Joseph Henry (Joe) SLATER MID

SLATER, Joseph Henry

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 4 May 1915
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 22nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, 29 November 1888
Home Town: Geelong, Greater Geelong, Victoria
Schooling: Geelong College, Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Manager
Died: Killed In Action, Bullecourt, France, 3 May 1917, aged 28 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Geelong College WW1 Roll of Honour, Geelong Football Club Honour Roll, St Albans Concord Division O.S.T. No 8 Honor Roll, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

4 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Officer, 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Involvement 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Embarked 22nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne
30 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
12 Mar 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 22nd Infantry Battalion
13 Nov 1916: Honoured Mention in Dispatches
3 May 1917: Involvement Captain, 22nd Infantry Battalion
3 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second)
29 Jun 1917: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, Battle for Pozières , For Conspicuously good service at Divisional Bomb Officer and for exceptionally good work at Pozieres in July and August. 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 103 (29 June 1917).

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of Henry and Diana Slater, of 109, Swanston St., Geelong, Victoria. Born at Ballarat, Victoria.

SLATER.— (killed in action somewhere in France, Mav 3rd, 19l7, Captain Joseph Henry Slater, dearly loved and only son of Mrs D and the late Henry Slater: aged 28 years. 

An only son—He heard the Call,
And pausing not, his life laid down
Before his Country's need;
His Mother proudly mourns—
The sacrifice not vain. His Duty Done.
—Inserted byhis sorrowful mother.

Two additions (writes Mr A. S. Howcroft) have unfortunately to be made to the already lengthy list of those who have made the supreme sacrifice. They are E. Fox and J. H. Slater. The latter, who was a captain in charge of a bombing squad in France, made the big sporting reputation he leaves here in Victoria less as an athlete than as a footballer, but he was nevertheless a sprinter of exceptional ability. Late in 1910 Slater was reinstated to  amateurism by the Amateur Athletic Union in session at Wellington at the close of the Australasian track championships there that year. His previous connection with football (then rather under a cloud from the amateur view
point) had rendered it necessary for him to be reinstated, and the Victor ian A.A.A. made the matter a 'special' case to the Union. The exGeelong Collegian rapidly came to the front, and in 1911 competed in the State championships at the Albert ground in St. Kilda road. J. Burton was at his top that day, and retained the hundred championship in even time, but Slater, took the furlong in 23 sec. At the next championship meeting (1912) the Geelong runner took the hundred in three yards outside evens and later in the day ran second to F, J. Evans the University sprinter. In the latter race the numerous attempts of Fay, the Queensland sprinter, to beat the gun somewhat disorganised the start, and when the field finally got away. Evans got a flying start; otherwise there is little doubt that Slater would have won. Australia is fast adding pages to its (as yet) youthful national history; 'Bullecourt' is the latest cross-heading, and all those who were acquainted with Joseph Henry Slater know that it was the type of man such as he was splendidly representative of, that has accomplished Pozieres and Bullecourt.


Biography contributed by Robert Wight

“Joe” Slater was the only son of Henry and Diana Slater. Born in Ballarat East, Victoria, on 28 November 1888, he moved with his family to Geelong as a young boy, where he attended and matriculated from Geelong College. Slater became the manager of a stationery printing business, but was much better known as a footballer. He began playing for the United Methodist team in Geelong, and soon entered the senior Victorian league. He was known as a “serious athlete” because he did not smoke or drink, and as a “brilliant and dashing” player for the Geelong Cats and Victoria.

Slater applied for a commission in the Australian Imperial Force in April 1915, and was posted to the 22nd Battalion with the rank of second lieutenant. He proved an able soldier and within 11 months was promoted to captain. Slater spent around two months on Gallipoli towards the end of the campaign. In early 1916 he went to France, and was for some time appointed chief instructor of a bombing school before joining his battalion in the field in September 1916. At some point he met and became engaged to Nellie Wigley, a nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service.
Slater was a popular company commander for the 22nd Battalion and a handy addition to their football team. In January 1917 Captain Slater was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches of November 1916 for his “distinguished and gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field”.

In May 1917 he was leading his company in an operation at Bullecourt when he was hit by shrapnel, but on the way to a dressing station he was caught by machine-gun fire which killed him instantly. Although men went out to look for his body the following night, nothing was found except one of his boots. To this day he has no known grave.

Source: Surf Coast Memorial 1914-1918