• Archie Ahern

Army / Flying Corps
  • 25th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 15th Brigade
  • Private

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  • Birth

    Blackall, QLD, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Townsville City, QLD, Australia

Stories and comments
    • Archibald Ahern - His story based on his records found online (June 2015)
    • Posted by Blackall, Sunday, 28 June 2015

    Archibald Ahern was born in Blackall, Central Western Queensland. When he enlisted in Townsville, Northern Queensland on the 18th October, 1915, he was 24 years and 6 months of age. His record lists his occupation as a ‘stockman’ and his wife, Mrs Elizabeth Agnes Ahern as living at 38 Misterton St, Valley, Brisbane, Queensland. Archibald embarked from Brisbane, Queensland on the 7th September 1916 on the ship, “Clan MacGillivray” arriving in Plymouth, England on the 2nd November 1916. His skills as a stockman and dealing with horses must have stood him in ‘good stead’ as he was trained in England as ‘cold shoer’ at the SC School of Farriery at Romsey, Hampshire, England. On the 24th April, 1917 Archibald Ahern travelled to France to serve on what was known as ‘The Western Front’ marching into the front, he arrived on the 2nd May 1917. Little is known of Archibald’s actions until his war record lists him as being wounded on the 4th October, 1917 in Belgium, near Zonnebeke. The Red Cross recorded statements from witnesses to Archibald’s injuries… Sergeant FA Cowland described Archibald as a “thickset man inclined to fair, 5 foot 7 inches” Corporal MW Crocks from 25th Battalion (Archibald’s battalion) reported: “Ahern was wounded very badly on the left side of the stomach on October 4th 1917, just as we were moving off for the attack at Zonnebeke. I picked him up and placed him in a shell hole and said ‘I’m gone!’. He was alive when I left him and I sent stretcher bearers to him.” Another member of Archibald Ahern’s battalion, Coporal J Beatty reported to the Red Cross: "He was in A.Coy and I saw him wounded near Zonnebeke Church, when he was hit by pieces of shell in the body. We were in action at the time and attacking. He was taken back to the dressing station when he died. He was unconscious when taken away. I did not know him very well, and he came from Queensland. He was sure to be buried, but I did not see his grave.” Archie died as a result of wounds received on the first day of The Battle of Broodseinde, he was 26 years old. Collectively, the The Battle of Menin Road, The Battle of Polygon Wood and The Battles of Broodseinde and Passchendaele became known as “The Battle of Passchendaele” after the town that was eventually captured. (During the three and half months of fighting at Passchendaele, total casualties are estimated at 475,000; about 275,000 British and Commonwealth and about 200,000 German. 38,000 Australians, 15,654 Canadians and 5,300 New Zealanders fell there, either killed, wounded or missing.) On the 21st May 1918, Archibald’s wife, Elizabeth, was living at Chermside Street, Newmarket in Brisbane. She received a letter from the records department of the AIF in reply to a letter she had written wanting to know of her husband’s burial place and whether she could have his personal belongings returned to her. The AIF letter confirmed her husband’s death but could not tell her where he was buried and informed her that no personal belongings of Archie’s had been found at that stage. Records show that Archibald Ahern was buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3, (Grave location - II. K. 19) outside the Belgian town of Ieper (Ypres). Furthermore, Archibald’s war record shows that the AIF on the 27th of December 1917, in London, had some of Archibald's possessions. The items listed in the war record are: “2 discs, razor in case, prayer book, wallet, pencil, photos, metal ring, penknife’. It can only be hoped that these precious personal items eventually did make their way to Elizabeth, Archibald’s wife. Archibald Ahern is remembered too, in the town of Blackall, in Central Western Queensland, where his name is recorded on the cenotaph. In 2015, students from the Blackall State School working with the Blackall Historical Society, researched Archibald Ahern. His full name, age and place of death were read out for the first time at the community’s Anzac Day service in 2015. We will remember Archibald Ahern. Lest we forget Sources: Australian War Memorial, Archibald Ahern - Red Cross Records http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1063032--1-.pdf (accessed 26/06/2015) Australian War Memorial, Archibald Ahern – Honour Roll Record https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1634551/ (accessed 26/06/2015) Commonwealth War Graves Commission, http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/139706/AHERN,%20A (accessed 26/06/2015) Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australians on the Western Front 1914-1918 http://www.ww1westernfront.gov.au/zonnebeke/what-happened-here.php (accessed 26/06/2015)