Samuel John CAPES (1885-1974)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF


Rising Sun


Private: 219 Samuel CAPES - Private: 723 Samuel John CAPES. (Aboriginal, Anaiwan)

Born: 1885. Uralla, New South Wales, Australia.

Married: 1908. Muswellbrook, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:11489/1908.

Wife: Ethel Capes. nee: Schofield.

Died: 1974. Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:59864/1974.

Father: Samuel Capes. (18..-1920) Died at Narrabri, N.S.W. Death Cert:18044/1920.

Mother: Sophia Capes. nee: Pike.


Samuel John Capes enlisted at Liverpool, N.S.W. in the AIF with the 7th Australian Light Horse Regiment on the 3rd November 1914 but had been discharged at Albany, South Australia, for refusing an inoculation.

Samuel enlisted a second time at Boggabri, N.S.W. on the 10th November 1915 where he was entained to the Armidale showgrounds and then onto the Rutherford Army Camp on the 14th February 1916 where he was allocated to C Company of the 33rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Brigade AIF where his attestation form was signed by the Commaning Officer of the 33rd Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel: Leslie James MORSHEAD

Armidale Camp 1916

Armidale Camp 1916.

The 33rd Battalion entrained from Farley Station for Sydney on the 3rd of May and embarked onboard HMAT A74 "Marathon" the next day for England and disembarked at Devonport, England on the 9th July 1916 where he was marched in to the 9th Training Battalion at the Durrungton Army Camp at Larkhill. Here the Battalion settled down to hard training, which included Route Marching, Trench Digging, Bomb Practice, Musketry and General Camp Routine. The 33rd proceeded overseas for France on the 21st November 1916.

9th April 1917.

On the 9th the 33rd once again took over the fron line, again at L'Epinette. They moved to Senninghem on the 12th where they were headquartered until the 25th. Then once again they were on the march, via Renescure and Pradelle to Armentieres, Where, on the 28th they gained a well earned rest. On the 21st May the men of the 33rd were moved to Le Touquet to Ploegsteert Wood for the usual working parties, trench maintenance being high on the agenda for the comming offensive. Three days later they were at St Vyes for more of the same, releived on the 26th May by the 34th Battalion and moved back to billets at Nippe.

(Never a Backward Step; Edwards 1996)

9th May 1917.

Informant; Lieutenant: 1205 William Alexander McLEAN. At 1:00am I reached the bombing post and the ledt of "D" Gap. We were observing down the gap and saw movement 70 yards down the gap. We then saw three crouching figures with round caps making for our support line. I ordered the men to get there rifles and bombs ready and told them to fire. The three Germans dropped flat. Private: 5043 Albert Francis LANE of his own accord jumped out of the bay and got to a point 15 yards down the gap and commenced to throw bombs. The Lewis Guns then commenced to fire at the place where the men had been seen. We then saw 25 Germans making back to their own line. The Lewis Guns then fired three seperate bursts at them and we saw at least 6 Germans fall, in NO MAN'S LAND 70 yards from our own front line. The Lewis Guns continued firing and were sweeping perfectly. We then saw a German limping 30 yards from our own trench; the Lewis Gun was turned on him and he fell.

Three men and myself went out immediately and found a German sitting in a shell hole. We brought him in although he was screeming with pain. The stretcher bearers were sent for and the German was taken to Company Headquarters, thense to the Aid Post. Our party threw 24 bombs and fired 50 rounds from their rifles. The Lewis Gunners fired 10 magazines. The Germans made their entrance by means of the old trench which runs from our lines through NO MAN'S LAND. From the point where Private: 5043 Albert Francis LANE threw bombs the gap is heavily wired and we could make no progress to attack them. The Germans also left in a diagonal direction so it was impossible to get in NO MAN'S LAND and cut them off.

Officer of the Watch.

LE TOUQUET 1:00am. Enemy silently raided our trenches and were driven off with Lewis Gun fire and bombs leaving 1 prisoner in our hands. Trench maintanence and repairs were carried out over the next 4 days.

33rd Battalion Unit Diary

7th June 1917.


The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General: Alexander JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John CARROLL 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had made little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

Field Dressing Station, Messines 07/06/1917


23rd July 1917.

Releived by 33rd Bn AIF and 35th move back to Close Support position. Casulties during tour in front line 45 including 12 killed. 2 Lieut; Thomas Laurence GRAY was wounded 25/07/17.

