Thirty men from each of the three Australian Tunnelling companies were separated to become the Australian Electrical & Mechanical Mining & Boring Company. They became known as the ‘Alphabet Company’, and the men who served were referred to as the Alphabeticals.
One of their number, Walter Browne 5055 (a well borer by occupation) came from Blakeville (near Ballan) in Victoria. After being assigned to the 13th reinforcements for the 2nd Field Coy Engineers, he transferred to 12th Field Coy Engineers at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt on 18 March 1916.
Nine months later Browne was reassigned to the Australian Electrical and Mechanical Mining and Boring Company (AE&MM&BC) at Messines, Belgium (on 14 June 1917). After falling ill with influenza in France he was admitted to hospital on 28 October 1918.
Walter Browne 5055 died of bronchial pneumonia at the New Zealand Stationary Hospital, Wisques, France on 6 November 1918. He is buried in the Souvenir Cemetery, Longuenesse.
Via our wiki – Australian Electrical & Mechanical Mining & Boring Company:
John Brain 190, a 27 year old labourer from Ballarat who ended up in different Battalions,
such as the the 14th, 29th and 46th.
Interestingly he also joined the 2nd Canadian Tunnelling Company in France.
He contracted Pleurisy, was gassed, as well as shot in the right leg.
He did however return home to Ballarat, where he died at the age of 85.
Record via the National Archive of Australia.
Other details via ‘They answered their country’s call’ by Garry Snowden.
Short account of service and sacrifice from Ballarat General Cemeteries.www.ballaratcemeteries.com.au
Walter Campbell, Sapper 2706 born on 14 May 1872.
He was the tenth child of fifteen. Walter became a miner working underground in the mines at Sebastopol.
He died of illness on 02 February 1917 and is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Lijssenthoek, Flanders, Belgium.
Photo – Walter Campbell’s name on the Roll of Honour at the Sebastopol Historical Society.
If you are related to Walter Campbell please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Links relating to Walter Campbell:
A Tunneller from the Ballarat Electorate:
Proud member of the Ballarat East Fire Brigade, where he listed on their Honour Board.
Sergeant Macklain J.M. Kerby (1364) enlisted on 10 January 1916, becoming a member of the 3rd Tunnelling Company.
He was listed as missing on 28 November 1916, and later announced killed in action on 27 November 1916, France.
He was buried in the Hersin Communal Cemetery Extension, Hersin-Coupigny, Lens, Nord Pas de Calais, France.
(Photo thanks to Tim Fitzgerald)
On Monday 3 August 2015, on a very cold Ballarat (with a little sleet/snow/hail thrown in for measure) the re-creation of the Arthur Kenny Avenue of Honour took place on Fortune Street, Ballarat East.
Over recent months, staff from Ballarat Childrens’ and Family Services (CAFS, a successor organisation to the Ballarat Orphanage) the City of Ballarat, Conservation Volunteers Australia, People at Work, Bunnings Warehouse, Espresso Mobile Cafe Ballarat, and the joint Rotary Clubs of Ballarat – with additional support received from the RSL Ballarat sub-branch – have worked together overseeing the planting of 106 replacement oak trees along Fortune Street.
These oaks replace those which formed the earlier Avenue of Honour named after the then manager at the Ballarat Orphanage. After Arthur Kenny’s death in 1925, the Avenue named in his honour slowly fell into disrepair. This project along with today’s ceremony form part of CAFS 150th celebrations in 2015.
Today, a newly cast commemorative brass plaque sits alongside each replacement oak; and the one pictured below commemorates the life of 4114 Sapper James Wallace – one of Ballarat’s sons – who served with the 5th Australian Army Tunnelling Corps.
Lest We Forget.
More on the re-creation of the Arthur Kenny Avenue of Honour:
Another tunneller from the Ballarat Electorate – Percival Gregory Barry.
5344 Percival Gregory Barry was born on 17 November 1897, in Preston, VIC. He is remembered together with his brothers Henry, Richard and Patrick on the Avenue of Honour at Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne.
On his enlistment form, Barry named his father, Joseph – who was also living at Bacchus Marsh, VIC – as next of kin.
Barry was assigned to the 6th Battalion, 17th Reinforcements, later detached to the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company transferring to the Australian Electrical and Mechanical Mining and Boring Company (aka the AE&MM&B or Alphabet Company).
Barry was discharged from service on 15 September 1919.
His name also appears on the Roll of Honour for Bacchus Marsh held by RSL Bacchus Marsh.
Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour:
Percival Barry’s photo via:
‘From the Bush to the Battle’ – Three passionate speakers on Ballarat’s involvement in WW1, on Tuesday 11 November 2014 from 7:00-9:00 pm at the Humffray Room, Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute, 117-119 Sturt Street, Ballarat. $10 per person (Including supper)
Neil Leckie from the Ballarat Ranger Military Museum:
To speak about the 8th Battalion which was raised at Ballarat on 14 August 1914. Enlistment dates for men who served in this Battalion commence on that date and run through until just before their embarkation overseas, which commenced on 19th October 1914.
And more on Ballarat’s smaller WW1 units: 18th Australian Army Service Corps (18 AASC) and Ballarat’s Medical and Light Horse connections.
Tim Fitzgerald from Bendigo, Volunteer Research Officer:
Come and hear the story of Ballarat’s own 39th Battalion which was raised on 21 February 1916, at the Ballarat Showgrounds.
Enlistment dates for the men who served in this Battalion commence on that date and they run through until just before their embarkation overseas,
which commenced on 27 May 1916.
Yvon Davis – Project Manager, Mining Mud & Medals:
Will talk about the 4 year project Mining Mud & Medals, highlighting the role of men who served in various Australian Tunnelling Corps during WW1,
particularly those who came from the Ballarat Electorate, or those from elsewhere who came to study at the Schools of Mines in the electorate.
The Mining Mud & Medals Project is partially funded by the ANZAC Centenary Grant.
Tickets for the event are $10 per person (includes supper) and they can be purchased at the door or from these venues: Ballarat RSL (at the George Hotel); Dave Wright Militaria & Collectables (behind Dan Murphy’s) and Antik on the corner of Grant Street and Humffray Street South, Ballarat.
MINING MUD & MEDALS
P.O. BOX 171N
BALLARAT NORTH 3350
Martin George Dunn (543) a 43 year old married Railwayman who was living at Ballarat when he enlisted on the 16th July 1915.
He was taken prisoner in 1917 and returned to Australia in 1919.
More on Martin George Dunn:
Photo: Ballarat Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial, where Martin George Dunn is listed.
A digitised copy of M.G. Dunn’s POW Index Card (Red Cross archives, Switzerland) recently became available for viewing online. Access via
The Nominal Roll of British Prisoners of War who arrived in Switzerland from Germany on 31 August 1918 (Red Cross archives, Switzerland) shows Corporal M.G. Dunn was accompanied by Sgt C.H. Angus, 2nd Aust Tunnelling Company, along with others from the AIF and Scots or Canadian units.