Harrie Errol Elliot PUGSLEY


PUGSLEY, Harrie Errol Elliot

Service Number: 23
Enlisted: 6 July 1915
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Yatina, South Australia, 24 July 1897
Home Town: Solomontown, Port Pirie, South Australia
Schooling: Solomontown, Port Pirie, South Australia
Occupation: Electrician
Died: Gassed, France, 24 June 1918, aged 20 years
Cemetery: Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery
Plot VIII, Row F, Grave 10
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Port Pirie Oval WW1 Memorial Gates
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World War 1 Service

6 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 23, 32nd Infantry Battalion
18 Nov 1915: Involvement Private, SN 23, 32nd Infantry Battalion
18 Nov 1915: Embarked Private, SN 23, 32nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide
20 Oct 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 32nd Infantry Battalion
4 Dec 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 32nd Infantry Battalion
28 Mar 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 23, 32nd Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918, Gassed
24 Jun 1918: Involvement Corporal, SN 23, 32nd Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Harrie Errol Elliot Pugsley's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Elizabeth Allen

Harrie Errol Elliot PUGSLEY was born in Yatina, South Australia on 24th July, 1897

His parents were Henry Hector PUGSLEY & Mary Elizabeth RUSBRIDGE

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Cpl 23 Harrie Errol Elliot Pugsley
32nd Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company,
8th Brigade, 5th Australian Division

In the fields of the Somme reigns silence and peace, the poppies grow and bloom in successive waves which undulate freely in the wind through the rows of thousands of white graves under which rest in peace, for eternity on the soils of a friendly country, a whole generation of young men who here, with bravery, determination and conviction, fought alongside their comrades and brothers in arms in the trenches and who together served with pride and loyalty for freedom and peace for which they gave their lives and fell to rest today side by side, in the vast and peaceful white cities in which they will always be remembered and honored with gratitude and respect, with love so that they are never forgotten.

Today, it is with the highest respect and the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today, his heart and his life for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Corporal number 23 Harrie Errol Elliot Pugsley who fought in the 32nd Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, 8th Brigade, 5th Australian Division, and who was killed in action 103 years ago, on June 24, 1918 at the age of 20 on the Somme front.

Harrie Errol Elliot Pugsley was born on July 24, 1897 in Yatina, South Australia, and was the son of Henry Hector Pugsley and Mary Elizabeth Pugsley (née Rusbridge), of 5 Campbell Road, Parkside, South Australia. Harrie grew up and was educated in Solomontown, Port Pirie, South Australia and after graduation, served for four years in the Senior Cadets then worked as an electrician.

Harrie enlisted on July 6, 1915 at Keswick, South Australia,as Private in the 32nd Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, which was raised at Mitcham, on the outskirts of Adelaide on August 9, 1915.
After a four month training period, Harrie embarked with his unit from Adelaide, South Australia on November 18, 1915 and sailed for Egypt and was disembarked at Suez on December 18, 1915 and two months later, on February 19, 1916 , he fell ill and was evacuated to the 3rd Field Ambulance at Tel-El-Kébir suffering from Influenza and was sent back to his battalion on February 22 but a month later, on March 30, he fell ill again in Duntroon Plateau, Egypt, and was sent to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Ferry Post suffering from bruised heel and on April 17, was admitted to the 15th Field Ambulance.

A week later, after recovering, Harrie joined his battalion on April 24, 1916 and two months later, on June 17, he embarked with his unit from Alexandria, on board Transylvania and proceeded overseas to France where he was disembarked on June 23 in Marseilles but fell ill again on July 12 and was admitted to the 8th Field Ambulance then to the 4th Field Ambulance suffering from enteritis and after a rapid recovery, returned to his battalion on July 14, 1916.

Three days later, on July 16, 1916, Harry and the 32nd Australian infantry battalion entered the trenches of Fromelles which was their first major engagement on the western front.

On July 19, 1916 the battle of Fromelles began and was a disastrous introduction to battle for Harrie and the 32nd Australian Infantry battalion which suffered 718 casualties, almost 75 per cent of the battalion's total strength, but closer to 90 per cent of its actual fighting strength. The Battalion was part of the 8th Brigade on the left of the Australian line and managed to penetrate the German position to a greater extent than their comrades in the 14th and 15th Brigades. Unfortunately this meant that they became enfiladed by German machine guns making their position untenable. They were cut off and a great many were killed behind enemy lines, or taken prisoner. Many of those who died behind enemy lines were among those soldiers whose remains were discovered in a mass grave near Pheasant Wood in 2008.

