Archie Lorne Box was a 19 year old clerk whose family had farmed at Bomen before he joined the Kangaroo March at Wagga Wagga on 1st December, 1915. He had previously served 3 years with the Senior Cadets and 1 year with the 16th Battery, Australian Field Artillery. He had earlier enlisted at Wagga Wagga on 22nd November, 1915 and was allocated Service Number 1621.
He qualified as a corporal at Goulburn where he was posted for training after the march ended. The training was very basic.
Archie was posted to the 2nd Reinforcements, 55th Battalion, as were so many of the marchers, and embarked for England on HMAT A40 “Ceramic” on 14th April, 1916. They arrived at Southampton on 9th August, 1916 after 2 months training at Tel el Kebir in Egypt.
More training followed at Lark Hill, Salisbury, until he was posted to the major base at Etaples, France on 31st December, 1916 and marched into his Battalion on 8th February,1917. While training and up to 24th January, 1917, Archie Box reverted in rank to private and back to corporal several times for reasons not apparent.
Archie suffered a serious gun shot wound to his abdomen on 2nd April,1917 and was transferred by hospital ship to Norfolk War Hospital on 6th April, then on 10th May, to No. 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, just outside of London. (Harefield, N.S.W., was named after that English town in 1892).
He returned to his unit on 27th August,1917, although the wound left him with weakened back muscles.
On 26th September, his Battalion was heavily involved at Polygon Wood in Belgium. The onset of a severe winter curtailed much military activity, however in late March 1918, it was involved in the northern sector defence of Villers-Bretonneux.
Archie Box returned from 2 weeks leave in the UK on 4th April, 1918 and was killed in action on 6th April.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France and at the Australian War Memorial.
Grateful appreciation to Graham Elphick, historian, for this story.
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