Arrival in Victoria - 1913: Herbert (Jack) Warland

Herbert (Jack) Warland (24 October 1895, Horsham UK - 7 March 1929, Wangaratta, Australia) was the son of William Edward Warland who had been in Australia from 1887 to 1891 when he returned to the UK.

The 17 year old Herbert Warland arrived in Australia on 14 July 1913 on board the SS Orama, with his uncle Albert John Warland, who had possibly offered him a job as a salesman.

Herbert Warland joins the Australian Imperial Forces - 1916

Sergeant Herbert Warland, AIF

Herbert Warland (serial number 1988) enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) on 26 January 1916. He was assigned to the mostly Victorian 39th Infantry Battalion (10th Brigade) AIF, that was raised at the Ballarat showgrounds in Victoria on 21 February 1916. The Battalion was commanded by Lt Col Robert Rankine.

After training in Ballarat, the 39th marched through Melbourne on 15 May 1916. The Battalion embarked on the HMAT Ascanius on 27 May 1916, bound for the UK. After arrival in July 1916, the Battalion trained for four months at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain. In late November 1916, the Battalion landed at Le Havre and then moved to the trenches of the Western Front. The Battalion relieved the AIF 37th Battalion in Flanders around Houplines in the Armentieres sector, where they spent the winter and spring.

Ypres area during World War 1

In early June 1917, the 39th moved from the Armentieres sector and fought at Messines in Belgium. The Battalion suffered badly from a German gas attack on 6 June 1917. Charles Bean wrote in the Official History that 'A high-explosive shell burst in the leading platoon of the 39th Battalion as it reached 'Ploegsteert Corner' Here and there officers and men were hit direct by gas-shell. ... (men) fell out by the way, retching and collapsed'. According to his service file, Herbert was affected by the gas. Down to only about 120 able-bodied men, the 39th continued its advance against German machine gun fire. A small group led by Captain Paterson, CO of B Company, seized the machine gun post. The 39th and 34th Battalions dug in (For further details of this action, see

Battle of Messine - June 1917

After this action, the Battalion then moved a short distance west to Wulverghem. On 18 July 1917 the Battalion was gassed again but with 'a new kind of gas - smells like mustard'. Three days later they advanced south of Douve on the southern edge of the Messine Ridge.

On 26 September 1917 the Battalion was at St Pierre. It was involved in fighting north of the ruins of Grey Farm, known to contain a number of German dugouts and shelters, where the Battalion was held up by German machine gun fire; having overcome this they eventually managed to dig in 100 yards beyond the farm.

The Battles of Broodseinde and Passchendaele, 4 - 6 October 1917.

From 4 to 6 October 1917, the Battalion took part in two major attacks in the same sector. It joined up with the 40th in an advance at Broodseinde against German pill boxes at Gravenstafel Switch. The Battalion was then withdrawn back to Morbecque for reorganisation and rest.

Exhausted stretcher bearers from the 3rd Australian Division rest in the mud and drizzle of Broodseinde Ridge, during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), 11 October 1917. (Source: Imperial War Museum image E(AUS)941 from the Australian War Memorial)

A couple of days later the Battalion advanced towards Passchendaele Ridge, attacking on 12 October despite heavy rain the previous evening. Despite securing its first objective in the heavy fighting, the Battalion was forced to withdraw in thick mud under threat of being outflanked. For further details, see

Passchendaele in late 1917.

For more photographs taken around the same time as the battles, see this site.

From October 1917 to March 1918 the Battalion rotated between the front line and rear areas, holding the line in Belgium through the winter. During October 1917, 6,405 Australians were killed in action or died of wounds and a further 19,194 were wounded. On 16 December 1917, the 39th Battalion was located at Neuve Eglise. A month later, the officers and NCOs were photographed in front of a bomb crater in the same town.

