Ira Cecil WORTHLEY

Badge Number: 27732, Sub Branch: Gawler
27732

WORTHLEY, Ira Cecil

Service Number: 2756
Enlisted: 29 December 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Brompton Park, South Australia, 1 July 1894
Home Town: Kangaroo Flat, Light, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Gawler South Australia, 19 October 1972, aged 78 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Willaston General Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

29 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2756, 32nd Infantry Battalion
1 Jan 1916: Enlisted
25 Mar 1916: Involvement Private, SN 2756, 32nd Infantry Battalion
25 Mar 1916: Embarked Private, SN 2756, 32nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Shropshire, Adelaide

My Grandfather

On his return from the war, Ira Worthley married Jessie Badman and moved to Gilgandra NSW where he farmed. Two daughters, Aileen and Barbara (my mother) were born there. They then returned to SA where a third daughter, Patricia, was born, and bought a mixed farm at Kangaroo Flat outside of Gawler. They farmed here until they retired into Gawler in 1963.
At every opportunity I would be at the farm and became very close to my grandparents (Nanna & Papa). Although I didn't know it at the time, Ira suffered badly from what is now called PTSD and endured several "breakdowns". Surprisingly, perhaps, as a farmer he never drove a car.
From time to time Ira would tell me stories from the War although I subsequently discovered that even my own mother hadn't heard him talk about these matters. One of the stories I recall concerned his time as a "sniper's observer".
I entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Jan 1969 but to my great regret, Ira died in October 1972, just two months short of my graduation.

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Biography contributed by Allen Hancock

Ira Cecil Worthley

Ira Cecil Worthley was born in Brompton, South Australia on 1 July 1894, the eighth of ten children of Robert Jethro Worthley and Elizabeth Videon. In 1915 Ira was working as a farmer at Gulnare, a small town in the mid-north of South Australia where the east-west Goyder Highway crossed the Gladstone-Balaklava railway, 188 kilometres north of Adelaide.

Ira enlisted in the AIF in Adelaide on 29 December 1915 as a member of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, 5th Reinforcements.

The 32nd Battalion had been raised on 9 August 1915 in Mitcham, South Australia, for overseas service …  While 'A' and 'B' Companies were made up of recruits from South Australia, 'C' and 'D' Companies were formed in Perth, Western Australia, and underwent training at the Blackboy Hill Training Camp before sailing on the transport HMAT Indarra and joining the rest of the battalion in Adelaide at the end of August. Most of the battalion's recruits had previously worked as miners or farmers. After completing basic training, the battalion left Australia in November aboard the transport HMAT Geelong, bound for Egypt. It arrived amidst the aftermath of the failed Gallipoli campaign, which saw a reorganisation and expansion of the AIF in preparation for its dispatch to France and Belgium to take part in the fighting against the Germans along the Western Front.

In Egypt, the battalion became part of the newly formed 8th Brigade, which was attached to the 5th Division. After a further period of training, the battalion was shipped to France in June 1916, to join the fighting on the Western Front. The following month, after spending a short period in the Armentières sector, the battalion was committed to the front for the first time on 16 July 1916. Three days after taking up position in the trenches the 32nd took part in the fighting around Fromelles, being committed as part of the 8th Brigade's initial assault on the extreme left of the Australian front that was focused around a position known as the "Sugarloaf". During that fighting it suffered 718 casualties—a third of the battalion's total casualties for the entire war—which equalled roughly 90 percent of its effective strength. As a result of these losses, the 32nd Battalion was used mainly in a support role throughout the remainder of 1916, during which time, while they were not committed to any attacks in an assault role, they continued to suffer further casualties through the attrition of trench warfare.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/32nd_Battalion_(Australia)

On 20 March 1916 Ira was presented with a wristwatch at the Gulnare Methodist Church anniversary dinner to bid him farewell before he sailed for overseas on 25 March aboard HMAT Shropshire.

He arrived in Egypt too late to embark for France with his battalion and he left Alexandria on 20 June aboard the troopship Huntsend, disembarking at Marseilles on 30 June from where he travelled to the 5th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples. He eventually joined his battalion on 2 August 1916 at Bac St Maur, a village about 8 km south-west of Armentières.

After spending a bitter winter undertaking defensive duties on the Somme, during early 1917 the battalion took part in the operations in pursuit of the German forces as they withdrew towards the Hindenburg Line, but found itself in a flank protection role during the Second Battle of Bullecourt in May. On 26 September 1917, the battalion was heavily committed to the fighting around Polygon Wood near Ypres in Belgium during the Battle of Passchendaele; again they were employed in a support role, as the 8th Brigade's assault was led by the 29th and 31st Battalions. Following the assault, the brigade adopted a defensive posture, supporting further efforts around Zillebeke and Anzac Ridge.

For the remainder of 1917 and the first half of 1918 the 5th Division mainly undertook a reserve role and as a result the 32nd Battalion had little involvement during the German spring offensive; after the winter of 1917–18, the battalion had re-entered the trenches in the Messines sector, occupying positions near Warneton in January 1918, remaining there until March. In April, the 8th Brigade had been moved to the Somme, taking up defensive positions around the canal between Corbie and Vaux. After the German advance stalled the 32nd Battalion was involved in a series of minor advances along the Bray–Corbie Road throughout July, taking part in operations around Morlancourt and the Morcourt Valley as the Allies sought to regain the initiative. Later, the Allies launched their own offensive around Amiens beginning on 8 August 1918. During this offensive the 32nd Battalion took part in operations in the Peronne area throughout August and September as the Allies sought to breach the Hindenburg Line, fighting its final engagement of the war between 29 September and 1 October 1918 as part of a joint Australian and American attack along the St Quentin Canal.

After this, the Australian Corps was removed from the line for rest and training in preparation for further operations. In order to make up for the losses the Australians had suffered during the previous months, a number of Australian battalions were disbanded at this time to provide reinforcements to those that remained. The 32nd Battalion received a large number of reinforcements from the all-Victorian 29th Battalion, which was subsequently disbanded. It was still out of the line when the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918. During the battalion's final series of battles, the battalion was led by Major Blair Wark, who was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his leadership and bravery. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/32nd_Battalion_(Australia)

Ira left France on 14 March 1919 and after spending time at the Australian Depot at Sutton Veny in England he eventually embarked for Australia aboard the troopship Devanah on 8 May 1919, disembarking in Adelaide on 20 June. He was discharged on 4 August 1919.

On 31 August 1921, in the Methodist Church at Gulnare, he married Jessie Mabel Badman, the daughter of John Badman and Amelia Duffield of Yacka, the next town 13 km south of Gulnare. Later the couple relocated to Gilgandra, New South Wales, where on 27 March 1922 their daughter Aileen was born. A second daughter, Barbara, was born at Gilgandra on 9 November 1923.

The family later returned to South Australia where their third daughter, Patricia, was born at Gawler East on 10 November 1925.

Ira took up a farm at Kangaroo Flat near Gawler and the family remained there until 1963. Ira died at Gawler on 19 October 1972.

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