Harold Charles URLWIN

Badge Number: S8716, Sub Branch: Gawler

URLWIN, Harold Charles

Service Number: 9997
Enlisted: 6 August 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Artificer
Last Unit: 3rd Motor Transport Company
Born: Port Augusta, South Australia, 7 August 1894
Home Town: Gawler, Gawler, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Fitter
Died: Natural Causes, Gawler, South Australia, 7 September 1975, aged 81 years
Cemetery: Willaston General Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Gawler Council Gawler Men Who Answered the Call WW1 Roll of Honor, Gawler Loyal Gawler Lodge I.O.O.F. M.U. WW1 Honour Board, Gawler St George Anglican Church Honour Roll, Gawler War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

6 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Keswick, South Australia
5 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 9997, 9th Field Company Engineers
5 Jul 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Driver, SN 9997, 9th Field Company Engineers, HMAT Ajana, Sydney
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Artificer, SN 9997, 3rd Motor Transport Company
13 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Artificer, SN 9997, 6th Field Artillery Brigade
3 Apr 1919: Involvement AIF WW1, Artificer, SN 9997, 3rd Motor Transport Company
21 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1

Help us honour Harold Charles Urlwin's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.



The following is an abstract from a letter written by Driver Harold Urlwin to his parents in Gawler, from the battlefield in France :—

"On Christmas morning we had to go out for a load of stuff with our teams. We made an early start and finished by about half past 12, and then partook of a good dinner of roast mutton, vegetables, and plum pudding. We fed up the mules again at 4.30 p.m., after which we spent a pleasant little time. We each threw in a few francs (10d. in English money) and there was plenty of meat and plumpudding to eat. We also indulged in speeches, musical items, etc., so altogether we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I have only received the small parcel from you so far, but I am expecting to get one with the pudding and good things in, at any time. I hope to get it in time for New Year 's Eve, as we expect to have another jolly time. I will tell you a little about the place where we are. I cannot tell you just where I am, but where our horse lines and camp are in is country that was occupied by the Germans some time back. All the fields round about are nothing but a conglomeration of barb wire entanglements, and old deserted trenches. Our camp is of course some distance back from the trenches, which are now occupied day and night ; we hear distinctly our batteries sending any amount of shells over into old Fritz's trenches. Most of our work is done at night time. We leave in the afternoon with our teams, and get loaded up in day-light, and as soon as it gets dark, we take our loads up to the trenches. On our way up we pass through two large towns, the first one has a few people in it, but there are plenty of bullet and shell holes in the walls of the houses. Then as we get nearer our destination we pass through another very large town, and I can assure you it makes one think a bit, when he sees the miles and miles of terraces of houses that are smashed to atoms by shells. The houses are just as the inhabitants ran out and left them ; it is a common sight to see furniture lying out on the roads, being blown out of some of the dwellings ; pictures still hanging on parts of the walls. It is a terrible sight to see all the ruins. One can not imagine he has seen all this distruction how many thousands of families there must be without a home. It is intensely dark some nights, on our way up to the trenches, so dark that it is impossible to see a man on horse back five or six yards away from you, and it requires careful driving sometimes as there are numbers of large shell holes blown in the cobble stone roads.

When we get near the trenches these dark nights we are glad ; the Germans are always sending up into the air star shells which light the country up all around, so that these shells not only serve to let the Germans see that our parapets are clear, but they are of great service to us in showing the road thus avoiding getting into a deep hole or running against some object. Some nights, with the exception of the sound of a stray bullet or two buzzing past, things are very quiet, other nights things are a bit more lively. The first Christmas of the war I remember reading that the Germans and our chaps were out of the trenches and played football on "no man's land.'' Things were very different this Christmas — they were a long way from playing football. Our boys were at it all day sending Christmas boxes (shells) over to the Germans. I saw one of Fritz's air machines brought down the other day. A German craft was seen over our lines, with our shells bursting all around ; all of a sudden the shooting stops, and about half-a-dozen planes spring up as though from nowhere, and give chase. Fritz generally gets back home as soon as he can. We get accustomed to the firing and noises as there are big guns close to our camp, and when they go off vibrate the place, but we sleep through it all. I frequently see some of the Gawler boys, and we all hope to be back in Gawler next Christmas. I think I told you we were driving mule teams, and believe me they are brutes and fools of things to handle, and don't think twice about shaking hands with you (that is our way of talking of kicking). Some of them are very friendly and quite ready to hand-shake ; some are real contortionists, they can pick their ears with their hind feet. We have any amount of mud here, at times up to your knees." - from the Gawler Bunyip 27 Apr 1917 (nla.gov.au)