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Colclough-W-L-T-Pte-5561

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 1 year, 3 months ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918

 

Scotch College commemorative website.

 

Colclough W L T    Pte    5561    Wilfred Lorimer Thomas    24 Inf Bn    21    Clerk    Single    Pres

Address:    Essendon, Edward St, 125    

Next of Kin:    Colclough, Jane, Mrs, mother, 125 Edward St, Essendon    

Enlisted:    22 Mar 1916        

Embarked:     A9 Shropshire 25 Sep 1916

 

Relatives on Active Service:

Colclough W A G Pte 3370 brother

Colclough-J-J-G-Pte-5073  brother

Colclough H G H Pte 5935 brother

Salmon-P-W--A-g Sgt-6897  brother-in-law  (KIA)

 

Date of death: 29/08/1918

CWGC:  "Son of Jane Colclough, of "Carlowrie," 125, Edward St, Essendon, Victoria,

Australia, and the late Richard Colclough".

DAOURS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

 

 

 

Lance-Corporal Wilfred Lorimer Colclough

 

Rod Martin 

 

Almost twenty-two years old, Wilfred Lorimer – Lorrie – Colclough enlisted in the Australian Army on 23 February 1916.  About 172 centimetres tall and weighing around sixty-five kilos, Lorrie had dark brown hair and brown eyes.  He was a clerk in civilian life, and had spent one year in senior cadets at school.  He had a potential problem as a soldier, however: he had poor eyesight.  In fact, it was so poor that he was exempted from compulsory militia training in 1912 because of it.  Had he attempted to enlist in 1914 or the first half of 1915, he would almost certainly have been rejected by the army doctors because of eye problems.  By the start of 1916, however, the situation was different.  Numbers of recruits started dropping off drastically after the middle of 1915 as the casualty lists from Gallipoli grew larger and larger.  By 1916, the government had liberalized entry requirements quite considerably, and Lorrie was accepted.

 

Just why Lorrie decided to enlist at this time is unknown.  It is possible that, despite his poor vision, he felt that he had to do his duty.  He could not let other men put themselves in danger while he remained comfortable at home.  It is also possible that he had been waiting hopefully until the entry requirements were liberalized sufficiently so that he could join up.    A third possible reason for joining up may have been the receipt of one or more white feathers in the mail. This traditional symbol of cowardice was being sent to men by women around the country who felt that those who had not yet enlisted should do so.  In some cases, the sending of such an item was indiscriminate, and took no account of a man’s disabilities or responsibilities.

 

Whatever the reason, Lorrie signed on and was appointed to 15 Reinforcements, 24 Infantry Battalion.  Given his obvious problems with vision and his militia exemption as a result, it is a little surprising that he was allocated to the infantry.  Just how he went at target practice on the rifle range remains unknown.  There were certainly other positions in the military that could utilize his skills as a clerk.  He could have ended up in the quartermaster’s stores!  However, it may be the case that he himself insisted on the infantry.  We shall probably never know.

 

Lorrie trained at Broadmeadows and left for the Middle East on A9 HMAT Shropshire on 25 September 1916.  The convoy travelled by way of the Cape of Good Hope to avoid German submarines in the Mediterranean, and arrived at Plymouth in England on 11 November.

 

 

15 Reinforcements before boarding HMAT Shropshire at Port Melbourne,

25 September 1916  (AWM PB0988)   http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/PB0988

 

 

After a short period of training, 15 Reinforcements headed for France via Folkestone in Kent.  They moved to the rather infamous training base at Etaples, near Boulogne, and spent about a month there preparing for life in the trenches.  Such training included time in the notorious ‘Bullring’, located in the nearby dunes and designed to expose the men to all the dangers of the front line: mock attacks, bayonet fighting, live grenade throwing, dealing with gas bombardments and coping with barbed wire entanglements.

 

 

 

Iso Rae: Troops arriving at ANZAC Camp, Etaples, June 1916 (AWM ART19601)

http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/ART19601

 

15 Reinforcements joined 24 Battalion on 27 January 1917.  At that time, the battalion was located in the Somme Valley, holding a section of the front during what was described as the coldest winter in France for forty years.  It had already been well and truly blooded the previous year in the incredibly costly struggles at Pozières and Mouquet Farm, losing many men in the process.  The Battle of the Somme, begun in July 1916, had petered out in November with the onset of winter and lack of any further progress.  However, conflict was still occurring, and the battalion was taking its turns in manning the front line and carrying out labouring tasks.  It became somewhat famous at this time for buying large white nightdresses in Amiens and using them as camouflage when patrolling the snow-covered no man’s land between the trenches.

