Name: Claude Richard Walsh

 

Birth Date: 23 February, 1895 Where: South Australia
Died: 10 August, 1957 Where: Perth
Place of Enlistment: Blackboy Hill, WA Age: 20
Serial Number: 1110 Battalion: 28th
Rank on Enlistment: Private Rank on Discharge/Death: Lieutenant

Awards: 1914 - 15 Star, British War Medal 1914 - 1920, Victory Medal

 

Photograph Walsh

Service Details:

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10 May

1915                    Blackboy Hill Training Camp

9 June

1915                    Embarked from Australia

August

1915                    Embarked Egypt

10 Sept. – 12 Dec.

1915                    Gallipoli

21 March

1916                    France

6/7 June

1916                    Trench Raid

29 June

1916                    Pozieres

2 August

1916                    Wounded

28 November

1916                    No. 5 Cadet Training School, Cambridge

5 August

1917                    Appointed 2nd Lieutenant

23 August

1917                    Rejoined Battalion

18 September

1917                    Ypres

October

1917                    Broodseinde, Passchendale

25 October

1917                    Battle of Passchendale

December

1917                    Red Lodge

2 February

1918                    Appointed Lieutenant

7 April

1918                    Dernacourt

20 April

1918                    Ville Sur-Ancre

May

1918                    Morlancourt

27 June

1918                    Villers-Bretonneux

14 July

1918                    Appointed Transport Officer

8 August

1918                    Battle of Amiens

29 August

1918                    Somme

2 September

1918                    Mont St. Quentin

11 November

1918                    Armistice

2 June

1919                    Arrived Fremantle

30 July

1919                  Discharged

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biographical Details:

 

Claude Walsh was born at Chain of Ponds, South Australia in 1895. He was the eldest boy in a family of six girls and five boys. His family moved to Perth at the end of the 19th century. Claude attended Perth Boys and then apprenticed under Tommy Smith a local Wheelwright and Coachsmith. His enlistment papers show his trade as Coachsmith. Unfortunately this was a dying craft and he never practiced his trade after the war.
Claude attempted to enlist in the 11th Battalion of the AIF in 1914 but his father refused to give permission. He tried again, successfully, with WA’s 28th Battalion, in 1915, after giving his age as 22.
Claude’s military career was interesting and even exemplary. By time volunteers were sought for the June 6/7th Trench Raid he was a 20-year-old Lance Sergeant. He and Herman Dedman were given the task of ensuring that there were no surviving Germans in the listening post. By November 1916 he had been selected to attend an Officers’ Training School at Cambridge University. His training was interrupted by a bout of Gonorrhoea and it was nine months before he was able to rejoin his Battalion as a 2nd Lieutenant. His Lieutenancy followed six months later.
Claude’s VD must have caused a few administrative problems. As a non-commissioned officer his records should show that he had contracted Gonorrhoea and so it was duly recorded. However he was afflicted while at an Officer Training School.  Officers’ records were deliberately kept free of any mention of having had VD.  The correction, with a red line and the word corrigendum, did more to highlight than hide his peccadillo.
In 1934, Claude received an unpleasant reminder of the long and painful period he spent while being treated for VD. He was advised that a metal match box holder belonging to 1110 Sgt C.R. Walsh had been found in the grounds of Harefield Park (an Australian Auxiliary Hospital in World War 1) and was being forwarded to him. That souvenir is still retained by his family.  
By the end of the war Claude had saved a considerable sum. A fellow officer offered him the opportunity of joining a tramway construction business but he opted to use his money to purchase WA’s first Thorneycroft truck. He joined his Uncle, Donny Curtis, in a Marine dealership in Pier St, Perth. He worked for his uncle in various capacities until Donny died in 1940. His uncle had given Claude a property near the Perth Airport but this was resumed for military purposes during the war.
In 1927 he married Edna Kemp with whom he had ten children (three girls and seven boys), nine of whom survived to adulthood and had families of their own.
Like so many other survivors of the Great War, Claude suffered the nightmares of those horrors. It was not uncommon for him to get up at night and spend hours walking around a nearby park. For a while, before meeting Edna, he spent time with a team hand clearing farmland 200Km East of Perth.
In 1941, this time lowering his age, Claude again enlisted in the AIF. He served with the 2/32nd Battalion in North Africa before going to Queensland for jungle warfare training. There he suffered a heart attack and was subsequently discharged in May 1944.
After the war Claude worked as a brewery labourer at the Red Castle, Swan and Emu breweries. In 1955 he again suffered heart problems, was granted a veterans’ TPI pension and retired. He died soon after in August 1957.
Claude Walsh is No. 29 in the Black ANZACs’ group photograph.
About a week before his death in August 1957, Claude Walsh was watching his 12-year-old son playing with a Meccano set.  He was seated on a lounge chair, a gift from his wife after his heart condition had forced him to retire two years earlier. It was a heavy, jarrah-framed chair with polished ceramic plates at the end of each arm for holding an ashtray or drink. Unused to the comfort of more than a kitchen chair he had taken his usual sitting posture -  leaning forward, forearms resting on his thighs and the omnipresent cigarette in his right hand.
For no reason that his son could understand, Claude began talking about an incident when he and another soldier had taken cover in a shell hole during a bombardment.  Claude wasn’t looking at his son as he spoke. The bombardment was heavier than usual and uncomfortably close. When the shelling stopped Claude looked towards his companion to find that a shell fragment had decapitated him.  Later, as an adult, Claude’s son often thought about that revelation.  Why after 40 years and having survived two wars did Claude choose that incident to share with one of his sons?  Perhaps he had been reminiscing out loud, momentarily oblivious to his son’s presence.


2nd Lt Claude Walsh after graduation