STEPHENSON, Arthur James

Service Numbers: 966, 6811
Enlisted: 18 August 1914
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 7th Infantry Battalion
Born: Malmsbury, Victoria, Australia, 1892
Home Town: Bridgewater, Loddon, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer/Labourer
Died: Killed in action, Bullecourt, France, 4 May 1917
Cemetery: Morchies Military Cemetery
Row A, Grave No. 5
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World War 1 Service

18 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 966, 7th Infantry Battalion
19 Oct 1914: Involvement Private, SN 966, 7th Infantry Battalion
19 Oct 1914: Embarked Private, SN 966, 7th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Melbourne
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 966, 7th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
8 May 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 966, 7th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, 2nd Krithia. BW to shoulder. Evacuated to Malta.
8 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 966, 7th Infantry Battalion, The August Offensive - Lone Pine, Suvla Bay, Sari Bair, The Nek and Hill 60 - Gallipoli
9 Nov 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 966, 7th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, Invalided home to Australia 9 February 1916 with debility and enteric fever.
26 Apr 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6811, 5th Infantry Battalion, Returned to duty and allocated new SN 6811 (22nd reinforcements/5th Btn).
25 Oct 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 6811, 5th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses A36
20 Mar 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 7th Infantry Battalion, France
4 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6811, 7th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second)

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

Biography contributed by Robert Wight

Inglewood Advertiser, 11/6/1915:

"Private Arthur J. Stephenson, who was reported wounded at the Dardanelles, was a farmer, of Memsie, near Bridgewater. He was born at Malmsbury, and 23 years of age. For three years he was a member of the Inglewood Rangers, and one of the first 20 to volunteer from the district. He is the second son of Mr A.H. Stephenson, farmer, of Memsie, and a brother to the Rev P.W. Stephenson, M.A., late of Ridley College, Melbourne, but now of Edward College, Peshawur, India."

Kyneton Guardian (Vic), Tue 29 Jun 1915 (p.4):

The following interesting letter has been received from Private A.J. Stephenson, son of Mr A.H. Stephenson of Bridgewater, and late of Malmsbury, and brother of Mrs Reddrop, of Piper’s Creek –

“On Active Service From the Front, 7/5/15
“Here I am living like a rabbit. I have been under fire for some time, and it not the best game in the world. It would not do for a fellow to faint every time he sees blood or sees a mate killed. One gets used to all that. I had one of the 18-pounders firing over my head last Monday. I was about four yards away from it, and the concussion was terrible. About an hour after that a shrapnel shell from the enemy burst in a trench about 4 feet from where we were and did not hurt one of us.”

“I started this last Friday, but had to stop, as we were ordered to move off into the firing line. On Saturday, about 5.30 we began an advance across open country. We crossed the firing line of trenches filled with Tommies and advanced 2000 yards. The open country was swept with bullets and shrapnel. I had the luck to miss them while we were advancing, but while we were having a minute’s spell, with bullets flying like hail, one carried the rim of my hat away and ploughed its way into my shoulder down the back. It is nothing serious, but the doctor bundled me on board and told me to hurry up and get right and come back again. I am now on the s.s. Bramar Castle, bound for Alexandria (we suppose). There are 900 wounded on board including Australians, New Zealanders and about 10 different sorts of Tommies. Some of the British Marine Brigade (who fought at the fall of Antwerp) have been here with us, and they say the fighting was absolutely nothing compared to the terrible fighting here. Another, who was in the retreat from Mons, also said this was by far the worst to face. So the Australians, etc., had a pretty difficult task set for them. We could not retreat if we had wanted to, as there was only the sea behind us. When we landed we held a half circle of country with a radius of two miles, and we have now about five miles. The main objective is a large hill, and when we get that they say the worst is over. The Turks are led by German officers, and only for them we would be all over Turkey by now. The Turks do not like the bayonet, and run at the sight of it. The guns of the French Infantry are splendid and doing good work.

“Military Hospital, Valetta, Malta
“Here I am at Malta in the hospital. The people gave us a great reception here – plenty of tobacco, cigarettes, chocolate and everything good. My wound is progressing well, and by the time you get this I will be back having another slap at the Turks. Malta is a beautiful place, and everyone is so kind to us. It seems pretty rough to put in nine months training and only a little more than nine days’ fighting. Thousands of our fellows did not last as many hours. The Governor of Malta was here to see us to-day and was very kind. He wore four rows of colors. They make a great fuss of the Australians, and I am proud to be one."

Inglewood Advertiser, 1/6/1917:

"In Honor’s Cause
It fell to the Rev Grant on Wednesday to convey to Mr A.H. Stephenson, of Memsie, the sad intelligence of the death in action of his son, Private Arthur Stephenson, he having been killed on April 4th. Private Stephenson was the first to volunteer for the Bridgewater district on the declaration of the war, and went through the Gallipoli landing and a great deal of the subsequent fighting. He then contracted enteric fever and was invalided home, but on his recovery he returned to rejoin his comrades. He was farewelled at Arnold for the second time in October last. He was 24 years of age, and a great favorite on all sides, his bright and open disposition winning him many friends. After leaving Australia last year he was detained for a considerable period in England, and could not have been long at the front before meeting his end. With his parents the deepest sympathy is expressed."

Inglewood Advertiser, 8/6/1917:

"An unfortunate incident occurred on Wednesday of last week in connection with the death in France of Private A. Stephenson, of Memsie. On the sad tidings being conveyed to his fiancé, Miss Tessa Higgs, daughter of Mr C. Higgs, of Arnold, the young lady collapsed under the shock and became unconscious. She continued in this state, to the great concern of her relatives and friends, up till Tuesday last, but on that day an improvement took place, and she recognized those about her. We are pleased to state progress has since been maintained. She is under the care of Dr Wilkinson."

Source: NAA