Honouring those lost

By Cobram Courier

Cobram-Barooga RSL Sub-Branch will host a series of commemorative activities in Cobram and Barooga on Sunday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, November 11, 1918.

From 10.30am to 11.30am, an assembly will be held at Cobram war memorial, William St, with flags at half-mast.

The service will be supported by a catafalque party from the Army School of Health (a tri-service facility) at Bonegilla.

Guest speaker is Lieutenant Colonel Julian West, who was born in Cobram and currently posted to Headquarters Forces Command, Victoria Barracks in Sydney after recent overseas deployments.

In the event of inclement weather, the service will be held in the Josephinum centre at St Joseph’s Primary School, Cobram.

Another service is at Sporties Barooga memorial at 12.30pm, followed with comradeship and light refreshments in the Garden Room at Barooga Sporties.

Tomorrow, a service will be held at Ottrey Homes, at 11am.

Cobram-Barooga RSL Sub-Branch will run the service in the forecourt of Ottrey Lodge for the residents unable to attend the main services on Remembrance Day.

All RSL members and members of the public are welcome to join residents for morning tea before the service.

Below are two soldier profiles of former members of the local community involved in World War 1.

Harold John Niven, 19th Battalion, AIF

Harold Niven was accidentally killed in a railway accident on February 14, 1917.

Corporal Niven is listed as H.J. Nevin on the Cobram and District war memorial roll of honour. He joined up under the surname ‘Niven’.

He attended Wesley College where he studied horticulture.

His mum and dad lived in Caulfield and he journeyed to Cobram where he spent more than 12 months working on the Quick brothers’ orchard.

Corporal Niven was 21 when he enlisted during April 1915, along with his older brother Carswell and they arrived in Egypt in late 1915.

Both were sent to France with the 19th Battalion in March 1916.

He survived the heavy fighting at Pozieres during 1916 and was promoted to corporal during January 1917.

He was given leave and was returning to his unit on a leave train which left Havre at 6.30am on February 13, 1917.

The train was at the level crossing at Epinay when it was hit by trucks from a supply train when a coupling broke and 36 trucks crashed into the leave train behind it.

Two first class carriages and one third class were completely destroyed.

One officer and 26 men were killed, 54 men were badly injured and most of the injured were put aboard a hospital train that had been standing nearby.

The bodies of the 27 dead were taken away by road and all were buried in the same row at the Bois Guillaume communal cemetery near Rouen in France.

Corporal Niven was the only Australian soldier on the train.

Private Philip Gidley Leslie King, 14th Battalion, AIF

Private Phillip King was killed in action on February 5, 1917, aged 34.

He was the son of Philip Gidley King and Octavia Charlotte King and a native of Maffra, Victoria.

Pte King was a wheat farmer at Cobram before enlisting. He grew several crops at Naranghi

He was a descendent of Phillip Gidley King, the third Governor of NSW, who had more than 50 descendants who served in World War I.

Pte King was killed in action on February 5, 1917, in the battle of Stormy Trench, in which success was largely due to the leadership of Captain Henry William Murray, who received the VC from the fight.

Captain Albert Jacka VC was also in D Company with King and wrote to the Red Cross confirming Pte. P. G. L. King was killed during the attack on Stormy Trench; he is buried just behind the front line and not in a cemetery’’.

Les King, as he was known, left a wife, an infant son and daughter. His body was found after the war and reinterred in Bancourt British cemetery, France.