Arthur Vincent FARTHING (5685)
13 Battalion DoD 9/11/16
A V Farthing remains a mystery. His name does appear – as Farthing, A. V. – on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor; but he is not marked as ‘Killed’ on this list. He is not included on the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial. Nor are there any references to him on any other memorial in the Shire, and there is no mention of him in the Gippsland Standard and Albeton Shire Representative. The family name Farthing was not common in the Shire at the time, and it did not appear on the 1915 electoral roll for the sub-division of Yarram. There are limited references to the name Farthing in local genealogical references – Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901 – but the references are to the 1860s.
In terms of AIF records, there is only one A V Farthing on the Nominal Roll. The full name is given as Albert Vincent Farthing (5685) but this is a mistake and it should be Arthur Vincent Farthing (5685). The correct name appears on the Embarkation Roll. Importantly, there were only 11 men with the family name Farthing who served in the AIF in WW1, and of the eleven, there was only one with the initials of A V Farthing. So there is no question that reference to a member of the AIF with the name A V Farthing is to Arthur Vincent Farthing (5685).
While there is nothing to tie Arthur Vincent Farthing to the Shire of Alberton – apart from his name on the Shire’s roll of honor – there is abundant evidence to tie him to Bective (near Tamworth) in NSW.
Arthur Vincent Farthing was born at Tamworth, NSW. He grew up at Bective and attended the public school there. When he enlisted on 12/1/16, at Liverpool, he was 19 yo and single. He gave his occupation as ‘farm hand’. His religion was Church of England.
Arthur gave his father – Henry Farthing – as next-of-kin. The father was well known in the local district of Bective. He was involved in the Bective Farmers and Settlers’ Association and in fact the monthly meetings were held in his home.
The Tamworth Daily Observer (3/5/16) recorded the farewell organised for Private Arthur Farthing at Bective. It was held just before he embarked for overseas. He was presented with a luminous wristlet watch. In response, Private Farthing expressed his gratitude and stated that he … would do his best to uphold the name of Australia.
Private Farthing’s service was very short. He enlisted on 12/1/16 and embarked as reinforcements for 13 Battalion on 3/5/16. He reached England from Alexandria in early August and started further training with 4 Training Battalion at Perham Downs. He was admitted to hospital – King George Hospital – on 26/8/16 with pneumonia. It appears he stayed in this hospital until 6/11/16 when he was transferred to 1st Auxillary Hospital, Harefield. He ‘died of disease’: cerebral abscess on 9/11/16.
Cables sent to the parents in Australia, over the period the son was in hospital with pneumonia, reveal a rather grim story. On 2/10/16 they were advised that their son was ‘seriously ill pneumonia’. On 13/10/16 his status was described as ‘condition stationary’. On 26/10/16 they were informed he was ‘progressing favorably’. Again, on 1/11/16, the news was positive: ‘now progressing favorably’. Just over one week later he was dead. The parents also did not even know the name or address of the hospital where he was a patient. On 30/10/16 they had written seeking these details.
There is strong evidence that Private Farthing should never have even been in England with the AIF. In his service file are the records of the medical board, dated 14/1/16, which recommended he be discharged from the AIF. This was just 2 days after he had enlisted. The suggestion is that in fact he had enlisted before (8/6/15) but then came down with ‘double pneumonia’ and was discharged. Perhaps he was not formally discharged – there is no record of an earlier enlistment- and it was more the case that the initial enlistment did not go ahead when he became ill with pneumonia. Then he (re) enlisted (12/1/16) and either the same problem flared again or the ongoing medical debility from the earlier sickness became more obvious. At the medical board it was stated his disability would continue for ‘at least 12 months’. Moreover, the board … recommends his discharge as unfit for military service. It is not clear why the recommendation was not carried out but it is possible that the necessary paper work was held up and he embarked for overseas service before it could be actioned. What is clear is that he was affected by a significant, ongoing medical condition long before he was hospitalised in England in August 1916. The medical advice was that he should have been discharged immediately after he enlisted.
Private Farthing was buried in the Australian Section, Harefield Churchyard, Harefield.
After the death, his parents placed a personal notice in The Tamworth Daily Observer (18/11/16, p.7):
Roll of Honor
Farthing – At 1st Australian Auxillary Hospital, London. Private Arthur V Farthing, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Farthing, Bective. Aged 20 years. At rest.
In May 1917, the parents received the following personal items:
Scarf, Belt, 9 Foreign Coins, Devotional Book, Hairbrush, Piece Crewel Work, Wallet, Photos, Razor, Shaving Brush, Identity Disc, 2 Badges, Handkerchief, Pipe, Fountain Pen, Letters.
When they completed the information for the (National) Roll of Honour, the parents gave Tamworth as the location with which their son was ‘chiefly connected’. On the face of it, there is nothing to suggest a link to the Shire of Alberton. However, the name definitely appears on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor; and there was only one Farthing A V. The only plausible explanation appears to be that he worked in the local area as a farm labourer for some time before mid 1915.
National Archives file for Farthing Arthur Vincent 5685
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Arthur Vincent Farthing
Roll of Honour: Arthur Vincent Farthing
The Tamworth Daily Observer
O’Callaghan, G 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901