The AIF Project

Donald William CALDER

Regimental number1759
Place of birthSale, Victoria
AddressPalmerston Street, Sale, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation23
Weight130 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Charlotte Calder, Palmerston Street, Sale, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date24 February 1916
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name60th Battalion, 2nd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/77/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A17 Port Lincoln on 4 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll58th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularEnlisted 24 February 1916 - 60th Bn 1st Reinforcements; taken on strength 58th Bn 23 December 1916.
FateKilled in Action 11 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death25
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 4 May 1916; disembarked Suez, 10 June 1916.

Marched into 5th Divisional Details, Tel el Kebir, 9 July 1916.

Found guilty, 6 July 1916, of conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline: awarded 72 hours' Field Punishment No 2.

Embarked Alexandria, 2 August 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 8 August 1916; marched into 15th Training Bn, Larkhill, England, 21 August 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 5 December 1916; marched into 5th Australian Divisional Depot, Etaples, 6 December 1916.

Proceeded to unit, 21 December 1916; taken on strength of 58th Bn, in the field, 23 December 1916.

Admitted to No 15 Australian Field Ambulance, 11 April 1917, and transferred to 5th Australian Divisional Rest Station the same day (frostbite); discharged to duty, 19 April 1917; rejoined unit, 21 April 1917.

Posted as missing in action, 11 May 1917.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 31 October 1917, pronounced fate as 'Killed in Action, 11 May 1917'.

Statement, Red Cross File No 0670507P, 1732 Pte W.J. McINROY, A Company, 58th Bn, 7 July 1917: 'He was in A company, 4th Platoon. He comes from Victoria. I had known him about 7 months, and was in the same platoon, and saw him regularly and knew him well. His initials, D.W. are correct and we used to call him "Don". His number 1759 is correct. He had a big scar on one of his cheeks. I saw him last about the 20th June, 1917, at Contay about 20 kilometres from Amiens. He was with the battalion then who were in billets. I see see he is reported missing on the 11th May, 1917.'

Second statement, 4889 Pte G. POWELL, A Company, 58th Bn, 18 September 1917: 'He was in A. Co., III Pltn. He came from Sale in Gippsland, Victoria, and came from the country ... He was a short man, medium build, fair, clean shaven and about 25 or 26 years of age. I was told by Pte. Dillon of A. Co., III Pltn., L.G.C., tat he had seen Calder fall at Bullecourt just as they were going over the top; he lay there and did not move. Dillon was with the Battalion on the 2nd August 1917.'

Third statement, 1735 Pte J.S. SWALWELL, A Company, 58th Bn (patient, 32nd Sationary hospital, Boulogne), 29 September 1917: 'We went over at Bullecourt at 3.30 a.m. on May 12th and had only gone a short distance when Calder was hit. He was about the first to get knocked over. He was three men away from me. He dropped like a log but I cannot say if he was killed or not though he looked like it. We had to go on. We gained our objective and held it. I don't know what became of Calder afterwards. He came from some country district - Terand, I think.'

Fourth statement, 1643 Pte J. FAWCETT, A Company, 58th Bn (patient, No 2 Canadian General Hospital, Le Treport), 1 October 1917: 'He was along side of me and a Corporal when we went over on the right side of Bullecourt in May. I saw him killed stone dead whwen we had not gone more than ten yards from our trench. He got a pellet of shrapnel right in the middle of his forehead. The Corporal saw him too, and we reported it afterwards. We took and held our objective that day.'

Fifth statement, 3699 Pte J.T. BYRNE, C Company, 58th Bn (patient, 26th General Hospital, Etaples), 2 October 1917: 'I knew this man. He belonged to XII Pl. C. Co. He went through the Somme affair all right and when we came out of there intentionally burnt his feet in our compound at Flesselles, thus giving himself self-inflicted wounds. He was tried by court-martial and sent to a detention camp in Rouen. I saw the guard take him away from the compound (at Flasselles, near Amiens), about the end of Nov. 1916. His sentence was for 18 months. I knmew him sell. He used to live at the corner of King and Little Lonsdale Streets, West Melbourne.' Note by interviewer: 'This witness was suffering from shell shock which affected his speech. I cross-examined carefully, however, and was sure of his facts. He was a very good type of man. Sgt. V. Ryan, 2769, C. Co. 58th Bn. who was present, assented to facts.' Note: This is clearly wong. There is no evidence that this man was ever court-martialled. He did not arrive in France until December 1916.

Sixth statement, 2159 Pte R. DELANEY, A company, 58th Bn (patient, No 31 Ambulance Train, Havre), 19 October 1917: 'Don Calder was in the same platoon as myself - the 3rd. He was a big dark fellow, about 25 years of age. We were going over the top at Bullecourt, and a high explosive bust right under him. This was in the early morning (light). I know nothing further.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, CALDER Donald William
Red Cross File No 0670507P

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