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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

43.1.i Anzac Centenary - Australian Durnfords who enlisted in the First World War

The Australian Durnford's who enlisted in World War 1.  These all returned.  One remained.

His name was Montagu John Durnsford, cousin to Edward Harvey Felton Durnford.  Montagu was our great uncle, and his story will conclude this Family History blog of the Ancestors and Descendants of Montagu John Felton Durnford who arrived in Australia in 1852.

 This lineage is referred to as being part of the "Military Durnfords".

50.  George Durnford Birth Place:  Wiltshire, England Dossier Year Range:  1914-1920
Enlistment Place: Perth, Western Australia Service number:  6030 Next of Kin:John George Durnford

Spare a thought for a moment of the family of George Durnford.  He was reported in the AIF files of April 1916, as being killed at Agincourt.  A pal of his Private Goffin who went to England, told his people in Wiltshire about him.   Pte Goffin came from Suffolk, and is now in the Anzac Police in London...........So the informant PteJ Geyer, told the Red Cross enquirers in Bouloughe 22nd September 1917.

But it appears that George was a Prisoner of War, interned at Stuttgart.  .."I have for some months been troubled with sores breaking out all over y legs but they are much better and I am feeling much better in myself although at times I feel the effects of these sores and Varicose Veins.  The parcels are much appreciated"  (Comfort parcels from home)

George was born in Wiltshire in England.  His father was John G Durnford of Purton near Swindon Wiltshire, in England.  He was a horse driver living at Claremont Avenue Claremont in Wet Australia.  He left England on 12th Novemer 1910 to come to Australia arriving 26 December 1910 on the Morea.  In 1916 he is shown as being at Cleremont, and with an Emily who was a storekeeper.

He enlisted on 27th March 1916, in the 11th Battalion, 19th Reinforcements, AIF aged 34  The unit embarked from Freemantle in Western Australia on board HAT A28 Miltaides on 7th August 1916.  He was a Private and he returned to Australia on 3rd March 1919.  His parents were John and Emma Durnford.  He died in 1936 aged 57 and is buried at the Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth West Australia

His parents were John George Durnford who married Emma Farr in 1879 in Wiltshire.
George married in 1920   Minnie Sarah     In 1925, he and Minnie were living in Curtis Street Balkatta Freemantle, and he was  gardener.

George's lineage can be traced to John Durnford abt 1731 in Deverill Wiltshire, and many of the records were transcribed as Dunford, back in those days.

9th August 1916 Proceeded overseas to France, embarked Freemantle
24th September 1916 Arrived Plymouth
5th November 1916 Joined base depot at Etaples, France
26th December 1916 Taken on strength of the 11th Btn AIF
28th January 1917 Awarded 3 days Field Punishment No 2 for
“Falling out on line of march without permission”
16th April 1917 Reported missing, France

The Camp at Etaples was huge.

According to the Battalion history, on 15th April the Germans counter attacked the Australian 1st Division in front of the Hindenburg Line (Battle of Lagnicourt). The 11th Battalion was holding a position well forward on a protruding spur NE of the village of Louverval with a line of posts in front of the main line.

Some of these posts were lost during the German attack. The Battalion had 245 casualties including 180 missing. On the 16th patrols were sent out to make contact with the enemy, search for any wounded and dead and for the collection of enemy identifications. They came under light rifle fire. No mention of losses. Perhaps George Durnford was one of the missing from the action on the 15th but reported missing on the 16th.

Australian archives include POW reports and Red Cross papers from the German POW camps. The Red Cross reports that he was reported missing on the 16th April and interned as a POW at Limburg.

13/07/1917 POW papers record captivity in POW camp at Limburg. The paper also states date of capture as  15/04/1917 Bomsies.


In early 1917, the Germans fell back towards the Hindenburg Line in an effort to shorten their lines and move into prepared positions. As the Allies pursued the withdrawing Germans, in late

 In March, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Rafferty took over as commanding officer and the following month, as the Allied line was pushed further forward towards the Hindenburg Line, the 11th Battalion played a supporting role during the 3rd Brigade's attack around Boursies, before occupying the front around the village of Louverval.  

