Arthur R Lingham
Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)
The following background on Arthur Lingham was used at the 2018 ANZAC Day service at the Club.
In recent years we have spent time remembering William Cumberland, Norman Nation and Norman Johnson, all from WWI.
Today we remember Arthur Lingham, who died in action in WWI in France.
Arthur was not a great oarsman racing unsuccessfully in the five seat of the Club’s maiden eight in the season before his enlistment. He raced at Albert Park, Upper Yarra and Ballarat regattas in 1915. Given that he was over 6 feet tall and 13 stone, he would have been prime five seat material.
He was a respected postal official based at the Malvern Post Office. He hailed from Royal Avenue in Glenhuntly.
He enlisted on 3rd July 1915 at the age of 25 years and given his role in the postal services, this required permission of the postal authorities.
His leadership qualities soon shone out. He was promoted to corporal on 27th October 1915, then Sergeant in March 1916 and then Company Sergeant Major on 20th November 1916.
He was wounded at least twice times whilst serving in France.
- The first time was by accident on 19th July 1916. Whilst rummaging through a pile of rifles left over from the dead and wounded of the battle of the previous night looking for a periscope, one rifle exploded wounding him in the left forearm. He was engaged in an attack on German trenches at the time.
- The second time was on 3rd December 1916, a gun shot wound to the head which killed him two days later.
At the time of his death, France was in the very worst of the trench warfare. Charles Bean recorded the situation in December 1916 as follows:
Even in those long-established trenches winter service was harsh enough: but on the Somme the sentries, standing steadfastly along their muddy ditches, might have been looking out on the dawn of the world; a region colourless except for the grey-blue sky and the bare brown wilderness of formless mud – mud that resembling that of some sea bed newly upheaved – with here and there a derelict tank stranded like some dead sea monster on the drenched surface. It was seldom that anything stirred, except the tattered clouds and the shell-burst minute by minute in Gueudecourt. Most of the trenches, mere ditches in the slime, were invisible except from a few yards, and it many times happened that a man going up to the foremost line, after crossing several empty and apparently unused saps, found himself looking down into a trench occupied by a few figures in grey, and realised that he had wandered to the enemy’s line.
He died in grim circumstances.
On the anniversary of his death, seven notices were placed in The Argus. (Wednesday 5th December 1917, page 1.)
- His siblings describing his gentle and happy nature
- His friends declaring Arthur’s loyalty, bravery, strength and good nature
- His sorrowful parents were looking for some answers as to why God had taken their beloved and promising son. They proffered the following poem:
How we miss our loved one’s presence,
And the face so blithe and glad;
Sad, indeed, to comprehend it,
For to us it seems so sad.
That a life so full of promise
Thus should close in youth’s fair spring;
Could you learn our Father’s reason,
We perchance with joy might sing.
Arthur, you were a great man and your name and deeds again echo around your Clubhouse.
Andrew Guerin – April 2018