Darwin war history
Norman S Cramp, Director of Darwin Military Museum
Over 400 Territorians volunteered for service during the Great War, most returned, these are just four who did not make it home.
Charles George Chapman. Service Number 942
Charles Chapman, the son of astronomer Professor Robert William Chapman, CMG., MA., BCE., and FRAS., and Eva Maud Chapman of the Adelaide University South Australia, was born in Adelaide South Australia on 19th November 1891. At the time of his birth and when Charles enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) his parents and he resided at the High Street, Burnside, Adelaide.
Charles studied surveying and graduated from the Adelaide University and was registered as a qualified Surveyor in Adelaide in January 1913 and took a position with the NT Lands and Survey Department that year. After arriving in Darwin, he carried out surveys of land sections at the Daly River, one of which Albert Borella VC., MM. MID., during the initial agricultural development of the region. He effected a traverse of the Daly River to Brooks Creek in 1914 during the period of Ryland’s administration of the Lands Department. He served in the role of Surveyor until 1914 at which time he enlisted in the AIF for overseas service.
He enlisted in Adelaide on 1st September 1914 at the age of 23 years. He was posted to E Company, 10th Infantry Battalion (a South Australian battalion). He embarked for overseas service on 20th October 1914 aboard the troopship Ascanius (A11). He was discharged from the AIF on 21st April 1915 due to gaining a commission with the Royal Engineers, Imperial (British) Army. He was Mentioned in
Dispatches for bravery and was killed at Basra, Iraq on 16th April 1916.
He was awarded all three British World War One (Great War) Medals and is commemorated on the Commonwealth War Dead panels 5 and 61 in the Iraq Memorial. His name lives on in Chapman Road and Chapman Court, Rapid Creek being named in his memory and honour.
Percy Davies. Service Number 21469
Percy Davies, the son of Sam Stephen and Kate Mary Davies, was born at Walsall, England in 1892. It is unclear as to when Percy and his parents arrived in Australia but it is known his parents were residing at 16 Denmark Hill, Upper Hawthorn, Victoria in 1915 when Percy enlisted in the AIF, although Percy nominated Sam Stephen Davies of Pine Creek, NT as his next of kin on his Attestation to Enlist in the AIF form.
Percy was employed as a Labourer prior to enlisting on 6th October 1916 at Darwin, NT (later confirmed at Brisbane) at the age of 23 years. He departed Darwin as a member of the 4th official contingent in October 1915 and was attached to the 35th Field Artillery Battery of the 9th Field Artillery Brigade, AIF with the rank of Gunner. After completing his basic training in Brisbane, he embarked for overseas service from Sydney on 11th May 1916 aboard the troopship Argyllshire (A8).
After arriving in England and completing his final training he was posted to the Western Front in France. He served with the battery during the fighting around Bullecourt, France, in October 1918 and died of wounds suffered there on 3rd October. He was buried in the British Cemetery, Bullecourt, and is commemorated on the wall of Honour at the Australian War Memorial, the British War Cemetery Bullecourt and the Darwin Cenotaph.
Davies Street in the Darwin suburb of Moil is named in his honour.
Edmond Johnson. Service Number 2189
Edmond (Ted) Woodward Johnson, the son of Frederick and Emma Julietta (nee Woodward) Johnson, was born at Hobart, Tasmania in 1897. Edmond’s father, Frederick, was a train driver prior to he and Emma coming to the NT to take up a section of farming land on the Daly River. Edmond accompanied his parents and lived with them on their Daly River farm until 11th March 1916 when he enlisted in the AIF at the age of 19 years.
Prior to enlisting, he was employed as a Blacksmith’s Assistant and after enlisting at Darwin, and nominating his parents who were residing at the 2 ½ Mile, Port Darwin as his next of kin, Edmond shipped out to Brisbane to undergo basic taring before embarking for active (overseas) service. Following the completion of his basic training, he left Brisbane for Europe and the war aboard HMAS Boorara on 16th August 1916. At that time, he was ranked Private and was attached to the 4th Reinforcements, 47th Australian Infantry Battalion.
