No.7232 – Private John Osborne Culver – 11th Battalion AIF
John Osborne Culver (Jack to his family) was originally a native of South Bundalong, Victoria. He was one of five children to Robert James Culver and Jane Culver (nee Gow). They resided at 56 Chester Street, South Fremantle.
Jack, a farmer, was a much loved single man, active in sporting circles and a member of the Congregational Church.
He enlisted in the AIF on 5 October, entering service just weeks later on 14 November 1916. The medical examiner declared John as fit for service being aged 24 years and 11 months, 5 feet 5 inches in height, weight 120 lbs, chest measurement 32.5 inches, of fresh complexion, brown eyes and black hair; and free from a host of dreadful sounding medical conditions. He embarked Fremantle on 29 January 1917 aboard HMAT Miltiades bound for England and the trenches of France.
The 11th Battalion had been engaged in bloody trench warfare since March 1916, at Pozieres in the Somme Valley and Ypres in Flanders, before returning to the Somme Valley. In 1917 the battalion took part in the brief advance that followed the German Army’s retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The battalion helped to stop the German spring offensive in March and April 1918.
On the eve of the Great Allied offensive which was launched east of Amiers on 8 August 1918, the 11th Battalion was left holding the line around Harbonnieres. On 10 August, the battalion was committed to a strong attack around Lihons; although ultimately successful, the attack lasted three days and resulted in heavy casualties, including 58 killed and 140 wounded.
John Culver was among those wounded on 11 August having received gunshot wounds to the mouth and throat. Evacuated by ambulance train to the 12th (US) General Hospital in Rouen, he died of his wounds on 16 August 1918 aged 26 years.
John lies among his comrades in the beautifully maintained St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France. (Grave Reference R.11.1.16, Commonwealth War Graces Commission).
John's belongings were sent home to his family following his death and are detailed below.
Many thanks to Dennis Morgan, the Great Nephew of John Osborne Culver, for sharing this story.