Emu plume : Lieutenant C Arblaster, 8 Light Horse Regiment, AIF

Accession Number REL/04299
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Headdress
Physical description Feathers, Leather
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia: Victoria
Date made c 1914
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Australian Army Light Horse officer's full emu plume on tanned skin.

History / Summary

Charles Arblaster was born at Pennyroyal, Victoria on 27 February 1895. He attended the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and graduated as a lieutenant, soon after the First World War broke out.

At the beginning of November 1914, Arblaster enlisted in the AIF at Broadmeadows, outside Melbourne, and was posted as a lieutenant to 8 Light Horse Regiment, part of 3 Light Horse Brigade. Initially placed in charge of a troop, he was almost immediately transferred to the command of the regiment's machine gun section.

After training, the regiment embarked for overseas service at Melbourne on 25 February 1915, aboard HMAT A16 Star of Victoria. Training continued in Egypt, until the regiment sailed for Gallipoli, where they landed in late May. Arblaster served with the regiment at Walker's Ridge in June and July, and his section supported it, during the charge at the Nek on 7 August. He then acted as adjutant until 7 September, when he was appointed acting captain and placed in overall command of the Brigade machine guns at the Table Top, immediately below Chunuk Bair. Here he received a bullet wound to the foot on 26 September and was evacuated to Malta, and then to England for treatment.

Arblaster was discharged from hospital in December and returned to Egypt in February 1916, where he briefly rejoined his regiment, before being promoted to captain and transferred to command D Company of the newly formed 53rd Battalion in March. The battalion moved to France for service on the Western Front, arriving there on 27 June. Sent to the front line on 10 July they subsequently took part in the disastrous battle of Fromelles on 20 July, in which the battalion suffered 625 casualties, or three quarters of its fighting strength.

Arblaster, who was severely wounded in the fighting, was captured by the Germans. He was treated at St Clothilde Military Hospital for Prisoners near Douai but died there of septicaemia, on 24 July, at the age of 21. He is buried in the Douai Communal Cemetery.

This plume, originally worn on a slouch hat, was transferred to a pith helmet shortly before 8 Light Horse Regiment sailed for Gallipoli, after a decison was made by 3 Light Horse Brigade that all men in its regiments would wear pith helmets only. The men were ordered to leave their hats behind in Egypt and transfer their plumes to the newly issued helmets.