38 Lieutenant Wilfrid Oswald Jose, 50th Battalion, AIF KIA: 3 April 1917 - Part 2

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Posted on 24 March 2022

Due to poor sanitation and lack of fresh food and water, Jose was evacuated to Lemnos in late August with dysentery. He recovered quickly and was soon back with the battalion. He was promoted to temporary corporal in September.

The 10th Battalion’s Gallipoli campaign came to an end in mid-November when it was withdrawn to Lemnos. The same month Jose was hospitalised with jaundice, but he was well enough to travel with the battalion when it returned to Egypt at the end of December.

In January and February 1916 the AIF took on new recruits and almost doubled in size, expanding from two to five divisions in the process. The 10th Battalion provided an experienced cadre of men to help form the 50th Battalion. Jose, now a corporal, was selected to transfer to the new battalion.

After joining the 50th Battalion in late February, he was commissioned with the rank of second lieutenant. The battalion sailed for France in June and entered the front line for the first time at Fleurbaix at the end of the month. The battalion spent the next two weeks in the line. Jose was promoted to lieutenant on the 10th of July and the following day the battalion was relieved and sent south to the Somme.

In late July, Jose was evacuated with severe conjunctivitis and sent to England to recover. He was not able to rejoin his unit until December and managed to arrive in France in the middle of the worst recorded winter in decades. The battalion spent the winter rotating in and out of the front line.

In February 1917 the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line. To delay the Allied forces following their retreat, the Germans had fortified a number of villages on the approach to the Hindenburg Line.

On 2 April 1917 the 50th Battalion participated in an attack on the village of Noreuil. A Company, of which Jose was a platoon commander, moved around to the right of the attack in order to support the rest of the battalion as it hooked through the village.

A Company encountered unbroken barbed wire defences which took some time to get through. Near the south-west corner of the village the Australians came under enfilading fire from a platoon of Germans with a machine-gun who were protected by a barricade, a steep bank and barbed wire. The machine-gun took a heavy toll of the Australians and within a short space three of the platoon commanders had been killed or mortally wounded. Among the dead was Wilfred Jose.

The attack continued, and during further bitter fighting, a number of men from A Company were captured. Thrown into disarray, the company struggled to advance, eventually establishing a position within 100 yards of their objective.

Although initially listed as missing in action, Jose’s body was recovered and laid to rest in the Noreuil Australian Cemetery. He was 22 years old.