Crime Absent from billets after 9:am and not in possession of a pass. 10.8.17 Award 4 days Forfiet Pay. No:2 by C.O 33rd Bn AIF 23.8.17.

On the 28th January 1918 Samuel proceeded overseas for England on leave but after a few weeks was in trouble. Crime LONDON. Failing to appear at a place of Parade appointed by his Superior Officer in that he failed to catch the leave train on 11.2.18 at Victoria Station. Award 4 days loss of pay. By O.C 33rd Battalion A.I.F.

Samuel rejoined his until from leave on the 12th February 1918 and moved into the Cachy Area.

30th March 1918.

CACHY Orders were received during the early hours of the morning that the Battalion was to move its position in BOIS D'AQUENNE in order to launch a counter attack if required. Either in the direction of VILLERS BRETONNEUX or CENTELLES. The Battalion moved off to the wood at 10:30 a.m. and arrived safely. Rain came on but Companies were served with a good hot meal during morning, thus keeping the men warm and in good spitits. At 2:15 p.m. the order came that the Battalion was to move up and take the line (as per Operation Orders) The B Teams were to be left behind. The 34th Battalion was to be in reserve. Everybody was bust getting ready for the next half hour and then the Companies were formed up in mass and the C.O. spoke to them. 5 minutes afterwards at 3:14 p.m. the Battalion started off in great spirits for the scene of action.

The Battalion had the support of 4 squadrons of Cavalry who moved up with them, and it was a "Never to Be forgotten" sight to see the long column of infantry with the Cavalry on their right moving up together. Gradually the Cavelry outpaced the infantry and on their arrival at the BOIS D'HANGARD founf the British Infantry retiring. They at once dismounted and advanced taking the retiring infantry with them drove the advancing Bosche back and re-established the line thus clearing the un names wood east of BOIS D'HANGARD before the infantry came up. In the meantime the Battalion came on in a column of threes (the visibility being bad) and deployed when they got behind BOIS D'HANGARD at 3:50 p.m Here they rested till the attack was launced at 5:00 p.m.

33rd Battalion War Diary

4th-5th April 1918


The Strength of the 9th Infantry Brigade was about 2,250 but their casulties during the 2 days of fighting numbered 30 Officers and 635 men either killed in action or missing.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.4th-5th April 1918
33rd Battalion. AIF 3 Officers 82 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 120 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 282 Other ranks (including 44 missing)
36th Battalion. AIF 12 Officers 133 Other ranks (including 1 missing)
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 1 Officer 18 Other ranks (including 4 missing)

16th April 1918.

’On the 16th April, the rumours of a new German Offensive against Amiens seemed to be definitely confirmed. A German prisoner, taken by the French, volunteered the that Villers Bretonneux was to be attacked the next day. The 5th Australian Division, which had come line on the night of the 6th/7th April, and held the sector from Villers Bretonneux (inclusive) to the Somme canal was warned to be ready to retake the town, if captured by attack from the north ; and other preparations and counter-preparations were made. About 4 A.M. on the 17th, Villers Bretonneux, Bois d'Aquenne, to the west of it and the village of Cachy, to the south, were heavily drenched for three hours with phosgene, mustard and irritant gasses. But no assault followed. As soon as possible the local garrison, consisting of the 6/London(58 Dvn) and the 33rd Australian Battalion, was got out of the shelters in the town into the trenches around it. The gas shelling was repeated in the evening from 4 to 7 P.M., next morning and on the following days, being increased so as to include Bois I'Abbe, but with greatly reduced results. Nevertheless it was impossible for anyone to move that area without feeling some ill-effects from the mustard gas, and there were, in all, 1,074 gas casualties.’

