep the 25th of April as Anzac Day,
a name that will last while Australia remains on the map, and a name of which every’ true Australian must be proud. It is a day of remembrance and thanksgiving.
What memories drifted through the minds of the little band of returned men who marched down our main street on Friday morning last, just fifteen years after the great assault on Gallipoli, No boasters these! What they did in the Great War is not a subject to be touched on lightly. It is over -now and they want to forget.
What thoughts passed through the minds of those whose loved ones made the supreme sacrifice, and who now lie in a foreign land or in our own burial grounds ! That tears dimmed the eyes of some was not surprising, for their memories were burdened with sorrow. Parents paid as well as their sons. Some of them are still paying in sorrow and suffering.
War creates many credits, but it leaves many debits.

Published Bombala Times 2nd May 1930 – The original Author UNKNOWN.… such a shame


Remembering 124 Spr. Sidney Garrett – MID



124 Spr. Sidney Garrett MID

Over 100 years ago this young man from Gladesville in Sydney, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces. He came from a large family with two older brothers and four sisters. His mother had passed away just 7 months prior to his enlistment.

Sidney felt it was his duty to respond to the call to war and he didn’t hesitate.

Sidney was a gallant first day lander and a member of the sapper team that heroically rowed ashore dodging heavy shrapnel fire all the way and constructed the barrel piers on landing day at Gallipoli.

Sidney Matthew Garrett died from his wounds on the 6th March 1917 , today he is honoured and remembered and his story is available to read…. click here

Remembering 204 Spr. Patrick Finn Walshe


Sapper 204 Patrick Finn Walshe died from wounds on the 5th March 1917. Today he is honoured and remembered and his story is available to read….

A portrait of Patrick Finn Walshe does exist, however he is only named in a group photo.

Which one is Patrick, or the identity of the others  is not known at this stage, however they are all Engineers from the 1st Field Company.

This photo can be viewed  and is AWM copyright protected. The photo is from the Thuillier Collection of glass plate negatives taken by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier in Vignacourt, France during the period 1916 to 1918.

The image is available to view at the following link

Patrick Finn Walshe  ….link to his story 

First pictures of the men of the 1st FCE

1st Field Company Engineers from New South Wales  – Sept. 1914

A new discovery of what is likely to be the first pictures published of original members of the 1st Field Company Australian Engineers.

The picture above showing a relaxed and cheerful group of sappers “ON A PONTOON OF THEIR OWN CONSTRUCTION”  on the lakes of Centennial Park , Sydney.  They look proud of their achievement and at this early stage of their training completely unaware of how valuable these skills would prove to be throughout the war.

The pictures were published in the ‘Sydney Mail’ on the 23rd September 1914  just weeks after the men had enlisted.





“The work of the Field Engineers includes the construction of roads, pontoons, trestle bridges, barricades, wire entanglements, laying ground mines, digging entrenchments, and many other important as well as frequently dangerous duties.”


Source:  National Library of Australia

Remembering 134 George Howatt Smirthwaite

134 George Howett Smirthwaite - (Photo - Ian Middleton Collection)


134 George Howatt Smirthwaite

“Corporal Smirthwaite was a splendid type of Australian-of great physique, steady, sober,  and industrious, and a man with an honored English name. Indeed, he was the descendant of a family with an unbroken line for upwards of 400 years……..”  Gilgandra Weekly -NSW , Friday 12 January 1917


George Smirthwaite died form his wounds on the 24th December 1916 , today he is honoured and remembered and his story is available to read….CLICK LINK

227 Billy McDevitt – Rower and ANZAC

227 –  “Billy” Charles William McDevitt

Known as Billy McDevitt,….. a rowing champion from Tasmania.

In 1911 Billy was travelling between Tasmania and Sydney and was planning his course towards becoming the world sculling champion when Australia suddenly joined the war in 1914.

An original member of the 1st Field Company Engineers, Billy was severely wounded at Gallipoli. Billy returned to Australia and with strength and determination recovered and when the war ended he returned to his love of rowing.

Ten years after he volunteered as an original member with the 1st FCE  and at age 36  he became the Australasian Rowing Champion and was regarded by his peers as the best in the world.

In 1925 Charles “Billy” McDevitt was later declared World Rowing Champion. 

Read more of Billy McDevitt’s amazing story………… this link