Captain Harold Edwin Salisbury Armitage, 50th Battalion
KIA 3 April 1917
Story delivered 9 July 2013
Today, we remember and pay tribute to Captain Harold Edwin Salisbury Armitage.
Five weeks after Armitage left Australia with the 10th Battalion in 1915, he was serving as a platoon commander on Gallipoli. In a letter home, he wrote that he had seen many sights, pleasing, horrible, awe inspiring, hellish, but as far as I can say, the effect has only been to broaden my experience, [and to] make me a little more serious .
With the expansion of the AIF following the Gallipoli campaign, half of the 10th Battalion went to form the new 50th Battalion. Armitage was promoted to captain in this new battalion, given command of C Company, and sent to France to fight on the Western Front.
Under fire he was known for keeping his cool and working hard to maintain cohesion and order in his company. At Mouquet Farm in 1916 he fought under one of the heaviest artillery bombardments Australians would experience in the war. He described this experience as four days of hell and four nights of double hell , but felt that he and his company had stood the trial well.
He was always energetic in the field, and devoted time to moving among his men, making sure they understood the coming action, directing trench construction and, as Sergeant Roy Clark wrote, cheering the lads with his quiet words .
On the 3rd of April 1917 the 50th Battalion attacked the fortified village of Noreuil near the Hindenburg Line. Armitage was at work on the right flank, which was in danger of being rushed by German reinforcements. With characteristic disregard for his own personal safety, he looked over the parapet to assess the situation and was shot through the head. He died instantly. Armitage was buried in the Noreuil
Australian Cemetery in France, with more than eighty of his comrades from the 50th
Harold Armitage was strongly motivated by duty, and once wrote to his parents:
I ll go into action with the calm assurance that I have done my duty to my men and my
Country. If I happen to fall rest content with the knowledge that I have played the
game, and done my job thoroughly.
Harold Armitage s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with
more than 60,000 others from the First World War, and his photograph is displayed
today beside the Pool of Reflection.
This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the
Australian War Memorial. We now remember Captain Harold Edwin Salisbury
Armitage, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our