Archibald Gordon MCASKILL

MCASKILL, Archibald Gordon

Service Numbers: 2858, 2858B
Enlisted: 9 August 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Angaston, South Australia, 6 February 1898
Home Town: Alberton, Port Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Kapunda Model School
Occupation: Machinist
Died: Died of wounds, France, 25 July 1916, aged 18 years
Cemetery: Bapaume Post Military Cemetery, Albert
Plot I, Row F, Grave No. 12, France 59 , Bapaume Post Military Cemetery, Bapaume, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Rosewater War Memorial, Rosewater Womens Memorial Roll of Honour WW1
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World War 1 Service

9 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2858, Adelaide, South Australia
27 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2858, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
27 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2858, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Benalla, Adelaide
28 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 10th Infantry Battalion
25 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2858B, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Archibald Gordon was born in Angaston, South Australia on the 6 February 1898 to parents John and Mabel McASKILL (next of kin). He attended Kapunda Public School and worked as a machinist, operating machinery. Archibald Gordon lived a modest life in Percy Street, Franklin with his mother, father and eldest brother Allen Morris McAskill who had previous military service as an officer. Before Archibald Gordon embarked for the war he had no past military record, however he knew how to hold and use a rifle because of his older brother. 

It is unknown what Archibald Gordon's exact reasons are for wanting to go to war, however many men wanted to complete this journey because of the propaganda and pressure of the community. A possible influence for Archibald Gordon wanting to partake in the war, is his older brother Allen Morris McASKILL [PROFILE (/explore/people/200633)]. He may have felt compelled into enlisting because he wanted to live up to Allen’s achievements that he had obtained from past war experiences. Archibald Gordon also had close companions from his hometown of Alberton enlist as sergeants, officers and signallers accumulating the pressure to enlist. 

On the 17th August 1915 Archibald Gordon enlisted with the AIF (Australian Infantry Force) in Adelaide, South Australia. The minimum legal age of enlistment was 18 however, Archibald Gordon enrolled at 17 years of age. For the few weeks before embarkation, Archibald Gordon learnt the basic techniques and skills of combat. He learnt how to hold, reload and shoot rifles although the official preparation for conflict did not commence until he had embarked for Egypt. On the 25th of August, Archibald Gordon departed Adelaide on-board the HMAT Benalla for Cairo, Egypt where he would train for two months with the 27th Battalion (6th reinforcement). Training in Egypt developed new challenges for Archibald Gordon as he was confronted with intense heat and exhausting hard work. He trained 6 days a week, learning platoon and company tactics and understanding how to fight as a battalion. Because Archibald Gordon was one of the youngest in the battalion he was motivated to continue training to the best of his ability, proving his presence and endurance within the battalion.

When Arhibald Gordon arrived in Egypt, he was allotted to the 10th Battalion. The battalion trained in Egypt preparing the soldiers for the Western Front, then sailed for France in March 1916.

In July 1916, the 10th battalion arrived In Pozieres, France. The capturing of Pozieres was essential to the allied forces, as it offered a high ground advantage and a place from which further attacks could be launched. The battle of Pozieres would also stop the German offensive, prohibiting further proceedings. Archibald Gordon’s only major conflict during WWI was at Pozieres in the Somme Valley. Archibald Gordon spent most of his time in the front line of Pozieres with his bayonet rifle and hand grenades (only special forces used heavy field artillery such as mortars, machine guns etc.). Because of his Private ranking which he had kept for the duration of the war, Archibald Gordon worked on foot, digging trenches and supporting other soldiers within the battalion.

Fighting in the Somme Valley was unpleasant for Archibald Gordon and the other soldiers. It was lousy, stinking and ragged conditions, in supplement the soldiers were unshaven and sleepless. It was a cruel environment for Archibald Gordon to experience at such a young age, nevertheless he continued his journey with the battalion displaying great ANZAC spirit.

On the 25th July 1916 at Pozieres Archibald Gordon was badly wounded by German shellfire. He was found by an Australian field ambulance and immediately rushed to hospital. Unfortunately, on his way to hospital Archibald Gordon died of wounds. Archibald Gordon and the battalion’s involvement at Pozieres, France caused the Germans to end their offence and attempted proclamation on the city.

Archibald Gordon’s body was buried at Bapaume Post Military Cemetery in France to honour the fallen soldiers who died during the Battle of Pozieres, in the Somme Valley. A commemorative service was held in his hometown of Alberton to acknowledge the young soldiers service in WWI. The Port Adelaide Football club also had a tribute for Archibald Gordon as he was born in Alberton, Port Adelaide.

Archibald Gordon earned three general service medals for his service in WWI. These medals include the British war medal, Victory medal and the 1914-15-star medal.