Lieutenant Arthur Collins Loveday – 28th Battalion AIF
Arthur Collins Loveday was born in Fremantle in 1893, the son of Arthur and Mary Anne Loveday. The family initially lived in Henderson Street, Fremantle before moving out to ‘Burleigh’ Victoria Road in East Fremantle. The street was later renamed Alexander Road. The home is still standing in East Fremantle today and is pictured below.
Mary Anne Loveday (nee Collins) is pictured below with baby Arthur and Wilfred. They are thought to have been captured here in Pinjarra.
And he is pictured below at age 3.
And later, a beautiful family photo was taken. (Grace is standing; so too is Arthur Loveday Snr; centre is Mary Anne Loveday; the children from left to right are Wilfred, Elizabeth 'Mab', Arthur Collins Jnr and May on the end).
After attending school Arthur became a clerk at the Union Stores in High Street Fremantle.
Below is a (sadly damaged) photograph of Arthur and a friend prior to World War One wonderfully displaying the fashion of the time.
Arthur enlisted on 13 February 1916, and his services being accepted he went into camp at Blackboy Hill. After initial training he was assigned to the 12th Reinforcements for the 28th Battalion. This group left Fremantle bound for Europe on 17 April 1916 aboard the ship HMAT Aeneas. Many families were on hand to see their loved ones depart and the Loveday family were no exception.
Below is Arthur in uniform; his companions in the photos are unidentified.
After arriving in England, Arthur was to undergo a further 6 months training before he was sent to France just in time for Christmas 1916. Prior to leaving England, Arthur took 6 days of unauthorised leave and was subsequently charged with being Absent Without Leave and was awarded 6 days of Field Punishment. He completed this and sailed with his reinforcement group for France. They spent another 6 weeks training for the front at the 2nd Division Base Depot at Etaples in France. Arthur was finally sent to the 28th Battalion on 18 February 1917, which at that time was located in the region of Flers, France.
A few days after his arrival, the battalion was involved in following up the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, seeing heavy action around Lagnicourt. Fortunately Arthur Loveday survived this and the subsequent fighting at Bullecourt in May 1917 which was to take a high toll on the 28th Battalion.
In Fremantle, families saw the casualty lists in the Western Mail and Sunday Times and realised that the 28th Battalion had been through another costly engagement. After being relieved from their positions at Bullecourt, Arthur received the following letter from his father.
Text of the letter:
Rottnest Gaol (Arthur Loveday Snr was a law enforcement officer)
1 July 1917
You will see by this letter that I am over at Rottnest, but only temporary for 1 month which is quite long enough for me. This is the second time since you went away, Dear Art we have been very pleased to receive all your letters that you send, but there seems to be a break these last few months as we only received a card. We trust that you are well and hope God will be pleased to spare your life and that you may return to us. This is the daily prayer of us all.
From what we see in our own papers the prospects of peace are a long way off. We, one and all, wish this horrible war would cease. Australia, I fear, is in for a very bad time. Everything is being put up to an exorbitant price and living is being reduced to a mere existence. The future looks very gloomy.
My dear Son, we have much to be thankful for that you so far have escaped whilst so many have fallen to return no more. We earnestly pray that this may not be your lot and hope to see you again.
My dear Art, ask God to keep you and try to do what is honourable and right so that whatever the end brings you may have no remorse – you are constantly in my thoughts and we eagerly look for every mail and are very pleased if we only just receive a card but would much prefer a letter if you can get the time to write. There is not much news here, it is all war and recruiting. Nothing else seems to be thought of. Some are advocating conscription; it looks very much as if it may come; it probably will if the war continues. We heard of your having met Doug McKay.
I hope these few lines will find you alright with much love.
I close and remain, Your dear Father
The 28th Battalion which had been constantly in action since arrival in France in April 1916 was now given a 3 month rest out of the line. Their next battle was to be the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium through September and October 1917.
Below is a photograph of Arthur with other men of the 28th Battalion.
The 28th had a well-earned rest and by early September 1917 began to make their way towards the front line. On September 20th they were to be heavily involved in the initial assault of the Australians along the Menin Road at Ypres.
After their successful attack, Arthur and the 28th were relieved from the line and sent into reserve where they would have a rest before their next attack in early October.
On 4 October 1917 the next assault commenced with the aim of capturing the vital Broodseinde Ridge. The 28th Battalion would be in reserve for the attack, meaning that while they would not be in the actual attack by they would be forming carrying parties to the front line troops. This task could sometimes more dangerous than being directly on the front line as these parties had to go through heavy shellfire to deliver their loads of supplies. Many of the 28th were killed or wounded.
Not only did Arthur have to contend with the loss of so many of his Battalion mates, news had just come through that his father, Arthur Loveday Snr, had died. He wrote from 'In the Field, France' the following heartbreaking letter home to his Mother and siblings.
Arthur survived the 3rd Battle of Ypres unscathed, and due to his good performances in the line, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 26 October 1917.
