Archie Boadle MM (1896-1977)
World War One Veterans Item Type Metadata
Next of Kin
Address at time of Enlistment
Place of Burial
No. 3467 Sergeant Archie Boadle
Archie Boadle came from a large family – in fact he was one of 10 children. He was born at Lara, Victoria on 26 May 1896.
Prior to the war, Archie worked as a chaff cutter. His father, also Archie, was a widower and living at Little River.
After enlisting at Geelong in July 1915, he was sent to the massive army camp at Broadmeadows for basic training.
Perhaps unusually for this period - especially given the significant losses Australian troops were experiencing in the Dardanelles - Archie spent the first six months of his war service training in Australia. He left Melbourne on 5 January 1916 bound for England, still very much the ‘mother country’ in many of these young volunteers' eyes.
Again, rather than being rushed to the front, Archie was sent for more training at Hurdcott Camp on Salisbury Plain. He was promoted to corporal on 12 November 1916 – his progress stymied slightly when he was hospitalised with tonsillitis.
By now, he had been taken on strength with the 58th Battalion – veterans of bloody and costly fighting at Fromelles in July 1916 during the early days of the Somme offensive where the battalion had lost virtually a third of its strength.
He was sent to France on 18 September 1917, and appointed lance-sergeant in early November. He was just 21 years old.
It’s likely that by November he had already experienced life in the frontline because his battalion had been active in Belgium in the Ypres sector. The 58th Battalion's major action was at Polygon Wood which started on 26 September 1917.
By early 1918, the Battalion was back in France with the Allies expecting a major German attack following Russia’s withdrawal from the war. This meant that thousands of German troops could now be deployed in the west.
The expected assault came in late March with the Germans taking more territory than either side at any point during the war.
By June 1918, the 58th Battalion was back in the heart of the Somme in the district of Peronne – a place that would have special significance for Sergeant Archie Boadle just a few months later.
At 1.00am on 20 June, a patrol was sent out comprising a Lieutenant, Sergeant Boadle, nine 'other ranks', and three specialists. Their objective was to identify the German units manning the frontline, inflict losses on their number and destroy or capture enemy materiel.
It was during this action that Archie Boadle was wounded. Unusually, his service record doesn’t provide a description of his wounds, but they were severe enough for him to be withdrawn from the front.
He rejoined his unit in early August which was based nears Villiers-Bretonneux. His arrival back in France coincided with a major allied assault around Amiens, although the 58th Battalion’s involvement was fairly limited.
By early September, the battalion was back in the thick of the fighting as the allies attempted to take Peronne. It was here that 3467 Sergeant Archie Boadle, by now just 22 years old, was recommended and awarded the Military Medal.
The citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the attack on Peronne on 2nd September 1918. This N.C.O. was in charge of a platoon. After getting his men through the heavy shelling in Peronne, he organised the platoon in the position of assembly prior to the attack. During the attack he got his men forward under heavy fire, and greatly facilitated the advance of the left flank by covering fire and by neutralising enemy M.G. posts. When the objective had been reached, Sgt BOADLE re-organised his platoon and then assisted in re-organising two other platoons whose N.C.O.'s had become casualties. This N.C.O. displayed excellent judgement and leadership throughout the operation, not only dealing with his own command speedily, but also assisting the remainder of the Coy. at every opportunity.” – (Sgd.) E. Tivey Brig. Gen’l. Cmmdg. 5th Aus. Divn.
In many ways, the citation only tells part of the story. Archie Boadle and his Lieutenant's first-hand accounts of the assault on Peronne that appear in the 58th Battalion’s war diary describe how Sergeant Boadle and his men silenced four machine guns, killed 12 'Hun' and wounded six more who were then taken prisoner and then accepted the surrender of 80-90 Germans soldiers who came forward under a white flag after their senior officer was killed.
In Archie's own account of the assault, he makes no mention of himself and his role – merely praising the 'dashing leadership' of his officer, Lieutenant Morrison, and his brave men. Of such qualities are true leaders made.
With Peronne falling to the allies, Archie Boadle's war – and that of his mates in the 58th Battalion – wasn't quite over yet.
They participated in the fierce fighting at the end of September to break German defences around the St Quentin Canal partnering this time with American troops. The battalion withdrew to rest in early October and were still behind the frontline when the armistice came into force at the '11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918'. The war was over.
Archie was sent back to England, witnessing the disbanding of the 58th Infantry Battalion, AIF. He left England in May 1919 and was released from service on 22 August the same year.
He married Elizabeth Lillian Weeks at Newport, Melbourne in 1921. They had at least one child, Edward Valentine Boadle, who was to become a school teacher.
Archie worked initially as a labourer and then joined the police force. In the mid-1930s, perhaps in part as homage to the men he served with during the war, Archie was made a Shrine Guard at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
He died at Dromana, Victoria aged around 81 in 1977.
Medals & Entitlements:
- Military Medal
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Lest we forget
58th Battalion history AWM https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51498/
58th Battalion war diaries AWM https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RCDIG1000543/
Awards and citations AWM https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1526622/