Arthur Hurtle MORPHETT

MORPHETT, Arthur Hurtle

Service Number: 340
Enlisted: 8 June 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 26 August 1877
Home Town: Murray Bridge, Murray Bridge, South Australia
Schooling: Queens School, Collegiate School of St Peter, and Roseworthy Agricultural College
Occupation: Dairy farmer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 20 July 1916, aged 38 years
Cemetery: VC Corner Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, France
No known grave - Panel 4, VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Langhorne Creek Brinkley District WW1 Roll of Honour, Murray Bridge Hospital Memorial Gates, Murray Bridge Roll of Honour WW1, Murray Bridge Soldiers Hospital Morphett Memorial Plaque, North Adelaide Queens School Honour Board, Roseworthy Agricultural College Roll of Honour, V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial
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World War 1 Service

8 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 340, Keswick, South Australia
18 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 340, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1,

--- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '17' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Geelong embarkation_ship_number: A2 public_note: ''

18 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 340, 32nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide
19 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 340, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix),

--- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 340 awm_unit: 32nd Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Lance Corporal awm_died_date: 1916-07-20

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Arthur Hurtle Morphett of Glenelg, South Australia was born in Adelaide. He was educated at Queens School, the Collegiate School of St Peter and Roseworthy Agricultural College.

After completing his studies, he bred cattle and later managed a dairy farm in the Warrnambool district of Victoria before becoming manager/part owner of a farm at Woods Point near the town of Murray Bridge, South Australia.

He enlisted at Keswick in June 1916 and was posted to the 32nd Battalion as a provisional sergeant when it was raised at Mitcham on 9 August. The 32nd Battalion with the 29th, 30th, and 31st Battalions made up the 8th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division.

Throughout all of October, he attended the Mitcham Camp NCO School and in November was posted to A Company, 32nd Battalion at his substantive rank. Private Morphett sailed from Adelaide with his unit aboard HMAT Geelong on 18 December, and after the battalion disembarked at Suez, it joined the other battalions of the newly raised 5th Division. In April, he fell ill but after two weeks in 8th Field Ambulance fully recovered and was appointed lance corporal at the end of May and sailed for France on 17 June.  

After the attack at Fromelles, Lance Corporal Morphett was reported missing, but a Court of Inquiry assembled on 12 August 1917 found he was killed in action on 20 July 1916; he was 38 years of age.

In a letter to the Red Cross dated 28 February 1917, Private Geoffrey Adamson, B Company 32nd Battalion wrote that at about 4 a.m., on 20 July he and his mates were forced to retreat under heavy machine gun fire. He doesn’t specifically mention it in his letter bur he must have been hit and lost his way in the dark. Adamson describes being caught up in German wire in no man’s land and how when he regained his senses he discovered a man groaning alongside of him.

 It seems he then lost consciousness again but was aroused some time later by ‘something cold’ on the side of his face. To his horror, he discovered the object that had aroused him was a dead man’s elbow on his face. After closely examining the man’s face, he recognised him as a lance corporal he had seen several times in A Company.

When he arrived at the hospital, Adamson met up with a sergeant from A Company and after describing the dead man’s features, the Sergeant told him it must have been Lance Corporal Morphett. Adamson thought the dead man had been hit by a machine gun bullet and described him as over six feet tall, well built, handsome, with a good complexion, clean-shaven, a close clipped dark brown moustache, and the same coloured hair. He wrote that he could not clearly describe the man’s eye colouring but thought it may have been hazel or brown. He said he could not go through the dead man’s pockets or take his ID disc because of his close proximity to the German parapets.

Private Adamson felt that if the Red Cross could send him a small photograph of Lance Corporal Morphett standing he ‘give a more definite answer.’ [i]

In a letter dated 1 August 1917, Morphett’s father wrote thanking the Red Cross for their kind letter and enclosed a photo of his son.

On 7 January 1918 after examining the photograph closely, Private Adamson wrote to the Red Cross to confirm that the man lying dead next to him in no man’s land that day was indeed Lance Corporal Morphett.[ii]

[i] Australian War Memorial, Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files - Morphett, Arthur Hurtle / 1820710J,  viewed 18 September 2005
[ii] ibid