Claude Vivian RADFORD


RADFORD, Claude Vivian

Service Number: 1729
Enlisted: 29 February 1916, Adelaide South Australia Australia
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Angaston, South Australia, 25 May 1891
Home Town: Angaston, Barossa, South Australia
Schooling: Angaston State School
Occupation: Carpenter, Gardener (Orchardist)
Died: Killed in Action, Messines Flanders Belgium, 10 June 1917, aged 26 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Angaston Congregational Church WW1 Roll of Honour, Angaston District WW1 Roll of Honour, Angaston War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Curlwaa Memorial Gates and flagpole, Curlwaa Memorial Hall, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Wentworth War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

29 Feb 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1729, 50th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
29 Feb 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1729, 50th Infantry Battalion
29 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide South Australia Australia
11 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, HMAT Aeneas (A60)
13 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1729, 50th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
2 Apr 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1729, 50th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
7 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 1729, 50th Infantry Battalion, Battle of Messines
Date unknown: Wounded SN 1729, 50th Infantry Battalion

Letter to sister (19 September 1916)

The following are excerpts from a letter that Claude Vivian Radford sent to his sister Clara Constant Radford on September 19th 1916 from "Somewhere in France":

"I got your letter just before we went in the trenches for the second time... I think we were in for about 3 days the last night we were in it rained all night and you can't imagine what a mess I was in when we came out. I had a thick coat of mud all over me and I was fairly knocked out. It is marvellous how you come out alive the way shells fly about, a man's life isn't worth much in the firing line, it is all artillery fire... I don't know when we will go in again. I am not anxious it is a hell on earth up there. There is more shells than rifle bullets I think. Our artillery is marvellous, but Fritz has got shells too."

Used with the kind Permission of Bill Sibley.

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Information by Bill Sibley

Claude was born in Angaston, South Australia on 25 May 1891.

He was the 9 child and 5 son of Hermon and Mary Jane Radford.

He grew up in Angaston and trained as a carpenter with his father and his uncles, who were builders.

A talented sportsman, he played football, tennis and cricket.

He left Angaston and took up a fruit block in Curlwaa Irrigation Settlement near Wentworth, New South Wales.

It was from here (Curlwaa) that Claude enlisted on the 29 February 1916. He declared he was single with his next of kin been his eldest sister Blanche Ethel Radford of Angaston and was 24 years old. He measured 5 feet 11.5 inches (181.5 cm) making him relatively tall for his time to enlist. Although an Gardener (Orchardist) living in Curlwaa, he listed his home town as Angaston and his occupation as a carpenter.

He went into camp (Mitcham Camp at Adelaide) on 14 March 1916. He embarked at Outer Harbour on 11 April 1916 on HMAT Aeneas (A60) as part of the 2nd Reinforcements of the 50th Battalion. He arrived in Egypt on 14 May 1916, a couple days before his 25th Birthday. 

After a short time in Egypt (while the AIF underwent its 'doubling phase' (splitting the existing 1st and 2nd Divisions to become the 4th and 5th Divisions,)) he left for France on 6 June, arriving on 10 June 1916 at Marseilles. He was later drafted into A Company of the 50th Battalion and then the Machine Gun Section.

Only several days after arriving in France on 22 June he was taken ill with tonsillitis. He was discharge to duty on 28 June and re-joined his unit on 29 June.

His first action as part of the 50th Battalion was at Pozieres/ Mouquet Farm where after 5 weeks fighting Australian had suffered 23,000 casualties - its worst ever total in 5 weeks. The 50th Battalion's had been heavily involved in fighting at Mouquet Farm from 13 August to 15 August and it was replaced by another Australian Battalion on 16 August. It was here on 16 August when Claude was coming out of the front line that he was 'wounded' in action. In reality he wasn't wounded but was suffering from shell shock, modern day post-traumatic stress disorder and he was taken to the 1st Australian Rest Station where he was released later the same day. This makes sense as after seeing horrific fighting for two days he was probably knocked about.

The 50th Battalion again took part in a renewed offensive at Mouquet Farm on 3 September 1916. 

Claude continued serving with the Machine Gun Section of A Company throughout the rest of 1916 and into 1917.   

He gained his promotion in April 1917 to Lance Corporal with the most probable reason to do with work he had done at Noreuil on 2 April 1917. Noreuil was the 50th Battalion's next major offensive after Mouquet Farm and was part of a wider set of attacks on fortified towns and villages that the German's had left behind in early 1917 in their retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The 50th Battalion attacked Noreuil on night of 2 April 1917.

Later by June 1917 the 50th Battalion had been moved up the front line into Belgium to take part in the impending Messines Ridge Operation.  

Claude was killed in action at Messines Ridge, Belgium, on 10 June 1917, twelve months to the day he arrived in France, aged 26 years. The 50th Battalion's part in the Messines Ridge Operation was to attack and capture a section of 'Odd Trench.' On the night of 9/10 June 1917 they attack, but failed to capture the trench due to heavy artillery and machine gun fire. As a result the 50th Battalion attacked again the next night on 10/11 June 1917. Due to the lack of information regarding individual soldiers it can be assumed that Claude Vivian Radford was killed in Action in the attack on Odd Trench. it could be, however, he was killed somewhere else as several days before hand the 50th Battalion had transferred several of its Machine Gun sections to other Australian Battalion's. 

He has No Known Grave and is his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.       


Lance Corporal Claude Vivian Radford

'A' Company

50th Battalion AIF

13th Brigade

Machine Gunner 


His name appears on:

     National War Memorial Canberra

     War Memorial Wentworth NSW

     War Memorial Angaston SA

     War Memorial Adelaide SA

     Sister's (Blanche Ethel Radford) grave Greenock SA

     Menin Gate Ieper


British War Medal: 37765

Victory Medal: 37458

Memorial Plaque and Scroll: 326404

Submitted by Nathan Rohrlach, used with the kind Permission of Bill Sibley.