Preston Edwin ARGALL

Poppy

ARGALL, Preston Edwin

Service Number: 5292
Enlisted: 14 March 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 17th Infantry Battalion
Born: Woollahra, New South Wales, Australia, 12 February 1898
Home Town: Orange, Orange Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Orange East Public School
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Killed in action, Belgium, 20 September 1917, aged 19 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 17), Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Orange Cenotaph, Orange HB1
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World War 1 Service

14 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 5292, 17th Infantry Battalion
22 Aug 1916: Involvement Private, SN 5292, 17th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
22 Aug 1916: Embarked Private, SN 5292, 17th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Wiltshire, Sydney

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

Leader Orange, NSW, Friday 26 April 1918, page 7

PRIVATE PRESTON ARGALL

INQUIRIES AS TO HIS FATE.

Mr. Thomas Argall, mail guard on the western line, who is on six months' accumulated leave, which he is spending in and around Sydney, has been making assiduous inquiries as the fate of his son, Preston Argall, reported wounded and missing. His letter to the "Leader'' on the subject will be read with sympathetic interest by the friends of the Argall family. It reads as follows: —

"I have always been on the look-out for information concerning my son, Press, who was reported wounded and missing before I left Orange, and have seen several returned soldiers who belonged to his battalion. They knew him, but could give me no definite news. Some said he was slightly wounded and taken to England; but last Monday week I received a letter from the Red Cross, and this was the information they conveyed through Private N. G. Carruthers, who belonged to the same battalion:

"We enclose you copy of a statement which has been made to us by Acting Corporal N. G. Carruthers, who has returned to Sydney, and which we thought you would like to see. We are sorry that this does not give you very definite news, and we regret to say that, so far, he has not been reported a prisoner of war.

"Yours faithfully "LANGER OWEN." 

"Informant described Argall as about 5ft 5in high, slight build, fair complexion, age about 20. Left Australia with informant in the Wiltshire on 22.8.16. Was with informant in Liverpool Camp, and right up to the time he was wounded. Informant states that they both belonged to B Co. On 20.9.17 the battalion was attacking Anzac Ridge, or Polygon Wood, at about 3 p.m. Informant saw Argall lying badly wounded just near the German lines. They had to retire, and Argall had to be left where picked up by the Germans. He was unconscious. Informant added that Argall was very popular with his mates, and always had a smile for everybody, —Informant N. G. Carruthers, 5326, B Coy, 17th Battalion."

I wrote to Carruthers and made an appointment to meet him. Poor Carruthers, I may state, has lost one eye, and can only distinguish light from darkness with the other, so it's only a short time when he will totally blind, besides suffering from other injuries. He told me that poor old Press was hit on the head—his head covered in blood, and a pool of blood where he lay. He lifted him up and spoke to him, but his head dropped back, his tongue was out, and he never got any response from him. He had to leave him, but he went back at night to the spot, but he was gone. Only the stain of the blood was left, and he said there was a good bit of that. Of course, when I told him what I heard from other comrades—that he had been taken to England, he said he would not swear that Press was dead. He remarked that there was a large grave about 8 feet away, where a lot were buried. One of the men who was with Carruthers said that he was dead, so that was the sad news that I received from him.

Then, on top of this, last Saturday morning I received another letter from the front, from Private W. H. Back, who wrote to me when I was in Orange, that he had buried Press on the battlefield. He only went on to confirm what he had told me in his last letter so, after receiving that letter, my hopes of my son being alive in England were crushed. I have seen some sorrowful sights since I have been in Sydney, especially at the Anzac Buffet—mother and sweetheart with broken hearts, also seeing officers with their limbs off crying. I tell you it was too much for Mrs. Argall and myself. We had to get out with broken hearts.

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