Pte
Donald Sinclair MacCallum

Information about birth

Date of birth:
20/06/1890
Place of birth:
Spring Hill, New South Wales, Australia

General information

Profession:
Drover

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
3177A
Enlistment date:
27/10/1916
Enlistment place:
Emerald, Queensland, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 47th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
12/10/1917
Place of death:
Nieuwemolen, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
27

Memorial

Distinctions and medals 3

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

Private Donald Sinclair MacCallum – a drover from Alton Downs, Queensland - served in the Australian Infantry, 47th Battalion, part of the 12th Brigade, of the 4th Division.

On the 12th of October 1917, the 4th Division participated in the First Battle of Passchendaele, a phase in the Third Battle of Ypres. The task of the division was to form the right flank in the attack on Passchendaele Ridge, while the 3rd Division and the New Zealand Division formed the left flank.

The 4th Division was to attack with two Battalions, the 47th and the 48th. The objective of the former was the Red Line, and once this was consolidated, the 48th would pass through and consolidate their objective, the Blue Line. Together they had to attack up Keiberg Spur, along the Ypres-Roulers railway, and protect the flank of the 3rd Division who was on the left.

Around midnight on the 12th of October, the Division moved from the Anzac Ridge area, via Zonnebeke, to the jumping off lines. There they prepared for the coming battle.

At 5.20 am, the Division commenced the attack. The 47th Battalion was divided into four companies. “D” company attacked on the right, “C” company in the centre and “A” company on the right. “B” company provided support. The advance did not go very smooth due to the muddy ground and the water-filled shell holes.

Not long after zero hour, at 5.45 am, they had a blowback. Headquarters, which were situated on Broodseinde Ridge, was shelled by the Germans which resulted in a high number of casualties. Many signallers and runners lost their lives, which in turn resulted in problems with communication.

Nevertheless, the 47th Battalion managed to reach the Red Line on time, with exception of a portion near Assyria, and the 48th passed through. On their way to the objective, “C” company met some resistance near Decoy Wood.

The afternoon was less successful. The War Diary mentions that the German shelling was heavy and accurate, that aeroplanes flew low to shoot down troops, and German snipers and machine gunners were active but could not be located.

At 4.10 pm, the Germans made their first counter-attack, from the direction of Assyria ridge. At 5 pm, they began the second counter-attack. At first, these were held off, but due to the withdrawal of the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Division, the 47th and 48th Battalion had to abandon their positions. They commenced a gradual withdrawal along the railway and ended up back at their original starting lines.

Private Donald Sinclair MacCallum of “C” Company was killed in action on the 12th of October 1917, in the vicinity of Nieuwemolen. According to a statement in his Red Cross Wounded and Missing File, private MacCallum, aged 27, was hit by shell shortly after zero hour. His remains were never identified. He is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Files 1

Sources 4

47th Battalion Australian Infantry (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/64/17).
https://www.awm.gov.au/
Sources used
Deayton, C. Battle scarred : The 47th Battalion in the First World War. (Newport: Big Sky Publishing, 2011) 169-179.
Sources used
First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920 (National Archives of Australia, Canberra (NAA), B2455).
http://www.naa.gov.au/
Sources used
McCarthy, Chris. Passchendaele: the Day-by-Day Account. (Londen: Unicorn Publishing Group, 2018), 113-114.
Sources used

More information 3