Walter Thomas MARSHALL (1887-1961)



Private: 8 Walter Thomas MARSHALL.

Born: 1887. Balmain via Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:4703/1887.

Married: 1920. Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia. Marriage Cert:11581/1920.

Wife: Florence M Marshall. nee: McDonald.

Died: 1961. Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:11434/1961.

Father: William Walter Marshall.

Mother: Catherine L Marshall. nee: Bryan.


Walter Thomas Marshall enlised in the AIF from Signallers No:46 on the 7th December 1915, and was Taken on in Strength with A Company 35th Battalion AIF and was an original member of the Battalion. He embarked onboard HMAT A24 "Benalla" on the 1st May 1916. During the voyage onboard the "Benalla" Walter was Charged "Absent With Out Leave" at Sea on the 25th May 1916 from 07:00 Parade. Award Fined 2/6 by O.C Troops 25/05/16. He continued on his voyage and disembarked at Plymouth England on the 9th July 1916. The 35th Battalion was marched to the 9th Training Battalion at the Durrington Army Camp at Lark Hill where he continued his training for the next 4 months before proceeding overseas for France on the 21st November 1916.


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 A 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

26th July 1917. MESSINES.

Relieved 33rd BN in front line, Captain: Hugh John CONNELL was buried by a shell in the front line 28/07/17 and evacuated. On night of 28/07/17 enemy placed a heavy barrage on the 35th Bn front line (Douve River to Steicnvast Farm) and finally attempted to raid our Right Company "A Coy" on the River Douve. They were successfully repulsed with considerable loss to themselves. Our counter barrage, both Machine-Gun and Artillery being excellent. Captain: Henry Charles Dight CADELL was in command of A Coy. Our trenches were badly damaged but no entrance was affected, our men though very tired and worn fought splendidly.

35th Bn AIF was relieved by 41st Bn (Brigade Relief) 35th moved back to Douve River Camp. Casulties during 27-30/07/17, 41 including 13 killed. This month was the most strenuous in the history of the Battalion (not including the big offensive of June) as the new ground in front of Messines was in a very wet and muddy state, and hastily constructed trenches combined with long tours in the line and the natural desire of the enemy to prevent us settling down made conditions very trying for all ranks.

(35th Battalion War Diary)

Walter was invalided back to England from the no: 24 General Hospital at Abberville suffering from a Disability and was admitted to the 1st London General Hospital, Camberwell which was a Territorial Force Hospital with 88 Officer beds and 852 Other Ranks beds. The hospital was located in St Gabriel's College, a former missionary college in Corniont Road, and was staffed by 92 St Bartholomew's Hospital Territorial Army Nursing Service nurses and women of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VADs). The hospital was later extended to huts in the adjacent Myatt's Fields.

After Walter was discharged form Hospital he was marched to the Durrington Army Camp at Lark Hill to take up training with the 9th Training Battalion. On the 24th of October whist on leave in London Walter was Charged "Absent With out Leave" from 12:00 noon 19/10/1917 until 11:00am 22/10/1017. Award 2 Days Pay by Lieutenant Colonel: Thomas FLINTOFF. Total forfeit 6 Days Pay.

On the 25th March 1918 Walter was marched on command to the 3rd Divisional Signal School from the 9th Training Battalion but was once again in trouble and was again Charged with being "Absent With out Leave" from 24:00 on the 04/04/1918 until 21:00 08/04/1918. Award 14 Days Pay by No:2 Major: John Martin HAWKEY. M.C. Total forfeit 18 Days Pay.

Walter was ordered to proceed overseas for France via Folkstone to reinforce the 34th Battalion from the 9th Training Battalion on the 21of June 1918 and was marched in at Rouelles from England on the 23rd of June. He was Taken on in Strength with the 34th Battalion from the 35th Battalion on the 26th of June 1918 with B Company. A total of 156 reinforcements were Taken on Strength.


