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1st Australian Tunnelling Company, Australian Imperial Force in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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1st Australian Tunnelling Company, Australian Imperial Force

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Those known to have served with

1st Australian Tunnelling Company, Australian Imperial Force

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Abbott Horace. Spr.
  • Abercrombie MM.. George Malcolm. Spr.
  • Adams Philip James. Spr.
  • Adamson Robert Wilson. 2nd Lt.
  • Alderton Tom. Spr.
  • Anderson A. E.. Capt.
  • Anderson John J. Spr.
  • Avery Wilfred Percival. Capt. (d.25th Apr 1917)
  • Baillie Richard Patrick. Spr.
  • Baird Norman. Spr.
  • Baker George Alexander. Spr.
  • Baker Percy. Capt. Chaplain.
  • Ball Hugh. Spr.
  • Beecham Andrew Francis.
  • Bodinner Charles Edgar. Spr. (d.29th Oct 1918)
  • Bott MM.. John William. S/Sgt.
  • Bowry James. Lt
  • Brampton Thomas Tasman. Spr.
  • Brindley J. G.. Spr.
  • Bunch John. Spr.
  • Campbell Charles Sybil Adlamn. Spr. (d.18th Sep 1917)
  • Campbell Richard. Sapper
  • Carroll H. H.. Lt
  • Clinton R.. Capt.
  • Collis Paul Benjamin. Spr.
  • Connolly Keith Warrington. Spr.
  • Dalton William Shorthall. Spr. (d.5th May 1917)
  • Davidson James Blair. Spr. (d.30th Oct 1917)
  • Dean Harry Michael. Sgt.
  • Earl Edward William. Spr. (d.28th Jul 1917)
  • Evans Glyndwr David. 2nd Lt. (d.26th Apr 1917)
  • Fairs William. Spr.
  • Goodwin George. Spr.
  • Hamilton Kenneth George. Spr. (d.26th Apr 1917)
  • Hansen Axel. Spr. (d.17th April 1919)
  • Henry James Douglas. Mjr.
  • Hood A.. Sgt.
  • Hood Robert. Sapper
  • Hood Robert. Spr.
  • Jones Paul. Lt.
  • Kelly Andrew. Spr.
  • Kelly Nathaniel. Spr. (d.14th Sep 1917)
  • Landrigan J. T.. Spr.
  • Lenehan John Cattlin. Sapper (d.6th Nov 1918)
  • Levy Charles McKnight.
  • Limpus Harry. Cpl.
  • Lyne W. G.. WO.
  • Mann G.. Spr.
  • McCrohon Henry Louis. Spr.
  • McGuinness Joseph Tasman. Spr.
  • McKinnon J. J.. Spr.
  • Meehan William Walter. Spr.
  • Moore A. A.. Spr.
  • Mullins J.. Spr.
  • Neil Edward. Spr.
  • Neucom Isaac Thomas. Spr.
  • Oakman Alfred Ernest.
  • Oakman Alfred Ernest.
  • Park James Down. Spr. (d.13th June 1917)
  • Royle John. Lt.
  • Simpson George. Spr.
  • Smith Peter. Spr.
  • Smith Thomas Henry. Spr.
  • Snedden J. B.. Spr. (d.7th Apr 1917)
  • Snedden W. F.. Spr.
  • Stevenson MM.. John Cowan. S/Sgt.
  • Tandy Arthur Elton. Lt. (d.25th Apr 1917)
  • Tither Jonathan. Spr.
  • Tracy R. J.. Cpl.
  • Trembath Richard. Spr.
  • Walby John Harold. Spr.
  • Watts DSO.. John Levi. RQMS.
  • Woodward Oliver Holmes. Capt.
  • Young Archie Joseph. Spr (d.20th Oct 1917)

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Dec 2017

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Spr. Keith Warrington Connolly 1st Australian Tunneling Company

Keith Connolly was a well known Australian entertainer. He performed with his parents' variety troupe from age seven and while in his teens was a member of the Young Australia League. In 1916 he enlisted with the A.I.F. at the age of 18 (though he declared his age to be 21 on his enlistment papers) and went on to serve with First Australian Tunnellers.

