ID number RELAWM08190.002
Title Native Spear : Private E C N Devlin, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
Collection Technology
Object type Edged Weapon or Club
Maker Unknown
Place made Pacific Islands: Bismarck Archipelago, New Britain, Gazelle Peninsula, Rabaul Area, Rabaul
Date made c 1914
Physical description
  • Canvas
  • Leather
  • Metal
  • Wood


Native spear. The spear shaft is made from a solid piece of wood and has been painted black. The head of the spear is metal and has two arms that extend from the base. The arms have been screwed into the handle. On the upper arm of the spear, a leather pad for grip and control of the spear has been attached. Scraps of a faded green canvas are visible under the padding. The spear head tapers forwards and the tip has been damaged by forceful contact.


Associated with the service of Private Errol Cappie Nepean Devlin, who was born in Penrith, NSW in 1891. hen the First World War began, Devlin was amongst the first to volunteer for service in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) which was being raised to seize German interests in New Guinea and surrounding islands.

He enlisted on 12 August 1914 and was posted to A Company, 1 (Tropical) Battalion with the service number 91. He sailed with his unit from Sydney on 19 August aboard HMAT A35 Berrima.

After a brief stop at Palm Island, the ANMEF sailed for German New Guinea and began landing troops at Kabakaul, New Britain on 11 September. After some short, but savage fighting, the German forces surrendered and the British Flag was raised over Rabaul on 12 September. Within five days all hostilities were declared over.

Devlin became part of the garrison force on New Britain. He collected several native weapons during his service, bringing them back to Australia when he returned at the end of February 1915. He was discharged from the ANMEF on 4 March 1915.

Devlin enlisted in the AIF on 29 March as a private with the service number of 1166 and was posted to D Company, 18 Infantry Battalion. After completing his initial training, Devlin embarked in May with his unit from Sydney aboard HMAT A40 Ceramic bound for Egypt. From June until early August, 18 Battalion spent much of their time in Egypt training for service at Gallipoli.

On 16 August, the battalion embarked for Gallipoli, where they arrived on 20 August. They were given no time to acclimatise to their surroundings and were thrown into the Australian's final offensive on the Gallipoli Peninsular, the Battle for Hill 60. The battalion suffered heavily with 50% casualties over the following days,. The offensive lasted until 29 August, when the battalion was withdrawn. For the remainder of the campaign, the men of the 18th were engaged in a purely defensive role, spending most of their time in the front line at Courtney's Post.

Following the withdrawal of all allied troops from the ANZAC area in December 1915, 18 Battalion returned to Egypt for a period of further training and an influx of much needed reinforcements. During this time Devlin began a collection of badges from other units to pin to a belt.

In March, the battalion embarked for service in France, arriving at Marseilles towards the end of the month. 18 Battalion moved up to the Nursery Sector near Armentieres and went into the front line for the first time in April near Bois Grenier.

The battalion spent more time in the line in May, learning to patrol no man's land and other intricacies of trench warfare. German snipers were quite active in this area of the front and at the end of May, a number of men from 18 Battalion were killed by snipers, including Private Devlin. His body was taken to the Brewery Orchard Cemetery at Bois Grenier where he was buried.