George (Dodger) READING


Service Number: 1432
Enlisted: 17 August 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 36th Infantry Battalion
Born: Singleton, New South Wales, Australia, May 1895
Home Town: Narrabri, Narrabri, New South Wales
Schooling: Gunnedah Public School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Mercer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 7 December 1916
Cemetery: Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres
Plot IV, Row B, Grave No. 23,
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Gunnedah Cenotaph, Gunnedah Public School WW1 Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

17 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1432, 36th Infantry Battalion
13 May 1916: Involvement Private, 1432, 36th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '17' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Beltana embarkation_ship_number: A72 public_note: ''
13 May 1916: Embarked Private, 1432, 36th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Beltana, Sydney

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

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

Books On War Australia, Facebook Page

In late 1915, Hon. Ambrose C. Carmichael who was Minister for Public Information took leave of absence from NSW Parliament. He wanted to recruit a Battalion for the war effort. He had much experience in organising rifle clubs in NSW. He conceived the idea of conducting a recruiting drive largely utilising the rifle clubs throughout the state.

Thus the 36th Battalion became known as
“Carmichael’s Thousand”.

One young man who had heeded Carmichael’s call was 23 year old Pte Norman Koina 483. Norman was a member of the Inverell Rifle Club. Before joining the ‘Carmichael Riflemen’, he was a respected carpenter/joiner in the Inverell District working for G.F. Nott.

The Battalion had a large band which often played at the front of the Battalion during marching.
They probably marched the men into Armentieres where the Battalion first entered WW1 trenches at Square Farm Sector on the 4th December 1916. Two members of the band were, 1432 George 'Dodger' Reading and 1424 Edward McLauglin both being present in the band photo shown below. They were both stretcher bearers in D Company.

Armentieres was regarded as being ‘quiet’ or a nursery sector where newly arrived Battalions would gain training in the ‘real war’.

Armentieres already had attained fame amongst the men from the popular risque song.
Mademoiselle from Armentières parlez-vous?
Mademoiselle from Armentières parlez-vous?
Mademoiselle from Armentières,
Hasn’t been kissed in fifty years,
Inky, Pinky, Parlez-vous!

Of course there were many variants of that song to different words!

Norman Koina had become a Lewis Gunner and along with the rest of the 36th Battalion were back in the same trenches on the 6th December 1916.

The next day, 7th December 1917 at 1pm , the Stretcher Bearers were sheltering in their dug out from minenwerfer (German Heavy Mortar). The men had been warned not to be in the dugouts whilst an artillery barrage was in progress. These dug outs were not bomb proof. Norman Koina was waiting outside the Stretcher Bearer dugout for the bombs to stop. Maybe he had some small injury that needed attention. The bombing stopped and Norman entered the dugout. But just then there was one last minenwerfer which directly hit above the dugout. 90 tonnes of earth collapsed onto the dugout crushing the men inside. It would take near a day for their comrades to dig out their bodies. Norman Koina, George Reading and Edward McLauglin were the first of 36th Battalion members to die in WW1.
All three were buried side by side in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres

The solemn Bandsmen laid special glass wreaths.
One Bandsmen, S. Young wrote, "A Black Day for us. Two of our band mates, stretcher bearers…Geo (Dodger) Reading and Ted McLaughlin have been killed, the second day in the trenches and C. Mikkleson (Snowy) badly crushed,…We can hardly realise that we shall never see our two mates again.”

In the 1920’s George Reading’s Mother, Jane Reading of Gunnedah, requested the following epitaph for her son's gravestone.

Though Absent from Amongst Us
You are Present in Our Thoughts
And Those You Left Behind You
Still Keenly Feel Your Loss