After returning to Australia in 1919 he and his sister Gladys Shaw toured with such troupes as the Royal Strollers (1919) and Nat Phillips Stiffy and Mo Company (1921- 25) before forming Keith Connolly's Syncopating Jesters (1925-27). His theatrical career continued well into the 1950s, included engagements with George Wallace (1930), Nat Phillip's Whirligigs, Fullers All-American Revue Co, and in companies featuring Roy Rene, Stud Foley, and Keith's wife Elsie Hosking. He had one son, also named Keith. Read more.

Sharon Connolly


Alfred Ernest Oakman 1st Tunneling Company Australian Engineers

According to mapping our Anzacs my grandfather served at Hill 60. He was Alfred Ernest Oakman who was born in Gembrook Vic. Aus

G. Oakman


Capt. Chaplain. Percy Baker 1st Australian Tunnelling Coy.

Percy Baker was born in Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. He graduated from Cambridge University with a Batchelor of Arts Degree and during his time there gained military experience with the Officers Training Corps. He then became a Church of England minister.

In 1915 he was a Clerk in Holy Orders at St Peterís Church, Forbes Street, Sydney, N.S.W. and he enlisted with the Chaplainís Department for service abroad. His height is recorded as 5ft 7Ĺins, weight 146lbs with a chest measurement 33 and he had good eyesight. His next-of-kin was given as his mother Mrs Henrietta Baker of 29 Sefton Park Road, Bristol, England.

He left Sydney aboard the troopship HMAT A35 Berrima on December 17, 1915 arriving on January 23, 1916 at the port of Suez. Where Chaplain Baker was allotted to No 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station. On March 9, 1916 transferred from No 1 Australian General Hospital to the A.I.F. Base Camp at Giza then was taken on strength at Ras-el-Tin Convalescent Camp, Seraphim on March 21. On March 27, 1916 Chap Baker proceeded to Alexandria to embark on transport Corsican heading for Marseilles, France and then the Western Front.

Chaplain Baker remained with the 1 Australian C.C.S. until October 18, 1916 when he proceeded to join the 14th Infantry Battalion Headquarters in the field, remaining until A.I.F. orders were received to return to England on February 22, 1917.

On March 1, 1917 the Chaplain, at his own expense, took leave of absence and returned to Australia per transport S.S. Mongara arriving on May 10, 1917. Returning to Sydney, N.S.W. he married Alice G. Stephen and on the 14th of June 1917 he embarked onboard HMAT A20 Hororata to return to duty. The ship docked at Liverpool, England on the 26th of August 1917. On the 24th of October Chaplain Baker proceeded overseas to France via Southampton marching in two days later at the Australian General Base Depot at Havre.

Captain Chaplain Baker marched out to join the 1st Tunnelling Company reporting for duty on 31st of October 1917. He was granted a promotion to the rank of 3rd Class Chaplain (without extra pay) on the 1st of December 1917.

Captain Chaplain Baker returned to Australia on the transport H.T. City of Exeter embarking from England on the 15th of January 1919 and his appointment was terminated on the 20th of April 1919.


Sapper John Cattlin Lenehan 1st Australian Tunneling Company (d.6th Nov 1918)

Our great great uncle John Lenehan served in the war. I believe he was at Hill 60 and Hill 63 by what I have followed in the War Diaries. He was injured on the 2nd if October 1918 and died on the 6th of November 1918 and was buried in Birmingham, England on the 11th. My sister and I will be trying to follow in his foot steps in Oct and Nov 2018. I you have any thing on him it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Chrisatine Bee


S/Sgt. John Cowan "Jock" Stevenson MM. 1st Australian Tunneling Company

John Stevenson had served with the 8th Battalion, Royal Scots Regiment for 5 years before coming to Australia. During the Great War he served with the Australian Imperial Force. He was my father-in-law. I had known Jock for four years prior to his death in 1957, just four months before his fourth grandson was born. Three of Jock's medals were lost in a house fire in 1930 in Nundah, Brisbane, however the Military Medal was found very burnt and the ribbon discoloured and the bar gone. This medal is the way I have been searching for more info. My granddaughter will be attending these commentary services and wearing replica medals. He was a very dear and a gracious gentleman, I have missed him for nearly 60 years now but my memory of him holds wonderful memories of a brave soldier who never wanted to talk about the war and it is only in my latter years have I have sort more information for my children and grandchildren.

