Arthur Matthew Brophey
- Born: 1882, Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Died: 1917, Killed In Action WW I, Pozieres, France at age 35
Arthur enlisted in the A.I.F. at Liverpool, NSW on 15 December 1914, just a few months after the outbreak of WW1, and was assigned service number 1509. He was 36 years and 9 months old, and a Licensed Driver. He listed his sister Nellie Spencer as his next of kin, rather than his mother. Her address was 11 John St, Ashfield NSW at this time. (Several years later his mother was appointed next of kin, her address then was 91 Wells St, Newtown, Sydney.) He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 11 stone, and had a chest measurement of 33.5-37 inches. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His religion was Roman Catholic. He had scars on his elbows and tattoos on both forearms as well as on his left wrist. He was assigned to the 3rd Reinforcements, 4th Battalion as a Private. He embarked on the Seang Choon on the 11 February 1915 bound for Gallipoli.
By 13 June 1915 Arthur was in Gallipoli and assigned to the 1st Australian Field Ambulance. A few weeks later he was temporarily reassigned to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance who were at that time operating at Anzac Cove. The unit war diaries reveal that many men in the unit were succumbing to Influenza and diahorea both common ailments of diggers in Gallipoli, and this may be why Arthur was assigned to the unit on a temporary basis. At this time the 4th Battalion was defending the beachhead at Anzac Cove and in August led the charge at Lone Pine. The Field Ambulance units operated at the very front lines recovering and treating the wounded and were constantly at risk. Arthur was taken to hospital on 21 September suffering from Rheumatism and spent a couple of weeks recovering in hospital. On 9 October he rejoined his Battalion and by the 9 December 1915 his unit was evacuated from Gallipoli and disembarked from the Simla at Alexandria in Egypt.
He was on the Simla again on the 23 March 1916 heading for France and the Western Front with his Battalion, disembarking in Marseilles on the 30 March 1916. He was still attached to the 1st Field Ambulance.
From then until 1918 the battalion took part in operations against the German Army, principally in the Somme Valley in France and around Ypres in Belgium. The battalion's first major action in France was at Pozières in the Somme valley in July 1916. Later the battalion fought at Ypres, in Flanders, before returning to the Somme for winter.
The battalion participated in a short period of mobile operations following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917, but spent much of that year fighting in increasingly difficult conditions around Ypres. Source: AWM, http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11191.asp
In early November 1916 he suffered another bout of Rheumatism, no doubt brought on by the harsh French winter, and spent 2 weeks in hospital. By 12 April 1917 Arthur's unit was in Pozieres in France. On the 18 April Arthur was Killed in Action there. The unit war diaries for the 1st Australian Field Ambulance provide very little information about the activity but in April 4 men were wounded and 2 men died. One of them was Arthur. The diaries for the 4th Battalion reveal that around this time there was enemy artillery and sniper fire in the area. Arthur was buried at the Railway Cemetery at Velu, 5 1/2 miles East of the village of Bapaume. His remains were later exhumed and now rest at the Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery, plot 2, Row B, Grave 17. Lebucquiere is a village 8 kilometres east of Bapaume and about 2 kilometres south of the main straight road from Bapaume to Cambrai.
Arthur's personal effects were returned to his sister, Nellie on 5 october 1917. The package contained just an identity disc, a wallet and 2 photos.
Arthur was the recipient of the 1914/15 Star, No. 25764, the British War medal, No. 8583, and the Victory Medal No. 8540. They were sent to his mother as was a Memorial Scroll in 1923.
Arthur's service records contain a number of letters from family members after his death including his sister Nellie (his designated next of kin), his mother Mary Ann Brophey and his brother William.