Frank Pogson BETHUNE MC

BETHUNE, Frank Pogson

Service Number: 3169
Enlisted: 30 June 1915, Hobart, Tasmania
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 1st Machine Gun Battalion
Born: Hobart, Tasmania, 8 April 1877
Home Town: Lindisfarne, Clarence, Tasmania
Schooling: Hutchins School & Cambridge University
Occupation: C of E Clergyman
Died: Cardio-Vascular disease, Hobart, Tasmania, 4 December 1942, aged 65 years
Cemetery: Cornelian Bay Cemetery and Crematorium, Tasmania
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
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World War 1 Service

30 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3169, 12th Infantry Battalion, Hobart, Tasmania
18 Feb 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 12th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
18 Feb 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 12th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ballarat, Melbourne
27 Jul 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Captain, 1st Machine Gun Battalion


The details provided are taken from the book "Just Soldiers" written by WO1 Darryl Kelly, published 2004, refer to Chapter 2, pages 5 to 8.


Details of this Officer are provided in the book "Just Soldiers" written by WO1 Darryl Kelly published 2004 refer chapter 2 pages 5 to 8

Solider and Clergyman

Frank Pogson Bethune (1877-1942), soldier and clergyman. Frank was born on 8 April 1877, second son of Walter Ross Munro Bethune, stock-owner, and his wife Louisa Gellibrand, née Pogson. They lived on the family estate, Dunrobin, near Hamilton, Tasmania, established by their grandfather W. A. Bethune; both boys were born there.

Educated at The Hutchins School, Hobart, attended the Launceston Church Grammar School. Frank spent some years farming but completed his education at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, England, where he read theology and was active in sport.

Frank married Laura Eileen Nicholas on 3 January 1907 at Ouse. He was ordained in 1908, and was curate at St John the Baptist Anglican Church, Hobart, and later at Sheffield and Ranelagh parishes.

Frank became a fighting padre, enlisting as a private in 1915; he was commissioned as second lieutenant in the 12th Battalion in December. On 2 April 1916 he conducted a service on the troopship Transylvania on the way to France, preaching a memorable sermon which was widely reported in the Australian press. 'We are not heroes', he said 'and we do not want to be called heroes … We are on that great enterprise, with no thought of gain or conquest, but to help right a great wrong …' He rose to the rank of captain, was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in action in 1917, and was wounded twice and gassed. In March 1918 Bethune, then commanding No. 1 section, 3rd Machine Gun Company, was ordered to defend an exposed position at Passchendaele. His group of seven men became isolated, but held the position for eighteen days. Bethune issued the following orders, later described by The Times as 'inspiring and famous':

1.This position will be held and the section will remain here until relieved.
2.The enemy cannot be allowed to interfere with this programme.
3.If the section cannot remain here alive, it will remain here dead, but in any case it will remain here.
4.Should any man, through shell shock or other cause, attempt to surrender, he will remain here dead.
5.Should all guns be blown out, the section will use Mills grenades, and other novelties.
6.Finally, the position, as stated, will be held.

They survived until relieved. The orders passed into military history, were circulated throughout the allied armies in France and embodied in British Army Orders until 1940. Twenty-two years later, after the fall of Dunkirk, they were reproduced as posters under the caption 'The spirit which won the last war' and displayed throughout England.

Frank never entirely recovered from his wartime injuries and privations. He returned to Tasmania in 1919 and moved with his family to Dunrobin where he farmed till 1936, assisting occasionally in the Hamilton parish. He died of cerebro-vascular disease in Hobart on 4 December 1942. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons; the elder Walter Angus became a Tasmanian premier. Despite stern qualities, Bethune had been popular with his men and his parishioners. His whimsy was exemplified when, pinned down in a shell-hole by enemy gunfire, he passed the time calculating the cost to Germany of keeping him there.

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Awarded Military Cross - "For Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He carried out several daring reconnaissances, and obtained most valuable information.  Later, he fought his machine guns with great gallantry and set a fine example to his men."

