Vernon Hepburn DRAKE


DRAKE, Vernon Hepburn

Service Number: 1196
Enlisted: 19 July 1915, Claremont, Tasmania
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 30th Infantry Battalion
Born: New Town, Tasmania, 19 February 1896
Home Town: New Town, Hobart, Tasmania
Schooling: New Town State School
Occupation: Joiner
Died: Killed in Action, Morlancourt, France, 22 June 1918, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Morlancourt British Cemetery No.2
Plot 1, Row B, Grave 8
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

19 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1196, Claremont, Tasmania
9 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1196, 30th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
9 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1196, 30th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Beltana, Sydney
11 Mar 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 30th Infantry Battalion
20 Jul 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 1196, 30th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix), GSW (forearm)
2 Mar 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 30th Infantry Battalion
9 Jul 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 30th Infantry Battalion
11 Oct 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 1196, 30th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres, 2nd occasion
22 Jun 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 1196, 30th Infantry Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"

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Biography contributed by Elizabeth Allen

Vernon Hepburn DRAKE was born in New Town, Tasmania on 19th February, 1896

His parents were Samuel Michael DRAKE and Annie Irwin PAGE

At the age of 15 he began working for James McKenzie as a Joiner and was still employed there when he joined the AIF.  He had spent 4 years with the Naval Reserve since leaving school but chose the AIF rather than join the Navy

He had previously served in the Naval Cadets & Reserves on Naval Patrol Duty before he enlisted in Claremont, Tasmania on 19th July, 1915 & embarked from Sydney with the 30th Infantry Battalion, A Company on the ship HMAT Beltana on the 9th November, 1915

He was wounded on 20th July, 1916 and again on 11th October, 1917

His record states that he was in charge of a reconnoitering patrol of six men including one Corporal on the night of 22nd June, 1918.  Whilst patrolling the Company front they encountered an enemy post and the party became separated.  He and four others reached their own lines but on discovering that two of his men were missing he immediately went out in search of them and became entangled in some barbed wire and it is surmised that the pin of a Mills grenade he was carrying became loose and in trying to free himself he dropped it and in the darkness he was unable to get clear of the wire before the explosion

He was Killed in Action at Morlancourt in France on 22nd June 1918 and is buried in Morlancourt British Cemetery No. 2, Plot 1, Row B, Grave 8.

Inscription on his headstone reads:


Medals:  1914-15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

His name is memorialised on the Australian War Memorial , The Honour Roll at New Town State School, Tasmania and a tree planted in his memory in the Soldiers Memorial Avenue


His brother Ernest Alan DRAKE was also Killed in Action on 20th March, 1918 - he was a Fireman with the British Mercantile Marine and aboard the SS Boorora when it was torpedoed.

He is buried in the Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton, UK

Inscription on his headstone reads:


Another brother Alan Cameron DRAKE joined the British Army in May, 1910 & became a Sapper in the 4th Reserve Battalion, Royal Engineers.  He served on the Somme and at the end of the war he transferred to the Army Reserve in March, 1919 - several years later he returned to Australia with his wife Agnes & two children and enlisted in the Citizens Military Forces in WW2 & served with the 6th Garrison Battalion in Hobart (SN T30620) - he was discharged in 1945


Biography contributed by Brent Knevett

Vernon Drake enlisted with two other young Tasmanians, William Abel and Henry Hodgson, in July 1915 and were transferred to Sydney to join the 30th battalion, 5th Division, presumably because of their naval training.   

After training in Egypt and then garrison duty in Marseilles, the 30th Division was transferred to the Western Front in late June 2016. On 19/20 July 1916 the 30th battalion took part in the disastrous Battle of Fromelles where almost 2,000 Australians were killed in 24 hours. The three Tasmanians were attached to A Company which was responsible for digging a new communications trench across No Mans Land. Vernon Drake and Henry Hodgson were both wounded at Fromelles. 

1197 Pte. Henry James Hodgson (/explore/people/201331) was severley wounded in the arm by shellfire, he was discharged and returned to Tasmania in late 1916, his arm having been amputed.  He died in 1959.

1195 Pte. William Thomas Abel (/explore/people/53950) was wounded in the leg on the same night that Vernon Drake was killed at Morlancourt in June 1918.  He was evacuated to hospital in England and returned to Tasmania in 1919.  He died in 1944.   

Both Henry Hodgson and William Abel are buried at Cornelian Bay Cemetary in Hobart.