Information about birth

Year of birth:
1890
Place of birth:
Edenhope, Victoria, Australia

General information

Profession:
Labourer

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
937
Enlistment date:
29/01/1916
Enlistment place:
Edenhope, Victoria, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 38th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
13/10/1917
Place of death:
Augustus Wood, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
27

Memorial

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 1

#1 ‘Place of death’

Additional information

John McDonald – a labourer from Edenhope, Victoria – enlisted in January 1916. He served in the 38th Battalion of the Australian Infantry (10th Brigade, 3rd Australian Division).

On 12 October 1917, the 3rd Australian Division participated the First Battle of Passchendaele. The Division attacked the ruins of Passchendaele with two brigades. The 10th Brigade was on the left flank. It’s attack was carried by 37th, 38th and 40th Battalions. John’s Battalion, the 38th, was to capture the final objective, a line beyond the village of Passchendaele.

Things went bad from the start. On the night of the 11th and 12th the battalion was subjected to heavy shell fire, while it moved to the frontline. The 38th suffered heavy casualties even before arriving in the frontline. At 3 a.m. all companies were in position. Two platoons of “A” and “B” Companies made up the first wave. “D” Company followed closely. They were to mop up any remaining pockets of resistance. The second wave was made up by the remaining two platoons of “A” and “B” Companies, followed by “C” Company, John’s Company, as moppers up.

While the Companies were waiting for Zero Hour, they came under severe shelling, suffering heavy casualties. When the allied barrage came down, the 38th Battalion advanced behind the 40th Battalion. The 38th battalion was soon fired upon by machine guns near Bellevue. One party under Lieutenant Munday, a commanding officer of “C” Company, managed to cross the Ravebeek bog and started clearing pillboxes on the left. But they were eventually pinned down by machinegun- and rifle fire. The group had to wait till night before they could retire. When the 38th joined the remnants of the 37th and 40th Battalions at the first objective, casualties had been so severe that any further advance was impossible. The advance of the New Zealand Division on the left had also been checked and orders were given to retire to the jumping off line. The retreat was completed around 3 p.m. The line was held until the night of 13th and 14th October, when the battalion was relieved. Casualties had been high. Eleven men had been killed, 270 men were wounded and 101 men went missing.

Private John McDonald, 27, went missing on the 13th of October 1917, while holding the line running from Waterfields through Augustus Wood. According to reports from an inquiry in 1918, John had been buried in the field at Augustus Wood. (D.11.c.10.10.). After the War John’s remains weren’t recovered or they weren’t identified. He is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Files 1

Sources 8

Australian War Memorial
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1925689
Sources used
CWGC
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1599330/mcdonald,-john/
Sources used
Fairey, Eric. The 38th Battalion A.I.F. : the story and official history of the 38th Battalion A.I.F., Bendigo: Bendigo Advertiser and the Cambridge press, 1920, pp. 35-38.
Sources used
Mc Carthy C., Passchendaele Day-by-Day account, Unicorn Publishing Group, 2018, London, pp. 128-130.
Sources used
National Archives of Australia
https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=1841981&isAv=N
Sources used
The AIF project
https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=196171
Sources used
The Long Long Trail
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/3rd-australian-division/
Sources used
War Diary
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1356455?image=1
Sources used