Walter Durham COOMBES
Year of Birth: 1888
Place of Birth: Edmonton, Queensland
Date of Enlistment: 18 November 1915
Date and Place of Embarkation: 11 May 1916, Sydney, New South Wales
Ship: HMAT Argyllshire A8
Unit(s): 5th Australian Field Artillery Brigade, 1 to 8 Reinforcements
Regimental Number: 21057
Died: 30 May 1918
Gunner Walter Durham Coombes – photo courtesy Honouring Anzacs
Walter Durham Coombes was born 15 March 1888 the third of eight children of Herbert Henry Coombes and his wife Charlotte Hopper Rodd of Hambledon, Cairns. Herbert Coombes and Charlotte Rodd married March 10 1879 in Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales. Walter’s parents had arrived from England on the “Corona” on 6 March 1884 in Townsville with their first child, Annie, age 2. They subsequently had Charlotte (1885), Walter (1888), Samuel (1890), Katherine (1892), Elizabeth (1895), Herbert (1899), William (1900) and Dorothy (1902).
Walter was a labourer living at Hambledon where his father was a farmer when Walter enlisted in Cairns with the 9th Field Artillery Brigade on 18 November 1915. He was 28 years 8 months of age, 5 feet 7 inches in height and weighed 124 pounds with a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. He was Church of England.
His brother Samuel enlisted on 19 June 1916 and returned to Australia in March 1917 after being wounded in France.
Walter embarked from Sydney on 11 May 1916 on the HMAT Argyllshire. He arrived in Plymouth, England on 10 July 1916 where he was admitted to hospital, having been sick on the voyage. He proceeded to France on 24 November 1916 and was again admitted to hospital sick 2 weeks later. He returned to duty, but over the next 7 months he was admitted to either hospital or the Casualty Clearing Station several times. He left France on 11 July 1917 and was admitted to Southwark Military Hospital, East Dulwich on 3 August. He was discharged 27 September and was with a Training Brigade until 1 March 1918 when he left Southampton to return to France.
On the December 26 1917, he married Evelyn Victoria Matthews in Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales and she became his next of kin. Her address was Hillside, Llwynypia, Rhondda Valley, South Wales.
Gunner Coombes arrived back in France on 16 March and was killed in action on 30 May 1918. He was buried at Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension, Ribemont, Picardie, France.
HMAT Argyllshire A8 – with signatures of many soldiers who had sailed on her – photo courtesy Australian War Memorial
Cairns Post 22 June 1918 p4
Cairns Post 5 June 1919 p4
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