Archibald HAMILTON

HAMILTON, Archibald

Service Number: 115
Enlisted: 5 January 1915, Brisbane, Qld.
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 25th Infantry Battalion
Born: Torbanlea, Queensland, Australia, 1891
Home Town: Torbanlea, Fraser Coast, Queensland
Schooling: Torbanlea State School
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 5 August 1916
Cemetery: Courcelette British Cemetery
IV A 4
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Howard War Memorial, Maryborough St. Paul's Anglican Church Book of Remembrance, Shire of Howard Roll of Honour, Torbanlea State School Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

5 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 115, 25th Infantry Battalion, Brisbane, Qld.
29 Jun 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 115, 25th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Aeneas embarkation_ship_number: A60 public_note: ''
29 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 115, 25th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Aeneas, Brisbane

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

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of William Hamilton, Torbanlea via Maryborough, Queensland

Mr. W. Hamilton, Torbanlea, received a notification on Monday that his son, Private Archibald Hamilton, had been wounded. He has been in France  for some months, and also served in the Gallipoli campaign.

Biography contributed by Ian Lang


115 Archibald Hamilton  25th Battalion


Archie Hamilton was born in Torbanlea. The records make no mention of his mother or of any other siblings so it must be assumed that he lived in Torbanlea his entire life with his father, William. Archie enlisted at the Brisbane Recruiting depot in Adelaide Street on 5th January 1915. He gave his age as 24 years and 4 months and stated his occupation as labourer. Archie named his father, William Hamilton as his next of kin.


Archie was drafted as an original member of “A” Company 25th Battalion, which would form part of the 7th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Division AIF. The battalion was raised at Enoggera from recruits primarily from regional Queensland. The training provided at Enoggera was at first very basic as there were insufficient supplies of military equipment and the battalion spent a lot of time constructing the camp itself. Men were issued with a pair of boots, a pair of dungarees (overalls) and a white floppy hat. Eventually a more military order was established with uniforms issued, close order drill, musketry and route marches. On 29th May, the 25th Battalion and its sister battalion the 26th as well as a squadron of Light Horse took part in a march from Enoggera to the city, down Queen Street to Brunswick Street. Home leave was granted and many of the men had studio photographs taken in their new uniforms.

On 29th June 1915 the battalion was loaded onto trains at Enoggera Station headed for Pinkenba Wharf where they boarded the “Aeneas”. After a brief stop in Sydney, the transport headed across the bight and into the Indian Ocean bound for Egypt, arriving in Suez on 4th August. Whilst in camp at Abbassia, the men were issued with battalion colour patches; a black over blue diamond, to replace the copper “25” on the shoulders.


The Gallipoli campaign which had begun with such high expectation in late April had developed into a stalemate after the failed Anzac Attacks in August. The men of the 1st Division and the Light Horsemen who had been holding the Anzac position for almost five months were in need of a period of rest.


On 11th September 1915, the 25th disembarked at Gallipoli. This operation was carried out at night and the battalion suffered only one casualty during the landing. By this time the Gallipoli campaign had ground to a halt with neither side willing to incur the shocking casualties that had occurred in May and August. Archie wrote a letter home to his family informing them of his routine while holding the line at Steele’s Post. As was common practice, his letter was published in the “Maryborough Chronicle”. Letters such as Archie’s gave the Australian public a far better idea of the conditions being faced by the sons and husbands than any of the official correspondence which was heavily censored and often written by journalists who were not even on the front line. November 1916 saw the arrival of severe storms to the peninsula as well as snow. After an inspection by Lord Kitchener; the British command decided to abandon Gallipoli and the 25th were withdrawn with the rest of the ANZAC force in December.


By January 1916, the 25th were back in Egypt taking on reinforcements and preparing for a shift to France. While in camp at Tel el Kabir in February 1916, Archie went Absent Without Leave for 7 days. He was given a relatively light penalty of 7 days Field Punishment. On 13th March, the battalion was visited by General Birdwood who informed the men that they would be going to France and he urged them to ”play the game.” The 25th Battalion was the first Australian infantry unit into France, arriving in Marseilles on 19th March 1916. The Battalion was transported by train north to the Armentieres sector of the front. This part of the frontline was considered to be suitable for educating newly arrived troops into the routines of trench warfare, even though there were not actually any trenches as the ground was too boggy; Instead earthen breastworks had been constructed with timber walls and duckboard floors; and even piped running water; a far cry from the conditions on Gallipoli. The battalion spent several months rotating in and out of the line before being called south to the Somme in July.


Haig; Supreme British Commander in France, launched his Somme offensive on 1st July 1916. In spite of suffering 60,000 casualties on the first day, Haig continued the “big push” along the axis of the Albert Bapaume Road and by the end of July the British forces were halted at the village of Pozieres. The 1st Australian Division was first into the line and eventually captured the village. The 2nd Division were tasked with the capture of two lines of German trenches on the ridge above the village. The 25th Battalion’s first assault on the trenches began on the 29th July but the objective was not held until the 7th August during which time the 25th suffered horrendous casualties from machine guns and artillery. When the battalion was finally withdrawn, 29 officers and 660 other ranks failed to answer the roll call from a nominal strength of 950.


Among the casualties was Archie Hamilton. He was initially listed as wounded, then listed as wounded and missing. A battalion court of enquiry convened twelve months after the Battle of Pozieres concluded that Archie Hamilton was among a group of several hundred 25th Battalion men who had simply disappeared; Killed in Action on 5th August 1916 with no known grave. Margaret and Herb Yeats, who may have been relatives of Archie and his father wrote to base records several times and once to the Minister of Defence, enquiring about the settlement of Archie’s affairs and his personal effects.


In 1919 when the Imperial War Graves Commission  sent its teams from the Graves Registration Unit across the old battlefields after hostilities had ceased, they were able to locate the remains of many soldiers who had perished and either been hastily buried by mates or had simply been covered during the course of battle.


One such team operating in the area around the Pozieres battlefield found the remains of Archie Hamilton which had lain there for almost two and a half years. Archie was finally laid to rest in the Courcelette British Cemetery just outside the city of Albert.