Arthur Carlson WOLFF

Poppy

WOLFF, Arthur Carlson

Service Number: 3506
Enlisted: 28 August 1915, Inverell, NSW
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 13th Infantry Battalion
Born: Auburn, NSW, 22 June 1891
Home Town: Auburn, Auburn, New South Wales
Schooling: Auburn Boys Public School
Occupation: Blacksmith's Assistant
Died: Killed in Service, To Be Determined, France, 3 May 1918, aged 26 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Auburn Boys Public School Pictorial Honour Roll, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

28 Aug 1915: Enlisted Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, SN 3506, 13th Infantry Battalion, Inverell, NSW
13 Oct 1915: Involvement Private, SN 3506, 13th Infantry Battalion
13 Oct 1915: Embarked Private, SN 3506, 13th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Port Lincoln, Sydney
1 Jun 1916: Embarked Private, SN 3506, 13th Infantry Battalion, Left Alexandria on the Transylvania bound for Marseilles
11 Aug 1916: Wounded Private, SN 3506, 13th Infantry Battalion, Gunshot wound to the arm
11 Apr 1917: Promoted Lance Corporal, 13th Infantry Battalion
22 Jun 1917: Promoted Corporal, 13th Infantry Battalion
16 Aug 1917: Promoted Sergeant, 13th Infantry Battalion
26 Sep 1917: Wounded Sergeant, SN 3506, 13th Infantry Battalion, Bayonet wound to the knee
3 May 1918: Involvement Sergeant, SN 3506, 13th Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Arthur Carlson Wolff's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Katherine Wolff

Arthur Carlson Wolff was born on the 22nd of June, 1891 to parents William John Wolff and Olive Mary Catherine Wolff. He was one of six children, with four brothers and a sister. The family first lived on Jane Street in Auburn, NSW, but they moved to Susan Street just before one of Arthur’s older brothers, Edward Erick, was born in 1889.

Before he enlisted at the Sydney Town Hall, Arthur worked as a blacksmith’s assistant. He enlisted after the original Gallipoli landing, on Saturday the 28th of August, 1915. He didn’t have to lie about his age like many young adventure-seeking men at the time, as he was well over the minimum enlistment age at 24. Five days later, on the 19th of December, he returned to the 13th Battalion on the Western Front.

At the time of the enlistment medical examination, Arthur was described as having a ‘fresh complexion’, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was a short and stocky man, measuring 5’4” tall and 10 stone 7lb (67kg), as well as 34” around the chest normally and 36½” when expanded.

On Monday the 6th September, 1915, he was processed for overseas service. Aboard the HMAT A.14 Port Lincoln, he set out from Sydney with the 11th Reinforcements for the 13th Battalion, which he later joined in Egypt on the 4th March, 1916. Arthur won a small middle-weight boxing championship while with the AIF in Tel-el-kebir, Egypt.

The Battalion embarked Alexandria on the 1st June on the Transylvania (a passenger liner that was later sunk in 1917 by a German U-boat), bound for Marseilles in a week’s time. Upon arrival, the 11th Reinforcements for the 13th Battalion joined the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front, in France.

Once there Arthur met his older brother, Edward. Edward would later survive the war, but never return home and be presumed dead after an incident in Queensland. On the 22nd of June, Arthur wrote home (picture 3);

Dear Wal        

Just a few lines to let you know we are all well.  I met Eddy yesterday we had a few hours to-gether.  He looks well & is a Corporal in Dados.  He gave me this card to send to you & he does not like writing much. Will you please tell Mother about us meeting.  I know she will be pleased.  I might not see him for a while as he is on the move.  Well Wal we are in a better country than we were before.  I must conclude with love to all, your loving brother

Arthur

 

Soon after, on the 11th August 1916, Arthur was shot in the right arm when the 4th Division attacked Mouquet Farm, which was part of the Battle of the Somme. He was taken to the 12th General Field Hospital at Rouen, then transferred by ambulance to Le Havre, a major port in Northern France. From there, he was taken to England and admitted to the London General Hospital in Camberwell on Saturday the 19th August.

Arthur Wolff returned to active service on the 14th December, to the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples, a smaller fishing port in France, via the SS Princess Henrietta.

