Victor John Sim NOBLE

NOBLE, Victor John Sim

Service Number: 1551
Enlisted: 14 July 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Melbourne, Victoria, 3 June 1895
Home Town: Largs Bay, Port Adelaide Enfield, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Junior draftsman (S.A.R.)
Died: Natural causes, Adelaide, South Australia, 25 October 1966, aged 71 years
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Adelaide HB09 South Australian Railways - Adelaide Railway Station*
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World War 1 Service

14 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1551, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Keswick, South Australia
18 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1551, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
18 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1551, 32nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide
19 Jul 1916: Wounded Fromelles (Fleurbaix), GSW - left buttock
24 Apr 1918: Wounded Villers-Bretonneux, 2nd occasion - gassed
12 Jul 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 1551, 32nd Infantry Battalion

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Biography

Victor John Sim Noble, of "Argyle", 337 Military Road, Largs Bay, was a junior draughtsman in the SA Railways when he enlisted, just after his 20th birthday, in July 1915. He served in the 32nd Battalion of the AIF leaving Adelaide in November 1915 and returning to Australia almost exactly 3½ years later, in April 1919.

After 6 months in Egypt, the battalion arrived at the Western Front in France in June 1916, and very quickly became part of the first major attack by the AIF in France – the disastrous Battle of Fromelles. Vic was wounded on 19 July, 1916, probably before the attack, and in Cellar Farm Avenue, a communication trench on the way to the frontline, where there were many casualties caused by shelling (both enemy and friendly).

Shortly after his return to the Front early in 1917, Vic was attached to 8 Brigade HQ, as draughtsman. Some of the maps he drew survive in the 8 Brigade Diary, identifiable by his distinctive neat writing. He was gassed at Corbie Dugout in April 1918, and on his return to duty was an early sufferer of Spanish flu.

Vic survived the war, arriving home in May 1919. almost exactly 3½ years after departure. He re-joined the SA Railways, and then transferred to the Commonwealth Railways where he was for many years Maintenance Engineer of Way and Works, looking after the East West line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and the Northern line to Alice Springs. From 1941-45 he was Manager of Northern Australia Railways in the Northern Territory, at a time when it was a vital link in the defensive plan for Northern Australia.

According to his children, he spoke very rarely, if ever, about his wartime experiences. They only remember teasing him about the wound he received in his buttocks, (of course, he was ‘running away’) and him teaching them marching songs like ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag’.

No letters have survived, apart from one postcard. However, a very small diary (for 1917) has survived. This diary has a meticulously kept complete list, with dates, of all the places he spent the night while he was away from Australia. There are 180 locations in the list, forming what must be an almost unique record tracing one man’s journey through the war on the Western Front. The diary also has very occasional short entry, mainly for 1917, but occasionally for 1918, which records an event, plus a listing of letters he received at various times.

Vic Noble died in October, 1966, aged 71.

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