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Harold James PETTIGREW

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Lieut 20y 24 Sep 1915 21 Aug 1916 KA 2 & 7

Harold James Pettigrew (1895-1916)


Family background and early life

Harold Pettigrew was born in Ipswich, Queensland, son of James Pettigrew and Hannah Maria (née Watson).

Harold’s father, a long-standing and respected resident of Ipswich, died when Harold was only five years old. He had worked in the Ipswich Railway Workshops and was an active, long-serving member and trustee of the local tent of the Rechabite Lodge. The family attended Saint Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Ipswich where Harold achieved good results in annual state Sunday School examinations conducted by the Presbyterian Assembly.

Prior to enlisting to serve in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, Harold Pettigrew was engaged as an assistant staff clerk in the office of the chief mechanical engineer at the railway workshops, North Ipswich.

Enlistment and service

At the age of 20 years, 2nd Lieutenant Harold James Pettigrew embarked from Brisbane on HMAT Seang Bee on 21 October 1915, bound for Tel-el-Kabir where he joined the 9th Battalion on 8 January 1916.   He sailed on the Maryland from Alexandria to Marseilles arriving early in April and later that month received promotion to Lieutenant.

The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozières in the Somme valley. Harold Pettigrew spent time in hospital during June with appendicitis and again in July with gastritis. He rejoined his platoon on 17 July but was killed by shell fire on 21 August 1916.  Historians have described the pitiful conditions that existed at this time and place.

Charles Bean was horrified by the carnage as he picked his way through Australian trenches under shrapnel fire. One account told of communication trenches leading to the front, strewn with corpses:

In this place of danger and death, Pettigrew was buried by his unit near the approach to Mouquet Farm from the south. His remains were later re-interred at Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, France.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission describes the memorial to Harold:

In Memory of Lieutenant HAROLD JAMES PETTIGREW 9th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F. who died age 21 on 21 August 1916 Son of James and Hannah M. Pettigrew, of Chelmer, Brisbane. Native of Ipswich, Queensland. Remembered with honour REGINA TRENCH CEMETERY, GRANDCOURT

Harold’s mother, Mrs Hannah Pettigrew who was his next-of-kin, moved to the Brisbane suburb of Chelmer shortly after her son left for the Front. The minister of St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Ipswich, Rev G. K. Kirke travelled by train to her new home to convey the sad news of her son’s death.

Link to Saint Andrew's

Mrs Pettigrew and her daughter Edith became members of Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Creek Street, Brisbane at this time which explains why this soldier, a native of Ipswich, is listed on an Honour Board at Saint Andrew’s.

Harold’s name is also remembered at the Ipswich Railway Workshops War Memorial:


Select Bibliography
Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser, 26 January 1888 and 25 June 1901 
The Brisbane Courier, 25 June 1901 
• Archives of Australia, war records
• First World War Embarkation Rolls, John Oxley Library 
• Queensland War Memorial Register 
Queensland Times, Ipswich, 16 September 1916 
• Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour 
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission
• CEW. Bean, Anzac to Amiens, Penguin Books, 2014 
• Les Carlyon, The Great War, Macmillan, 2006 
• Ross Coulthart, Charles Bean, Harper Collins, 2014 
• Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church Archives, Annual Reports Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 1901 – 1925
• Ipswich Library, Photographs Doc ID #19119 and #18979
• Photographs of Mouquet Farm and Regina Trench Cemetery by Noel Adsett and Ian Withnall

Compiled by Noel Adsett, January 2015 ©



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