Stinking Farm Trench Sign
My name is Romy Turner. I am a work experience student from Canberra Girls Grammar School at the Memorial for this week. As part of my work experience I had to research an item, a trench sign, from the Memorial's collection.
The trench sign ‘To Stinking Farm & Currie Ave’ was collected during the First World War by Lieutenant Colonel John Basil St. Vincent Welch, whilst he was serving as part of the 13thField Ambulance in Belgium. Welch arrived in Marseilles on 13 July 1916 as a member of the Australian Field Ambulance. He was appointed the commanding officer of the 13thField Ambulance and was stationed around the village of Messines, which would be the site of the Battle of Messines 11 months later. Stationed at Kandahar Farm, Welch assisted in this battle, tending to the wounded as they came back from the front and organising the transportation of the men further back the line to the field hospitals.
As Stinking Farm and Currie Avenue were part of the British territory, English trench signs were used to identify the large network of trenches. They both played small parts in the Battle of Messines, which took place on 7 June 1917. The farm was 800 metres behind the British front line and acted as a holding station for reinforcements awaiting orders to proceed towards the frontier, whilst Currie Avenue was one of the many back line trenches that led to Stinking Farm and eventually the front line.
Welch served on the Western Front until September 1917 and had ample opportunity to collect this sign during his travels up and down the front line. In February 1918, when he left England to return home he brought his war mementos with him. John Basil St. Vincent Welch died on 21 May 1920 as a result of his war service. His name is listed on the Roll of Honour.