On 15 April 1917, during the Battle of Lagnicourt, Lieutenant Charles Pope, of 'A' Company, was in command of an important picket post on the right of the battalion's positions outside Louverval, with orders to "hold the position at all costs".

The Germans attacked the position with overwhelming numbers and surrounded the post. Having used up their ammunition, the remainder of the post charged with fixed bayonets into the surrounding German positions. Pope's body was later found with those of his men, having killed 80 Germans. Pope was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross,Australia's highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

The Prisoner of War Camp at Limburg, and the town he was captured at was Boursies.

The weather in April 1917

Stuttgart is spread across a variety of hills (many of them vineyards), valleys and parks – unusual for a German city and often a source of surprise to visitors who primarily associate the city with its industrial reputation as the 'cradle of the automobile'. Stuttgart has the status of Stadtkreis, a type of self-administrating urban county.

It is also the seat of the state legislature, the regional parliament, the local council and the Protestant State Church in Württemberg as well as one of the two co-seats of the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.

and a great place to visit!


8. Edward Harvey Felton Durnsford Birth Place:  Nebo, Queensland Dossier Year Range:1914-1920
Enlistment Place:  Mackay, Queensland Service number:  3356 Next of Kin:  Sarah Ann Godikeen
 47th Infantry Battalion, AIF WW1

Edward is a cousin.   He was in the 47th Infantry Battalion in the Reinforcements.   He embarked from Australia on 24th January 1917 on the Ayreshire and they were at the Western Front.

Arriving in France on 9 June 1916, the 47th entered the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on 3 July. It participated in its first major battle at Pozieres. Initially, the battalion provided working parties during the 2nd Division's attack on 4 August, and then, with its own division, defended the ground that had been captured. The 47th endured two stints in the heavily-contested trenches of Pozieres, as well as a period in reserve.

After Pozieres, the battalion spent the period up until March 1917 alternating between duty in the trenches and training and rest behind the lines. On 11 April it took part in the attack mounted against the heavily defended village of Bullecourt - part of the formidable Hindenburg Line to which the Germans had retreated during February and March. Devoid of surprise, and dependent upon the support of unreliable tanks, the attack failed. Later in the year, the focus of the AIF's operations switched to the Ypres sector in Belgium where the 47th took part in the battles of Messines and Passchendaele.

The 47th rotated in and out of the front line throughout the winter of 1917-18. In the spring of 1918, it played a role in turning the great German Spring Offensive by defeating attacks around Dernancourt during the last days of March and the first days of April 1918. One of the battalion's actions at Dernancourt is depicted in a diorama at the Australian War Memorial. For his valorous actions at Dernancourt Sergeant Stanley MacDougall was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The defeat of the German offensive had come at a cost though. Due to heavy casualties and a lack of reinforcements from Australia, three brigades were directed to disband one of their battalions to reinforce the other three. The 12th Brigade was one of these, and on 31 May 1918 the 47th Battalion was disbanded.

The 47th was involved in some of the worst fights on the Western Front, on the right captured German soldiers at Dernacourt.


26.  F H Durnford  Reverend  1914  Australian Chaplains' Department
  Francis Henry Durnford  Chaplain 4th Class  1917  Australian Army Chaplains Dept
Francis Henry Durnford Rank:  Captain Dossier Year Range:  1914-1920    Aust
Next of Kin:  Miss R Durnford  22nd Australian AIF Australian Chaplains Department
Embarked on 16th July 1915 from Melbourne to HMAT Demosthenes.  He had been an Anglican Minister in Burra South Australia.     His story is included in a separate Anzac post.
Private Record
"Memorandum of a chaplain's point of view", a thoughtful examination of the chaplain's role in the army, July 1915 - September 1919.


