A Collie hero remembered for ANZAC Day

Lieutenant George Arthur Lamerton MC.

Lieutenant George Arthur Lamerton MC.

​Carrying out acts of heroism whilst under fire to protect his fellow men, flag and country is how Lieutenant George Arthur Lamerton MC will be remembered this Anzac Day.

Having sacrificed his life for his country in WWI Lieutenant Lamerton, originally a motor mechanic and Collie coal miner died in battle in France. 

A bullet from a machine gun hit a grenade in his pocket and left him with minutes to live. 

A witness statement from one of the soldiers Private F.W. Smith of Western Point Bay, Victoria said Lt. Lamerton was one of the most highly regarded officers in the Battalion. 

"Lieut. Lamerton was one of the most respected officers in the Battalion. In fact in my opinion one cannot say too much about him; the men would have followed him anywhere,” Mr Smith said. 

Lamerton’s newphew Don Pike said he never had the privilege of meeting his uncle but was still very proud. 

"I never knew him but going by all reports he must have been one hell of a human being," he said.  

Worn on the right side: Nephew Don Pike wears his uncle Lieutenant George Arthur Lamerton's medals

Worn on the right side: Nephew Don Pike wears his uncle Lieutenant George Arthur Lamerton's medals

Lamerton was born in Fremantle on March 20, 1888. He moved to Sydney for a time before returning to WA in 1910 to work in Kalgoorlie and then to Collie working in the mines. 

He was known well known for his great sportsmanship as an AFL umpire.

When the war broke out he was one of the first in the region to sign up.

Along with his brother-in-law Maurice Wood, Lamerton left his wife Winifred Hazel Lamerton andthe rest of his family and started training at Blackboy Hill Camp.

His younger brother Private William John Lamerton, was sent to a camp in Melbourne. 

The Collie Boys at Blackboy Camp wrote a letter before departing for Egypt which was signed by all 20 men. Sadly six did not return.

The Collie Boys at Blackboy Camp wrote a letter before departing for Egypt which was signed by all 20 men. Sadly six did not return.

The Collie Boys at Blackboy Camp wrote a letter before departing for Egypt which was signed by Lamerton and Wood in October 1914. 

The letter read, “We, the Collie Boys, who are going away with the Expeditionary Forces from W.A. to help the motherland, desire on the eve of our departure to thank the people of Collie and Districts for their kindness to us. We also desire to especially thank Mr A. A. Wilson, M.L.A. for his kindness and service to us whilst we were in camp.” 

Lamerton, Wood and the other Collie boys embarked on November 2 as the first convoy and disembarked the HMAT Ascanius A11 ship in Egypt where they received further training as the 11th Battalion. 

In January Lamerton joined the hundreds of men in the 11th Battalion in the Cheops pyramid which is a significant war photo today.

The picture shows 703 Australian soldiers posing on the steps of the huge Egyptian pyramid, shortly before they were shipped off to Gallipoli in 1915.

The picture shows 703 Australian soldiers posing on the steps of the huge Egyptian pyramid, shortly before they were shipped off to Gallipoli in 1915.

All of the Collie Boys were part of the 11th Battalion and were among the first troops at the Gallipoli landing at ANZAC Cove on April 25, 1915. 

Both brothers and Wood survived the Dardanelles campaign, though Lamerton was evacuated in September after suffering from dysentery.

Lamerton recovered from his illness in Britain and then took part in trench warfare training before moving into the horrors of the Western Front of Belgium and France. 

He arrived in France on July 25,1916, with the devastating news of the death of his younger brother, who was killed in action three days earlier at Pozieres. 

William was killed in action in France in 1916 at Villers Bretoneux. Lt. Lamerton continued to fight and in January 1918 he was awarded the Military Cross. 

He continued on to fight and in October he was promoted to Sergeant Major. 

His superiors noticed his high organisational ability and leadership skills and in April 1917 he was promoted to second lieutenant, just three months later he attained full rank of lieutenant. 

He did further training in Britain and rejoined the Battalion in January 1918. 

That same month he was awarded the Military Cross for his outstanding achievements as a leader throughout the previous year.

During WW1 only 2,366 Australian Military Officers were awarded a MC, three of them enlisted  who enlisted from Collie and surrounding districts. according to the Collie-Cardiff RSL.

His citation read: “In France from March 1917 to September 1917, Lieut. Lamerton has done consistent good work both in and out of the line, and has shown great gallantry and devotion to duty in all operations against this enemy, and has proved himself a good leader. Especially at BULLECOURT on 6th May 1917, Lieut. LAMERTON showed exceptionally fine powers of organisation in the way he handled his men. By his great personal courage and sense of duty at all times, he has gained the admiration of all Officers and men in his Unit.

“In the HINDENBURG Line near BULLECOURT FRANCE on 6th May 1917, Lieut. Lamerton organised a number of men who had been buried during the intense preliminary bombardment in the morning. This steadied the men he was able to organize to resist the infantry attack. By his great personal courage and high sense of duty he kept his men in hand and was responsible for the manner in which the garrison of held out against heavy odds.” 

Growing up nephew Don said he would visit Aunt Winnie in Sydney and ‘she would show the medal with pride’. 

Lt. Lamerton was also awarded with three other medals.

The Star medal from 1914-15 was the first medal struck for WW1, the only Australian Soldiers who qualified for the medal were those that went away with the first AIF contingent, and those that served at Gallipoli.

The War Medal from 1914-18 and the Victory Medal were also issued to all Australian soldiers who served during WWI.

The 11th Battalion was moved to the Amiens sector during the summer months in preparation for the allied campaign that would win the war.  

In July Lt. Lamerton marked an entry into third war diary, on the last page marked July – August he noted that it was two years since the death of his brother William. 

2nd anniversary. Two years today of passing. Bill was killed.

George Lamerton.

On August 10 Lt. Lamerton was killed in battle. 

He had survived four long years of continuous fighting and was only three months away from surviving WWI. 

Lt. Lamerton was buried at the Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres, France. 

Back home, the Lamerton family mourned the loss of the brothers as they were husbands, fathers and uncles.

Winifred wore a small gold pendant with the portraits of her husband and his brother every day as it was a constant reminder.

Don said she wore it to the opening of the museum in Albany.

“Aunt Winnie and Uncle George were on a revolving screen door when the war museum opened in Albany. She wore a necklace with her husbands photo on one side and his brother on the other,” Don said. 

The pendant still lies at the National ANZAC Centre in Albany today. 

For Australia WWI remains the costliest conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. 

Out of the 416,809 men that enlisted, more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner, according to the Australia War Memorial. 

The Collie-Cardiff RSL Sub Branch is holding an Anzac Day dawn service at 5:30am and a morning service at 11am in Soldiers Park on April 25 to remember the soldiers that fought in the war.