Colin (Col) FORBES

Badge Number: S3932 / S14378
S3932 / S14378


Service Number: 3642
Enlisted: 14 March 1917, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Morchard, South Australia, Australia, 13 April 1898
Home Town: Orroroo, Orroroo/Carrieton, South Australia
Schooling: Morchard Public School
Occupation: Draper/ Storekeeper (Sands & McDougall)
Died: Willowie, Mount Remarkable - South Australia, Australia, 2 April 1950, aged 51 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Orroroo Cemetery, S.A.
Memorials: Orroroo District Roll of Honour WW1, Orroroo Morchard Men Roll of Honor, Orroroo Morchard Public School Roll of Honor, Orroroo Public School Roll of Honour
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

14 Mar 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, 3642, Adelaide, SA, Australia
4 Aug 1917: Involvement Private, 3642, 50th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '19' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Themistocles embarkation_ship_number: A32 public_note: ''
4 Aug 1917: Embarked Private, 3642, 50th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Melbourne
25 Apr 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, 3642, 50th Infantry Battalion, Villers-Bretonneux, GSW groin

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

Biography contributed by Ruby Sheehan

Colin Forbes was born in Morchard, South Australia on the 13th of April, 1898. He was raised in a Methodist household by his parents, Frederick and Emily. Colin had six other siblings, three brothers, Allan, Archie and Ron, and three sisters, Mabel, Adelaide and Thelma. He and his siblings attended Morchard Public School. Colin was five foot and seven inches tall and had brown eyes, dark hair and a fresh complexion.

In 1905 the family moved in to Orroroo as Frederick established a bigger factory for his business, F. Forbes & Sons. This business was recognised for the 'Forbes Plough' and other vehicles including express buggies, Rosa buggies, dog carts, ploughs and many others.

On the 14th of March, 1917, Colin went to Adelaide to sign up for the war at the age of eighteen and eleven months. He was placed in training for four months in Melbourne and after the training sailed off to Codford, England on the ship H.M. Themistocles, for some more training. Colin trained in Codford from November to January. After roughly seven months of training, Colin went by ship to France to fight in the 50th Battalion for three months until the Anzac Day of 1918.

At 5:50pm on 25th April, 1918 Villers-Bretonneux was heavily shelled by the enemies, possibly resulting in Colin’s gunshot wound to his groin, sending him to hospital after being treated by field ambulance. One of Colin’s letters home described that he had collected a piece of shrapnel and it fell out of his trousers as he was carted off by the stretcher bearers, he also said that he "regretted losing his souvenir"[1]. Colin also acquired glasses during this period of time.

In June, 1918 Colin returned to fighting with his unit until the end of the war. When the war ended, there were thousands of soldiers that needed to come home, Colin decided to stay a bit longer and join the Australian Corps School in France. While in the school he made friends with Dave who was in the 59th Battalion, they did some travelling around Paris, England, Scotland and Ireland, seeing relatives before returning.

The men returned to Australia on the 5th October, 1919. Dave took Colin home to meet his family. Colin ended up falling in love with Dave’s older sister Elizabeth; he was roughly three years older than Elizabeth. They ended up tying the knot seven years later in 1926, with Dave as the best man. Elizabeth and Colin settled down in Orroroo, welcoming four children, Cherrie, Joy, Jack and Annette.

In 1926 Colin was actively involved in the community, being the president of the Orroroo RSL Sub Branch and in 1936-1943 and 1946 he was the secretary treasurer. On the 10th of July, 1936, Colin was in charge of the stage for a social function for the Orroroo Hospital. One part of the function was ‘The Ugliest Man Competition’.

Coming into the motor car era, Colin and his brother Allan took over F. Forbes and Sons. Since the 1950’s the business was under control by descendants of Frederick Forbes. The business was well known, having customers from New South Wales, and were also prize winners in country shows.

In 1950 Colin fell very ill and he specifically wanted to see his friend, Charlie (Elizabeth’s younger brother) one more time, so Charlie took the long train journey from Melbourne to Orroroo to see him one last time before he died.

Colin died on the 2nd of April 1950, at the age of 51. His wife, Elizabeth, died 41 years later, they are buried together at the Orroroo Cemetery.



Parnell, N., 1975. Orroroo, Rendezvous Of The Magpie. Orroroo, S.A.: Orroroo Centenary Committee, pp.47, 48.

1976. Reflections. Morchard, S.A.: Morchard District Centenary Book Committee, pp.71, 92.

Smith, Robyn, great niece of Colin's wife, Elizabeth, and her brothers, Dave and Charlie Smith


[1] Smith, 2020