Pte
Matthew Herbert Austin

Information about birth

Year of birth:
1893
Place of birth:
Clifton, New South Wales, Australia

General information

Profession:
Labourer

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
707
Enlistment date:
29/12/1915
Enlistment place:
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 35th Bn. (Newcastle's Own Regiment)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
12/10/1917
Place of death:
Augustus Wood, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
24

Cemetery

Passchendaele New British Cemetery
Plot: XIII
Row: F
Grave: 5

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

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

My story

Matthew Herbert Austin was born in March 1893 as the youngest child in a family of five in the mining town of Clifton, Australia. His parents emigrated from Wolverhampton, England to Australia in 1875. When Matthew was 15, he exchanged school to work as a sailor on a merchant ship. Four years later he decides to try his luck as a miner in the Stanford Merthyr colliery in Kurri Kurri. During this period, Austin also started cycling. He especially excels on the track and wins many local and regional races.

In 1914 Matthew marries Elizabeth Ellenor Roberts. On 14 December 1915, his son Donald Hugh Austin is born. Two weeks later, Matthew volunteered for the army. In March 1916 he is assigned to 'C' Company of the 35th Bn. Australian Infantry (9th Australian Brigade, 3rd Australian Division). Before embarking for Europe in May, he takes his last family photograph, during his leave.

At the end of November 1916 Pte. Austin arrives in France. The first offensive in which the 35th Bn. Australian Infantry is deployed is the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917. On 12 October 1917, the battalion again goes into the attack with the objective of capturing Passchendaele. The 3rd Australian Division attacks at 5.25 am with two brigades ,the 9th and 10th Australian Brigade. The attack of the 9th Australian Brigade, positioned just east of Tyne Cot, is carried out by the 34th and 35th Bn. The 34th Bn A.I.F. moved forward but heavy fire on the start line caused confusion. It was difficult to tell which barrage came from their own artillery and which from the other side. The 35th Bn A.I.F., who supports the attack, are able to take Defy Crossing, Hillside Farm and Augustus Wood. As they advance along the road to Passchendaele, they find several wounded men of the 66th Division hiding in shell holes since the attack on 9 October. They get as far as Passchendaele itself, where several patrols move through the deserted village. However, the attack is not strong enough to hold the newly captured positions and the men have to withdraw almost to their original starting positions.

Pte. Austin is reported missing after the battle. His Red Cross Wounded and Missing File shows that he was supposable killed. Shortly afterwards he is registered as 'killed in action'. After the war Austin's body was exhumed between Augustus Wood and Hillside Farm (D.17.a.5.8.) and he was reburied at Passchendaele New British Cemetery, where he is still remembered today.

Files 1

Sources 7

" The Third Ypres Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account ", McCarthy C., London, Arms & Armour Press, 1995, pg. 113-115.
Sources used
AWM
https://www.awm.gov.au/advanced-search/people?people_preferred_name=austin&people_service_number=707&people_unit=
Sources used
Bostyn F., e.a., 'Passchendaele 1917, het verhaal van de doden en Tyne Cot Cemetery, Roularta Group, Roeselare, 2007, pp. 219-221
Sources used
CWGC
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/461114/austin,-matthew-herbert/
Sources used
Service Record
https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=3041695&isAv=N
Sources used
The Long Long Trail
https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/
Sources used
War Diary 35th Bn.
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1339200
Sources used