Pte Sporn Gustav Gottlieb Berthold

  • Year of birth: 1896
  • Place of birth: Yanyarrie, South Australia, Australia
  • Date of death: 12/10/1917
  • Place of death: Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium
  • Cause of death: Killed in action (K.I.A.)
  • Age: 21
  • Profession: Agricultural Labourer/ Milkman
  • Country: Australia
  • Rank: Private
  • Service number: 1948A
  • Enlistment date: 30/05/1916
  • Enlistment place: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • Last known unit: Australian Infantry, 35th Bn. (Newcastle's Own Regiment)
  • Force: Australian Imperial Force

Memorial

Additional information

Private Gustav Gottlieb Berthold Sporn was born in January of 1896 in Yanyarrie, South Australia. Before he enlisted in the army he worked as a farm labourer. When he enlisted, he first joined the 2nd Depot Battalion, but he later transferred to the 3rd Australian Division where he first joined the 43rd Battalion, and eventually joined the 35th Battalion of the 9th Australian Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division. He was killed in action on October 12th 1917 in what would become known as the First Battle of Passchendaele.

On October 11th, the 35th Battalion left Cavaby Farm Camp and moved to the tape line from where the attack was to start the next day. The day of the attack, October 12th, the 3rd Australian Division advanced with two brigades, the 9th and 10th. The attack of the 9th Brigade was carried out by the 34th and 35th Battalions and had two main objectives. The first was to secure the area until after Augustus Wood (the red line) and the second was to try and capture Passchendaele village (he blue line). At 5.25 a.m. (zero hour) the two attacking battalions moved to their first objective. They were temporarily held up by machine gun fire, and suffered heavy casualties because of it, but were able to consolidate their first objective at about 10 a.m. The 35th Battalion was also able to overrun Defy Crossing, Hillside Farm and Augustus Wood. When the 34th Battalion had consolidated their first objective, the 35th Battalion moved over the 34th along the Passchendaele Road towards Passchendaele village, the second objective. They were able to reach the second objective, but suffered again from heavy machine gun- and shell fire, and were unable to make proper consolidations because they were forced to retreat at about 3 p.m. Both battalions were pushed back to the vicinity of Augustus Wood, close to their original start line where they started the attack. Eventually a line was established at about 500 yards in front of the original tape line.

Private Sporn was killed in action during this attack. Several eye witnesses reported in the Red Cross Wounded and Missing File that he was hit by a shell in the head which killed him instantly. One soldier of his battalion mentions that he was killed while they were assembled near the Cemetery waiting to go over the top. Another eye witness says that the bodies of the dead soldiers, including Private Sporn, were left lying where they fell for some days, but were eventually buried where they fell. A third eye witness says that he is certain that Private Sporn was buried because he saw a cross with his name on the grave. After the war, however, his grave must have gotten lost because his remains were not found. If the eye witness reports are correct, however, and Private Sporn was killed near the Cemetery and was eventually buried where he fell, then that means that he was buried either in or near Tyne Cot Cemetery. Tyne Cot was captured by the 3rd Australian Division on October 4th and from October 6th on, a cemetery was made next to it (the cemetery that would eventually become known as Tyne Cot Cemetery). This could mean that he is one of the unknown soldiers buried at Tyne Cot, or that his body remains buried somewhere in the vicinity of the cemetery. He is now remembered on the Menin Gate, Panel 25.