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Private: 884 Bertie Robert TRIBE. "Tiny"

Born: 5th October 1893. Myall Vale, Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:24813/1893.

Married: 20th March 1918. Weymouth, Dorset, England.

Wife: Annie Elizabeth Tribe. nee: Grant.

Died: 26th August 1950. New South Wales, Australia. Death cert:019902/1950.

Father: William James Tribe. (18..-1917)

Mother: Alice Anne Tribe. nee: Harris.


Bertie Robert Tribe enlisted with the AIF on the 12th November 1915 and was allocated to C Company, 33rd Battalion AIF at Armidale and was an original member of the Battalion and proceeding overseas from Sydney onboard HMAT A74 "Marathon" on the 4th May 1916.

Armidale Camp 1916

HMAT A74 "Marathon"

Tiny disembarked at Devonport, England on the 9th of July and was marched to the 9th Training Battalion at the Durrington Army Camp, Lark Hill. He continued his training before proceeding overseas for France from Southampton on the 21st November 1916. He was admitted to the 11th Casualty clearing Station suffering from Scabies on the 15th of January 1917 which were rampant in the front line and caused great discomfort to the men in the trenches. Tiny spent a number of months being treated before re joining his unit on the 5th 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)


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 Infanry 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

Nueve Eglise was the billeting area for the battle-weary remnants of the 33rd Battalion, when finally they were relieved from Messines on June 12th 1917. After 2 short days of rest they were again marched to new billets at douleu, where they stayed for the next ten days. By then Command must have considered them sufficiently rested for they were ordered back into the fron line, to relieve the 10th Cheshire Battalion on June 23rd. August was a comparatively quiet month for the 33rd Battalion, and most of their time was taken uo with training. They stayed in various billets in Neuve Eglise, Vieuex Barquin and Dranotre.

(Never a Backward Step; Edwards 1996)

Whilst in billets, Tiny was admitted to the 1st canadian General Hospital on the 6th of August where he was diagnosed with Defective Hearing which would have been a result of the intense artillery barrage laid down by the Germans during their last major action at Messines. He was evacuated to England on the 20th of September and after further examination ordered to report the the No; 2 Command Depot and the No: 4 Depot on the 27th of November 1917. Tiny was to be returned to Australia due to his hearing problems and left England but remaind in England where her married Annie Elizabeth Grant at Wymouth, Dorset, England on the 20th March 1918. he embarked from England onboard HMAT A12 "Essex" on the 7th June and returned to australia on the 18th August. He was discharged from the AIF as Medically Unfir due to Deafness on the 15th of October 1918.

Family Information

Bertie Robert Tribe was a single 22 year old Carrier from Maitland Street, Narrabri, N.S.W. upon enlistment. His parents William James and Alice Maude Tribe were married on the 21st of July 1884 at Narrabri, N.S.W. and had at least 7 children. Walter Henry Tribe born 1885 at Narrabri, N.S.W. Birth Cert:27923/1885. William James Tribe born 1887 at Narrabri, N.S.W. Birth Cert:29453/1887 and died in 1948 at Armidale, N.S.W. Death Cert:21718/1948. Ernest Thomas Tribe born 1889 at Narrabri, N.S.W. Birth Cert:28908/1889. Frederick Richard Tribe born 1892 at Narrabri, N.S.W. Birth Cert: 24258/1892 and died in 1917. Messines Ridge, Belgium. Bertie Robert Tribe born 1893 at Narrabri, N.S.W. Birth Cert:24813/1893 and died in 1950 at Moree, N.S.W. Death Cert:19902/1950. Mildred Pearl Tribe born 1896 at Narrabri, N.S.W. Birth Cert:5541/1896 and died in 1915 at Armidale, N.S.W. Death Cert:7007/1915. Leslie Charles Tribe born 1897 at Narrabri, N.S.W. Birth Cert:24053/1897.

N.S.W. Birth Records.

Bertie enlisted with his brother;Private: 885 Frederick Richard TRIBE 33rd Battalion AIF.

The Sydney Morning Hereld; Thursday 16 March 1922, page 6.

In Divorce

(Before Mr Justice James)


Bertie Robert Tribe petitioned for a discolution of his marriage with Annie Elizabeth Tribe (formaly Grant) on the grounds of desertion. The couple were married in 1918, at a district registry at Wymouth (England). Mr Collins (Instructed Mr P W Graham Starling) appeared for the partitioner. His Honor dismissed the petition, which was prematurley presented.

Moree Cemetery

Rowena War Memorial

Dear David,

I saw your web site for the first time tonight. My grandfather was Bertie Robert Tribe 884 , 33rd Batt AIF. His brother Frederick Richard Tribe 885 was my great uncle. I note that you say in your records that you hold a copy of the diary of my great uncle. I am in possession of the original diary and it was me who transcribed the diary. The diary was written in code. I did send some transcript copies to relatives in Australia. I would like to know if you would like to have a more detailed copy of the diary, scans (in colour) of every page and transcript below. Perhaps you could let me know if you are interested.

Regards Michael Tribe. (England U.K. ) June 2009

Hi David, i have attached another photo of my grandfather Bertie Robert Tribe. Also a copy of a postcard of the ship H.M.A.T. Marathon that he sailed on. A copy of a postcard of the - Rowena roll of honour. I will send later a better photo of Frederick, i have a group photo of him and Bertie with ten other men. I think it was taken in 1916 prior to leaving Australia, it would be interesting to see if anyone else can recognise and name any of the others. I have been taking a look at your site and the records of other servicemen, I see that some include service records, would you like a copy of Fredericks and Berties ? I am not sure how much space requirement is available for each person. Pleased to hear your good news and hope you stay clear for the future. Below are details of Bertie Tribe. Regards Mike. ------------------------------ Bertie Robert Tribe - born - 5th October 1893 - Birth cert - 24813/1893 Died 26th August 1950 - Death cert - 019902/1950 Occupation post war - station hand/manager at Moree,NSW. Bertie and Fredericks mothers maiden name was -Alice Anne Harris

Military Records

Australian National Archives

Under Construction 24/05/2007-14/12/2010.

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