RSL SA has created a Virtual War Memorial that has enabled the families of our fallen heroes to share their stories and family history.
This is one of their stories.
Herbert Walter (known as Bert) Crowle 1884 – 1916
Known as Bert, Herbert Walter Crowle's parents were his father John William Crowle and mother Matilda Alice Matthews Crowle, of Glen Huntley (late of Hamilton) in Victoria. He had been apprenticed to a Builder, named Stone & Coy, in Melbourne for 4 years. Having moved to Adelaide by the time of his enlistment he was described by vocation as a Master Builder.
At enlistment he was 30 years 11 months old; married; 5’ 5” tall; 147 lbs of fair complexion; blue eyes; brown hair. His religion was given as Church of England.
His Next of kin was listed as his wife, Mrs Mary Beatrice Crowle at Bennington Road, Eastwood SA. They had a son, William (Bill) Herbert Crowle who was only about 3 months old when Bert enlisted. The family were later living in Kermode Street North Adelaide.
Bert also had a brother in Adelaide; William A Crowle, of Kensington Gardens SA.
Following recuperation in hospital in Alexandria he embarked once more for ANZAC in November 1915. However by this time the 10th Battalion had withdrawn for rest on Lemnos, so Bert rejoined the unit there. He was promoted Lance Corporal in December.
After a period of training and reorganisation in Egypt, the 10th Battalion moved to the Western Front in France. Bert's chronology of service was as follows:
In July 1916 the battalion took part in the battle for Pozières village and then in August, around Mouquet Farm.
By this time the Battalion had endured heavy casualties and as always the junior officers suffered a disproportionately high rate. It appears that Bert Crowle having demonstrated the requisite ability, was commissioned in the Field.
When the fighting shifted from Pozieres, after the Windmill feature was captured and changed dirrection towards Mouquet Farm, Bert Crowle was leading a platoon. Later that month Bert Crowle was wounded by a German machine gun while endeavouring to communicate with an adjacent group of troops. He was evacuated wounded to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station behind the lines.
His wound became infected (there were no anti-biotics at that time) and despite surgery his condition deteriorated. Hours before he died on 25 August 1916, his condition had deteriorated such that he could not write, so he dictated a letter to his wife, Beatrice and their young son Bill back in Australia. A chaplain working at the clearing station wrote the letter on his behalf. It remains one of the most poignant letters of its kind and is often quoted.
Dearest Beat and Bill,
Just a line you must be prepared for the worst to happen any day. It is no use trying to hide things. I am in terrible agony & I was hit running out to see the other officer who was with me but badly wounded. I ran too far as I was in a hurry and he had passed the word down to return, it kept coming down and there was nothing to do but go up and see what he meant. I got two machine-gun bullets in the thigh another glanced off by my water bottle and another by the periscope I had in my pocket you will see that they send my things home. It was during the operations around Mouquet Farm about 20 days I was in the thick of the attack on Pozières as I had just about done my duty. Even if I get over it I will never go back to the war as they have taken pounds of flesh out of my buttock & The Stretcher Bearers could not get the wounded out any way than over the top and across the open. They had to carry me four miles with a man waving a red cross flag in front and the Germans did not open fire on us.
Well dearest I have had a rest, the pain is getting worse and worse.
I am very sorry dear, but still you will be well provided for I am easy on that score.
So cheer up dear I could write on a lot but am nearly unconscious.
Give my love to Dear Bill and yourself, do take care of yourself and him.
Your loving husband, Bert.”
(“This letter of farewell, with another letter from the chaplain, are held at the AWM.”)
In October 1919 Beatrice (his wife) and William (his brother) had a large headstone erected over his grave at the time and the Imperial War Graves Commission has maintained the original in Puchevilliers British Cemetery ever since.
Story courtesty of the RSL Virtual War Memorial.
Dawn services across Adelaide:
South Australian National War Memorial on North Terrace, Adelaide from 6.00am.
Blackwood Soldiers’ Memorial Garden – 6:30am
Brighton Arch of Remembrance – 6:00am
Cherry Gardens War Memorial – 8:30am
Colonel Light Gardens Memorial – 6:15am
Coromandel Valley War Memorial Gardens – 9:00am
Daw Park Repatriation General Hospital Chapel – 7:00am
Edwardstown Memorial Garden – 6:30am
Glenelg Memorial Moseley Square – 6:00am
Glynde St Andrew’s Lutheran Church – 7:00am
Hahndorf Johnston Park – 6:30am
Henley Beach Memorial – 6:30am
Hilton Memorial Gardens – 6:00am
Kensington Gardens Reserve – 6:30am
Lobethal Cross of Remembrance – 6:30am
Magill “The Gums”, Shakespeare Avenue – 6:30am
McLaren Vale Memorial Park – 6:00am
Mitcham Soldiers Memorial Garden – 6:10am
Morphett Vale City of Onkaparinga Memorial Gardens – 6:00am
Murray Bridge Sturt Reserve – 5:45am
Norwood War Memorial – 6:15am
Payneham Cross of Sacrifice, Memorial Gardens – 6:15am
Strathalbyn Memorial Garden- 6:15am
Tea Tree Gully Memorial Gardens – 6:30am
Willunga, Main Road – 6:15am
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