Bert Bramwell Sampson 1893-1917

Bert was the fourth child of John & Gussie Sampson

Born: 1893 Broken Hill, New South Wales

Died: 4 Oct 1917 at the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge, Belgium

Buried: On the battlefield North East of Zonnebeke Village, Belgium

Occupation: Auctioneer’s clerk then soldier

In many Australian homes today
there’s a vacant chair,
there’s a boy away;
There’s a silent tear,
there’s a hungry yearn
for the soldier boy
who will never return.
In dream he is ever near us,
his voice we long to hear;
But in Belgium,
beside his comrades,

lies the one we love so dear.

These lines inserted by Bert’s mother and siblings in memoriam notices.
Note: Original had France in place of Belgium. Bert however fell in Belgium.

Photo on left:

Bert Bramwell Sampson. Photo is assumed to have been taken in 1916 before he headed off to the battlefields on the Western Front of World War 1.

Whilst Bert was born in Broken Hill during 1894 he spent most of his youth living in Boulder, Western Australia. The year his family moved to Boulder is not yet known but they were definitely there by 1903 (the electoral rolls reveal this). He attended Boulder Central School. Bert enjoyed playing cricket with his brothers, all of whom were members of the Golden Horseshoe Cricket Club. 
Photo: Golden Horseshoe Cricket Club circa 1910. Back row: Bert Sampson third from left. Second row from back: Fred Sampson sixth from left. Two at front: William Sampson on right. This image appeared in Western Argus Tue 13 May p.27 1910
After schooling Bert obtained a job working for Ben Leslie as an auctioneer’s clerk. He held this position for nearly five years (1911-15) before he joined the Australian Army in 1916. Prior to enlisting Bert was instrumental in raising funds to pay for the cost of a beautifully designed and substantial Honour Board which was hung on the wall in the senior hall of the Salvation Army Boulder Corps. This Honour Board listed the names of over 40 men who had left for the battlefields. (Note: this Honour Board is missing and whereabouts unknown – The Local History & Archives Officer City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder has tried to find it without success – 2016). Bert’s name would have been added to the board he organised.
Bert enlisted on 24 Jan 1916 at the Goldfields Senior Cadets. He was then sent to the Blackboy Hill Training Camp on the outskirts of Perth. It was here he took his oath of service completing his enlistment on 24 Feb 1916. He embarked on HMAT Seang Bee which departed Fremantle 20 Jul 1916. His embarkation roll is given below (source: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R191768
The ship reached Plymouth on 9 Sep. Bert was transferred to reinforce the 44th Battalion (11th Brigade, 3rd Australian Division)  AIF and proceeded to France on 25 Nov 1916. The bleak winter conditions most probably contributed to Bert contracting bronchitis which saw him spend five days recuperating in hospital. He rejoined his Battalion on 7 Dec. During Dec his battalion alternated between service in the front line, and training and labouring in the rear areas. By the 23 Dec his battalion was billeted at Armentieres.
It was on New Year’s Day 1917 that Bert received a gunshot wound.The Battalion War Diary indicates that on this date three patrols were sent out at night into No Man’s Land. The objective of these patrols were to report on the position and conditions of the enemies front line trenches and wire. It is likely that Bert was seen and fired upon, receiving a gunshot wound to the lower leg (calf). As a result he was evacuated back to England to recover from the wound at Edmonton Military Hospital. The following telegram was sent from the Army to his mother  and family back in Boulder to alert them of Bert’s injury.
Telegram: National Archives of Australia: B2455, Sampson Bert Bramwell

Bert recovered and returned to his battalion on 5 August, 1917. In the ensuing weeks his brigade was preparing to advance from the east of Ieper (In french pronounced Ypres) to push the German army back past Broodseinde Ridge. On 3 October Bert’s battalion moved by train to the Asylum in Ieper and according to orders was to detrain at 10.30am and then march through Ieper to a holding area east of the town. At 6am the battalion advanced. The area to be crossed was a quagmire and subject to frequent shellfire. At some stage in the battle Bert was killed and was buried on the battlefield. The location of burial was recorded as given below (source: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1501310)

The place of burial was lost and either Bert’s body was never recovered or he is in one of the plots marked to an unknown soldier. It was noted that of the 992 men of the battalion that were involved in the campaign that only 158 emerged unwounded when it was relieved for a rest on 21 October. As Bert’s body was not identified in recovery, his name was engraved on the side of the Menin Gate at Ieper.

These photos show the area Bert’s brigade had to cover in the Battle for Broodseinde Ridge. The old photo was taken on the day of the battle and the new photo was taken in October 2015.
The missing from Bert’s battalion are inscribed upon the wall of the Menin Gate. Bert’s name is located in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph. The Menin Gate is located in the town of Iepers in Belgium. Bert’s name is also recorded on the walls of the State War Memorial in King’s Park overlooking the city of Perth, Western Australia.
Kalgoorlie Miner Saturday 27 Oct 1917 p 1 TROVE

Western Argus Tuesday 30 Oct 1917 p 9 TROVE

Kalgoorlie Miner Monday 4 Oct 1920 p 4 TROVE

Kalgoorlie Miner   Wednesday 4 Oct 1922 p 4 TROVE

Kalgoorlie Miner   Sat 9 Nov 1929 p 2 TROVE

Kalgoorlie Miner     Thu 4 Oct 1923 p 4 TROVE

Documents: Bert Sampson’s military documents obtained from the National Archives of Australia: B2455, Sampson Bert Bramwell