Arthur John Somers

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Henstridge, Somerset, England, United Kingdom

General information


Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Sale, Victoria, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 37th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Haalen, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Passchendaele New British Cemetery
Plot: VIII
Row: B
Grave: 10

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Arthur John Somers was born on 21 July 1890 in Henstridge, Somerset. He was the son of Arthur William Somers and Martha Mitchell. In 1910 he and his parents emigrated to Australia to go and farm in Carrajung, Victoria. In February 1916 Arthur enlists for the Australian Imperial Force and by October 1917 he serves as a private in the Australian Infantry, 37th Battalion, part of the 10th Australian Brigade, of the 3rd Australian Division.

On the 12th of October 1917 the 3rd Australian Division participates in the First Battle of Passchendaele, a stage in the Third Battle Battle of Ypres. The Division attacks in the early morning with two Brigades. The 10th Brigade attacks on the left of the Divisional front and the 9th Brigade on the right. The 10th Brigade advances directly South of the Ravebeek stream with the 37th, 38th and 40th Australian Battalions. Private Somers is allotted to “B” company. Two platoons of his company were in the first wave and another two in the second wave.

The men advance at zero hour, 5.25 a.m. The terrain during the advance was very difficult to cross, as the stream of the Ravebeek had burst out of its banks, which were destroyed by the constant shelling. The surrounding fields were thusly turned into a muddy plain. On top of the difficult terrain the Battalions suffered heavy casualties from machinegun and artillery fire. The German fire came from the direction of Augustus Wood and Waterfields. These German positions were eventually taken with fixed bayonets and most of the occupants surrendered.

The 37th kept pushing on despite heavy German opposition. At 7 a.m. the Battalion managed to capture their first objective in front of the hamlet of Haalen. However due to the marshy state of the ground the line proved to impossible to consolidate. Consequently the Battalion chose to consolidate a line 50 yards in rear of the objective, where the ground was more suitable. The men dug in under very heavy fire and the Battalion’s Headquarter was set up at Hamburg Farm, which became a principal target for the German artillery. In the meanwhile persistent shelling and constant machinegun fire on the 37th Battalion’s position took its toll. Soon the Battalion had only two officers left in the line. Casualties kept on stacking up and the line at Haalen became too thin to hold. The two remaining officers collected the men, pulled back and took up a new positions almost back at the Battalion’s start line.

According to several witness reports Private Arthur John Somers was killed by a German shell during the First Battle of Passchendaele. The 27-year old fell near the 37th Battalion’s first objective line, just west of Haalen, where he was buried by his comrades. After the war Arthur’s remains were exhumed and interred in Passchendaele New British Cemetery; Plot VIII, Row B, Grave 10.

Files 2

Sources 8

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 128-130.
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Further reference
Australian War Memorial
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National Archives of Australia
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The Long, Long Trail
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War diary 37th Bn. Australian Infantry
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