TATTERSALL, Arthur James

Service Number: 5203
Enlisted: 24 January 1916, Bendigo, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 1st Field Bakery and Butchery
Born: Mandurang, Victoria, November 1877
Home Town: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Mandurang State School
Occupation: Butcher
Died: Natural causes, Bendigo, Victoria, 25 April 1958
Cemetery: Bendigo Civil Cemetery
Memorials: Bendigo East Bendigo School, Bendigo White Hills Arch of Triumph
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World War 1 Service

24 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5203, Bendigo, Victoria
1 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5203, 6th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
1 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 5203, 6th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Suffolk, Melbourne
16 Jul 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, Australian Army Service Corps AIF
11 Jun 1917: Transferred 1st Field Bakery and Butchery
19 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 5203, 1st Field Bakery and Butchery

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Private Arthur James Tattersall     SN 5203

The following piece appeared in the Bendigoian newspaper on February 10, 1916-  

At the conclusion of business on Saturday at Mr. E. A. Webster's butchery establishment, in Mitchell-street, Mr. A. J. Tattersall, an employee, was presented by Mr. Webster, on behalf of the employees, with a gold-mounted Barling pipe, case and tobacco pouch prior to going into camp. Mr. Webster spoke in eulogistic terms of Mr. Tattersall, and told him that his position would be kept open for him on his return. He hoped Private Tattersall would come back in good health and strength. The recipient, in responding, said he knew that he was making a great sacrifice, but he felt it every man's duty to enlist.’

Arthur James Tattersall certainly was making a great sacrifice when enlisting on January 24, 1916. He was married, most likely there were children, had a very secure job in Bendigo and was thirty eight years of age. 

Arthur and his wife Emily Ellen Tattersall lived in a new area called Thornville in East Bendigo that bordered the Grassy Flat’s district. As we can see above, Arthur worked in Mitchell Street, Bendigo at Mr E. A Webster’s Butchers.

Interesting, at this time in Bendigo, Arthur was Secretary of the Federation Butchers Union and his employer, Mr Webster was President of the Masters Butchers Association, the employer body. Arthur also had been encouraged by the local residents that lived in East Bendigo to be be thier representative on the Strathfieldsay Shire Counci. ( see - newspaper attachment)   

Arthur’s father Daniel Tattersall was a pillar of the East Bendigo community and is regularly speaking at Soldier’s farewells in the district.

We read in the Bendigo Independent on January 26, 1916 that 19 applied to enlist on the day Arthur stepped forward on January 24, with 14 being passed. The papers states- ‘The men coming forward are of exceptional stamp and stamina and will unquestionably make fine soldiers’   (Source – Bendigo Independent Jan 26, 1916 p. 6)

Arthur would go into the Bendigo camp known as the 16th depot battalion based at the racecourse in Epsom on February 8. Convenient and close to home, however, unfortunately he would only be there till the end of the month, February 25.

Arthur’s Service Record shows he would be taken into the 16th Reinforcements for the 6th Infantry Battalion. They would embark for the front on April 1st, 1916 on board the HMAT A23 Suffolk. The nominal Roll for the voyage certainly indicates Arthur would have had plenty of company from Bendigo lads. (see Nominal Roll names) 

The HMAT A23 Suffolk was leased by the Commonwealth, weighed 7573 tons with an average cruise speed of 12 knots. It was owned by the Federal Steam Navigation Co, London. It completed five transport voyages from Australia commencing 18 October 1914 until final voyage from Sydney 24, April 1917.

The journey would have been long one and on arriving in England, Arthur’s skills as a butcher have obviously become known on the voyage over. Fortunately for Arthur the HMAT Suffolk carried the 7th Field Company Engineers and the Australian Service Corp (ASC) Bakery, Butchery and 4th Depot Unit Supply.  (see photo of HMAT A23 Suffolk)

On arrival in England, Arthur is ‘Marched In’ (MI) to the Australian Army Service Corps (AASC) Depot at Perham Downs on the south coast of England on July 16, 1916.

Between August 1916 and November 1917, AIF Training camps were established across Salisbury Plain in order to train the reinforcements that had arrived with just the basic training having been provided from their time in Australia. Each Division had its own Training Group with the First division at Perham Downs.

In October, Arthur would change camps and be transferred to a new camp near Wareham, the Dorset camp which became in October 1916 the AIF No.4 Command Depot to receive the overflow from other AIF depots, caused by the influx from the fighting on the Somme.  (Source -  )

The winter of 1916/17 is spent by Arthur in camps on the Salisbury Plain in the service of feeding the large number of Australian troops. Records indicate in July 1916 over 90,000 Australian troops were in training in Great Britain. (Source - )

In May 1917, Arthur gets his chance to head to the front. On May 9 he leaves the port of Folkestone on the east coast of England for France. On arrival into the British and Australian main depot town of Estaples in Northern France, Arthur is M.I to the First Field Butchery.                                                                                                     In 'Order of Battle', a thesis on the huge effort to feed men at the front it is explained -  ‘A division required certain supply units. A depot of supply could support around 4,000 men and 1,000 animals. A division needed five of them. A field bakery and field butchery was capable of feeding 22, 500 men; A division required one of each’  (Source - )

Arthur would serve the rest of 1917 in this unit, obviously pleasing those in charge, as he is given two weeks leave to England via the fishing port on the Normandy coast of Dieppe. Arthur returns to his unit obviously in debt as he seeks a 10 pound advance from the Paymaster.

Arthur is hospitalised in December 1917 with Diphtheria, an infection caused by bacterium, no doubt an occupational hazard for those that work in Arthur’s line especially in the conditions they were endured on the western front. He would serve through 1918 from the 1st Field Butchery unit, keeping the kitchens supplied with meat.

Following the Armistice on November 11, like most Australian soldiers, Arthur was required to stay on working as a butcher until it would be his turn to return to Australia and his family.

In March (11) 1919, he is given a passage to England to await transport home. He disembarks at Weymouth on the south coast and is M.I to the Australian camp at Codford. During the First World War, there were fifteen different camps built in and around Codford (Source -  

Arthur’s wait ended on May 11, 1919 when he was granted passage home on ‘H T Zealandia’, disembarking in Melbourne on June 28 having been away from Australia three years and two months. He was discharged from the AIF on October 21, 1919.

Arthur James Tattersall of the 1st Field Butchery is remembered by the people of White Hills and East Bendigo. The names of the local lads who sacrificed their lives and those that were fortunate to return from the Great War are shown on the embossed copper plaques on the White Hills Arch of Triumph, at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens.