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Letter - 'Did' to Mr A Galbraith, World War I, 16 Jul 1916 Document Reg. No: ST 041202

Summary:
Letter written by 'Did' to Mr Galbraith, telling him how his son Sapper Alfred Galbraith had been killed by an exploding shell the previous night. The letter is addressed ' Dear Friend' and signed 'Did' and an unclear surname, but is almost certainly is Driver Clarence McArthur Fraser (AKA 'Clarrie'), a friend of Alf's from Essendon.

'Did' writes: 'he was attached to a brigade section of our company, and consequently was stationed nearer the trenches than myself. The fatality occurred last night about eight o'clock, as he and three others were moving from one dugout to another; one shell passed over their heads and they took no notice, but the next minute a bigger one exploded right beside them; two escaped injury, one named Johnson was killed outright, and poor old Alf lived but a few minutes.' 'Did' writes that he was told this account by an eyewitness, and stresses that Alfred 'died as a soldier and a hero and I am sure that you are more proud of him now, than if he had stayed a slacker at home.'

Born in Maryborough, Sapper Alfred George Finlay Galbraith was the son of Alfred and Amy C. Galbraith, of W.R. Institute, Flinders Street, Station Buildings, Melbourne. He trained as electrical engineer and enlisted in the Australian Army at the age of 20, in July 1915. His father gave written permission for him to join 'the Military Forces to serve the Empire abroad' (his mother had already died).

Galbraith served in the 5th Division Signalling Company, Australian Engineers, AIF, embarking from Melbourne on 23 November 1915 on the 'Ceramic'. He went to Egypt for further training, then was shipped to France, disembarking 27 June 1916 at Marseilles. Less than three weeks later, on 15 July, he received a wound in the thigh and a 'penetrating wound in the neck'. He died the same day at the 8th Australian Field Ambulance. He is buried at 254 Sailly-Sur-La-Lys Canadian Cemetery, France.

After he was killed in action, Sapper Galbraith's other personal effects to his next-of-kin, his father Alfred Galbraith. Included in the packet were a bible, two wallets, letters, photographs, two diaries, a pipe in a case, a cigarette holder, a tie clip, a steel mirror and six coins.
Description:
Two-page letter, hand-written in purple pencil on lined paper. Paper is now yellowed, stained, deeply creased, crumpled and torn at folds.
Acquisition Information:
Donation & Subsequent Transfer from Mrs M. Jamieson, 1985
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 216 mm (Height), 178 mm (Width)
Dimension Comment: Page 1

More information

Tagged with: australian army, australian military forces, death mourning, letters, military memorabilia, wars conflicts, world war i 1914-1918
Themes this item is part of: Sapper Alfred Galbraith, AIF (1895-1916), Public Life & Institutions Collection
Primary Classification: MILITARY HISTORY
Secondary Classification: Service
Tertiary Classification: correspondence
Inscriptions: Hand-written in pencil on the first page, upper right corner: 'Somewhere in France / 16/7/16'

Hand-written in pencil on the first page, body of text: 'Dear Friend / I have no doubt that long before / this letter reaches you, you will have heard / from the authorities, the terrible news of / Alf?s death. / As you are aware, he was attached to a brigade / section of our company, and consequently was / stationed nearer the trenches than myself. / The fatality occurred last night about eight / o?clock, as he and three others were moving from / one dugout to another; one shell passed over / their heads and they took no notice, but the next / minute a bigger one exploded right beside / them; two escaped injury, one named Johnson / was killed outright, and poor old Alf lived but / a few minutes. / This information is correct, Mr Galbraith, as I got it / from eye-witnesses of the occurrence. / I went down to the hospital where the bodies/ were taken today, but could get no more / information that that given above. His personal / effects will be forwarded to you by the authorities'

Hand-written in pencil on the second page, body of text: 'and I have one or two little things of his which I / shall send you at the first opportunity. / I know what a terrible blow this will be for / you all, and I feel his loss very much, but all I / can do under the circumstances is to offer you / my heartfelt sympathy. He was a good and true / friend to me and all [illeg.] / speak very highly of him, both as to his word / and personality. He died as a soldier and a / hero and I am sure that you are more proud / of him now, than is he had stayed a slacker / at home. / I am sure you have quite enough to worry you at / present Mr Galbraith so I will close, / Once again offering my sympathy / Yours sincerely / ?Did? [illeg.]'
Author (Probable): Mr Clarence Fraser, Flanders, France, 21 Dec 1916

Possible author
Addressed To: Mr Alfred Galbraith, Essendon, Victoria, Australia, 16 Jul 1915
Person Named: Alfred Galbraith, 16 Jul 1915
Organisation Named: 2nd Division, Australian Army, 16 Jul 1915
Organisation Named: 5th Division, Australian Army, 16 Jul 1915

Comments

Carley Posted on 01 Feb 2014 1:35 PM
This is a great historic reference, thank you for recording it and making it available in such a clear and engaging manner.

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