Today’s hero, Major Aubrey Hugh Darnell, was submitted by his second cousins twice removed, sisters Lynne Goodfield and Diane Beck.
“…a great man, a true friend, a perfect gentleman and a brave, devoted soldier.”
Aubrey Hugh Darnell was born on May 7th 1886 in Ireland. He was baptised by his father, a military Chaplain, on 16 June 1886 in Christ Church, Leeson Park, Dublin and grew up at 33 Leeson Park Avenue. On finishing school, Aubrey followed in his father’s footsteps and embarked on a career in the military. In 1903 he received a commission with the 3rd Royal Munster Fusiliers as a 2nd Lieutenant.
He obtained a year’s leave in 1910 and went to Australia, subsequently settling at Perth, where he was employed in training cadets. He eventually resigned his commission in the Royal Munster Fusiliers in 1911 and joined the Australian Army.
When war broke out in 1914, Aubrey was made a Lieutenant in the 11th Australian Infantry. The 11th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the First Australian Imperial Force, and was the to be first recruited in Western Australia. In November 1914 they set sail for Egypt where they underwent four months of intensive training to prepare for the ill-fated invasion of the Gallipoli peninsular.
On April 25th, Aubrey and the 11th Battalion landed at Anzac Cove. They landed under cover of darkness and were met with heavy resistance by Ottoman soldiers. The plan for attack was quickly abandoned as troop formations lost their way and were thrown into battle piece-meal, receiving mixed orders. Over 900 Anzacs were killed and 2000 wounded. The 11th fought for 5 long days before a defensive line was established and they were relieved on the 30th, only to be placed right back on the front line the following day.
Aubrey continued fighting in the Dardanells and was twice mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field. During this period his battalion were involved in some major actions including the unsuccessful raid on the Turkish fort at Gaba Tepe and the famous battle of Lone Pine. He was eventually invalided home in November 1916 and posted to Rollerstone Camp on Salisbury Plain where he was appointed Staff Captain before leaving for Flanders with the Expeditionary Force in April 1917.
Aubrey Served with distinction in France and was promoted to the rank of Major. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in September 1918 for his role in leading the capture of German positions during the ‘100 days offensive’ of the ‘Battle of Amiens’. The London Gazette wrote:
“He led the advance to the first objective and sent back important information regarding the progress of the attack. By his skillful handling of his company the position in his sector was gained with slight loss and many prisoners taken.”
Sadly, Aubrey was killed in action near Roisel on September 24th 1918 by a bomb from a German aeroplane while leading his men out of action. A capable and popular officer, his loss was felt deeply by his men. One brother officer wrote
“I cannot tell you how deeply we all feel his death, for we all loved him, both for his own personal worth and for his soldierly qualities. He was a great man, a true friend, a perfect gentleman and a brave, devoted soldier.”
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