The following notification has been passed on by the Secretary of the Brisbane Branch of 31Bn Association, Tony Wadeson on Sunday 9 Dec 2018.
Dear Members, it is with great sadness I advise of the passing of our dear comrade & friend, – Doug. Moffett. It is believed Doug passed away yesterday (Saturday). Little is known of the circumstances at this stage, but I’ll keep you informed when further details come to hand.
Doug was extremely proud that he had the Honour to serve, & eventually Command the 31st Bn. He was a staunch member of the Association, always tried to be involved with all of the Association undertakings. He was very active, approaching his mid ninety’s but during the past month has had numerous Hospital visits, but according to him, it was nothing he couldn’t handle. His death has been a great shock, completely unexpected.
At Doug’s request his service was a private family based service with eulogies led by his two sisters and two of his nieces. The emphasis was a celebration of his long and fulfilling life in both his civilian and military capacities. His sisters were aware of his love of the Association and its members and of his keen ongoing interest in the Unit which he had led as CO back in the early 70s.
A limited number of Brisbane branch Association members were invited to attend the small service which was held at the Garden Chapel of the Albany Creek Memorial Park at 10.30am on Monday 17th December 2018. At the conclusion of the service a final salute was provided by Association members as the curtains closed over Doug’s coffin.
Some years ago our friend
and fellow 31st Battalion Association member, Bruce Lees, was discussing WW1
Battles on the Western Front with a new friend, Eric Munro. Bruce, whose Great
Grandfather, Lt James Benson (of 32nd Bn AIF) was KIA in the Battle of Fromelles
and only identified at the Centenary Commemorations of the Battle of Fromelles
in 2016 has been a student of the Western Front Battles for over 30 years. He
has visited these Battlefields each year for the last 17
Eric mentioned that he had an ancestor who was in WW1 but he didn’t know much about his war service. Bruce asked his name and said he would investigate his War history. And what a history it is !! Eric’s ancestor was Lt Albert Hill of 31st Battalion AIF.
Bruce researched Albert Hill’s history and advised Eric.
This is a summary –
Bert (he signed his application “B Hill”) joined the 2nd Light Horse Regt on 30 June 1915 in Brisbane. He was a shearer and his NOK was his wife who was living in Hornsby NSW. Embarked for Egypt 4th Oct 15-
Promoted T/Sgt 20th Nov 15-
Transferred to 1 LHR and revert to Pte 8th Feb 16 –
Transferred to 5th Div Arty Bde 21st Apr 16 –
Promoted Sgt 1st May 16-
Landed Marseilles and moved to Western Front 25th June 16.
Joined Officer Cadet Bn Cambridge Eng 5th May 17-
Appointed 2Lt 1st Sept 17 –
Promoted Lt & posted to 31st Bn 1st Dec 17 as a Pl Commander.
In the space of 6 months after joining 31st Bn, Bert
featured in 2 actions which resulted in the following Citations and Awards
Military Cross Citation for actions on 21st March
1918 For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He together with another
Officer and one man, took up a position near the enemy’s wire, intending to
remain there during the day to observe. When 60 of the enemy were observed
advancing in 2 parties, realising that an attack on our picquet line was
imminent , he decided to resist the attack and opened fire with his revolver.
The enemy were at first thrown into confusion, but immediately afterwards
commenced to bomb the party, all 3 being wounded. Despite this they continued to
fight until all their ammunition and bombs had been expended and finally
succeeded in routing the enemy. On the journey back to our lines, he helped to
extricate another officer, from some wire. His magnificent courage and
determination undoubtedly broke up the enemy’s attack and cannot be too highly
Bar to Military Cross Citation for actions on 10th May
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When one
of our aeroplanes crashed in the enemy lines, he called for a volunteer and
stretcher, and walked out of his trenches 600 yards under enemy fire to see if
the pilot lived. Finding the pilot only dazed ,they assisted him from the plane,
placed him on a stretcher and carried him back to our lines. By his gallant
disregard for his own life, Lt Hill saved the pilot from almost certain capture,
and set a splendid example to his men. The volunteer, Pte Harry Boughton, was
awarded a Military Medal.
Notwithstanding these brave actions, the crux of this
story occurred some days later. On May 15th 1918 a RAF Bomber, flown by Capt
Francis Mond & Lt Edgar Martyn, had bombed German Ammunition Dumps at
Bapaume and was subsequently shot down by a German plane. It crashed in No Mans
Land just south of the Somme River in front of the 31st Battalion lines. The
aerial fight and crash was witnessed by Lt Bert Hill and he ventured out under
enemy fire and extricated and identified the bodies and arranged for them to be
transported back to BHQ.
Lt Hill arranged for the personal effects to be sent to
Capt Mond’s parents, a wealthy English couple. The parents were very thankful
that Lt Hill had retrieved the bodies so they could be properly buried (another
story refer – http://www.webmatters.net/txtpat/?id=495)
The parents arranged for a memorial
to be erected overlooking the crash site and a statue of St George (English
Patron) commissioned in bronze and presented to Lt Hill.This statue now resides
in the Australian War Memorial There was another statue commissioned and this
now resides in the Imperial War Museum in London.