40.Frederick Studley Durnford Birth Place:  Charters Towers, Queensland

Dossier Year Range:  1914-1920 Enlistment Place:  Melbourne, Victoria
Service number:  26 Next of Kin:  Frank Durnford  Private, Army Field Post Office Details, Australian Army
Frederick was born in Charters Towers  in 1892 and was the son of Francis Durnford and Mary Ann Smith, and was a postal employee.  He enlisted 21st October 1915 and embarked from Australia 2nd November 1915.  He was 23 He spent his time in England and gained a promotion to Sergeant.
He returned to Australia on 8th March 1920 on the HT Friedricharch"

His father was the publican a the Sunburst Hotel in Charters Towers, in Queensland
He and his wife Edith Anne Webb were married in 1946 and lived in Brisbane in 1958 and he was a public servant.

Francis died in 1947, he was the son of Henry Durnford 1827 and Edith Studley 1839
Henry Dunford married Edith Studley in Dorset in 1858

They are most probably from the Samuel Durnford lineage   There is a Samuel born in 1801, whose parents were  Elizabeth Hyde and Samuel Durnford from Poole. They have been researched in our Durnford family from Cornwall.


4. Alfred Ernest Robert Durnford Birth Place:  Carlton, Victoria Dossier Year Range:  1914-1920

Enlistment Place:  Melbourne, Victoria Service number:  4187 Next of Kin:  Lucy Mary Durnford

He was in the 1st Pioneer Battalian and enlisted 31st July 1915.  He was wounded in his legs and hand, by a shell, and admitted to hospital, he was discharged 26th April 1918.  His unit was at Marseilles.

He was married to Lucy Mary Murphy in 1909.  He died in 1954 in Bundalong in Victoria  His parents were Robert John Durnford and his wife Mary Ann Bennett.  They lived at Fitzroy and he was a dealer

He married Mary Ann (Barton) in Victoria in 1872  His father was John William Durnford b 1804 and his mother Sarah Brien.They were married in Westminster in 1829.

He died in Victoria in 1903.  His birth was 1832 baptised at St Martin's in the Field.

Robert John was John Robert who was tried in England in 1845 aged 13 for larceny

His lineage is to Robert Edward Durnford 1773 married Martha Elizabeth Smart in 1796
His father was Robert Durnford and he married Ann


And lastly Arthur George Durnford.   Arthur had a vivid imagination, or else had a deep dark past.

11. Arthur George Durnford Birth Place:  Somerset, England Dossier Year Range:  1914-1920
Enlistment Place: Brisbane, Queensland Service number:  2106 Next of Kin:  Mrs E Durnford  S/N 2106

Arthur enlisted in Brisbane, at the age of 33.5 years.  He advised his mother was Mrs E Durnford of Midsomer Norton in Somerset in England.  That would make his birth 1881.

  He advised he had spent 12 years with the Somerset Light Infantry in Africa, Malta and India.  He enlisted on 2nd August 1915

The marriage notice states his father is Dr Edmund George Durnford - who had died.  He married in 1916 Ethel G Edds

1930 living in 220 Belmore Road Belmore and he is a motor driver in 1943 they are living at 20 Simpson Street Bondi, and 1963 they are living in 20 Simpson Street Bondi

This is not meant to be disrespectful to whoever Arthur George Durnford is but he has a rather vivid imagination.  He would never have realised that the Durnford family records would be checked!   His story in the Sydney Globe explains it. Perhaps he thought that he would "style" his adventures on some of the other more well known members of the Durnford family.

(Arthur George Durnford was the brother of Anthony William Durnford)

He was born Arthur Durnford, from a family whose original family lineage is Dunford.

But first read his amazing story.

