Harry Slingsby in the goldfields of Australia

Harry was born in 1886 in Doncaster. He lived with his father George, his mother Sarah, sister’s Ada, Elizabeth and Bertha, his brother’s Arthur, Fred and Frank along with a Arthur Scholes at 56 Elesworth House, Doncaster. By age 15, Harry was working as a milk seller and living on Green Dyke Lane.

Some time after this Harry emigrated to Australia.  He was prospecting at Peak Hill Goldfields when war broke out, and joined the Australian Volunteer Force. When he enlisted in August 1915 at Blackboy Hill, Western Australia, he was 31 years old and working as a farmer. He served as a Private in the 11th Battalion.

Harry was received a gunshot wound to the leg in July 1916 and returned to England for treatment. He returned to Australia and was treated in an Australian hospital.

An interest letter that Harry sent home was reproduced in the Doncaster Chronicle on the 1st September 1916. In the letter, he gives a graphic account of the fighting in which he says:-

“You have read in the papers about the hard fighting going on in the village of Pozieres. Our battalion was one of the units detailed off to take that village, and it had to be taken at any cost, and that means NO RETREAT.  We were the first line to go and poke Fritz out of it, but we did it all right without a murmur. It was very hard fighting, and I am sorry to say many of my “comrades” found their last resting place on that patch of ground. You have a chance of being knocked ourselves, but there’s a certain amount of sport attached to it after all. We had a got the Hun out of his front line, and I never got a scratch, but when we where making in to the village he managed to put all manner of deadly shell’s into us.  They were thick. I tell you. Something caught me right on the top of my foot. Just felt as if it had been hit with a sledge hammer. I stopped for a second then I tried to run on, but it refused to carry on. I found it was no use trying to go forward, so I crawled into a deep shell hole pulled out a cigarette and then my field dressing, bandaged it up and crawled back to the dressing station.  When I got there the place was packed right up with stretcher cases, and of course the R.A.M.C boys were going their lives carrying them away to the field ambulances wagons. Well I thought I had crawled here, so I started off on my hands and knees and I last reached the wagon, but I was fairly knocked up. I was taken to a hospital at Rouen. I thought I’d only got a bad bruise and that it would be all right again in a few days. It swelled up to an enormous size, so they sent me over here. The doctor examined as soon as I arrived at Bristol. He said “Well what hit you?” I told him either a nose cap or a long lump of shell. He ordered me under the X Rays the following morning. I had the shock of my life when I discovered it was “shrapnel bullet” and that it had fractured the bone. They put me straight into bed with my leg in a splint, and I haven’t been off it since. The next problem was to take out the bullet. Owing to the septic they couldn’t open it on me until the wound got clean, so I was operated on until last Thursday week, August 10th, the day before my birthday. It turned out very successful indeed. I am under one of the cleverest men in England, Major Morton. A fine gentleman.  Since then I have had absolutely no pain. The only thing that worries me is the confounded having to lie in bed. This is not a civilian hospital the patients are soldiers, and I assure you it is one of the strictest places of the kind in England. Every man gets the best medical and surgical attendance and every kindness that is possible to get from the Sisters, but they bar the place being over run by all and everyone, and in my opinion, quite right.  We are here to get well, not to be pampered with. If they have a bad case they send for parents.”

Harry survived the war and continued to live in Western Australia.

From Hyde Park to Sydney, Australia – Alfred Cotterill Clark

Alfred Cotterill Clark was born in Doncaster in 1884. At the age of 16 Alfred was living at 156 Cemetery Road Doncaster, as a lodger with Mr. and Mrs.Gilberthorpe and family.  Alfred worked as a grocer’s assistant. At the age of 26 Alfred moved to 5 Exchange Street, Doncaster as a lodger again.  This time with Mr.and Mrs. Otley.  Alfred also changed his profession to a clerk.  By the time Alfred was 30 he not only moved house he moved countries. He moved all the way to Sydney, Australia were he worked as a tram conductor.

Alfred enlisted into the A.I.F (Australian Infantry Force) on the 6th March 1916 aged 30 years 4 months in Sydney, New South Wales.  He served as a Private with the 2nd Battalion. Alfred left for the front from Sydney on the ship HMAT Demosthenes A64 and disembarked at UK. Where he was taken on strength from Cyclists Training Battalion from No.1 Command Depot Perham Downs on the 1st.August 1916. Proceeded overseas to join 2nd.Battalion A.I.F. 3rd.August 1916.  Taken on strength and entered Etalpes 16th.August 1916.   On the 6th.October he was at the front line.  Alfred was wounded in action on the 5th.November 1916, however, died of his wounds on the 31st of December 1916 at the Advance Dressing Station, France. Alfred is buried at the Bernafay Wood Cemetery, France.

Alfred’s Awards are. British War Medal, 1914/15 Star, Victory Medal and Memorial Scroll of Honour.


Unidentified troops boarding HMAT Demosthenes (A64).

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Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Picture of HMAT “Demosthenes” (A64) leaving Port Melbourne.  16th.July 1915.  This is the ship Alfred left Australia on to fight in the Great War.  Alas Alfred never returned.