’The gassing of Villers Bretonneux seemed to point to the probability of its not being attacked, but by this time air photographs had revealed the signs of imminent operations; an increase in the number of enemy batteries had also been noticed, while the roads were being registered by German artillery. There were, however, also indications that the Albert sector might be the objective of an attack which might extend to Arras and Vimy Ridge. On the 21st there was much air fighting near the Somme, and the famous airman Richthofen was brought down.1. That night a man of the 4th Guard Division, captured by the 8th Dvn , disclosed the fact that his formation had just relieved the 9th Bavarian Reserve Division in front of Marcelcave , and would attack Villers Bretonneux at 3 A.M. on the 23rd. Counter-preparations were continued, and the German railway centres were bombed, particularly Chaulnes .2 'No infantry assault materialized on the 23rd, two deserters came in from the 77th Reserve Division, just arrived from Russia, which had entered the line on 20th, south of the 4th Guard Division, opposite Cachy, and the French captured a gunner of the Guard Ersatz Division opposite Hangard. All these men said that the relief of the line divisions by " storm " divisions had been completed the infantry were ready to advance; the bombardment would begin early on the 24th and. last two and-a -quarter hours: and the attack would be assisted by new German tanks, which were already in position near the front line. 2 It is from the fact that tanks were used to punch a hole in the British line on either side of Villers Bretonneux, and that, in consequence, the Germans gained possession of the town and ground on either side for a short time, that the fighting on the 24th derives its interest.’

Samuel was Wounded in Action where he was Gassed near Villers-Bretonneux, France on the 17th April 1918,


Gassed Australian soldiers awaiting treatment near Bois de L'Abbe outside Villers-Bretonneux 1918.

Note: 33rd Battalion Colour Patch on Corporal in foreground. (Eggs-a-Cook)

(Photos: Never a Backward Step. History of the 33rd Battalion AIF.)

Samuel was treated by the 5th Field Ambulance before being sent to the aid station where the men were transfered to the 3rd Stationary Hospital at Rouen on the 19th of April. After treatment Samuel was transfered to the 1st Convelescent Hospital at Harve and did not return to the Front Line until the 4th June 1918. Samuel was granted leave fro England on the 11th January 1919 where he was admitted to Hospital on the 27th January suffering from V.D. and spent 91 days in recovery. Samuel returned to Australia on the 20th May 1919 onboard HMAT "Nestor" where he was discharged from the A.I.F.

Family Information

Samuel was a single 29 year old Bushman/Labourer from Kentucky via Uralla, N.S.W. His mother Sophia Capes, Post Office, Uralla, N.S.W, was listed as his next of kin. His parents Samuel and Sophia Capes were married in 1883 at Armidale, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:6510/1883 and had 2 sons. Samuel John Capes born 1885 at Uralla, N.S.W. Birth Cert:39781/1885. Henry Capes born 1886 at Uralla, N.S.W. Birth Cert:30938/1886. "Henry may have served with the Canadian Armed Forces but I have not confirmed as yet. But there was a Henry Capes who served with the 1st Canadian Battalion who was Killed in Action"

Grandaughter; Sharon Capes. October 2016.


The Anaiwan people trapped macropods with nets strung between the trees, used the swamps to catch crayfish and dig for yams, roots and hunt water birds. Grasslands were maintained by burning to attract large game into the area for hunting. Racecourse Lagoon at Uralla is one. The Anaiwan people are believed to have had a common ancestry with the coastal Daingatti, but at some unknown point broke with them and ‘all neighbouring groups’ so completely that their languages diverged. Later, it has been postulated that they formed ties with the Gumilaroi, to the west.

The developed commonalities in social organisation, engaged in trade and acquired similar artistic traditions in the process. Kinship affiliations and strategic alliances developed with the Gumilaroi are thought to have developed. Art sites with the emu footprint motif, believed to indicate the direction that the Dreaming ancestors took across the land, can be found between Bendemeer and Mt Yarrowyck.

Surviving relics associated with Anaiwan campsites include seed grinding and axes sharpening grooves in rock slabs and scatters of stone artefacts. Stones were sometimes used to cover graves and traces of ochre may be found on the stones, which served as grave markers. Grave goods included axes, knives, seed grinders and other specialised tools. Close to water and ochre sources stone arrangements have also been found. These range from simple cairns to complex groupings of stone circles, single lines, corridors or other designs.

In the general area of Bundarra, the Anaiwan are known to have held meetings at a location called King’s Gap and in local tradition Mt. Yarrowyck was a corroboree place. European accounts suggest that women and children spent much of their time around Bassandean, where births took place.

Dr Sue Rosen, 2009.

There were several groups of Anaiwan custodians within the Uralla District. One particular clan was allocated 100 acres of land on the banks of the Kentucky Creek on the 12.12.1886, two kilometers west of Uralla.

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Under Construction: 17/10/2016-24/10/2016.

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