John Turnbull (Jack) USHER

USHER, John Turnbull

Service Number: 6039
Enlisted: 20 November 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 5th Pioneer Battalion
Born: Essendon, Victoria, 1896
Home Town: Violet Town, Strathbogie, Victoria
Schooling: Violet Town State School
Occupation: Carpenter
Died: Died of Illness (meningitis), Tidworth, England, United Kingdom, 12 October 1916
Cemetery: Tidworth Military Cemetery, England
Tidworth Military Cemetery, Tidworth, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Euroa Telegraph Park, Violet Town Honour Roll WW1, Violet Town Primary School Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

20 Nov 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 6039, Melbourne, Victoria
20 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Sapper, 6039, 5th Field Company Engineers, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '5' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Runic embarkation_ship_number: A54 public_note: ''
20 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Sapper, 6039, 5th Field Company Engineers, HMAT Runic, Sydney
12 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 6039, 5th Pioneer Battalion, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 6039 awm_unit: 5 Pioneer Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1916-10-12

Help us honour John Turnbull Usher's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Elsa Reuter

USHER John Turnbull 6039 Pte.
5th Australian Pioneer Battalion

As soon as he turned 19 in November 1915, John (Jack) followed his brother Fos’s footsteps and joined up. His father gave his consent for Jack to serve overseas so there was nothing to stop him from leaving his job as a carpenter and go off to serve his country.

He embarked on HMAT Runic on 2 January to arrive at Alexandria at the end of February. In March he was taken on strength of the 15th Company of Engineers at Tel-el-Kebir. He fell ill and was hospitalised during April. In May 1916 he re-joined the 5th Engineers and embarked from Alexandria for Marseilles, arriving at the end of the month.

On 25 July, near Fleurbaix Jack fell ill again with a series of illnesses, diagnosed as pneumonia and endo-carditis. For this he was invalided to a Military Hospital at Epsom, England where he arrived on 10 August.

His health must have improved enough for him to go on a month’s furlough, from which he reported back to Perham Downs on 30 September. A month later he was back in isolation hospital dangerously ill with cerebro-spinal meningitis, from which he died on 12 October 1916.

He is buried at the Tidworth Military Cemetery, Grave no 206, Plot C.

His father received a Memorial Scroll and Plaque in 1921

Service Medals;  British War Medal        Victory Medal

Memorials: Main Honour Board, Memorial Hall, Violet Town
                    St Dunstan’s Anglican Church, Violet Town
                    ANA Honour Board

Tree No 54 was planted in 1917 by Mr Harcourt

In 2013 a Ceratonia siliqua -  Carob Tree - was planted by Kim Usher, a grandnephew.

An excerpt from the Violet Town Sentinel 19 October 1919 tells of happier times after the war  . . . a time for weddings and ‘moving on’ from the black days of the war.


On Saturday, September 27th,  the picturesque township of Marong was all interest and excitement.  Bunting was flying and the main thoroughfare thronged with people and vehicles, the occasion being a double wedding.’  The families united were Hollingworth, Usher, and Holland. Nellie and May Hollingworth were the pretty brides and their grooms were George Forrest Usher and George William Holland respectively.

‘After the festivities the happy couples left midst showers of confetti, for Bendigo in time to catch the evening train to Melbourne.’

© 2016 Sheila Burnell