DARK, George Henry

NAME:  George Henry DARK                                                                      098                             

SERVICE NO:  3069

YEAR OF BIRTH: 1891

PLACE OF BIRTH:  Mirranatwa

DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 3 August 1915

PLACE OF ENLISTMENT:  Melbourne

AGE AT ENLISTMENT:  24

UNIT: 53rd Battalion (late 24th Battalion, 7th Reinforcement)

EMBARKED:  26 November 1915

TROOP SHIP:  HMAT A73 Commonwealth

FATE:  Killed in Action – 4 December 1916 – France

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P07038.002

GEORGE DARK. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P07038.002

George Dark was a son of Arthur John Dark and Mary Jane Ford of Mirranatwa. He attended the Mirranatwa School and later played football for Mirranatwa. On 20 July 1915, George’s brothers Albert and Oliver enlisted in Melbourne. Three weeks later, George followed them to Melbourne and enlisted himself.  The following month on 18 September, a send-off was held at Mirranatwa for five local men, including the three brothers Albert, George and Oliver Dark.

Albert Dark was the first of the brothers to leave Australia, departing on 26 October 1915 with the 13th Light Horse Regiment. On 22 November 1915, Oliver Dark was found medically unfit and discharged, leaving George who left four days later with the 24th Battalion.  On arrival in Egypt, George transferred to 8th Battalion on 24 February 1916. He was soon sick with mumps and spent ten days in hospital in March before transferring to the 13th Light Horse Regiment.  The two brothers, George and Albert were reunited.

Later in the year, the Dark brothers arrived in France with the 1st Light Horse Training Regiment to reinforce 1st Battalion, arriving on 1 October 1916. By the end of the month, George and Albert had transferred to the 53rd Battalion and were soon at the Somme near Mametz before moving on to Montauban by the end of November.  They were with the 11th Platoon of  C Company and on the night of 4 December, the brothers were with a picket guarding the railhead of the ANZAC Light Railway somewhere between Trones Wood and Delville Wood.

A TRAIN AT THE RAILHEAD NEAR MONTAUBAN, FRANCE c1917. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H09011/

George and Albert were sitting in a dugout with several other men when a shell hit. Several men were killed instantly, including George Dark.  Albert Dark was severely wounded and was taken to a clearance station. Meanwhile, George was buried in the field near Delville Wood and a cross placed on his grave.  Albert never regained consciousness and died of his wounds on 5 December 1916. He was buried at the nearby Bernafay Wood Cemetery.

In the first week of January 1917, the Darks heard George was dead and Albert wounded, then news came through Albert had also died.  The first report in the Hamilton Spectator summed up the mood at the time of George’s death, so to have the news of Albert so soon afterwards would have darkened the gloom.

The death of young George Dark cast a heavy gloom over the whole district, and widespread sympathy is expressed for his parents. He was one if not the most promising young men in the district, a typical specimen of the Australian pioneer, quiet, thoughtful, and unassuming, of sterling worth and genial disposition, a straight sport, and a first class all round athlete. The loss of such men as George Dark will be felt throughout Australia when the great war will have become current history. (Hamilton Spectator 4 February 1917)

The boys’ mother Mary Dark heard from the Defence Department about her sons’ burials.  They were able to report of Albert’s burial in a Military Cemetery, however George’s body was never retrieved and he remains buried somewhere near Deville Wood.

FROM THE SERVICE RECORD OF GEORGE DARK. Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia Series: B2455 http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/records/181604/18

Two years after the death of Dark brothers, their family place an “In Memorium” notice in the Hamilton Spectator.

“Family Notices” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 5 December 1918: 4. Web. 30 Mar 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119509165&gt;.

A tree was planted for George Dark along Hamilton’s Anzac Avenue.

 

ONLINE RESOURCES

Australian War Memorial – 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion Unit Diary

Australian War Memorial – Red Cross Missing and Wounded Files – George Henry Dark

Australian War Memorial – Roll of Honour – George Henry Dark

Australian War Memorial WW1 Embarkation Roll – George Henry Dark

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Villers-Bretonneux Memorial – George Henry Dark

Discovering Anzacs – WW1 Service Record – George Henry Dark

Newspaper Articles from Trove – George Henry Dark

The AIF Project – George Henry Dark