Harold John BOURKE


BOURKE, Harold John

Service Number: 1682
Enlisted: 12 August 1915, West Maitland, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 30th Infantry Battalion
Born: West Maitland, New South Wales, 27 June 1894
Home Town: West Maitland, Maitland, New South Wales
Schooling: Marist Brothers School
Occupation: Railway labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Fromelles, France, 20 July 1916, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
Plot III, Row B, Grave No 5, Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, Fromelles, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Haymarket NSW Government Railway and Tramway Honour Board, Maitland Horseshoe Bend Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

12 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1682, 30th Infantry Battalion, West Maitland, New South Wales
17 Dec 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1682, 30th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '16' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Berrima embarkation_ship_number: A35 public_note: ''
17 Dec 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1682, 30th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Berrima, Sydney
20 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1682, 30th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)

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"...1682 Private Harold John Bourke, 30th Battalion from West Maitland, NSW. A 21 year old labourer prior to enlisting in the AIF on 12 August 1915, he embarked for overseas with the 2nd Reinforcements from Sydney on 17 December 1915 aboard HMAT Berrima. While serving on the Western Front, he was killed in action at Fromelles, France on 20 July 1916, aged 22 years. After the war he had no known grave and was commemorated on the VC Corner Cemetery Memorial at Fromelles. In 2008 a burial ground was located at nearby Pheasant Wood containing the bodies of 250 British and Australian soldiers including Pte Bourke. All of the remains were reburied in the newly created Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. At the time of the official dedication of the new cemetery on 19 July 2010, ninety-six of the Australians, including Pte Bourke, had been identified through a combination of anthropological, archaeological, historical and DNA information. Work is continuing on identifying the other remains relocated from the burial ground and buried in the new cemetery as unknown soldiers." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

Service record details:

Embarked Sydney, 17 December 1915; disembarked Suez, 23 January 1916.

Taken on strength, 30th Bn, Ferry Post, 20 April 1916, and reverted to Private.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 16 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 23 June 1916.

Reported Missing, 20 July 1916.

  • 'Identification Disc received from Germany. No particulars were afforded except that Soldier was deceased. May now be reported "KILLED IN ACTION" 20/7/16.'
  • Communication from Berlin (file p. 17): 'austr. Sold. Bourke, Harold John 30. Batl. gefallen am 19.7.16 in Gegend Fromelles gefallen'.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Red Cross File No 470404 has statement by 383 Pte R.H. CLARKE, 30th Bn (patient, No 1 Canadian General Hospital), 24 November 1916: 'He was a cousin of mine. Pte Sharp of B. Coy told me that he had seen him wounded in the German trenches when we went acrosss at Fromelles.'

Like many in the 8th Brigade he had oenetrated the German front line only to be cut off and killed.  He was buried along with hundreds of others, in a mass grave.  Details of his loss were communicated via the Red Cross


Compiled by Steve Larkins Oct 18