Alfred Norman BISHOP MM

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BISHOP, Alfred Norman

Service Number: 235
Enlisted: 7 January 1916
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Norwood, South Australia, 12 May 1890
Home Town: Basket Range, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Schooling: Port Pirie Public School
Occupation: Market Gardener / Orchardist
Died: Killed in action, Broodseinde Ridge - Hill 40, Zonnebeke, Belgium, 4 October 1917, aged 27 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Commemorated on the Menin Gate Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient., Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Basket Range WW1 Memorial, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Uraidla War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

7 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 235, 43rd Infantry Battalion
9 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 235, 43rd Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '18' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Afric embarkation_ship_number: A19 public_note: ''
9 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 235, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
7 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 235, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Battle of Messines
31 Jul 1917: Honoured Military Medal, Third Ypres, Alfred was in the vanguard on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres. The 43rd Battalion went over the top at 3.50am on July 31, 1917. Alfred was wounded early in the attack but fought alongside his mates all day in a herculean display that earned him the Military Medal. “He showed wonderful initiative and this, combined with his devotion to duty, inspired his men and turned a critical situation into a success,” the battalion diary recorded.
31 Jul 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 235, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 235, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge

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Biography

Son of Arthur Wells BISHOP and Eva Dunstan nee CROSS of Basket Range Adelaide Hills SA

 

It's an Australian version of the Saving Private Ryan theme. The story of how a family salvaged something from the mud and blood and tears of Passchendaele, on the Western Front.

How a mother, disconsolate after having two sons killed in the space of a fortnight, dared to write to the Australian Corps commander, General William Birdwood, pleading for their third boy to be spared the same fate.

“I hope you will forgive me the liberty I am taking in sending this to you,” wrote Eva Bishop.

The “liberty” she requested was for Private Lloyd Bishop to be sent home to help his father in their Basket Range strawberry patch, in the Adelaide Hills.

“It is because his poor father, who is a market gardener, is so broken up at the loss of our 2 sons.”

Gunner Walter Bishop died on September 23, 1917, from wounds he received at the Battle of Menin Road.

Sergeant Alfred Bishop was killed in action at Broodseinde on October 4.

(After two visits in a fortnight, little wonder that Eva never talked to the local minister again.)

“Their father is 58 years of age and getting almost too old to do the work in the garden,” she wrote in her pleading letter to Birdwood.

“If you could see your way to grant my request it would be such a relief.

“We are only poor folks and cannot afford to pay anyone to do this for us or I should not have troubled you.

“Oh, I pray do try and spare him and I will bless the name of General Birdwood forever.”

 

 Alfred was in the vanguard on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres. The 43rd Battalion went over the top at 3.50am on July 31, 1917.

Alfred was wounded early in the attack but fought alongside his mates all day in a herculean display that earned him the Military Medal.

“He showed wonderful initiative and this, combined with his devotion to duty, inspired his men and turned a critical situation into a success,” the battalion diary recorded.

As the Diggers dashed across the 100m of no-man’s land, the casualties quickly mounted.

When the men faltered in the face of a fusillade of grenades, A Company commander Lieutenant Francis Tucker, a farmer from Denial Bay near Ceduna, rallied the troops.

When Tucker was wounded, Lieutenant Keith Dunstan, an orchardist from Waikerie, filled the breach.

Pity the unlucky Diggers charged with attacking No 13 post, a ruined windmill on the high ground. Ringed with wire and steeled with concrete, the windmill was hard to penetrate.

The defenders laid down a withering fire and soon the senior Australian officer, Lieutenant William Harrington, a clerk from Prospect, fell as did the first wave’s two senior sergeants.

Corporal Errol Roberts, a railway porter of West Torrens, took over to drive home the attack. Roberts was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

The Diggers captured the windmill then beat off three counterattacks but not a fourth. Not to be outdone, Sergeant George Rayner, a novice priest of Glenelg, led 40 men in a flanking assault to recapture the strategic post, wiping out the enemy.

He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, mentioned in dispatches and commissioned.

The 43rd’s official death toll was 35 but was likely much higher: of the 535 who attacked, 221 were listed as casualties.

 

Alfred Bishop's turn would come all too soon; on the 4th October 1917, Alfred was killed during the Australian attack which despite sustaining casualties from German artillery while still in their Forming Up Place (FUP), still managed to sweep the German opposition for the all important Broodseinde Ridge.

 

Alfred Bishop was one of the early casualties caused by German shelling while still in the support line.  Buried in the field near where he died, his body and those of his comrades was subsequently lost on the battlefield and he has no known grave.  His is one of the 58,000 names on the Menin Gate.

 

Andrew Faulkner - article Adelaide Sunday Mail 30 July 2017

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