John Wilfrid TURNER

Poppy

TURNER, John Wilfrid

Service Number: 2158
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Tea Tree Gully, South Australia , September 1895
Home Town: Tea Tree Gully, South Australia
Schooling: Modbury State School, Pulteney Street School and Saint Peters College, South Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Died of wounds, Belgium, 11 June 1917
Cemetery: Underhill Farm Cemetery
Ploegsteert, Wallonie, Belgium
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

28 Aug 1916: Involvement Private, SN 2158, 43rd Infantry Battalion
28 Aug 1916: Embarked Private, SN 2158, 43rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Anchises, Adelaide
11 Jun 1917: Involvement Lance Corporal, SN 2158, 43rd Infantry Battalion

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Biography

From the book Fallen Saints

John Wilfrid Turner of ‘Neula’ at Largs Bay South Australia was born at Tea Tree Gully in September 1895. He was educated at Modbury State School, Pulteney Street School and at the Collegiate School of St Peter where he served in the cadets; after leaving school, he took up farming. He enlisted on 14 April 1916 in Adelaide and was in transit with A Company 2nd Depot Battalion until 10 May when he joined the 14th quota of reinforcements for the 27th Battalion.

In June, he attended the School of Musketry at Cheltenham as an acting sergeant and after successfully completing the course, returned to 2nd Depot Battalion and retained his acting rank until July.

On 16 July, he reverted to private and commenced training at the Mitcham Camp NCO School which he successfully completed before joining the 3rd quota of reinforcements for the 43rd Battalion on 28 August.

Formed in South Australia in 1916, the 43rd Battalion with the 41st, 42nd, and 44th Battalions formed the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division.

Acting Corporal ‘Jack’ Turner sailed from Adelaide aboard HMAT Anchises at the end of August and after disembarkation at Plymouth marched into 11th Training Battalion.

On 20 November, he was taken on the strength of the 43rd Battalion and three days later was appointed lance corporal; he sailed for France in November. 

Lance Corporal Turner was wounded at Messines on 10 June 1917 and died the following day; he was 23 year of age.

Witness Statements [i]

When interviewed at 3rd London General Hospital in April 1918 Lieutenant Archibald Black said ‘Turner was wounded at Messines and died in the Dressing station and was buried at Steinwerke.’

In a letter to the Red Cross dated 22 June 1918, Lieutenant Robert Berriman wrote,  ...  All I can really tell you is that he was hit by a bullet on the night 9/10th June 1917(or possibly 10/11) and was passed back through the CCS at Bailleul.

Lieutenant Black, was certain Corporal Turner was not buried on the battlefield but laid to rest in a ‘soldier’s cemetery.’

He was mortally wounded in a trench near the River Douve just south of Messines and a few hundred yards east of Schneitzel Farm.

When John Turner’s mother received the memorial plaque, she wrote to the authorities to inform them they had spelt his second name as Wilfred rather than Wilfrid so they quickly replied assuring her the mistake would be rectified.

Writing from her residence at Largs Bay, (by then renamed from Neula to St Wilfrid’s) Mrs Turner said she was pleased with the plaque and happy to ‘leave it as it is.’ 



[i] Australian War Memorial, Australian Red Cross wounded and missing enquiry bureau files – Turner John Wilfrid / 2800205, viewed 11 November 2005

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