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8th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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8th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

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Those known to have served with

8th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Beatham VC. Robert Matthew. Pte (d.9 August 1918)
  • Beatham VC.. Robert Matthew. Pte. (d.11th Aug 1918)
  • Cooke VC.. Thomas. Pte (d.25th July 1916)
  • Cooke VC. Thomas. Pte. (d.28th July 1916)
  • Coulter Jason Leslie Boyd. Sgt. (d.10th Aug 1915)
  • Joynt VC. William Donovan . Lt.
  • Lay MM MC DCM.. Percy Edward George. Major
  • Meddings James Alexander. Pte.
  • Sharp William Gregory. Pte. (d.23rd Nov1915)
  • Sharp William Gregory. Pte. (d.23rd Nov 1915)

All names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Feb 2018

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Pte. Thomas Cooke VC 8th Btn. (d.28th July 1916)

Thomas Cooke was killed in action 28th July 1916 aged 35 and is buried in Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in France. Native of New Zealand

An extract from The London Gazette, dated 8th Sept., 1916, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery. After a Lewis gun had been disabled, he was ordered to take his gun and gun-team to a dangerous part of the line. Here he did fine work, but came under very heavy fire, with the result that finally he was the only man left. He still stuck to his post, and continued to fire his gun. When assistance was sent he was found dead beside his gun. He set a splendid example of determination and devotion to duty."

s flynn


Pte. James Alexander Meddings 8th Btn.

Pte. James Meddings of the 8th Infantry Battalion, AIF sailed from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 14th of April 1915. He married Stewart Easton Morgan on 13th December 1916 at Gateshead. James gave his address as Whinney House, Gateshead, which was an Auxiliary Hospital. He had returned to England on the 14th of June 1916, having been hospitalised for a Gun Shot Wound to his arm. At that time he was meant to be under Field Punishment No. 2 for 56 days from about 5th of May 1916. James returned to Australia on the 6th of November 1918.

Seven months after the marriage, on 26 April 1917, Stewart married another Australian soldier Claude Milne, she didn't bother to divorce James Meddings first. Stewart went on to marry Vernon Collins, a New Zealand soldier, in 1918. She didn't bother divorcing her second husband either. Quite a story? Claude Milne went on to marry another seven times, all without benefit of divorce.

Deborah Watson


Pte. William Gregory Sharp 8th Btn. (d.23rd Nov 1915)

William Sharp died on the 23rd of November 1915, aged 19 and is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Cairo, Egypt. He was the son of Malcolm and Ellen Sharp of Corindhap, Victoria, Australia.

s flynn


Pte. Robert Matthew Beatham VC. 8th Btn. (d.11th Aug 1918)

Robert Beatham was killed in action, on the 11th of August 1918, aged 24. He is buried in the Heath Cemetery in France. He was the son of Elizabeth Beatham, of Glassonby, Kirkoswald, Cumberland, England, and the late John Beatham.

An extract from "The London Gazette" dated 13th Dec., 1918, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice during the attack north of Rosieres, east of Amiens, on 9th Aug., 1918. When the advance was held up by heavy machine gun fire, Pte. Beatham dashed forward, and, assisted by one man, bombed and fought the crews of four enemy machine guns, killing ten of them and capturing ten others, thus facilitating the advance and saving many casualties. When the final objective was reached, although previously wounded, he again dashed forward and bombed a machine gun, being riddled with bullets and killed in doing so. The valour displayed by this gallant soldier inspired all ranks in a wonderful manner."

s flynn


Pte. William Gregory Sharp 8th Btn. (d.23rd Nov1915)

William Gregory Sharp served with 8th Battalion AIF during WW1 and died on the 23rd November 1915, aged 19. He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. He was the son of Malcolm and Ellen Sharp, of Corindhap, Victoria, Australia.

S Flynn


Major Percy Edward George Lay MM MC DCM. 8th Battalion

Percy Edward George Lay was 22 years old when he signed his attestation papers at Ballarat to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force just weeks after the outbreak of war in August 1914. He served with the 8th Battalion on Gallipoli and the Western Front, and by the beginning of 1918 he had been promoted four times and awarded the Military Medal, the Military Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and the French Croix de Guerre. One of his superior officers described him as "always a volunteer for any work which entails danger and his coolness and courage under fire are noticeable".

In January 1918 Lay was offered a posting with Dunsterforce in the Middle East. In his diary he expressed his sadness at leaving his battalion, but subsequent entries soon focused on his activities in Persia, including learning Persian, Russian, and sword-fighting. On one occasion, he had to determine whether a local headman, Sheik Ali, was hiding among a group of 40 women at Hamadan. Lay arrived back in Australia during May 1919 and continued military work at the Domain camp in Melbourne. He left again in September with the Special Service Unit to escort deportees overseas.

For the next twenty years, Lay lived and worked on his farm 'Lucerne Farm' near Alphington, Victoria. He enlisted in the Army again on 24th June 1940. Rising to the rank of major, he was posted to several training and garrison units before being transferred to the 1st Australian Works Company.

Following his return to civilian life again in 1945, Lay returned to Alphington. Percy Edward Lay died at Heidleberg, Victoria on 28th August 1955.

s flynn


Sgt. Jason Leslie Boyd Coulter Australian Imperial Forces 2nd Infantry Battalion (d.10th Aug 1915)

Jason Leslie Boyd Coulter was born at Ballarat, Victoria during 1877 to parents Irvine and Mary. A farmer by trade, he enlisted at Randwick, New South Wales under the name Jason Leslie Boyd on 27th August 1914. At the time Coulter enlisted, the upper age limit was set at 35 but he was 36 at the time. His age on enlistment was recorded as 35 and he was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Battalion.

Coulter departed Sydney aboard HMAT Suffolk on 18th October 1914. In March 1915, he was transferred to the 8th Infantry Battalion before being sent to Gallipoli. Coulter's brother, Lt. Col. Graham Coulter, also served with the 8th Infantry Battalion and later commanded this unit.

Whilst at Gallipoli he was promoted through the ranks and achieved the rank of sergeant during August 1915. He also sustained severe gunshot wounds from his service in this campaign and died on 10th August 1915. Jason Coulter was 37 years old when he died and he is buried at the Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt

s flynn


Pte Thomas Cooke VC. 8th Battalion (d.25th July 1916)

Thomas Cooke was born in Kaikoura, New Zealand, he was a 35 years old private in the 8th Battalion (Victoria), Australian Imperial Force when he was awarded the VC.

"On 24th/25th July 1916 at Pozieres, France, after a Lewis gun had been disabled, Private Cooke was ordered to take his gun to a dangerous part of the line. He did fine work, but came under very heavy fire, and finally he was the only man left. He still stuck to his post and continued to fire, but when assistance finally arrived he was found dead beside his gun."

S. Flynn

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