MCCOULLOUGH, Hector Gordon

Service Number: 1595
Enlisted: 15 July 1915, Liverpool, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 30th Infantry Battalion
Born: Cootamundra, New South Wales, 10 April 1895
Home Town: Cootamundra, Cootamundra, New South Wales
Schooling: District School, Cootamundra, NSW
Occupation: Wheelwright & Bodymaker
Died: Killed in action, France, 20 July 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: VC Corner Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, France
VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Cootamundra War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

15 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Liverpool, New South Wales
9 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1595, 30th Infantry Battalion
9 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1595, 30th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Beltana, Sydney
Date unknown: Involvement 30th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)


HECTOR GORDON McCOULLOUGH (1895-1916) born at Glencoe Cootamundra, son of Daniel and Mary Jane McCoullough nee Davis.

He enlisted at Liverpool on July 15th, 1915 after serving two years in the senior cadets and two years in the Militia. He was taken on strength in the 1st Reinforcements, as Private 1595, 30th Battalion. He sailed on HMAT Beltana arriving in Suez on December 11th, 1915. Transferred to C Company, 30th Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir on February 15th, 1916. He embarked to join the British Expeditionary Force per HMAT Hororata at Alexandria on June 16th, 1916 and disembarked at Marseilles 7 days later.

Involved in action on the Western Front where he was reported Missing July 20th - he had died instantly from a bullet wound at Fleurvaise, Fromelles, France during WW1. One army companion said;

"There lies poor long Mack". - he was lying face forward on the parapet. Lance

Corporal J. R. Bishop 617, was wounded himself, and could not tell if he was buried by the English or Germans. Army records show that his identity disc was found and it was later returned to his mother. Hector was one of over 5,000 officers and men from the Australian 5th Division killed in this engagement.

His brother, Norman, saw him fall just as he was getting over the parapet himself. His name is recorded on the VC Corner Australian War Cemetery, Fromelles, Panel 117 at the Australian War Memorial and the Cootamundra War Memorial. There is also a memorial stone in the Cootamundra Cemetery. He had previously trained with the Cadets and Militia.

Hector was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal. His mother was sent a copy of Where The Australians Rest in 1921 and a Memorial plaque arrived in 1922. His brother was sent a Memorial Scroll in 1921.

After the war some documentation was found that recorded that at Pheasant Wood – Fasanenwaldes, - 248 Englanders were buried there between July 21st-26th, 1916.

Letters to and from the Red Cross graphically describe his wounds;

"On the morning of July 19th, 1916, after a preliminary bombardment, the 5th Australian and 61st (South Midland) Divisions undertook what is officially known as the Attack at Fromelles, advancing from the Rue Tilleloy near Picantin. The 61st division attack failed in the end, with the loss of 1,313 officers and men out of 3,140 who took part in it. The Australian left and centre reached the German trenches and held their second line during the day and night, but the right was held off by a fierce machine-gun barrage and only reached the front line in isolated groups. The action was broken off on the morning of the 20th, and after the 5th Australian Division had lost over 500 officers and men. It was the first serious engagement of the Australian forces in France, and the only one which achieved no success; but the losses alone would prove that no other Division could have fought for success more heroically. V.C. Corner was the name given to the crossing of the Rue Delvas and the Rue Du Bois, two miles north-west of Fromelles village. V.C. Corner cemetery was developed after the Armistice. It contains the graves of 410 Australian soldiers who fell in the attack at Fromelles and whose bodies were found on the battlefield, but the identification of even a single body proved to be impossible. It was therefore decided not to mark the individual graves, but to record on a screen wall the names of all the 1,298 Australian soldiers who fell in the engagement and whose graves are Known Only To God.

Of these, 314 belonged to the 60th Battalion, 241 to the 59th, 190 to the 53rd, 163 to the 32nd and 373 to other Infantry battalions and 11 to the Australian Machine Gun Corps. British War Cemeteries in France are, by a law of December 29th, 1915, the free gift of the French people for the perpetual resting place of those who are laid there."

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Yesterday morning, Mr. S. H. Dickson received a cable from his son Douglas, dated London, June 29, stating that Hector McCullough had been killed and his brothor Norman wounded in France. (Douglas added that he and Charlie Mutch were well.) Mr. Dickson immediately communicated with the Rev. J. Malcomson, who conveyed the sad news to the mother. The father, Mr. Dan. McCullough, was engaged in work for the Shire Council at Jugiong, and at first it was hard to locate him; but after some trouble a 'phone message found him, and he hastened home. The sympathy of the whole community goes out to the sorrowing parents and family in the loss of the elder lad and it is to be hoped that the wounds of the younger lad will not prove of a serious nature." - from the Cootamundra Herlad 04 Aug 1916 (nla.gov.au)