Group portrait of the NCOs of the 39th Battalion at Neuve Eglise. Neuve Eglise, Belgium. 23 January 1918. Source: Original photograph in the Warland family collection. Copy at

Close up of Herbert Warland from the photograph above

In February 1918, Herbert was at Ploegsteeert again, then Warneton. In March 1918 he was at Newingham, Lumres, Winnezeele, and Hazebrook.

On 21 March 1918, the German Army launched Operation Michael, the first in a series of attacks designed to drive allied forces from the Western Front. This was also known as the 'Spring Offensive'. The AIF 39th Battalion was moved south to France to stem the tide of the Germans towards Amiens. The Battalion fought a series of defensive actions in the Somme in late March. While a final German effort was aimed at the town of Amiens, their advance was halted at Villers-Bretonneux on 4 April 1918. Around this time, Herbert was recorded at Mericourt-l'Abbe, a small commune about 10 kms east of Amiens. On 11 May 1918 Herbert was recorded at Amiens and also Cardonette, a few kilometres north of Amiens town centre. one month later he was at Villers-Brettoneux. By 30 May 1918, all Australian infantry divisions were united on the Western Front under Lt General John Monash.

At 4.20 AM on 8 August 1918, in dense fog, the Allies launched the 'Hundred Days Offensive' also known as the Battle of Amiens. The 39th Battalion, along with the rest of the 10th Brigade, was in reserve and did not participate in the first day's attack. On 10 August, the Battalion unsuccessfully attacked the village of Proyart. From August through to early September the battalion remained in the line as the 3rd Division advanced through the Somme Valley. On 25 August 1918 Herbert was in the Suzanne/Peronne area about half way between Amiens and St Quentin on the north side of the Somme. The Battalion's last major action was at the end of September 1918 when, alongside American forces, the Battalion breached parts of the Hindenberg Line along the St Quentin Canal. The Battalion's Commanding Officer, Lt Col Robert Henderson, was killed in this action.

On 2 October the Battalion was based around Gillemont Crescent where it was relieved and removed for training and reorganisation. In the middle of October the 39th was bolstered by a company of reinforcements from the now disbanded 37th. On 14 October, Herbert was at Hocquincourt in the Hallencourt area. The Battalion did not see action again and was still at the rear when the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918.

Herbert's service file states that he was in the following locations in the order shown from November 1916 until November 1918: Armentieres, Pont de Nieppe, Houplines, La Creche, Ebblingham, Difques, Epinette, Ploegsteert, Wulverghem, Messines Ridge, Zoteux, Wisernes, Calais, St Pierre, Winnezeele, Ypres, Passchendaele, Zoteux, Red Lodge, St Ives, Ploegsteert (again), St Ives (again), Neuve Eglise, Ploegsteeert (again), Warneton, Newingham, Lumres, Winnezeele, Hazebrook, Mericourt-l'Abbe, Cardonette, Amiens, Villers-Brettoneux, Suzanne/Peronne, and finally Hocquincourt (Hallencourt) west of Amiens.

Herbert Warland was gassed and wounded twice through the campaign; of the approximately 1,000 men of the Battalion, 405 men were killed and 1,637 wounded. His name does not appear on any of the football or rugby teams, or an any competition-like activities. Members of the 39th Battalion were warned not to sell any duty free liquour to the locals and also to keep away from locals.

It is not known if Herbert visited his father and siblings before he returned to Australia on 12 June 1919 on board the SS Karagola. In July 1919, he was discharged from the AIF.

From 30 April 1920 to 30 March 1921, Herbert was with the Australian Air Corps.

Herbert Warland joins the Royal Australian Air Force - 1921

Herbert 'Jack' Warland, Royal Australian Air Force

Herbert enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 31 March 1921 as a Sergeant and worked RAAF Headquarters in Melbourne. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1 August 1921, to Pilot Officer on 21 January 1924, and Flying Officer on 21 October 1924.