Great Britain
Lance Corporal
827th Coy., Army Service Corps
Thursday, April 18, 1918, age 38
Cemetery:  Midsomer Norton (St. John the Baptist) Church Cemetery, Somerset, UK
Son of Edmund George and Eliza Durnford
Husband of Bessie Durnford, 6, Rock Rd., Midsomer Norton

There were twelve children born to Edmund George Durnford and Eliza Sims, from Somerset in UK.
Edmund was not a doctor, he was a worker on the roads.  He died in 1949.  There may have been a younger child who died in infancy.

He did have three brothers all enlisted.  They did not die at Mons.

Percy William Durnford was a boilermaker and was sent to the Royal Engineers SN 540416.  He returned in 1919.  Initially he was in the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Horace John Durnford was with the Royal Garrison Artillery S/N 60241.  He also returned to UK.

Edmund George Durnford unfortunately was killed on home service with the Army Service Corps.

His sister Mabel Elizabeth Durnford was with the Queen Mary Army Auxillery Corps.

The UK's Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (1917–1918) was later named Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (1918–1920). It was formally instituted on 7 July, 1917 by Sir Neville Macready, the adjutant-general, who had appointed Dr Mona Chalmers Watson the first Chief Controller and senior officer. Over 57,000 women served between January 1917 and November 1918. On 31 March 1917 women in the WAAC were first sent to the battlefields in France, just 14 cooks and waitresses

(Each of these are listed in the Durnfords who served, and who died.)

His mother was Mrs Eliza Durnford. She did live at Somerset.
His three sisters were servants in Bath, one entered service at 14 years of age.  One then travelled to Canada as a servant.

It appears he left England in November 1910 arriving via Freeantle - Melbourne - Sydney arriving December 1910.

Sergeant William Francis Dugdale was a Sergeant Major and he was with  the 9th Field Company Engineers.  He was 34 at the time of enlistment and was a carter.  SN 9796

William was born at Gibralter and had been in the Royal Marine Light Infantry for 10 years before being invalided.   He joine July 1915  On 16th March 1916 he was appointed Engineer Reinforts 9th Field Coy Engineers at Moore Park.  William was deaf and had injuries.

There was also a Richard Dugdale 7439 from 16th Battalian. He was a private in embarked 29th June 1917.

There is another William Dugdale, born in Sydney in 1893, who enlisted.  He was a labourer. His S/N 1539.

Arthur Durnford  enlisted in July 1915, went to Sydney and was attached to the same unit as Sergeant William Dugale with  Engineers Reinforcements at Moore Park, and was discharged by the Army on 8th December 1916.  His records were very sparse.

He also has records in another section which deals with

This series consists of records for those individuals who applied to enlist in the 
Australian Imperial Force, and were either rejected, discharged while still in training, or went on to serve within Australia only [usually as depot troops or camp guards]. 

The most common reason for rejection is on medical grounds. Discharges are recorded as 
occurring for the same reason, as well as unsuitability, and through general demobilisation at the conclusion of hostilities. Some records relating to members of the Australian Army Nursing Service are also to be found. 

The forms most consistently present are 'Australian Military Forces: Australian Imperial
Force: Attestation paper of persons enlisted for service abroad', [single A3 folio folded 
to form four pages] and 'Application to Enlist in the Australian Imperial Force' [a single
folio printed on front and reverse]. Both of the above forms provide for the entry of such details as the subject's full name, occupation, age, current address, date of enlistment, 
height and chest measurements, and the results of medical examination. The larger form
allows for additional details such as statements of service history, casualties promotions,etc. Where the individual has attempted to enlist more than once multiple application 
forms will often be present. 

Many of the records also have other papers appended, including Medical History forms, 
Conduct Sheets, Issue Cards, and correspondence from the subjects or their next of kin. 

Those records are not digitised for Arthur Durnford.

There were no Durnfords in the Hussars  but there were some Dunfords.

4013    Private    Dunford    C.    7th Hussars
3483    Sergeant    Dunford    G.    5th Dragoon Guards
4771    Private    Dunford    H.    7th Dragoon Guards
5065    Private    Dunford    W.    18th Hussars
4269    Private    Dunford    W.    3rd Hussars


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