Richard Valentine LATHLEAN (1894-1979)


Richard Valentine Lathlean


Captain: 1167 Richard Valentine LATHLEAN. M.C. & Bar.

Born: 1894. Adamstown, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:3276/1894.



Died: 20th February 1979. New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:101364/1979.

Father: Richard Valentine Lathlean. (18..-1907)

Mother: Sarah Elizabeth Lathlean. nee: Davies. (18..-1934)


Richard Valentine Lathlean enlisted with the 35th Battalion AIF on the 10th January 1916 with the rank of Sergeant. He went into camp at Broadmeadow via Newcastle.

Private: 1430 Albert JONES enlisted with Headquarter Company, 35th Battalion AIF on the 12th December 1915 and was Charged with being Absent With Out Leave from the 9:00am and 2:00pm 2nd February 1916, Parade at the Broadmeadow Army Camp. Witness  Sergeant: 1167 Richard Valentine LATHLEAN and he was fined 2/6 and forfeited 1 Days Pay.

Richard embarked from Sydney with the 35th Battalion AIF onboard HMAT A24 "Benalla" for England on the 1st May 1916 with 28 Officers and 991 other ranks and disembarked at Plymouth England on the 9th July 1916. the Battalion was entrained to the Durrington Army Camp at Larkhill where they went into training for the next 4 months. On the 21st November the 35th Battalion proceeded overseas for France via Southampton. Richard was marched out to the line and promoted in the field to 2nd Lieutenat on the 17th January 1917.

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

Richard was Wounded in Action on the 9th June during this action at Messines and was treated by the 9th Australian Field Ambulance when he was Gassed and was evacuated by Ambulance Train to Le Touquet. Upon his return to his Battalion Richard was promoted to Lieutenant on the 25th of June 1917 and was detached to Base Depot at Roulles before he was sent to 3rd Divisional Headquarters at Harve on the 7th of September and after a number of months in the line sent to the No:2 training school on the 23rd March 1918 and after rejoing his unit he was sent to the Lewis Gun School from the 14th to the 25th June 1918.

8th August 1918.

1: At about 1:00am a halt was made a few hundred yards in rear of the assembly tape and hot cocoa was served out to the men. The approach march was over and the Battalion on the tape, which had been ably laid by Lieutenant WARLAND and his scouts by 2.30am. The enemy was very quiet and we suffered no casualties before Zero hour which was at 4:20am when the barrage opened and the advance commenced as per App 11. At 6:45am the objective was reached by the most advanced troops and consolidation commenced. Tanks from the rear came forward and and formed up at the rear with the 4th Australian Division in artillery formation. At 8:20am as the barrage lifted the whole line went forward through us as if on parade.

(35th Battalion War Diary)


Lt. Richard Valentine Lathlean, 35th Bn. Aust. A.I.F. "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the attack at Cerlu on 28th August, 1918. He commanded the support company,and over exceptionally difficult country kept them close up to the assault troops. Later, during the exploitation, he displayed fine leadership in establishing posts and seizing ground in the face of determined opposition and heavy fire. He showed great daring in filling a gap on two occasions".

(Supplement to the Edinburgh Gaztette: 7th November, 1918.)

Richard was granted leave to England after the action at Cerlu and proceeded overseas for England on the 18th of september 1918. Whilst on leave he was promoted to the rank of Temporary Captain on the 23rd of September and returned to France where he rejoined his Company on the 4th of October 1918. Richard was awarded Bar to his Military Cross on the 18th of November 1918 and returned to england on the 27th March 1919 and returned to Australia onboard HMAT A30 "Borda" on the 11th May and on the 12th August 1919 his appointment with the AIF was terminated.

Family Information

Richard was a single 21 year old Labourer from Newcastle, New South Wales upon enlistment. His parents Richard and Sarah Lathlean were married in 1875 at Newcastle, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:3402/1875 and had 13 children. Sarah Elizabeth D Lathlean born 1877 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:17260/1887. William John Lathlean born 1879 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:19935/1879 and died 1879 at Newcastle, N.S.W. Death Cert:7693/1879. Priscilla Lathlean born 1880 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:20575/1880. Lilly M Lathlean born 1882 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:25681/1882. Annie C Lathlean born 1884 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:29424/1884. Catherine Elizabeth Lathlean born 1886 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:31210/1886. Emily G Lathlean Died at birth 1887 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:12023/1887. Jane Lathlean born 1888 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:32925/1888. Harriet Lathlean born 1890 at Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:18153/1890 and died 1893 at Lambton, N.S.W. Death Cert:7774/1893. Vera Lathlean Died at birth 1893 at Lambton, N.S.W. Death Cert:7772/1893. Richard Valentine Lathlean born 1894 at Adamstown, N.S.W. Birth Cert:3276/1894. and died 1979 N.S.W. Death Cert:101364/1979. Ada Lathlean born 1896 at Adamstown, N.S.W. Birth Cert:10103/1896. John W Lathlean born 1900 at New Lambton, N.S.W. Birth Cert:13614/1900 and died 1900 at New Lambton, N.S.W. Death Cert:9288/1900.

N.S.W. Birth Records

Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 12/10/2007-03/05/2015.

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