The 28th Battalion continued to hold the line in the Flanders region through the winter of 1917. Just prior to Christmas, Arthur was granted leave to England from 22 December 1917 till 5 January 1918, so he was able to have a much more peaceful Christmas and New Year in England rather than on the battlefields of the Western Front.
When he arrived back in Belgium, the 28th were in the lines near Messines at a place called Warneton. In early March 1918 Arthur was promoted to full Lieutenant. The 28th were still in this vicinity when the German offensive of late March 1918 began. The 28th Battalion moved south to the Somme in early April where they relieved units of the 4th Division.
Loveday took part in the battalion’s activities till early May when he reported sick. He was admitted to the 7th Field Ambulance with a PUO (Pyrexia Unknown Origin) and was sent further back behind the lines to a base Hospital at Camiers. Upon going before the Medical Board, Arthur was granted 3 weeks leave which he spent in England and came back to the 28th battalion in France on 15th June 1918.
On Arthur’s return, the 28th were then on a break from the line but they took over a position near Monument Wood in late June and by early July were organising a raid on the German line where the 48th Battalion had been heavily repulsed in May. Brigadier General Wisdom gave permission to the 28th Battalion commander, Lt-Col Currie for the raid to go ahead, the two officers in charge of the raid being Lt Coburn and Lt Loveday.
The following account comes from the Australian historian and official war correspondent, Dr Charles Bean. He describes how a visitor from the army staff looked over the ground with Currie later that morning: "I suppose you’ll be having a battle there before long” he said. "This afternoon” was the answer. "What do you think we are putting in?” The visitor shook his head. "A job for a brigade, wouldn’t it be?” suggested Currie. "Well I dare say it would. What are you tackling it with?”" An officer and eleven men are going for the right half and an officer and six men for the left.” The visitor whistled. "What have you got on the left flank?” "An N.C.O. and four men are going out to look after that.” "It’s the damnedest bit of cheek I ever heard of” said the visitor laughing, "and I’m not going to swear it won’t come off.”
With a mortar bombardment to keep German heads down, Lt Coburn led his party towards the German line and once the bombardment ceased, he led his men on the race towards the German trench. The German sentry was seen to race back, with Coburn’s party hot on his heels. On the left of the raid, Lt Loveday led his party of four men up to the German line in order to meet another small party of five men who had been working up the German trench from the south west. A German sentry saw both parties working towards him and fled back from the trench upon which Loveday and his men successfully occupied the trench. Lt Coburn’s party made further inroads into the German lines and came up against some resistance when some German soldiers sent over stick grenades. Unfortunately one of these bombs killed Pte George Brown, a sailor from Beaconsfield, he being the only fatality of the attack.
These German bombers were attacked by Coburn’s men and the Germans withdrew with several casualties. Coburn’s men occupied the positions and waited for the 28th Battalion to send up reinforcements. The 28th were relieved that night and the rest of Monument Wood was cleared over the coming days.
Below is a photograph of Leiutenant Loveday with his platoon.
The 28th’s next main role was in the large Allied offensive of 8 August which was to be later called ‘The Battle of Amiens’. The Australians were to attack in conjunction with Canadian and British troops on their flanks. Just after midnight on 8 August, the tanks moved forward to their jumping off positions and were followed by the infantry. Once in their positions a German barrage fell on some of the Australians troops. The men of the 28th Battalion, attacking in front of Villers Brettoneux, advanced and ran into several strong points surrounded by barbed wire. Arthur Loveday as part of A Company quickly advanced into the German lines and successfully took their allotted objectives. Over the coming days the 28th continued to advance, and with the previous commander of "A” Company wounded, Arthur was now leading the Company. Despite the small numbers in the 28th Battalion, they continued to be used in the advance, and on 11 August they again went forward and captured their objectives.
While consolidating the line the men were being troubled by German machine gun fire from posts out in front. Arthur Loveday was severely wounded by a burst from this machine gun and was evacuated back to 5th Field Ambulance where he received some initial treatment and was then sent further back to No.55 Casualty Clearing Station where he unfortunately died of his wounds on 12 August 1918.
A mate of Arthur’s from the 5th Field Ambulance, Ernest Trevize, wrote to Art’s sister May to tell her of his last day:
The news of Arthur’s death was a huge blow to the men of his Company as Arthur was a very popular officer within the unit. The men of his Company got together and a fellow officer, Lt Ridley wrote the following for the Battalion and a copy was sent to Loveday's family back home in Fremantle.
Unbeknownst to the Loveday family, while Arthur had been serving in France he had struck up a friendship with a French girl from Amiens. They had corresponded quite regularly and soon after the Armistice she wrote to his family.
Soon after the war, Arthur Loveday’s mother, aunt and sister traveled to France to visit his grave and met up with Rene Locquet where they spent some time around his last resting place.
Below is a close up of what Arthur's war grave looked like then and what it looks like more recently.
Many thanks to Janice Ballingall, niece-in-law to Arthur Collins Loveday, for sharing many of these images and letters.
Thanks, too, to Andrew Pittaway for writing much of this story and to the Army Museum of Western Australia for sharing the original letters previously donated by Janice Ballingall and family.