|Jack Griffiths, the life and death of an ANZAC|
by Fay Widdicombe
John (Jack) Edward Griffiths was born in Newport, Monmouthshire on 17th June, 1891, the eldest of 9 children, his father died in 1902 and was survived by Florence, Jack's mother. In the early part of the twentieth century, Jack's grandfather moved to Australia, Jack followed soon afterwards when aged 20, it is believed that his brothers and sisters all stayed in the UK.
After arriving in Western Australia, Jack took a job as a mail driver in the Kalgoorlie area sometimes driving long distances into the bush. In 1915, Jack enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces, he originally joined the 8th Field Artillery Battalion on 29th September, 1915, moving to the 20th Battery on 6th October, 1915. He finally ended up as a gunner in the 30th Battery, moving there on 1st April, 1916.
His medical papers show that he was 24 years of age when he joined up, he was 5ft. 4 inches tall with dark complexion and brown eyes, he weighed 125 pounds and his chest measurements were 34/36 inches. His religion was listed as Church of England. His medical was carried out in Perth, Western Australia and he was appointed to his unit for training at Blackboy Hill camp on November 18th, 1915.
Jack (Back row 5th from left) and his comrades at Blackboy Hill Camp, Western Australia, this picture was taken on 14/10/1915. The caption reads "Are we downhearted, NO."
Whilst at the front he regularly wrote home and would try and send a card from wherever he found himself.
This card was sent from the front to a friend called Norm. The card has a rhyme at the bottom:
When the Roos get ready for warrior work,
None will scatter or scare em:
And here we see him taking the Turk
Home to his empty harem!
On the rear of the card he wrote: Dear Norm, what do you think of me with my Christmas Turkey?
Sadly, further details of Jack's service in France are sketchy, although we do know that he was killed in action late in the war on 8th October 1918. His war record lists him as being killed at Wiancourt, France, he was 27 years and 3 months. His details for his entry into the A. I. F. Roll of Honour were completed by his brother George Reginald Griffiths of 83 Albert Avenue, Maindee, Newport, Monmouthshire.
Jack was buried at Bellicourt British cemetery, his record states plot 1, grave 13, although the Commonwealth War Graves Commission now list him as being buried in Plot 1. Row B. Grave 11.
His family received this card showing his grave:
Later a further picture of the grave was acquired, Jack's wooden cross had now been replaced by the regular Portland stone headstone.
Jack Griffith's was born in Wales, he moved to Australia aged 20 and joined the A. I. F. to fight in the Great War, he never married but he was engaged to a lady from Melbourne. His young life ended in France aged just 27 and now he lies in a soldiers grave in Bellicourt, France. Jack was proud to fight both for the country of his birth and his adopted country, he was a truly brave man. May he rest in peace.
Bellicourt British Cemetery
Pictures courtesy of Fay Widdicombe of Australia, if any member of Jack's family happen to see this, Fay has many images of Jack from his birth and would love to share them with his family. Please contact this site and we will put you in touch.
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