The following year, on Sunday the 18th March, he was reported AWOL just past 8am. The Military Police apprehended him drunk, four hours later at midday. He was fined 21 days’ pay for being drunk while on active duty, and a further weeks’ pay for being AWOL.

Despite these misdemeanours, he was promoted on the 11th April to Lance Corporal, on the 22nd June to Corporal, and to Sergeant on the 16th August. He was a machine gun sergeant, in charge of a machine gun and squad.

On Wednesday the 26th September 1917, two events happened. There was an action at Passchendaele for which Arthur was later recommended for a mention in despatches, and he was again wounded. Arthur received an accidental bayonet wound to his left knee in Rouen, which may have been inflicted by fellow soldier out of jealousy for his recommendation. He was admitted to the 5th Australian Dressing Station and later taken for treatment by ambulance. He was absent from his unit for only a week, returning on Thursday the 4th of October.

The recommendation was not officially made until March the following year, and doesn’t appear to have been acted on. The statement read that:

At Passchendale on the 26th September, 1917, Sgt. Wolff as Company Lewis Gun Sergeant, went forward with his Company, and under very heavy hostile machine gun  fire, took his gun out in front and brought oblique fire on the enemy’s machine guns and succeeded in silencing them.  By his prompt and gallant action, WOLFF caused many casualties to be inflicted on the enemy.

Since then WOLFF has been in all operations carried out by his unit and has displayed the same efficiency in his work.  His personal valour exhibited on so many occasions, regardless of his own safety and the fine example set by him has had the effect of stimulating and upholding the morale and efficiency of the men under him.

Arthur Carlson Wolff was killed-in-action by a German stick-bomb on the 4th May, 1918, near Villiers-Bretoneux. His unit was responsible for a covering party near an old aerodrome on the Villiers Bretoneux-Warfusee-Abancourt road.

The 13th Battalion Report read:

At the same time [1.15 a.m. 4 May 1918] a patrol with Lewis gun was pushed forward to P.25.c.55.15 (between 2nd and 3rd Hangar) to try and advance posts on south of main road.

Patrol reached point referred to and were then opened on by machine gun and rifle fire and with bombs from about P.25.c.60.15.  Lewis Gun came into action and fired two magazines but was then rushed by fully 30 of the enemy.  Sgt Wolff was killed and two of our men wounded.  the No.1 dropped his gear and shot two of the enemy with his revolver.   Several attempts to recover gear and Sgt Wolff’s body have been unsuccessful as enemy opens with M.G. and bombs on slightest movement in vicinity of 2nd Hangar.

Headquarters were advised by the 13th Battalion that Arthur had been buried between the hangars in the old aerodrome, with a wooden cross over his grave. The Assistant Adjutant also reported ‘but no information can be given as to who buried him’.

Later reports from the Red Cross state that Wolff’s body may have remained in no man’s land for over a month, with the official report stating that he was not buried until the 29th of June 1918 by the 25th Battalion. The reports include that he was identified by the fact that his pay book was still in his pocket.

A statement was taken by Private F J Woolcock by the Red Cross on the 15th October, 1918 while he was at the Australian General Hospital in New South Wales;

I knew Wolff well.  He came from Auburn.  I remember his  number was 3506, my number is 3508, and my brother, F H Woolcock number was 3507.  He was a great cobber of mine – we were always together.  I went away with him in s/s “Port Lincoln” 14th October 1915.  I went over to France with him.  He was a small man 5ft 4 ins, fair clean shaved.  My Brother F H Woolcock No.3507 told me that Wolff has been killed at Bullecourt [sic]. …

Wolff was one of the best – we thought a lot of him.

Although Arthur’s parents were notified of his death on the 24th May, 1918, it was not until early October the following year that the details of his death were provided, and there was no mention of the delay associated with recovering and burying his body.

 

 Honours and Awards

  • Victory Medal
  • Memorial Scroll
  • Memorial Plaque

Family WW1

  • Edward Erick Wolff - very little information is known about his service in the war, although Arthur did come across him when he arrived in France. Edward survived the war, but never returned home. Some records say he died in a horse accident in Queensland, while his death certificate says cardiac failure, asthma and bronchitis contributed to his death.
  • David Ernest Wolff - killed during an action at Hamel in Northern France on the 4th of July 1918, only two months after his brother.

 

 

 

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