Alphonsus Bernard LAVELLE (1887-1957)


Military Plaque Kurri Cemetery


Sergeant: 138 Alphonsus Bernard LAVELLE.

Born: 1887. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert: 2578/1887

Married: 1914. Waratah, New South Wales, Australia. Marriage Cert: 8198/1914

Wife: Elizabeth Ann Lavelle. nee: Oakes

Died: 30th September 1957. Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, Australia. Death cert: 26256/1957

Burried: Kurri Kurri Cemetery. (Church of England Section)

Father: William Lavelle.

Mother: Mary Lavelle. nee:.


Alphonsus Bernard Lavelle enlisted with A Company 35th Battalion AIF as an original member on the 13th of November 1915 and left Sydney on board HMAT A24 "Benalla" on the 1st of May 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth England on the 9th July 1916 and was marched in to the 9th Training Battalion at the Durrington Army Camp at Lark Hill where he was promoted to Corporal on the 30th August 1916 before proceeding overseas for France via Southampton on the 21st November 1916.

Alphonsus was promoted to Sergeant when Sergeant: 242 Leslie James WEST was promoted to Lieutenant on the 2nd June 1917 in the Field and was Wounded in Action on the 7th June 1917 at Messines.

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

Alphonsus received Gun Shot Wounds to the Chest, Arm and Right Leg and was evacuated by stretcher bearers to the Casualty Clearing Station before being transfered to Rouen to the 3rd Stationary Hospital and embarked for England onboard the S.S. "West Australia" on the 10th July 1917.

8th August 1917.

Informant; Sergeant: 138 Alphonsus Bernard LAVELLE A Company No: 4 Platoon. I saw Private: 2173 Valentine Frederick IDSTEIN'S body carried back. He had been struck by one of our own Gas Shells on 29th May 1917 at about 8:00pm. He was in the L.G.S. and was on observation duty at the time. Before he was killed he was gassed by other gas shells falling short. I attended his funeral the next dat at Ploegsteert Cemetery near the Dressing Station.

Tall, Slim, Fairish. Well liked by all his mates. One of the finest chaps I ever had to deal with. A good looking chap.

Canadian Military Hospital. Taplow, Bucks.

After receiving treatment in Hospital, Alphonsus was granted leave from the 10th to the 24th of October where he reported to the Training Depot at Codford until he proceeded overseas for France on the 27th December vis Southampton and was marched in to Rouelles the next day. Alphonsus proceeded to the front line where he was Wounded in Action; 2nd occassion on the 4th Aptil 1918 at Villers-Bretonneux.

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)

Alphonsus was evacuated to England suffering from a Gun Shot Wound to his Left Hip where he remained in hospital until he proceeded overseas again for France via Folkstone on the 3rd August 1918 rejoining his unit snd being promoted to Temporary Company Sergeant Major but reverted back to Sergeant and returned to Australia onboard HMAT A 30 "Borda" leaving England on the 11th May 1919 arriving in Australia on the 18th of June and was discharged from the AIF on the 12th August 1919.

Family Information

Bernard was a Coal Miner from Kurri Kurri upon enlistment. Elizabeth Ann Lavelle beloved wife of Bernard died on the 14th of March 1920 aged 30 years. She and Bernard are burried together at Kurri Kurri Cemetery. (C of E Section)

(photo's D Harrower; 2006)

Military Records

Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 14/07/2007-26/06/2014.

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