Arthur Thomas WALKER

Poppy

WALKER, Arthur Thomas

Service Number: 2466
Enlisted: 29 March 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Wallaroo, South Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Goolwa, Alexandrina, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed In Action, Mouquet Farm, France, 16 August 1916, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
No Known Grave. Instead his name is memorialised on the Australian National War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux., Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Goolwa Soldiers Memorial Gardens WW1 Memorial, Goolwa War Memorial, Raukkan Aboriginal Community War Memorial, Raukkan Mission Ngarrindjeri Anzacs Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

29 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2466, 10th Infantry Battalion, Keswick, South Australia
23 Jun 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2466, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
23 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2466, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Kanowna, Adelaide
12 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2466, 50th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm

Help us honour Arthur Thomas Walker's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography

Born in Wallaroo, S.A. in 1883 - Killed in Action France, aged 33 years.

"Arthur was the oldest Ngarrindjeri ANZAC to enlist in the war. His son, born on the first ANZAC Day, was named Anzac in commemoration of his father and his role in the famous battle. He later served in the Australian Army during the 2nd World War." - SOURCE (connectingspirits.com.au)

"Mr. R. Walker, of Goolwa, has received a message that his son, Private A. T. Walker, has been missing in France since August 16. A letter was received from Private Walker, dated August 3, stating that he was going into the firing line." - from the Adelaide Advertiser 21 Sep 1916 (nla.gov.au)

"Pte. A. T. Walker, brother of Mrs. Chester, of the Point Pearce Mission Station, who fought through the Dardanelles campaign, and later was transferred to France, has been reported as missing since August." - from the Adelaide Register 28 Sep 1916 (nla.gov.au)

"My great-great grandfather, Arthur Walker was at Gallipoli. To enlist, he said he wasn't aboriginal or married. In honour of him, there's been a boy named 'Anzac' in every generation of my family since." - Anzac Lochowiak, 13-years-old (2014)

"Aboriginal Anzac Arthur Walker’s war medals returned to family

ALMOST 100 years after Aboriginal soldier Arthur Walker was killed on the Western Front during World War I, his family has been reunited with his war medals. So proud is the family of Mr Walker’s war legacy, they’ve named a son in each generation Anzac, for the past five generations. Woodforde man John Lochowiak had his great-grandfather’s medals given to him last month by a relative in Canberra after almost 50 years of searching. Mr Lochowiak was seen by his aunt Colleen Colquhoun on TV last November during news coverage of the unveiling of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial at the Torrens Parade Ground. She had the medals and returned them to the family last month.

“I got a phone call from my aunty saying my uncle had died and they had been trying to track me down and saw me on the news,” Mr Lochowiak says.

“Being killed overseas is a big deal for anyone, but in Aboriginal tradition where you are born is where you return when you die, so Arthur was separated from his country.

“It’s overwhelming to think his mother received these medals after he was killed and now they are back in the right place.”

Mr Walker, of the Ramindjeri people, was living in Gawler with his wife and children when he enlisted in 1914 at 32 years old. He landed at Gallipoli on the first Anzac Day, April 25, 1915, and served in the 10th Battalion for the entire campaign before being moved to the Western Front where he was killed in 1916.

“What’s significant is in order for him to enlist he had to say he wasn’t Aboriginal and lie about being married, because of the policy of the time, but he did it for the love of country,” Mr Lochowiak says.

“Because he wasn’t listed as married, the medals were sent to his parents who passed them on to his sister and they went down another side of the family.

“Some of our family lost contact because members went through the stolen generations and some went through the exemption certificate so the medals were lost.”

Mr Lochowiak’s mum, Mabel, spent more than 50 years trying to track down the medals through stories from elders but John took over the search two years ago when she became unwell. He enlisted the help of Bill Denny, a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Committee, who was able to find out more details about Mr Walker’s service and got Mr Lochowiak involved in the memorial celebrations.

“We never gave up hope but we feared they were lost forever,” Mr Lochowiak says.

“Getting the medals back is better than winning the lottery because we’ve also found my aunty and cousins.

“His body hasn’t come home but it’s almost like his spirit has, 100 years later, so our family is complete.”

The family started a tradition of naming a son in each generation “Anzac” in Mr Walker’s memory.

Mr Lochowiak’s son Anzac is the fifth generation to share the name and the 12-year-old says he is proud of what it represents.

“I like my name because it’s important to my family,” Anzac says.

Mr Denny says the return of the medals highlights the significance of the war efforts of Aboriginal people.

“Aboriginals served in every conflict in World War I and have only just been recognised with a memorial and it’s as if it is already doing its work bringing these medals home,” Mr Denny says." - from the Herald Sun online 18 Feb 2014 (www.heraldsun.com.au)

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Biography contributed by Belinda Holmes

The story of Arthur Walker's personal life and his connections with family and community has already been told; this document explores his military service until death.

Arthur enlisted in the AIF on 29 March 1915, at Keswick near Adelaide. He had nearly three months of training before leaving Adelaide on board the HMAT Kanowna on 23 June. It is unknown precisely when this ship reached Egypt but the journey was normally about two months. On 11 August 1915 Arthur left Egypt on board the Kingstonian, bound for Gallipoli.

He reached the peninsula on the 17th and finally joined the 10th Battalion, as part of the last batch of reinforcements that battalion received on Gallipoli. This was after the serious fighting in August, and within a few weeks the seas had started to turn rough and the weather cold. In October Arthur spent a couple of days in hospital with stomach pain, but soon returned to duty. On 22 November the 10th Battalion evacuated to nearby Lemnos and from there back to Egypt. Arthur was awarded 14 days detention on 7 January 1916 for an unspecified offence.

In Egypt, the AIF was being expanded and reorganised. Arthur was initially transferred to the 50th Battalion and then to the 4th Pioneer Battalion, part of the newly-raised 4th Australian Division. It was with the Pioneers that he sailed to France in June and from there up to the battle zone. On 17 July he was transferred back to the 50th Battalion.

The 50th Battalion's first serious action was in the fighting for Mouquet Farm, from 12 to 15 August. The battalion's war diary reports two evening attacks on the 12th and 14th, with some success. However, the war diary also makes clear the immensely heavy and almost constant pounding from German artillery, and the difficulty in bringing up water and evacuating the wounded. Many men suffered from shell shock, including the Battalion CO Lt Col. Hurcombe. Casualties were very heavy: over these four days the battalion suffered 180 dead, 6 missing, and 515 wounded (according to the 4th Division war diary: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1349896 (www.awm.gov.au))

However, on the evening of 15 August the 50th Battalion was relieved in the line and overnight made their way back to the wire trench; at about 9am they moved back to bivouac at Brickfields. The 50th Battalion's war diary says that "Showery weather made move out difficult but, in spite of heavy shelling, casualties during move were slight."

It was very likely in this move that Arthur Walker was killed. While we cannot know for sure, it makes sense that his body was never found; he was killed at night, while his unit was on the move through unfamiliar and heavily-shelled terrain. Initially he was reported missing, meaning he did not answer at the following roll call. But several months later a court of enquiry found that he was killed in action on 16 August 1916. His personal effects were sent back to his family.

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