Arthur Potter was in the second wave of troops to storm the beach at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 — his family back in Albury found out what happened to him 14 months later, writes HOWARD JONES.
PRIVATE Arthur Potter was shot in the head as he stormed the beach at Anzac Cove exactly 100 years ago today.
In August 1914, the Albury lad, 20, had lied about his age so he wouldn’t have to get his parents’ permission to enlist for service overseas.
Donald and Ellen Potter, who lived in Wyse Street, had nine children, with Arthur the oldest son.
They had come to Albury from Orange and Donald was caretaker of the town hall that had opened in 1907.
Three tragedies befell the family during and just after the war.
Arthur had moved to Melbourne to be a cook at a Lonsdale Street restaurant but within two weeks of war being declared he enlisted, claiming to be 22.
In December, he sailed for Egypt with the 6th Infantry Battalion.
In January his baby sister Mary, aged four, contracted diptheria in Albury and died.
His parents wrote to him with the bad news as he trained in Egypt.
The battalion sailed for Lemnos early in April.
On the fateful morning of the 25th, his battalion climbed down the side of their ship by ladder, hopped into small boats and headed for shore at Anzac Cove in the second wave of invaders.
Turkish soldiers hidden in scrub were well prepared for this group, having already cut down hundreds in the first wave.
Survivors told how they faced bullets everywhere and thousands died that first day.
Potter was at first reported missing, though his father was not told even that until June.
He wrote letters to the army pleading to be told if his son had been captured, then inquiring about any pay that might be owing, and finally asking for any effects. Mr Potter also wrote a note to his son, asking the army to forward it if they found him.
It was not until April 1916 that a military inquiry determined that Private Potter had been killed in action that first day, though that information wasn’t communicated to the family until another two months.
A Sergeant Collins recalled that Potter had been killed instantly and was buried on the beach under a wooden cross (he was later reburied at Lone Pine Cemetery).
Meanwhile, Potter’s youngest brother, Cecil, 18, had enlisted “to fill his brother’s place”, as his father put it in a letter to the army.
Cecil was in the 30th Infantry battalion and fought on the Western Front.
Apparently a larrikin, he defied regulations and was insolent but in 1917 near Ypres performed an act of gallantry that earned him the Military Medal.
Cecil was a runner with a stretcher bearer, Williams, and was sent under sniper fire to bring back three casualties.
The two men dug out one wounded man who had been buried for an hour, but Williams was then shot dead. Cecil continued alone and brought the wounded man to safety, again under sniper fire and heavy shelling.
He returned home in 1919, but in October that year his youngest brother, John Leslie Potter, 19, was acccidently drowned in a lagoon at Hawksview while taking a swim. The father’s misfortunes continued as he broke a leg in a motor accident in 1929 and contracted appendicitis in 1933.
Cecil fell foul of the law in the ’30s, and was acquitted of one charge of swindling only to be jailed for others in 1938. However, he re-enlisted for the 2nd AIF though was discharged at 40.
He died in Sydney in 1968.
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