Corporal Alfred James Davidge, 15th Battalion

Posted on 10 May 2021

Alfred Davidge was born in 1885 in Harrow, England, to James and Harriet Davidge. He attended school locally, and in 1905 came to Australia aboard the Afric. He settled in Queensland and took up work as a commercial traveller. In 1908 he married Eva Ness Wilson of Coomera, and they later had a daughter, Lilla Ness Davidge.

Davidge enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in January 1915 and underwent a brief period of training before leaving Brisbane on the 8th of April 1915 on the troopship Star of England.

On the voyage he made friends with James Coleman, Ernest Coffey, and Richard Palmer. The four were all in the 15th Battalion, and remained close friends all the way through to landing on Gallipoli. In May, Davidge was promoted to corporal.

On the evening of the 6th of August 1915, as a part of the 4th Brigade’s attack on Hill 971, the 15th Battalion left its bivouac lines in Reserve Gully and began the march into position. The move was long and fraught with danger. At times the battalion guides lost their way, at other times they came under fire from Turkish positions that had to be captured before they could continue. The war diary of the 15th Battalion recorded that:

“our line of advance now took us over rough, broken, stony ridges, densely covered with low prickly undergrowth in which the Turks had taken cover and were obstinately disputing every yard of our own advance.”

Exhausted by the rapid advance and constant skirmishing, the men of the 15th Battalion established a defensive position. That evening it was confirmed that they would attack Hill 971.

The 15th Battalion was at the head of the brigade, and charged over Turkish positions for a considerable distance that night. They captured their objective but in the face of determined Turkish resistance, were forced to retire.

Davidge, Coleman, Coffey, and Palmer were close to each other in the advance but at some point Lance Corporal Palmer became separated from the others. He never saw his mates again. Palmer’s enquiries led him to the conclusion that they were killed during the retirement.

A court of enquiry held at Serapeum in 1916 confirmed that Corporal Alfred Davidge, and Privates Ernest Coffey and James Coleman had been killed in action on the 8th of August 1915.

Meleah Hampton, Historian, Military History Section

Image: Looking north to Hill 971 from a ridge 100 yards north of Hill 100. The head of Kaiajik Dere is in the foreground showing the extremely rough country the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade had to cross in the attack on Hill 971 on 7 August 1915. One of a series of photographs taken on the Gallipoli Peninsula under the direction of Captain C E W Bean of The Australian Historical Mission, during the months of February and March, 1919.