 

 

Conditions on the Somme, winter 1916-1917   (AWM E00022)

http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/E00022

 

24 Battalion remained on the Somme into the new year, conducting sporadic operations against the Germans.  In April, other Australian units were involved in a disastrous surprise attack at Bullecourt.  The event, described by Les Carlyon as a ‘bloody fiasco’ cost 2 300 Australian casualties and 1 300 men captured, and achieved absolutely nothing.

 

The British commander responsible for this shemozzle, the impetuous General Sir Hubert Gough, was not deterred, however.  He ordered a second assault at the same spot, this time better-planned and accompanied by a preliminary barrage lasting several hours.  24 Battalion was a part of it, and attacked with other units at 3.45 am on 3 May.  The men actually penetrated the German line, but met with stiff opposition.  In its only day of action, the battalion suffered a casualty rate of eighty per cent, and had to be withdrawn.  Lorrie was one of those injured, receiving a gunshot wound to the leg.  He was evacuated to a hospital in Rouen, and then moved to a rehabilitation centre in Buchy, not returning to the battalion until 14 August.

 

By that time, the Second Battle of Bullecourt, as it became known, was well and truly over.  The Australians had managed to hold on to the territory they gained, but it was of little or no strategic importance.  It was also very costly: 7 482 casualties.

 

The battlefield during Second Bullecourt, May 1917  (AWM E01408)

http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/E01408

 

After Bullecourt, and once reinforced with new troops, 24 Battalion began to move north towards Belgium to participate in a new offensive in the area around the town of Ypres.  When Lorrie rejoined his unit, it was located at Wardreques in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, just south of the Belgian border.  It moved to the Ypres area during the following month and became part of the Third Battle of Ypres – often erroneously referred to as Passchendaele after its ostensible target.  24 Battalion’s main involvement was in the capture of Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October.  As Richard Travers puts it, the attack was the high point of the battle and demonstrated the effectiveness of the newly adopted ‘bite and hold’ strategy being used so successfully by Australian Major-General John Monash.  However, the price was once again very high: 6 500 casualties.

 

Front line trenches at Broodseinde Ridge, October  (AWM E00948)

http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/E00948

 

There were a couple of other minor successes at Menin Road and Polygon Wood.  In general, however, Third Ypres turned out to be an unmitigated disaster for the Allied forces as the troops and equipment sank in a morass of mud created by the combination of  unseasonal summer rains and the destruction by constant bombardment of the delicate drainage system in the naturally swampy Belgian Flanders region.

 

24 Battalion remained in Flanders over the winter.  During that time, Lorrie went on some well-deserved leave to England on 13 January 1918, not returning until 2 February.  When he arrived back, the battalion was in reserve at Lottinghen, not far from Boulogne in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.  It moved back into Belgian Flanders the next month, and took up positions in the front line.  Even though Third Ypres had officially ended with the capture of the devastated village of Passchendaele the previous November, action was still taking place right across the region and Lorrie and his compatriots were in the thick of it.

 

March 1918 also marked the beginning of Germany’s final, desperate offensive and it focused on the Somme.  Bolstered by troops returning from the Eastern Front as a result of the cease-fire with the new Soviet Russia, the Germans decided to make an all-out effort to drive the Allies into the sea before troops from the United States (which had entered the war in April 1917) could arrive in large numbers. Their attack was very successful, and they regained all the land lost in 1916 and then early 1917 when they staged a strategic retreat to the heavily fortified Hindenburg Line.  Along with many other units, 24 Battalion was rushed back to the Somme in early April to assist in stemming the German tide.  This was achieved in late April and May.  The unit then spent time in May and June alternately manning the front line and then bivouacking for training and recuperation.  On 4 July, it supported other battalions in the attack on and capture of the village of Hamel.  Like many other units, it was still recovering from the battles of 1917 in which it lost so many men.

 

The start of August 1918 found 24 Battalion located in the area of Villers-Bretonneux, scene of the famous Anzac Day battle that was so significant in repelling the German advance.

 

 

A Henry Fulwood: Villers-Bretonneux from Bussy, 1918  (AWM ART50104)

http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/ART50104

 

 On 8 August, the day German commander Erich Ludendorff later described as a black one for the German Army, the Allies attacked the German defences near Amiens and achieved a major breakthrough.  24 Battalion again provided assistance to other units in this advance.  It was not to be without its own moment of glory, however.  Late in the month, an assault on the high point of Mont St. Quentin was planned, and the battalion was to be given the honour of attempting to take the main German strongpoint on the summit.

