CSM
Robert Ernest Power

Information about birth

Date of birth:
19/05/1887
Place of birth:
Gormandale, Victoria, Australia

General information

Profession:
Farm Labourer

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Company Sergeant Major
Service number:
512
Enlistment date:
15/02/1916
Enlistment place:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 37th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
04/10/1917
Place of death:
Thames Farm, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
30

Memorial

Distinctions and medals 1

Points of interest 1

#1 Enlistment place

My story

Robert Ernest Power was a 30-year-old farm labourer from Gormandale, Victoria, who fell during the Battle of Passchendaele. In February 1916 Robert had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He quickly rose through the ranks. By October 1917 he served as a Company Sergeant Major with the 37th Battalion Australian Infantry, part of the 10th Brigade, of the 3rd Australian Division.

On 4 October 1917 the 37th Battalion participated in the Battle of Broodseinde, a phase of the Battle of Passchendaele. The Battalion was formed up just North of what used to be the village of Zonnebeke. It took up positions roughly between Dochy Farm and Levi Cottages and was to advance through Judah House, Springfield, Seine and Beecham towards Tyne Cot.

At 5.30 a.m., moments before the attack, the German artillery put down a heavy barrage on the support and assembly lines. The German shelling was part of a preliminary barrage. Both German and allied high command had chosen the same day to launch an attack, unaware that the opposite party was having the same plan.

At 6 a.m. the allied barrage came crashing down, just when the Germans were massing in their frontline. The German infantry was completely taken by surprise. The stunned Germans who survived the shelling were killed by the advancing Australians or were taken prisoners. Once the leading companies reached their first objective, some 400 Germans had already been taken prisoner and a total of eight pill-boxes and dug-outs had been captured. All objectives were captured by 7.15 a.m., only one hour and fifteen minutes after the attack had started. During the day the Battalion consolidated the captured positions and started reorganizing. Although the attack had been a success, the 37th Battalion had suffered a total of 208 casualties. Seven officers were wounded. Forty-seven other ranks were killed, two men went missing and 152 other ranks were wounded.

Company Sergeant Major Robert Ernest Power was killed in action during the attack on the Broodseinde Ridge. According to his Red Cross Wounded and Missing File, Robert was hit by a shell and buried close to where he fell. There is no exact information, on the location of Robert’s grave, tough an enquiry attached to his service Record determined Robert must have been buried along the Ypres-Roulers Railroad in the Thames area. His remains were never identified and Robert is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Files 2

Sources 6

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 110-114.
Sources used
AIF-Project
https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au
Sources used
Australian War Memorial
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1655010
Sources used
CWGC
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1600425/power,-robert-ernest/
Sources used
Service Record
https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/SearchScreens/NameSearch.aspx
Sources used
The Long, Long Trail
https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/
Sources used