He served all of his war on the Western Front in France and was killed in action at Dernancourt, France, on 28th March 1918. His body was never recovered and as such he has no known grave. However, he is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial Villiers-Bretonneux Memorial, France, the Australian War Memorial Honour Wall Canberra and the Darwin Cenotaph (although his name was incorrectly spelt until 2015).
Edmond was awarded the Commander-in-Chief’s Congratulatory Card British, the British War Medal and British Victory Medal following his death, however, his medals never made it back to Australia. All of his personal effects were lost at sea when the ship transporting them, His Majesties Australian Transport (HMAT) SS. Barunga (A42) was sunk by a German torpedo on 15th July 1918.
Johnson Park in Darwin is named in his memory and honour.
John West Middleton. Service Number 683
John West Middleton, the son of his Mother Salome Middleton of 79 Mayow Road, Sydenham, London, England, was born at Shanghai, China in 1882. He arrived in Sydney, Australia, aboard the SS. Beltana on 18th January 1913. Prior to moving to Australia, John Middleton had been school boy at the University College School, London, England where school archives records show he was a student from 1910-1912.
John was keen boxer pre-war with one of his bouts, with L. Ferris being recorded in the Darwin newspaper, the Northern Territory Times and Gazette on Thursday 19th March 1914 (page 7). The match was scheduled between Middleton and another boxer J. Lavery who failed to appear for the fight. Ferris stepped into the ring in Lavery’s place and the fight was on. Although being a ‘no-decision’ fight, both men put on a good fighting encounter and were heavily applauded at the conclusion of the match.
He left the NT for Sydney on the S.S. Montoro on 6th April 1914 and was never to return. He enlisted in the AIF at Green Hills, Queensland, on 9th June 1915, reportedly at age 23, and in his Will, he left all of his possessions to his friend Private Frederick George Woods of the 25th Infantry Battalion. He had previously served for six months in the Thursday Island Cable Guard before enlisting, at which time he put his age up to do so. He was in fact 18 years of age when he enlisted and embarked for overseas (active) service from Brisbane, Qld, on board HMAS Aeneas (A60) on 29th June 1915. Barely 20 days after enlisting and, one would imagine, with only a modicum of basic training under his belt. He disembarked at Alexandria, Egypt and was transferred to the AIF’s Mena Camp, Cairo, within sight of the pyramids.
After arriving in camp, he trained with his Unit, the 25th Infantry Battalion, at Mena Camp and was later posted to Gallipoli. He served on the peninsula until 12th October 1915 when he was shot in the head and died instantly. He is said to have been buried at Chalak Dere Cemetery, Gallipoli, about 1.5 miles north of ANZAC Cove, however, page 22 of his AIF service file records he was buried in the Embarkation Pier Cemetery, Gallipoli. In 2019, the author of this article located his grave in the Embarkation Pier Cemetery, Gallipoli. One interesting point regarding John West Middleton’s grave is that his headstone reads ‘Believed to be buried in this cemetery.
John West Middleton is commemorated on the Darwin Cenotaph.
 The Northern Territory Archive Services (NTRS) has a file of Chapman’s correspondence during this period, reference NTRS 2660.
 NAA: B2455, DAVIES P: SERN 21469: POB Staffordshire, England: POE Brisbane QLD: NOK (F) Davies Sam Stephen.
 NAA: B2455: Johnson, Edmond: SERN 2189: POB Hobart TAS: POE Darwin NT: NOK (F) Johnson Frederick.
 ‘Edmond Johnson’, Territory Stories, Northern Territory Library. Also see ‘Edmond Johnson’, NT Pioneer Register 4100, Genealogical Society of the NT.
 Northern Territory Dictionary of Biology, p. 306.
 Northern Territory Times and Gazette, Thursday 19th March 1914, page 7.
 ‘John West Middleton’, Territory Stories, NT Library.
 NAA: B2455, MIDDLETON, JOHN. SERN 683, POB Shanghai, China, POE Green Hills, QLD, NOK (Mother) MIDDLETON, Salome.
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