Letter of Lieutenant Walter George Molyneux CLARIDGE

Date of enlistment 16th July 1915
Age at enlistment 28
Profession Woolvaluer
Town Armadale
Status Married
Rank at enlistment 2nd Lieutenant
Company Transferred to 8th Battalion, 21st February 1916
Significant events while with the AIF Served in Egypt, France and Belgium until end of the war

Wounded in Action – 26th July 1916, Pozieres

Hospitalised with fever

Promoted to Lieutenant

8th Battalion - E01811.JPGLieutenant Claridge photographed in February 1918 with fellow officers of the 8th Battalion, middle row far right

Lieutenant Claridge’s full WW1 service record can be located in the National Archives of Australia. Full details are available online, NAA Series B2455

The following extracts are taken from the letter of Lieutenant Claridge from hospital in England following his wounding in action at Pozieres in July 1916. At this time Lieutenant Claridge was serving with the 8th Infantry Battalion, having been transferred from the 22nd Battalion during the AIF re-organisation in Egypt in early 1916. The originals are stored in the Australian War Memorial research centre in Canberra, and acknowledgement goes to the family of Lieutenant Claridge and the AWM enabling the subsequent publishing within this commemorative project.

England

Letter from No.4 London General Hospital, Denmark Hill, 10th August 1916

After your loving words [previous letter] I could not have turned coward, though God knows what we went through, was Hell itself. We just grit our teeth and go ahead and do our job. I am not going to tell a lie and say I wasn’t afraid because I was and who wouldn’t be with Death grinning at you all from all round and hellish 5.9 shells shrieking through the air and shrapnel dealing death all round. I don’t know how I stood it so long without breaking but…I knew you would be ashamed if I had played coward, so I kept on at the head of my platoon from Sunday night 23rd July till Tuesday afternoon. I wasn’t touched although I was buried three times. I was very thankful to get my wound as it got me out of the firing line for a rest. Australia may well be proud of the part its boys played in the taking of Pozieres and it was no light job for the Germans had made it a fortress as it is on a plateau had orders to hold it all costs. It was the first time they had come into close contact with Australians and by Heavens they won’t forget it. Our boys went straight at them with the bayonet, in perfect order, no mad rush, and no prisoners were taken and very few Huns got away, they were simply wiped out by our boys and we took the village and will continue to hold it. You can tell all people that Pozieres ranks with Gallipoli, so is that little ruined village in Picardy to the Australians and I am proud to have done my job and been wounded there. Your dear letter helped me through all the trials of the battle and I am very grateful to you for all your loving thoughts.

We heard the 1st and 3rd Brigades do their attack on Pozieres at 5am on the Sunday morning we were moved up to support. On Sunday night at 9 pm we were launched on an attack to clear all the Huns out of Pozieres and this we did with no trouble, he wouldn’t fight but just ran for it. All this time from 7am on Sunday morning we had been under shell fire. Early on Monday morning the old Hun lost his temper and began to throw things about and didn’t it rain shells, it wasn’t nice squatting in a crater hole and dodging them. We hung on there till Tuesday and then more shelling till 4pm when I got hit and so that ended the show as far as I was concerned. I had to stay there till 7pm no stretchers and no stretcher bearers and 73 other wounded.

 

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