The 5th Division was rendered non-effective by their losses at Fromelles and underwent a period of reinforcement, re-consolidation and retraining afterwards. Although it still spent periods in the front line, the 32nd played no major offensive role for the rest of 1916.

Two months after the battle of Fromelles, on September 2, 1916, Harrie was sent to Gas School and the following month, on October 20, 1916, was appointed Lance Corporal then promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal on December 4 and sent the same day for Trench Mortar School instructional course.
A month later, on January 16, 1917, Harrie was granted a special leave in England then joined the 32nd Australian Infantry Battalion on February 3 in the Somme, at Montauban but admitted to the 14th Field Ambulance nine days later, on February 12,1917 suffering from dental problems then joined his battalion on February 14 at Trones Wood near Fricourt, Somme.

Eight months later, on October 24, 1917, Harrie was granted another leave in England before returning to his unit on November 9 and four months later, on March 22, 1918, he was gassed at Messines during the Third Battle of Ypres and was admitted to the 15th Australian Field Ambulance then transferred to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station and admitted to the 26th Ambulance Train then transferred and admitted to the 7th General Hospital of St Omer, pas-De-Calais on March 26.

On April 27, 1918, Harrie was admitted to the 7th Convalescent Depot in St Omer then to the 10th Convalescent Depot in Boulogne on April 3 and on April 10, after having recovered, he was sent to the Base Depot in Ecault and was sent back to his battalion on May 28, 1918 in Vaux-Sur-Somme, near Villers-Bretonneux but unfortunately, a month later, on June 24, 1918, he met his fate and was killed in action at Rivery, near Amiens, he was 20 years old.
Today, Corporal Harrie Errol Elliot rests in peace with his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription "Rest on little Harrie till the bugle sounds again deeply mourned. "

Harrie, you who were so young, you did your duty beyond courage and endurance alongside your comrades and brothers in arms with whom, in peaceful silence, you rest in peace among the poppies that grow between the white rows of the graves of thousands of young men who here, in the Somme, on the battlefields of northern France, gave their today and their lives and for all that you have done for us, in the peace in which we live thanks to you, I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and express to you through these words, my respect and my gratitude to you but also to all those who fought and fell here, all those who returned home but who were forever marked by what they lived and endured in the trenches of the great war.They were young and together, they answered to the call of duty to do their duty and do their part alongside their brothers in arms on the battlefields for their country and for France for which they did and gave so much and who will never forget all that these men went through in the once peaceful fields that the shells transformed little by little into a quagmire in which were shed so many tears and blood in the sharp barbed wire in which were mown down a whole generation of men in assaults as courageous as they were murderous and which ended in bloodbaths.Under endless bombardments, they lived and held their positions amidst storms of steel and fire which rained death and destruction on a world bruised by an outburst of fury and violence and in this hell on earth they lost their innocence and their youth, they saw their brothers, their fathers, their friends who fell in successive waves under the fire of machine guns and artillery under which so many lives were stopped and lost too soon but who will never be forgotten. In the mud, in the cold they fought and served with conviction, for their comrades, their mothers, their fiances, their loved ones but also for future generations and with force, with their heart, they put all their energy into the battle for put an end to this war, to end all wars and under poison gas, under the deluge of bullets pouring down on them in relentless torrents, they did not back down, they held their heads high and moved forward with determination and bravery in ignoring enemy fire because they found strength and courage in each other, the strength to go to no man's land and charge the enemy trenches with their bayonets, ignoring the death that lurked around them, they moved forward into following their officers, their friends, watching over each other in tight ranks, they all displayed the greatest bravery under fire and fell next to each other with the pride of having done what was right alongside exceptional men. Today, they still stand next to each other on land of Remembrance, on the land of a friendly country that will always watch over them with love and devotion to keep their stories strong and alive.The story of exceptional men, heroes who have become our sons and over whom I am happy, proud and honored to watch to perpetuate their memory, to hold the torch and to make the flame of remembrance shine forever with love so that these young men, my boys of the Somme may live forever in the stone of their graves and memorials but also in our hearts and in our thoughts so that they will never be forgotten. Thank you so much Harrie, for everything, with all my heart.At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him, we will remember them.