Walter Herbert Bishop
Serial Number and Rank: 3762, Private
Birth: Moruya 1897
Parents: Herbert Bishop and Maria Louisa Pfieffer
Enlisted: Holsworthy 28 September 1915 after meeting at Milton
Next of Kin. F. Herbert Bishop of Milton
Service: 19th Battalion, 9th Reinforcement and 55th Battalion. RTA 8 May 1919
Marriage: Edna Kathleen Turnbull 1925. Edna was b. 1899 daughter of Cyrus John Turnbull and Emma Fowler
Honour Rolls: RSL Honour Roll
Milton Town Memorial
Milton Primary School
Milton Methodist Church
Milton Methodist Flag
The Bishop family came to Milton when Herbert Bishop bought the Milton Ulladulla Times in 1902.
Walter was awarded the Military Medal for his service. Source: ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 109. Date: 15 September 1919
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations at PERONNE on 1st and 2nd September 1918. Private Bishop was one of a section of Lewis Gunners who showed great courage and keenness under terrific enemy artillery and Machine Gun fire; going forward with his Lewis Gun he assisted greatly in the advance of our line to a stronger position. The advance at one time was temporarily held up, but this soldier’s gun being brought into action enabled his party to advance. He had no regard for his own personal safety and during the whole of the operations his courage and daring was most noticeable and his behaviour throughout was a good example to his comrades.’
Walter Herbert Bishop who was affection known as Bert, was the son of Herbert Bishop and Maria Louisa Pfieffer, born 1897 at Moruya. The family moved to Milton when Herbert Bishop bought the Milton Ulladulla Times newspaper from Alfred Ernest Browne in 1903.
Herbert Bishop declined approval for his son Bert to enlist, but eventually gave permission to his 18 year old son as Bert wanted to go on an adventure and enlist with his cousin Raymond Bishop from Moruya. Bert at the time was a member of the local cadets.
Both Bert and his cousin Raymond reported for enlistment at Holsworthy on September 28, 1915 after attending a recruitment meeting at Milton and were assigned to the 19th Infantry Battalion. Bert had been an apprentice journalist and printer with his father at the newspaper.
Bert was given four days leave for Christmas before his active service and he returned home to Milton. Bert wrote later in his memoirs “Even a picnic on a lovely beach could not cheer me up. Most of the picnickers were girls. We swam, we played about on the big sand hill, we lunched under bottlebrush trees, and I realised what I was leaving behind me to go to the wretched war. They were lovely, healthy country girls, so clean, so wholesome, so full of life and fun, and modesty was in-built in them and did their best to cheer and jolly me into the boy I had been before the Kaiser went mad.
His unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A54 Runic on January 20, 1916, also travelling with them was local Milton boy, Fred Chin. The Bishop Cousins were transferred to the 55th Battalion before leaving Egypt for active service in France. Bert’s father as the editor of the Times newspapers during WW1, never failed in publishing every single one of Bert’s letters about the war in the newspaper for everyone in the community to read.
The 1916 Battle of Fromelles, was the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front on a 400-metre patch of French soil. In a period of less than 24 hours 1900 young Australian men lost their lives; another 3100 were injured or never found. In 2007 there was the discovery of mass graves near Fromelles containing the remains of Australian and other allied soldiers killed in the battle and buried by Germans units. In 2010 Bert’s cousin Raymond Bishop, who was considered “missing in action, presumed dead” back in 1916 until DNA matched to his grandmother confirmed his body had been found at Fromelles.
Bert wrote: “They all had an ashen grey pallor, and looked years older than when they went in. You’d see mates shaking hands with each other in silence, unable to speak, some of them crying, but no words were needed, each understood the feelings in the hearts of the other, feelings which could not be expressed in words. The old Gallipoli men among us all agree that there was nothing on the Peninsular to equal it; not even the landing.
We were given a couple of days good rest, and then into a pretty quiet section of trenches, where we still are. We do fatigue work in the daytime, and at night man the firing steps, keeping watch and firing occasionally across at the German trenches. We don’t get much sleep, but are expecting to be relieved any day and go back for a good rest. Jack Latta (from Ulladulla) was in the charge and came; right through’ all right. I was talking with him a couple of days ago, and he said he’d seen Clarence Riley (also from Milton) in a mob of reinforcements which had joined up in the 56th the day before, so I’m hoping to see him, too, shortly. Iam quite well, though I was pretty crook for several days after the engagement, and was terribly nervy, and of course I couldn’t, help worrying a lot over poor Billy and Ray.
Bert served most of the war fighting in France, he did spend some time in England recovering and convalescing from his serious wounds when buried by a bomb blast,
He was awarded the Military Medal for his war service in 1918. ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations at Peronne on 1st and 2nd September 1918. Private Bishop was one of a section of Lewis Gunners who showed great courage and keenness under terrific enemy artillery and Machine Gun fire; going forward with his Lewis Gun he assisted greatly in the advance of our line to a stronger position. The advance at one time was temporarily held up, but this soldier’s gun being brought into action enabled his party to advance. He had no regard for his own personal safety and during the whole of the operations his courage and daring was most noticeable and his behaviour throughout was a good example to his comrades.’
Bert returned to Australia in May 1919 as a member of the 55th Battalion. Bert also received the British War Medal, Victory Medal. Hus name appears many local WW1 honour rolls including the RSL Honour Roll, Milton Town Memorial, Milton Primary School, Milton Methodist Church and the Milton Methodist Flag.
He married in 1925 Edna Kathleen Turnbull, daughter of Croobyar School teacher Cyrus John Turnbull and his wife Emma nee Fowler. Bert never spoke about his experiences to his family, but 73 years after the end of WW1 in 1991, he wrote his war memoirs: The Hell, the Humour and the Heartbreak – A Privates View of World War 1. Bert died a few months at the age of 93 years after this was published.