Lieut BETHUNE showed great courage and coolness in the operations before LE BARQUE from 24th to 27th February.  He is absolutely fearless at all times.  Prior to the advance h eoften reconnoitred NO MAN'S LAND by daylight, obtaining valuable information re enemy dispositions.  During the advance positions, running great personal risk in selecting positions, and in leading his men to them under Machine Gun and rifle fire.  His cool and courageous behaviour at all times inspired all those near him to do what would be impossible under a less intrepit leader. 

"OBITUARY CAPT F. P. BETHUNE  Author Of Epic Order In First World War   from the Hobart Mercury 05 Dec 1942

Clergyman, soldier and pastoralist, Capt Frank Pogson Bethune, whose death occurred at his residence, Fitzroy Place, Hobart, yesterday, was the author of an epic order to his company during the Passchendaele offensive in the First World War which has been quoted by Capt C. E. W. Bean in the Official History of Australia in the War, and reprinted in other publications as one of the epics of the war. In March, 1918, Capt Bethune, then a lieutenant, protested to his commanding officer against an order that a machine-gun section should occupy a position which he knew to be a "useless death trap." Unable to convince his sup- erior, he demand- ed that having made the protest, he should prove its justification by holding the post himself. This being agreed to, he told his section exactly what he thought of the place, and the circumstances. Every man volunteered, and Capt Bethune then issued the now famous order:

(1) This position will be held and the section will remain here till relieved;

(2) the enemy cannot be allowed to interfere with this programme;

(3) if the section cannot remain here alive, it will remain here dead, but in any case it will remain here;

(4) should any man, through shell-shock or other cause, attempt to surrender, he will remain here dead;

(5) should all guns be blown out, the section will use Mills grenades and other novelties;

(6) finally, the position as stated, will be held.

Capt Bethune and his section survived their 18 days' tenure.

Capt Bethune, who was decorated with the Military Medal, is also mentioned in Capt Bean's history of the war for the sermon he preached on a troopship in the absence of the chaplain. The extract reads: Looking down upon at least 1,000 men, he said:

"We know what we have come for, and we know that it is right. We have all read of the things that have happened in France. We know that the Germans invaded a peaceful country and brought these horrors into it. We came of our own free wills to say that this sort of thing shall not happen in the world as long as we are in it. And what if we die? If it were not for the dear ones he leaves behind, might not a man pray for a death like that? We know we are not heroes, and we do not want to be called heroes. Did not every one of us, as boys, long to go about the world as they did in the days of Raleigh, or Drake, and did it not seem almost beyond hope? Here we are on that great enterprise, and with no thought of gain or conquest, but to help to right a great wrong. With our dear ones behind, and God above, and our friends on each side, and only the enemy in front— what more do we wish than that?"

Capt Bethune was the only surviving son of the late Mr. and Mrs. W. R. M. Bethune, of Dunrobin, Ouse. He was born on April 8, 1877, and received his early education at the Hutchins School, and graduated from Cambridge University, taking the degree of Master of Arts in 1908. In the same year he was ordained a minister of the Church of England at Launceston by the late Bishop Mercer. After serving as a curate at St. John the Baptist Church, Hobart, he was appointed to parishes at Sheffield and Ranelagh.

In 1915 he enlisted as a private in the AIF and attained the rank of captain, after having served through most of the heavy fighting in France with the 3rd machine-gun company of the 12th Battalion. He returned to Australia in 1918 and followed pastoral pursuits at Cluny, Ouse, until a few years ago when he transferred to Ho- bart. He was a keen golfer and a member of the Royal Hobart Golf Club.

He married Miss Eileen Nicholas, second daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Nicholas, of Millbrook, Ouse, who survives him. He leaves a family of two sons and two daughters. Sgts Angus and Malcolm Bethune are serving with the RAAF in the Middle East. One daughter, Mrs Geoffrey Chapman, is residing in England and the other, Miss Mary Bethune, in Hobart. A service will be held at All Saints' Church tomorrow before the cremation at Cornelian Bay."from the Hobart Mercury 05 Dec 1942 (