Richard Gordon (Gordon) DAWES


DAWES, Richard Gordon

Service Number: 5079
Enlisted: 4 February 1916, Korumburra, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 21st Infantry Battalion
Born: Korumburra, Victoria, Australia, 30 December 1898
Home Town: Korumburra, South Gippsland, Victoria
Schooling: Korumburra State School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Wounds, 15th Australian Field Ambulance, Flers, France, 8 November 1916, aged 17 years
Cemetery: Dartmoor Cemetery
Plot II, Row E, Grave No. 50
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

4 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5079, Korumburra, Victoria
1 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5079, 6th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
1 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 5079, 6th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Suffolk, Melbourne
7 Nov 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 5079, 6th Infantry Battalion, Flers/Gueudecourt, GSW abdomen and thigh, "Wattle Trench" DoW 15th Australian Field Ambulance
8 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5079, 21st Infantry Battalion, Flers/Gueudecourt


The story of this soldier has been written in the book titled "The Lost Boys" published 2019 and written by Paul Byrnes. The story is written at pages 248 to 257. Rest In Peace Lest We Forget.

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Pte 5079 Richard Gordon Dawes
21st Australian Infantry Battalion,
6th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division
Over a hundred years ago on the fields of the Somme, in the trenches and the mud, gathered an army of millions of young men who came from the other side of the world who, through barbed wire and shell holes fought beyond bravery alongside their brothers in arms, with their friends who, their knees deep in the clay, served and fought side by side with pride for peace and freedom and in the front line, under shells and the bullets, gave their youth and their courage for our tomorrow, they charged under the light of dawn and fell in the prime of their life and today rest in peace on the sacred grounds of the Somme, under the sun in which their names will live forever and will always be remembered and honored with our greatest care and all our love so that they are never forgotten, to bring them back to life among the poppies which, like the memory,the stories of these heroes, never fades.

Today, it is with the deepest respect and with eternal 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 and who, for Australia and for France,for us, gave his life.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 5079 Richard Gordon Dawes who fought in the 21st Australian Infantry Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, and who died of his wounds 105 years ago, on November 8, 1916 at the age of 17 on the Somme front.

Richard Gordon Dawes was born on December 30, 1898 in Korumburra, Victoria, Australia, and was the son of Richard and Mary Ann Dawes, of Korrumburra. Richard was educated at Korumburra State School and before the outbreak of the war, worked as a farmer.

Richard enlisted on February 4, 1916 in Kurumburra in the 6th Australian Infantry Battalion, 16th Reinforcement and lied about his age by stating that he was 18 years old but was 17 years old. Shortly after he was transferred to the 21st Australian Infantry Battalion and after a two month training period at Broadmeadows Camp, north of Melbourne, Victoria,he embarked with his unit from Melbourne, on board HMAT A23 Suffolk on April 1, 1916 and sailed for Egypt then the following month, on May 12, he embarked from Alexandria, on board HMT Huntsgreen for England and was disembarked in Plymouth then joined the 6th Training Battalion and four months later, on September 5, proceeded overseas for France.
On September 6, 1916, Richard arrived in France and was disembarked at Etaples where he joined his unit on September 19 and with the 21st Australian Infantry Battalion, joined the Toronto Camp, near Ypres, Belgium, on September 21 where they remained until October 19 to follow a period of training then on October 28, were sent to the Somme, to Buire-Sur-Ancre and on November 3, joined Mametz Wood then the next day, entered the trenches of Flers where unfortunately, three days later, on November 7, 1916 Richard met his fate and while in the "Wattle Trench" he was shot in his abdomen and was immediately evacuated to the 15th Australian Field Ambulance where he died a few hours later.He was 17 years old.

Today, Richard Gordon Dawes rests in peace with his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription: "Please place a flower for his loved ones in Australia. "On his grave it is also written that Richard died at the age of 18 but his father wrote to the Australian military authorities claiming that when his son was killed he was 17 years and 10 months old.

Richard Gordon Dawes had two brothers who served in the first world war. The first of them was Corporal number 344 George Dawes who fought in the 8th Australian Infantry Battalion and was sadly killed in action at Gallipoli on August 7, 1915 at the age of 29 and now rests in peace in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery and his grave bears the following inscription: "In life we loved him dearly, in death we do the same."

Richard's second brother was Private number 4399 Charles Dawes who fought in the 21st Australian Infantry Battalion.Unfortunately, he was killed in action on November 7, 1916 at the age of 30 in Flers, Somme, a day before his brother Richard was killed in action and last year I had the honor to pay my respects to him at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-l'Abbe, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription: "His loved ones in Australia mourn the loss of a good son."

Richard, George, Charles, you who were so young but already so brave, it is together, under the loving gaze of your parents that you answered the call to duty and after a last goodbye, in a last embrace that you left the love of your home and walked side by side with determination and pride towards the battlefields of the great war without knowing that you would never see each other again but each one fought and served with exceptional bravery on the red sands of Gallipoli which took the life of George who was the first to fall under the Turkish bullets then came the time for Richard and Charles to join the trenches of the western front and the Somme which was a hell on earth, a dreadful slaughterhouse which mowed down the lives of almost two million men in mud and blood who charged courageously under German machine gun fire and fell in successive waves through barbed wire and shell holes which were filled with blood and tears that friends and enemies shed in the darkest hours of history but in this nightmare, the Australian soldiers, alongside their French and British brothers in arms held out, for each meter of ground, for each trenches, they resisted and fought with perseverance at the cost of thousands of young lives and knew the battles which were among the most difficult and the deadliest of the Somme as were Pozieres where fell more than 20,000 men, Mouquet Farm where fell 11,000 were killed in a few weeks but despite these catastrophic losses they never retreated and continued to move forward to liberate our country, they fought with conviction for each of our villages of the Somme, in Flers, Amiens, Gueudecourt, Villers-Bretonneux, Bazentin, and everywhere they went they were deeply loved by the French people, by the children who saw in them heroes who always had a smile for them and who, deeply touched by their humanity, their courage, wrote in chalk on the blackboards and the entrances of the schools "Do not forget Australia", everywhere they were greeted with love and alongside the French soldiers they showed unfailing bravery and between them was born the most incredible and strongest of friendships that we will always honor and which is for us, in our hearts, a pride.They were respected for their bravery and determination and for us, for our country which they came to love, they fought as if they had been born here and valiantly resisted the onslaught of the enemy which never broke through the Australian lines and alongside our Poilus, they all declared "They shall not pass" and together went over the top without regard for their own lives because they fought for the men who were by their side, for Australia, for peace and freedom and it is in these courageous assaults that Charles fell and gave his today then the next day it was Richard's turn to cross no man's land and charged baionette forward but alongside his brothers in arms, in Flers, he fell among the poppies, he was the last boy of a family that was broken up, hit by the shockwaves of war and who, alongside millions of families around the world, paid the greatest sacrifices and lost everything what they had in the fields of France and the sand of Gallipoli where stand the graves of their sons over whom I would always watch with love and devotion so that their sacrifices are never forgotten and so that the names of these young heroes, of my boys of the Somme live forever.Thank you so much Richard, George, Charles, for all you have done for us who will be forever grateful to you. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.