Shirley Louisa Stevenson


Sapper Richard Campbell 1st Australian Tunneling Company

My Grandfather, Richard Campbell, was at Hill 60, survived the war, returned home, passed away 1952.


Spr. Axel Hansen 1st Tunneling Coy Royal Engineers (d.17th April 1919)

Axel Hansen, born was in Skive, Denmark. He served with the 1 Aus. Tunnelling Coy. He died on 17th April 1919 and is buried at Tidsworth Military Cemetery. On his gravestone in Danish is: "Tro mod sin slægt - Tro mod Danmark" (Faithful to his family - Faithful to Denmark).

J√?rgen Flintholm Hansen


Spr. Robert Hood 4 sect. 1st Australian Tunnelling Company

Robert Hood (my grandfather) was from Scotland. He came to Australia in 1912 and settled in Sydney. He met my grandmother in Perth during their enforced extended stay after the HMAT Ulysses was damaged. He was promoted to CQMS and returned to Australia in May 1919, married my grandmother in Perth and moved to Sydney. Their daughter was born in August 1920 and Robert took his own life on 22nd September 1920. He had been very disturbed by the war.

Ewen Hill


Alfred Ernest Oakman 1st Australian Tunneling Coy.

While doing family research I found my Grandfather Alfred Oakman was at Hill 60.

Graeme Oakman


Sapper Robert Hood 4 Section 1st Australian Tunneling Company

Robert Hood returned home May 1919, he married his sweetheart Jean in Perth and moved to Sydney where they settled in Ryde. He committed suicide on 29th September 1920, one month after his daughter was born. One of the silent casualties.

Ewen Hill


Spr. Richard Trembath 1st Tunnelling Company

22 year old Richard Trembath, a miner from Charters Towers, had lost both his parents before he enlisted, so named his brother Albert William 'Bertie' Trembath as his next of kin when he enlisted on Oct 31, 1916. After basic training at Enoggera, he spent time in Victoria receiving further instruction before being transferred to the February Reinforcement Tunnelling Companies.

Sapper Richard Trembath embarked from Melbourne, Vic on May 11, 1917 aboard the transport HMAT A9 Shropshire as one of 168 Tunnellers bound for Active Service. During the voyage the ship stopped at Durban and Capetown and after seventy days at sea terminated at Plymouth, England on July 19, 1917. The troops were detrained to Tidworth. The next day they marched in to Parkhouse Camp for preparative training for the Front. Richard spent the next two years in military service, joining the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company just weeks after the events at Hill 60.

A.I.F. Headquarters advised Sapper Trembath of his return to Australia departing aboard H.T. Boorara on July 6, 1919. Next-of-kin were notified on July 31, 1919 of his impending return. He disembarked in the 3 Military District (Vic) on August 26, 1919 and returned to the 1 M.D. (Qld) for discharge on September 28, 1919. In 1920 Richard Trembath married Clara Louisa Mitchell. Sapper 6955 Richard Trembath of 1 Tunnelling Company was awarded the British War Medal (29037) and the Victory Medal (27751) for his service to his Country. A Statement of his Service was sent to the Repatriation Department on September 22, 1937. The name R. Trembath appears in column 5 on the Charters Towers Methodist Circuit Honour Board 1914-1919. This board is now in the Charters Towers Folk Museum (formerly Zara Clark Museum).

Barbara L Whittaker


Spr Archie Joseph Young 1st Australian Tunnelling Company (d.20th Oct 1917)

My Great Uncle, Archie Young, had been conscripted in Queensland, Australia my late grandfather informed me. He was wounded in action, possibly by a sniper in October 1917 and died of his wounds. He is buried at the Huts Cemetry Ypres, Belgium.

John Cantway


Spr. Jonathan Tither 1st Australian Tunneling Company

Jonty Tither left England sometime after 1906 and worked in Abermain NSW until he joined up in April 1916. He served with the 4th Tunnelling Coy then transferred to the 1st Tunnelling Coy 1916 in France. He was demobed in Aapril 1919 in England and returned to Lancashire to my grandmother and their two sons, my father was born in 1920. Jonty died in November 1943, I have his medals but few memories of this side of the family.

Jonathan Tither


Spr. Paul Benjamin Collis 1st Australian Tunnelling Company

Paul Collis, 2nd from left, with his mates from the 1ST ATC in an Estaminet in 1918.

