Arthur Benjamin Brown was an Indigenous Australian who served with the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War. He enlisted at the age of 20 on 21 September 1914 in Lismore, New South Wales, noting his mother as his next of kin. After training in Brisbane, Arthur was assigned to the 15th Battalion, but this only lasted 35 days before he was discharged due to being temporarily medically unfit for service.
Arthur remained in Queensland and enlisted again two months later, listing his father as his next of kin. He was once again assigned to the 15th Battalion, embarking for Egypt in February 1915.
Arthur spent several months training in Egypt before the 15th Battalion was sent to Gallipoli. After landing at Anzac Cove on the evening of 25 April 1915, the battalion became heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line positions against the Turks. Arthur participated in the August Offensive on Gallipoli. This was the last major attempt by the allies to break the stalemate with the Turkish troops, and aimed to seize high points on the peninsula, supported by several diversionary attacks along the existing front line. The first diversionary attack was at Lone Pine on 6 August, in which the lives of 2,000 Australian soldiers were lost.
The 15th Battalion was among a number of British, New Zealand and Australian units that attacked the Turkish-held positions on Hill 971 on the morning of 7 August 1915. As the battalion was set to attack Hill 971, Turkish machine-guns on a nearby hill opened fire on the advancing Australians. The attack was a costly and unsuccessful failure, and the 15th Battalion sustained over 120 casualties. Among them was Arthur Brown, who was killed in action.
Arthur's remains were never recovered from the battlefield – today his name is listed on the Lone Pine Memorial to the missing.
Arthur's parents had separated before he went to war. His father, Benjamin, was living in South Kensington, New South Wales, and Arthur was living with his mother, Emily, in Murwillumbah, south of the Queensland border, when he enlisted. As his next of kin, all news of Arthur, including the 1914–15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and his personal effects, was sent to his father.
Activities for research and classroom discussion
Arthur was assigned to the 15th Battalion both times he enlisted. This was a battalion made up of mostly Queenslanders along with some Tasmanians. Arthur's first enlistment was in Lismore. Why may he have been assigned to a Queensland battalion when he enlisted in New South Wales?
Research the August Offensive. What was significant about it?
The first time he enlisted, Arthur listed his mother as his next of kin. Why do you think he changed it to his father when he enlisted for the second time?
Arthur's father received the three medals his son was awarded during the First World War: the 1914–15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. What were each of these medals awarded for?