30-31st August 1918

On the northern flank the 3rd Division's attack had been arranged at short notice after a day exhausting to both infantry and artillery, and in the face of other particular difficulties. The timming of the attack was to be taken from the left where the 58th Division, somewhat further back than the 9th Brigade, started at 5:10am behind a very slow barrage to attack Marrieres Wood. The 9th Brigade using the 33rd Battalion, started at the time arranged, 5:40am, but the artillery had not yet received its orders and though it fired, the barrage was thin and machine-guns in the south-west corner of Road Wood stopped the 33rd.

One Company was late, but Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. had swung his Company into its place. Major: Cedric Errol Meter BRODZIAK. D.S.O. was now killed while referring to his map.But within twenty minutes the artillery greatly increased its fire. The 33rd were able to raise their heads. A private Private: 726 George CARTWRIGHT. V.C. stood up and from the shoulder fired at the troublesome German gunner and then walking forward shot him and the two men who took his place.

Next, covering his run by exploding a bomb shot of the trench, he rushed the gun and captured 9 Germans. The 33rd stood up and cheered him, and then advancing by two's and three's entered the wood. Private: 792 William Allan IRWIN. D.C.M an Australian half-caste, after attacking like Cartwright, was mortally wounded and died of wounds on the 1st of September 1918.

The 33rd was now considerably behind the 6th London (58th Division), having chased the Germans from Marrieres Wood, was held up by fire from Wary Alley which curved up the gully between the woods. Comming through the south Company Sergeant Major: 967 Louis John MATHIAS. D.C.M & Bar. cleared the Germans by fire from a Lewis Gun.

The 33rd now set to bombing up the old trenches leading up to the upper end of the 1916 Spur where the Peronne-Bapaume Road also ran through. On the nearer side of the road a German battery commander with his gun crews and some infantry was blazing with six field-guns into the Australian groups everywere they left shelter.

From the southward side Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL. and Lieutenant: William Alexander McLEAN. M.C. of the 33rd-the latter greartly helped by the leaders of the 10th Brigade Sergeant 1007 E E Walters. D.C.M, 39th Battalion and Corporal 5024 A V Grinton. D.C.M, 38th Battalion, worked up and presently rushed the guns, the German Battery Commander fighting to the last with his revolver. He was shot by Lieutenant: 559 Edward Allen TURNBULL.

Captain: Walter John Clare DUNCAN. M.C. reaching realised that the old quarry beyond it was a commanding position and accordingly took it and 40 German prisoners and placed a post on its eastern rim. He then went back to Wary Alley, and finding some of the 6th London Regiment, got Captain: S T COOKE M.C, and 20 men to garrison the quarry while the 33rd lined the Bapaume Road on the right.



The 3rd Division troops, some facing the Hindenburg Line, and others like the 9th Brigade still facing the southern flank, found their front strangely quiet. At 2:00am the 33rd Sent out a patrol under Lieutenant: Harold James COLE to the edge of the Bony, but failed to find any Germans. At daybreak parties of the enemy were seen retiring. The Hindenburg Line was vacated. At this point the 33rd was relived and took no further part in the action. The troops were billited at Citerene fo a well earned rest while the war raged on, but the end of the conflict was in sight before the relentless, unstoppable allied advance.

Walter was transfered from B Company 34th Battalion back to the 35th Battalion on the 18th of October and rejoined his unit on the 20th November 1918 after the Armistace and took up duties in the Battalions Guard Company before returning to England on the 31st of May 1919 and embarked from England for Australia onboard the HMAT "Themistocles" and returned to Australia on the 12th June 1919.

Walters Victory Medal:41001 to PTE 8 W.T.MARSHALL 35 BN AIF was acquired from a dealer in Mudgee, N.S.W. in February 2013 and is now in the Harrower Collection.

Family Information

Walter was a single 28 year old Labourer from 4 Scott Street, Newcastle upon enlistment. His father William was recorded as his next of Kin whos address was the Post Office at Port Piere, South Australia. Walter worked for C J James "Saddling" of South Australia for 5 years where he was apprenticed. His parents William and Catherine Marshall were married in 1887 at Balmain, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:2040/1887 and had 3 children. Walter Thomas Marshall born 1887 at Balmain, N.S.W. Birth Cert:4703/1887 and died 1961 at Hornsby, N.S.W. Death Cert:14434/1961.

Australian National Archives

Under Construction; 04/02/2013-05/02/2015.

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