My Great Uncle, Paul Collis emigrated to Australia before the War and worked in the mines. He had been a motor engineer in London, born in the East End, and he saw one of his open topped buses from London in service in France, transporting troops. He was at Hill 60 and he left me a cap badge given to him at Hill 60 by a soldier from the Royal West Kents. He also left me a letter his cousin wrote to him, shot through the heart and the letter whilst going over the top in another part of the line. My Great Uncle Paul also left me a letter he wrote whilst in a dug out under Hill 60 in which he describes travelling there in an armoured train.

Great Uncle Paul Died in 1976, but I did return with myself to Hill 60 after my graduation in 1973. I have a picture of him with his mates from the 1ST ATC in an Estaminet in 1918. One of the soldiers in the Photo was featured in the film Beneath Hill 60. I sent a copy of the photo and it is on the films website.

Neil Coleman

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Beneath Flanders Fields: The Tunnellers War 1914-1918

Peter Barton, Peter Doyle & Johan Vandewalle

Whilst the war raged across Flanders fields, an equally horrifying and sometimes more dangerous battle took place underground. "Beneath Flanders Fields" tells the story of the tunnellers' war, which still remains one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented and mystifying conflicts of the Great War. A wealth of personal testimonies reveal the engineering, technology and science behind how this most intense of battles was fought - and won. They speak of how the tunnellers lived a relentless existence in the depths of the battlefield for almost two and a half years, enduring physical and mental stresses that were often more extreme than their infantry counterparts. Their lives were reduced to a complex war of silence, tension and claustrophobia, leading up to the most dramatic mine offensive in history launched on 7 June 1917 at Messines Ridge. Yet, Messines was not the end of their story, which continued with the crafting of a whole underground world of headquarters, cookhouses and hos
Underground Warfare 1914-1918

Simon Jones

Simon Jones's graphic history of underground warfare during the Great War uses personal reminiscences to convey the danger and suspense of this unconventional form of conflict. He describes how the underground soldiers of the opposing armies engaged in a ruthless fight for supremacy, covers the tunnelling methods they employed, and shows the increasingly lethal tactics they developed during the war in which military mining reached its apotheosis. He concentrates on the struggle for ascendancy by the British tunnelling companies on the Western Front. But his wide-ranging study also tells the story of the little known but fascinating subterranean battles fought in the French sectors of the Western Front and between the Austrians and the Italians in the Alps which have never been described before in English. Vivid personal testimony is combined with a lucid account of the technical challenges - and ever-present perils - of tunnelling in order to give an all-round insight into the extraord
More information on:

Underground Warfare 1914-1918

Beneath Hill 60 [DVD]

BENEATH HILL 60 tells the extraordinary true story of Oliver Woodward, the legendary Australian metal scientist. In 1916, Woodward faced the most difficult decision, ultimately having to separate from his new young love for the deadly carnage of the Western Front. On treacherous territory, behind the German enemy lines, Woodward and his secret platoon of Australian tunnelers face a suicidal battle to defend a leaking, tunnel system. A tunnel packed with enough high explosives to change the course of the War.
More information on:

Beneath Hill 60 [DVD]

Hill 60: Ypres (Battleground Europe)

Nigel Cave

The shell-ravaged landscape of Hill 60, some three miles south east of Ypres, conceals a labyrinth of tu nnels and underground workings. This book offers a guide to the memorials, cemeteries and museums at the site '
Beneath Hill 60 [Paperback]

Will Davies

'Ten seconds, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one - fire! Down goes the firing switch. At first, nothing. Then from deep down there comes a low rumble, and it as if the world is spliting apart...' On 7th June 1917, nineteen massive mines exploded beneath Messines Ridge near Ypres. The largest man-made explosion in history up until that point shattered the landscape and smashed open the German lines. Ten thousand German soldiers died. Two of the mines - at Hill 60 and the Caterpillar - were fired by men of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company, comprising miners and engineers rather than parade-ground soldiers. Drawing on the diaries of one of the key combatants, "Benealth Hill 60" tells the little-known, devastatingly brutal true story of this subterranean war waged beneath the Western Front - a stygian battle-ground where men drowned in viscous chalk, suffocated in the blue gray clay, choked on poisonous air or died in the darkness, caught up up in vicious hand-to-han
More information on:

Beneath Hill 60 [Paperback]


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