35th BATTALION AIF
Private: 562 Joseph William SPEARS.
Born: 1896. Dudley via Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:19120/1896.
Married: 22nd of February 1919. Newington at Southwark, London. Marriage Cert: ME 8590.
Wife: Dorothy Margaret Spears. nee: Smith. (1899-1968)
Died: 24th of June 1953. Southend General Hospital, Essex, England.
Father: Henry William Spears. (1874-1943) Died at Newtown via Newcastle, N.S.W. Death Cert:21106/1943.
Mother: Dorothy Anderson Spears. nee: Lamb. (1875-1962) Died at Katoomba, N.S.W. Death Cert:8115/1962.
No.562 Joseph William SPEARS was a 19 year old Hairdresser from Kurri-Kurri in NSW when he enlisted in the AIF on the 22nd of November 1915.
He embarked from Australia as a member of “B” Company of the 35th Battalion (Newcastle’s Own) on board the HMAT (A24) Benalla, which departed Sydney on the 1st of May 1916 and arrived at Plymouth in England on the 9th of July. On arrival in England the Battalion travelled by train, via Exeter, to the village of Amesbury in Wiltshire, where they unloaded and then marched the several miles to the Australian Camps at Lark Hill.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate - 13 Apr 1916
The 35th Battalion now became part of the 9th Infantry Brigade (33rd, 34th, 35th, and 36th Battalions, 9th Machine-Gun Company, and the 9th Light Trench Mortar Battery), of the 3rd Australian Division (9th, 10th, and 11th Infantry Brigades).
He was with the 35th Battalion when it proceeded across from England to France as part of the 9th Brigade’s deployment to the Western-Front, the 9th Brigade soon moving into the front line near the village of Armentieres.
On the 22nd of January 1917 he was WOUNDED-IN-ACTION, receiving wounds to his neck and left eye. He was admitted to the Field-Ambulance and then transferred to a Casualty Clearing Station. On the 24th he was admitted to the 8th Stationary Hospital at Wimereux. On the 4th of February 1917 he was invalided to a hospital in England. On the 28th of February he was released from hospital and marched in to the Infantry Staff Depot at Perham Downs in Wiltshire.
On the 15th of March 1917 he proceeded back across to France marching in to the 3rd Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples. On the 3rd of April he marched out to the front and rejoined the 35th Battalion on the 4th of April 1917.
He was with the 35th Battalion for the successful attack on the Messines / Wytschaete Ridge on the 7th of June 1917, which commenced at 3:10 a.m. with the detonation of 19 huge ‘mines’ that had been dug under key strategic German positions. On the 9th of June 1917, at Messines, he was again WOUNDED-IN-ACTION, suffering a slight wound to his chest. Once again he was evacuated and admitted to the 8th Stationary Hospital at Wimereux. He rejoined the 35th Battalion on the 28th of June 1917.
He was with the Battalion for the attack on Passchendaele on the 12th of October 1917.
He was granted UK-Leave from 19th of February 1918 until his return on the 2nd of March.
He was then with the Battalion in late March when the 9th Brigade was rushed south to the Somme in response to a huge German push (Operation Michael), and used as a mobile formation, being thrown in to strengthen the line wherever needed.
He was with the Battalion for the ‘1st Battle of Villers-Bretonneux’ on the 4th of April 1918, when the 9th Brigade successfully stopped the German advance toward Amiens and then successfully defended the village for over two weeks until the Brigade was relieved.
He was with the 35th Battalion for the ‘’August 1918 Offensive’’, and for the subsequent ‘’Advance to the Hindenburg Line’’. The 9th Brigade was withdrawn from frontline duties on the 2nd of October 1918.
On the 30th of October 1918 the Ottoman-Empire signs an Armistice, ending the War in the Middle-East. On the 3rd of November 1918 the Austro-Hungarian Government also signs an Armistice, leaving Germany to fight the Allies alone.
On the 11th of November 1918 the Germans finally sign an ARMISTICE, finally ending the fighting in Europe.
He was granted UK-Leave from the 11th of February 1919 until the 25th of February 1919, and was then granted an extension until the 27th of February 1919. On the 22nd of February 1919 he had married a 19 year old spinster, a Miss Dorothy Margaret SMITH, at St Pauls Church of Newington, at Southwark in London.
In July 1919 both he and his new Wife returned to Australia on board the ‘’Port Lincoln’’, arriving in Australia on the 20th of September 1919. He was discharged from the AIF on the 12th of November 1919.
He and his new Family emigrated to the UK in the early 1920’s and he is recorded as having died on the 24th of June 1953 in England.
(Bill Durrant: September 2018)
Joseph was a single 19 year old Hairdresser from Hopetoun Street, Kurri Kurri, N.S.W upon enlistment with the AIF. Joseph was serving with the 14th Infantry Militia at Kurri Kurri. His parents Henry and Dorothy Spears were married in 1895 at Adamstown via Newcastle, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:4553/1895.
© Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)
Under Construction: 14/09/2018.