Information about birth

Year of birth:
1894
Place of birth:
Temora, New South Wales, Australia

General information

Profession:
Farm Labourer

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
7027
Enlistment date:
20/10/1916
Enlistment place:
Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 1st Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
04/10/1917
Place of death:
Remus Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
23

Cemetery

Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood
Plot: XXVI
Row: B
Grave: 4-6

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

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

My story

Private John Peters of the 1st Battalion, Australian Infantry, part of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Australian Division fought in the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. Within his Red Cross File it is claimed that Private Peters was a Machine Gunner within “A” Company. Prior to enlisting on 20 October 1916, aged 22, Peters had been a farm labourer by occupation and was from Temora, New South Wales, Australia. His Unit embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT A24 Benalla on 9 November 1916.

On 2 October 1917 the 1st Australian Division moved up to take command of the frontline in what is noted as the 'ANZAC -Westhoek and Broodseinde Areas'. On 3 October the Battalion was gathering reconnaissance of German positions in final preparation for the next morning’s big offensive. The attacking Divisions, including the 1st Australian Division, took up their jump-off positions throughout the night of 3rd/4th October. The 1st Battalion began to move up from Westhoek via Jabber Track at about 2:30 a.m. reaching the assembly position at about 4 a.m. Several casualties from shell-fire were sustained along the way. The men of the 1st Battalion were positioned to the left of the line behind the 3rd Battalion looking across Molenaarelsthoek towards Celtic Wood. The 3rd Australian Battalion was to start the attack on 4 October, while the 1st and 4th Australian Battalion’s, respectively positioned on the left and the right, would be in support. Their goal was to take over the road from Broodseinde to Noordemdhoek. Soon after the start of the attack, at 9.30 a.m., both the first and second objective were taken and consolidated.

Private Peters was Killed in Action with his official date of death being 3 October 1917. The witness accounts vary in the estimated time of death; some say during the night of 3 October, others claim just before zero hour on 4 October and some state that Peters was killed when 1st Battalion were consolidating positions after reaching their objective line during the offensive. All accounts, though, give the same cause of death and describe how he was killed almost instantly when a shell burst near his position in a trench.

It’s however highly unlikely that Private Peters fell on the 3rd of October 1917, as he was buried in the field just east of Remus Wood, close to the final objective of the 1st Battalion. So we can rightly assume that the 23-year old was killed on 4 October 1917 during the attack on the Broodseinde ridge. As described in his Red Cross File, John Peters was possibly killed by German shellfire, while consolidating a trench between Remus Wood and Celtic. His remains were exhumed after the war and interred in a collective grave at Buttes New British Cemetery; Plot XXVI, Row B, Grave 4-6 alongside Private E.A. Gibbs and Private T. Goodwin who were also 1st Bn. A.I.F. and killed by that same shell. Peters is also commemorated on Panel 30 of Australian War Memorial.

Files 2

Sources 6

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 110-111.
Sources used
Australian War Memorial
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10257996
Sources used
CWGC
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/480404/peters,-john/
Sources used
The Long Long Trail
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/
Sources used
War Diary Australian Infantry, 1st Bde.
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1338583
Sources used
War Diary Australian Infantry, 1st Bn.
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RCDIG1000555/
Sources used