On 18 April 1925, Herbert married Janet Douglas Neilson (23 August 1894, Cornsilloch, Dalserf Scotland - 13 July 1974, Malvern Victoria Australia), who had arrived in Australia from Glasgow, Scotland, with her brothers and sisters in May 1913.

On 1 July 1925 Herbert was posted to Bowen, Queensland, with the 101 Flight, which was conducting aerial mapping surveys of the Great Barrier Reef.

One of the few photographs of Herbert and Janet Warland taken around 1926 in Bowen

Children of Herbert and Janet Warland

Herbert and Janet had two sons, Ian Neilson and Graham Douglas. Ian was born on 20 October 1925 in Melbourne.

Herbert was posted to 1 Flying Training School, Point Cook, Victoria, on 2 September 1927. On 1 April 1928, Herbert was posted to RAAF Headquarters, Melbourne. They lived in Lockhart Street, Caulfield.

Herbert's son Graham was born on 21 May 1928 in Melbourne.

Death of Herbert Warland - 1929

On 7 March 1929, Herbert was killed when the aircraft in which he was travelling as a passenger, a DH 60 de Havilland Gipsy Moth, crashed on take-off after touching a tree.

Newspaper reports of 8 March stated that the aircraft was piloted by Flight-lieutenant Thomas Anthony Swinbourne. According to one report, '… Swinbourne jumped clear, but his companion, who was unable to free himself, died when the machine burst into flames.' After re-fuelling, the report states that the person who provided the fuel '… watched the aeroplane take off, and saw it bump along the uneven surface of the ground and, after swerving sharply to escape colliding with a fence, it rose about 12 feet. The right wing hit a tree, and instantly snapped off. The machine nose-dived, and burst into flames.' The report states that the airmen were returning to Melbourne after attending to Departmental business in Richmond.

(Note that, according to Wikipedia, the DH 60 Gipsy Moth had problems with access to the front cockpit - the front seat occupant could not escape easily, especially when wearing a parachute).

Janet Warland (nee Neilson) looks after the boys

Herbert's wife Janet then brought up the two boys with the help of her family, particularly her brother John Renwick Neilson.

John Neilson and his nephews, around 1932

Janet Warland died in 1975; her brother John died in 1981.

Herbert's son Ian went to Melbourne University from 1942 for a couple of years to study Civil Engineering but he found it a bit of a struggle. With World War 2 already underway, he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and join the RAAF. He was rejected allegedly because of poor eyesight and joined the Navy instead, in November 1944.

Ian's training including a stint sailing on the HMAS Doomba from Melbourne to Geelong, where he met Margaret Pamela (Pam) Robertson, the only daughter of John Charles Robertson, from a long-time Geelong family. They courted for a while but then dad went to Japan on the HMAS Hobart. In Japan, Ian spent a short while in Tokyo and then headed for Yokohama where he was a guard at the British Consulate there. He travelled to Nikko and to Kure from where he travelled to Hiroshima to see the damage.

British Consulate in Yokohama around 1946

On his return to Australia, Ian he joined the City of Caulfield as a Cadet Engineer. He began a Diploma of Civil Engineering at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Pam Robertson was working at the nearby Children's Hospital and, sometime in the late 1940's, they met up again by chance. They married on 9 June 1951, in St David's Church, Geelong, and lived in his mother's house in Lockhart Street, Caulfield.

Ian's career as a Civil Engineer took him to Melbourne, Traralgon, Taradale (Kyneton) and, eventually, Queenscliff, Victoria, where they settled down from around 1962. They moved from Queenscliff to Geelong in 1977. When Ian retired in 1985, Pam also retired from her job as a school teacher in Geelong. Pam died on 19 July 2011 and Ian died on 23 April 2012.

Herbert's son Graham Warland married Betty Sexton. Graham was a Marine Engineer and worked in the Myer Melbourne Department store for most of his career. He died in July 1989.

Page created 2009, last updated 24 September 2020 (minor fixes). Copyright Andrew Warland.