Howard West LITCHFIELD

LITCHFIELD, Howard West

Service Number: 4512
Enlisted: 1 September 1915, Oaklands, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hyde Park, South Australia, 9 June 1894
Home Town: Bute, Barunga West, South Australia
Schooling: Unley Public School, SA
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Natural causes, Perth, Western Australia, 1984
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Alford District of Ninnes Honour Board, Bute District Council WW1 Roll of Honor, Bute War Memorial Garden, Myrtle Bank War Memorial, Unley Town Hall WW1 Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

1 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4512, Oaklands, South Australia
11 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4512, 10th Infantry Battalion
11 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4512, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Miltiades, Adelaide
30 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4512, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College


Son of Mr. Alfred Litchfield and Mrs. Alice Harriest of Hyde Park, South Australia. Howard Litchfield was a single, 20-year-old farmer although he grew up in Hyde Park and was educated and boarded at Unley Public School. When he enlisted on the 9th of June 1894, he was assigned to the 14th Reinforcements of the 10th Battalion. Litchfield’s service number was 4512 and he enlisted as a Private. 
 
Litchfield was not a tall man – the average height during this era was 5’8" tall or 172cm, Howard was 5’3" or 160cm tall. He was discharged in January 1915 for refusing to be inoculated but later got his shots and re-enlisted on 1 Sept 1915.
 
Litchfield embarked on the HMAT Miltiades and arrived in Suez, a seaport city in north-eastern Egypt, on the 11th of March 1916. Litchfield did the bulk of his training in Egypt before he left for Etaples. After Howard had completed his training in Alexandria, he travelled from Egypt to France. Litchfield reached France on the 7thof June 1916. In France, he settled in Etaples for a number of weeks before fighting in the Battle of Pozieres, joining the 10th Battalion on the 30th of July.
 
Litchfield fought at the Battle of Pozieres in France during the period of July-August 1916. Pozieres, a small town in the Somme valley in France, was the location of brutal and costly fighting for the 1st, 2nd and 4th divisions of the Australian Army in mid to late 1916. The village was originally captured by the 1st division on the 23rd of July 1916. The division held on to its gain despite uninterrupted artillery fire and repeated German counter-attacks but suffered severely. By the time it was relieved on the 27th of July it had suffered over 5000 casualties. After the second division took over and failed losing almost 7000 men. The 4th division was next into line at Pozieres, this was Litchfield’s division. It too withstood a massive artillery bombardment and defeated a German counter-attack on the 7th of August; this was the last effort by the Germans to retake Pozieres. Litchfield showed fantastic Anzac spirit at Pozieres because he knew that many of his fellow Australian soldiers had lost their lives before him and he knew that he was risking his life. Pozieres was one of the most brutal battles in World War One and it showed great courage to put your life on the line for your country.
 
Fortunately, although there were many fatalities at the Battle of Pozieres, Litchfield was not one of them. However, Litchfield did obtain a relatively common injury called Trench Foot. This was caused by standing in cold water or mud for an extended period of time, normally in trenches, leading to the blackening and death of surface tissue on the foot.
 
On the 13th of January 1917, Litchfield began the journey to England to train and recover from the injuries he gathered on the Western Front. After Litchfield had somewhat recovered from his injuries, he spent the majority of 1917 in England, marching and working with the army without taking part in any battles. On the 15th of August 1917, Howard boarded the boat that would take him back to his family and loved ones back in Australia. Howard Litchfield served for two years and one hundred and twenty-two days before he discharged due to being medically unfit.
 
After Litchfield was discharged, he spent the rest of his time in Perth, Western Australia. He died due to natural causes at Perth in 1984, at the age of 90. Litchfield is honoured at Unley Town Hall, Myrtle Bank and at Alford Hall, Alford, South Australia.

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