 

Before this happened, however, the men were resting and preparing near the town of Daours.  On 22 August, Lorrie was rewarded for good work by being promoted to lance-corporal.  Two days later, however, he was wounded in action again.  How this happened when the men were engaged in a social cricket match against 23 Battalion is unknown.  Perhaps the Germans sent a few shells over to spoil the party!  Regardless, the wound must have been slight because Lorrie was back in the action four days later.  On the twenty-fifth, 24 Battalion was suddenly ordered to move towards the town of Dompierre.  On 27 August, the men were into action, attacking and capturing a sugar mill near the town.  The next day, as the battalion advanced further east towards Mont St. Quentin, they were subject to heavy machine gun fire.  The field diary records that two men were killed and one injured as a result.  Lorrie was the man injured.  He was conveyed to the nearest casualty clearing station, where he died the next day.

 

Officially, Lorrie died of ‘gunshot wounds’ to the chest and arm.  One man said that he was actually injured by shrapnel.  Another thought he was shot by a sniper.  However, a Sergeant Witherden reported that he was hit in the stomach by a machine gun bullet while on a daylight patrol.  This reports correlates most closely with the field diary description.

 

Lorrie was buried in Daours communal Cemetery Extension, located near Corbie in France.  One of his compatriots recorded that he was a popular man, and had the nickname of ‘Col’.  The man described him as full-faced and fairly stout.  He noted that he wore glasses.

 

 

Daours communal Cemetery Extension (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

 

Memorial window at the Essendon North Methodist Church, now closed.

 

Sources 

 

Australian War Memorial

Bennett, Scott: Pozières: the Anzac story, Melbourne, Scribe, 2011

Carlyon, Les: The Great War, Sydney, Macmillan, 2006

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

National Archives of Australia

Travers, Richard: Diggers in France: Australian soldiers on the Western Front, Sydney,  ABC Books, 2008                                

 

WOUNDED

COLCLOUGH, Private W. Lorrimer. Youngest

son of Mrs. Richard Colclough, Carlowrie, Es-

sendon. One of four sons on active service.

Saturday 26 May 1917

 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1620553

 

ROLL OF HONOUR

Pte. W. Lorrimer Colclough, [youngest] son of

Mrs. Richard Colclough, ["Carlow]rie", Essen-

don, was killed in action, [and] was one of four

sons, who are all on [active] service.

 

ROLL OF HONOR. (1917, May 31). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: Morning. Retrieved May 12, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74602668

 

It was inadvertently reported in this column last week that Private W. Lorrimer Colclough youngest son of Mrs. Richard Colclough, of "Carlowrie," Essendon, had been killed in action. We much regret the error, and are pleased to state that the young soldier, who was wounded in France, is doing well in hospital at Rouen. He is one of four sons at the front. 

 

ROLL OF HONOUR. (1917, June 7). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Morning. Retrieved May 13, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74602782

 

WOUNDED

COLCLOUGH. Pte. W. Lorimer, youngest son of

Mrs. Richard Colclough, of Essendon. In hospital at Rouen, France; doing well.

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1622869

 

Monday 4 June 1917

The death is reported in France of Pte. Lorimer (Lorrie)

Colclough, youngest son of the late Mr. Richard

Colclough and Mrs. Jean Colclough, of "Carlowrie,"

Essendon, after 2½ years' service.

 

ROLL OF HONOR. (1918, September 19). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Morning. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74607143

 

DIED OF WOUNDS.

COLCLOUGH.-News has been received by cable

that Private W. Lorimer (Lorrie) Colclough, 24th

Battalion, youngest son of the late Richard Col-

clough and Mrs. Jean Colclough, of Carlowrie,

Essendon, died of gunshot wounds on August

29. He was an old Scotch Collegian, and had

had 2½ years active service.

Tuesday 17 September 1918

 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1431686

 

Mentioned in this correspondence:

Pte Robert Charles Young of Ascot Vale made a statement for the Australian Red Cross Missing and Wounded Enquiry Bureau about Lorimer Colclough.

 

 

War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall A-F

North Essendon Methodist Church                                                                    

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour Wounded

Scotch College  

The School at War.  Scotch College.

Melbourne Cricket Club Members Roll of Honour

 

 

In Memoriam

 

COLCLOUGH.-A tribute To the memory of Private

W. L. Colclough, 24th Battalion A.I.F., who died of

wounds on the 29th August, 1918. 

The Argus Friday 29 August 1919

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4699087

 

No further notices to 1923.

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