Clarence James TILLEY


TILLEY, Clarence James

Service Number: 3981
Enlisted: 5 July 1915, Perth, Western Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 11th Infantry Battalion
Born: Birkenhead, South Australia, 22 August 1893
Home Town: Semaphore, Port Adelaide Enfield, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Locomotive engine cleaner
Died: Killed In Action, France, 30 May 1916, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, Bethune, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Fremantle Fallen Sailors & Soldiers Memorial, Magill Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

5 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3981, Perth, Western Australia
22 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3981, 11th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
22 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3981, 11th Infantry Battalion, RMS Mongolia, Fremantle

About the Death of Tilley

As recounted by his good mate Harvey Trevatt in a letter sent home after the bombardment at Cordonnieres Farm, Flerbaix, France, 30 May 1916.

I suppose before this reaches you, you will have read the account of our little bout with (Fritz). No doubt we lost a few men including my two cobbers Wardle and Tilley. That leaves me pretty well on my own. Ern Dedman is not back from hospital yet but I believe he is alright but working his nut to keep out of the fighting. Anyhow I am not losing any sleep over him. I seem to get on well with all the boys but I do miss Tom Wardle and Tilley. We were always together and always had our meals together and shared the same dugout. Tilley was killed outright and Wardle was buried and cramped pretty bad when they got him out and died two days later in hospital. I never even saw them before they were carried off but I believe Wardle wanted to see me before he left but I could not leave the parapet. We were expecting (Fritz) to charge but it did not come off much to our disgust. It took the officers all their time to stop us from flying the parapet. Everyone that was left wanted to have a piece of them. As it was they (Fritz) sent over a raiding party but we soon got rid of them. The Germans can’t meet a man face to face. This night proved it for as soon as the Germans saw we were in our place and let a few bombs off in amongst them, they dropped everything and went for their life. What they left I can’t tell you but they were going to blow up our mine pits. So you can see they had a fair amount of stuff with them.
Now a little about the bombardment. It happened just before stand to 8PM. Fritz opened out on our trenches with his artillery. There was only one thing to do. Take shelter in the dugouts. Talk about shells. It was just one string dugouts, men, packs, everything going up. Then our artillery opened up and the roar would nearly send one deaf. Just to give you an idea, our own artillery sent over 12000 shells on a front of 300 yards in the 2½ hours the bombardment lasted. All that time I was kneeling in the doorway of a dugout keeping one chap in. He seemed to do his (block) and wanted to rush off somewhere. Where to I do not know. The dugout two yards on my left was blown in – killed two men and wounded two. I pulled one chap out and put him in my dugout. The other chap got out himself. That was four of us in the dugout with only enough room for two. Later on three yards in front of me a high explosive shell must have burst. I think that was the shell that killed Tilley and buried Wardle. Then on my right on the other side of a stack of sandbags a dugout was blown up buried one man. So I am very lucky to get out of it alive."

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