Lt Bert Hill was wounded for the 3rd time on 29th Aug
with a GSW to the chest and was evacuated to England and subsequently to
Australia. A most distinguished 31st Bn Officer. Bert Hill lived to age 86 and
died on 28 Dec 1974. He is buried at Binnaway Cemetery NSW. LEST WE
On my trip with Bruce in Sept 2017 , he was able to show me the Memorial, and the 31st Battalion lines beyond (see photo). Please note- there are a number of references to these events in Nev Browning’s book “Fromelles to Nauroy” and also a photo of the St George statue. htt//www.awm.gov.au/collection/C157079 – says Statue of St. George given to Lt. Albert Harold Hill (service no. 1428), 31st Battalion A.I.F to commemorate his recovering of the body of British airman Lt. Francis L. Mond. The statue was given to Lt. Hill by Mond’s parents. St. George holds aloft a flag that bears the AIF Rising Sun insignia. The sculpture appears to be a copy (in miniature) of the Maidstone Memorial by Sir George Frampton, located in England.
“In discussion about the role of 31st Battalion during the Battle of Polygon Wood, where Paddy Bugden was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in the Battle, some have suggested that another should also have been awarded a Victoria Cross.
In fact, there was another 31st Battalion digger recommended for a Victoria Cross as listed in the attached page of the Bn War Diary. He was Pte William Overend WILSON. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and then the Belgium Award “The Decoration Militaire” . His Distinguished Conduct Medal citation reads – “Polygon Wood 26th-28th Sept 1917: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. When the leading troops were subjected to heavy enfilade fire from a pillbox he led his section on his own initiative and attacked and captured it, putting the whole garrison out of action and taking 4 enemy machine guns. His courage and devotion to duty were an inspiration to his comrades.”
His Decoration Militaire citation reads – “At Polygon Wood east of Ypres during the period 25th-28th Sept 1917 this soldier displayed the greatest coolness, initiative and deliberation. When an enemy MG in the “Pill Boxes” at Jerk House commenced a murderous enfilade fire on the first and second waves, he, notwithstanding that his officer and NCOs had been killed, saw the situation at a glance, and calling on his section to follow, gallantly led the way. By his vigorous example and action, the section surrounded the Pill Box, capturing and killing all the occupants in addition to seizing four machine guns, thereby saving the right flank from entire annihilation. At all times and under all circumstances his cheerfulness and devotion to duty inspired his comrades. He acted as a guide to relieving troops and was always the first to volunteer for dangerous tasks.”
A number of people with detailed knowledge of the Battle of Polygon Wood and of conventions in awarding various Honours at that time, consider that the Aussie Commanders thought his actions were deserving of a VC but the overall Commanders (ie Birdwood & Haigh) wished to limit VCs to one per unit per action. So they arranged for a Belgian Award in addition to the DCM. It is most unusual to be awarded 2 decorations for the one action.
L/Cpl WILSON was KIA on 25th May 1918 and is buried at Adelaide Cemetery in France.
In August 2018, while no photo of L/Cpl Wilson had been found, a photo of his grave had been obtained. It had also been ascertained that a Street in West End Townsville had been named in his honour in the 1920s (not far from his parents’ home in Flinders St West End.) It was therefore thought appropriate this little known Townsville man be recognized for his outstanding efforts at the Church Service on Sunday 19 August 2018. Apart from the special prayer for L/Cpl Wiliiam O Wilson as detailed in the Programme, we arranged for one of Pierre Seillier’s (our Honorary French Member) magnificent Tributes to be donated to the Cathedral and will be displayed in the Cathedral. The family motto has also been added to the gravestone. See photos below –
Members were shocked to hear of the passing in Sept 2017 of Maj Rod Golding RFD ADM (Rtd). Rod died suddenly of a heart attack while on holidays in South Australia.
Rod became OC of 31st Indep Rifle Coy from 1980 – 1981. It was a particularly difficult period for the 31st. The Unit had been reorganized to an Independent Rifle Coy in 1976, a victim of the Miller committee report. Under Rod’s leadership an increased emphasis training and on recruitment was starting to pay off as numbers slowly increased. This was eventually to see the unit restored to Battalion size in 1986.
Rod was a very enthusiastic member of the 31st Battalion association. in August 2017, just a few months before his passing he was one of the members who travelled to Townsville for the annual Commemorative Church Service and a dedication Service at Lavarack Barracks.
In a speech given at the August 2017 Commemorative Service, Brigadier Steve Graw said “Rod Golding gave me what turned out to be one of the two best pieces of advice I ever received”. He said “There are three things that a commander needs to do”, he said: “Make sure that the soldiers are fed properly, that they are paid correctly and that their training is relevant, interesting and challenging. Do that and they will forgive you just about anything else”. (The other best piece of advice was “bad news does not get any better with age” – delivered on three separate occasions by three separate Generals on the same pre-command course — so they must have meant it).
Rod’s funeral service was held on Tuesday 3 Oct 2017 at the Uniting Church, Albany Creek Rd., Albany Creek.