Jan 31, 2015

Edward Charles Tobias Hurter [ 1888 - 1917 ]

Edward Charles Tobias Hurter was born in Coburg - a suburb of Melbourne - on 26th November 1888.  His parents were Charles Edward Hurter and Jeannett Le Brun.

He attended the Blackburn Primary School and later went on to the Hawthorn College where he studied accountancy. Prior to his enlistment in the AIF he held the Office of Collector in the Electric Light Department in the Nunawading Shire Council.

In January 1916 he enlisted in the AIF and was assigned to the 22nd Battalion, 11th Reinforcements. His service number being 4465.

Just prior to sailing, Edward married Rae Leonore Dowel who was the daughter of Henry Dowel and Flora McKenzie. Rae was born in Ascot Vale in 1891.

On 29 March 1916 Edward Hurter embarked from Melbourne on board the HMAT ORONTES.

image is of the HMAT ORONTES departing Port Melbourne in August 1916.

on 10 September 1916 Edward proceeded to France from England. In October he was promoted to Lance Corporal and in November to Temporary Sergeant.

At this time the 22nd Battalion were moved to the Ypres sector then back to Somme for the winter.

During January 1917 there had been much snow around Martinpuich and by the 1st February the weather was considered 'fine'.

Edward was killed whilst in "William Alley" - a trench near Martinpuich - and according to the diary of James Irwin:

We were now taken off the railway fatigue, and were at the disposal of head-quarters to be sent on any sector as carrying parties. We were working on two sectors, each of which was entered by a different route. On one of the routes, after we had travelled about a mile from our dugout in the mud, we would enter a trench called "William Alley".

This trench was built perfectly by the British, and it was about 2 miles long in zigzag formation, reaching up to the front line. The walls were riveted with wire mesh and the duckboards were supported on "A" frames; the water running 2 feet below in the bottom of the trench, and parts of the trench were camouflaged with the ordinary material which was used for the same purpose in the artillery.

The camouflaged material is made up of wire netting with an artificial covering of leaves and boughs. When we were on our way back to our dugout after being up to the line, we would call into the soup kitchen and have a short rest and some soup, after which we would feel quite repaired. We used to travel on the upper side of a dark gully on the way out, and in the dark hollow we would hear men pushing trucks, on the light railway up to the front line, laden with timber and ammunition, and the trucks returning would have wounded on them. When a shell would come hissing over into the dark valley, we would stop with a feeling of awe, and listen with expectation of hearing someone call "Stretcher bearers".
One night in the vicinity of this valley, a shell landed about 4 feet from the duckboards on which we were travelling, and blew myself and four others off the duckboards into the mud. On account of the mud being so soft as to allow the shell to penetrate deeply into the ground, we were fortunate enough to escape being killed or wounded, as the fragments of the shell could not escape above the surface of the ground.

and from the diary of Lt. Col. A. Wiltshire:

Pushed on through the village noticing some guns blocked out and then along what has been a pleasant country road. The snow has caused green grass to sprout everywhere and the country is looking very well. Much shelled is this road and by no means a health resort. When we got to William Alley we hopped in and had a grand run right up and then pushed across country to the Battalion H.Q. Very muddy and dirty and the dugout one of the most villianous [sic] ever imaginable. Concentrated smell of cooking, foul breaths & stagnation smote one on entering.

Skirting the village of Martinpuich for a while we at last plunged boldly through it and wondered by the lights there that they do not strafe it thoroughly and well. Once out of the village we got on to uneven boards with treacherous gaps in them and met many tired and muddy men coming out of the line, some cheerful, some depressed and nearly sobbing with fatigue. Soon we struck William Alley and had to pass nearly a whole Battalion coming out. Squeezing past was most awkward especially for the M.O.

The memorial for Edward Charles Tobias Hurter is located at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. There is no known grave.

 The personal effects of Edward Hurter were returned to his wife.

 The personal effects of Edward Hurter were returned to his wife.
when next you see a headstone or memorial for an 'unknown soldier' think of
Edward Charles Tobias Hurter

Newspaper article from Saturday 17th March 1917

May you rest in peace Edward Hurter


as an added note, I have the following family that were also in the 22nd Battalion:

Donald William McTavish
KIA 27 July 1916 at The Battle of Pozieres

Harold Dimongoes McTavish
WIA at the Battle of Pozieres and RTA. died 13 April 1962

James John Roberts
WIA at The Battle of Menin Road and RTA. died 28 July 1968

William Gordon Tucker
KIA at The Battle of Beaurevoir on 3rd October 1918


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