Joseph Harold DURKIN


DURKIN, Joseph Harold

Service Number: 5372
Enlisted: 31 March 1916, Appointed Acting Cpl 24/10/1917
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 6th Infantry Battalion
Born: Kilmore, Victoria, November 1893
Home Town: Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Kilmore Catholic College, Victoria
Occupation: Train examiner
Died: Murdered, Lewis Gun Hut, No. 2 Camp, 2nd Training Battalion, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom, 27 November 1917
Cemetery: Sutton Veny (St. John) Churchyard, Wiltshire, England
St John Churchyard (Row B, Grave No 18), Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, England, Sutton Veny (St John) Churchyard, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Kilmore War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

31 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5372, 6th Infantry Battalion, Appointed Acting Cpl 24/10/1917
4 Apr 1916: Involvement Private, SN 5372, 6th Infantry Battalion
4 Apr 1916: Embarked Private, SN 5372, 6th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Euripides, Melbourne
27 Nov 1917: Involvement Corporal, SN 5372, 6th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans


WW1 Australian War Graves in England/UK shared a post.
1 hr
Died on this date - 27th November......MURDERED .....Corporal Joseph Harold Durkin was born at Kilmore, Victoria in 1893. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 28th January, 1916 as a 22 year old Train Examiner from Carlton, Victoria.
Private Durkin embarked from Melbourne on 4th April, 1916 & arrived at Suez (no date recorded). He was hospitalised at Alexandria in May, 1916 & in August embarked for England with 1st Divisional Details.
Private Durkin reported at No. 1 Command Depot at Perham Downs, WIltshire on 13th September, 1916 & then proceeded on furlo. He was transferred to No. 3 Camp at Sutton Veny, Wiltshire on 31st October, 1916.
Private Durkin was appointed Acting Corporal on 24th October, 1917.

Corporal Joseph Harold Durkin was found dead at 11 pm on 27th November, 1917 at the Lewis Gun Hut, No. 2 Camp, 2nd Training Battalion, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, England.
A Coroner's Court was held into the death of Corporal Durkin & the Jury found " that the wound was self-inflicted during a period of temporary insanity.”

Corporal Joseph Harold Durkin was buried on 1st December, 1917 in St. John the Evangelist Churchyard at Sutton Veny. Wiltshire.

Apparently several days after the inquest a soldier from an adjoining hut made a report against Acting Corporal V. Asser in connection with the death of Corporal Durkin.

A letter from Brig.-General Griffith, Commandant to A.I.F., Administrative Headquarters, London, dated 25th January,
1918 reads : “re Murder by No. 296A A/Cpl. Asser V. A.A.S.C. - I have to report that a Jury at the Assizes at Devizes in England have brought in a verdict of “Guilty” on a charge of the murder of No. 5372 Corporal Joseph Harold Durkin by the above-named soldier, both of the 2nd Training Battalion, A.I.F.

At the inquest on Durkin a verdict of suicide was returned, but several days after a soldier in the adjoining hut made a report inculpating Asser.

There seemed some doubt as to whether the case came within the provison relating to the engagement of counsel at the expense of the Commonwealth, but under the special circumstances, I arranged for counsel to conduct the defence.The prosecution showed by experiments made with the Lewis Gun that the deceased could not have shot himself, that it was discharged within five inches of deceased’s head, and that as Asser was the only other occupant of the hut he must have shot him. The Jury believed this account and the accused was sentenced to death.”