1879 – 1916

Ruth Forrest MLC, Shaye Davies and Bruce Scott travelled to the Western Front with the Frank MacDonald Study Tour  

War time experiences

When it came to football, Private David Samuel Emmerton was remembered by his family as an “excellent drop kick” but not exactly a bold player.  This made his family wonder how he fared on the battlefields of France during the horror of World War One.

The war time experiences of Private Emmerton are now better known following research by his great-great-niece, Ruth Forrest MLC, Member for Murchison.  Ruth visited the Western Front as the representative of the Tasmanian Parliament for the Frank MacDonald Study Tour and conducted extensive research about Private David Emmerton, her great uncle Private George Mason and her grandfather, William Emmerton.

Private David Samuel Emmerton, a labourer from Stanley, Tasmania, was 36 years old -- older than most recruits -- when he enlisted on 8 June 1915.

Private Emmerton departed Australia on the HMAT “Orsova” on 17 July 1915 and served on the Gallipoli Peninsula from 4 September 1915.  On 22 September he was transferred to Mudros, as he was suffering from diarrhea and dysentery. He was later transferred to St Paul’s Hospital, in Malta, on board the hospital ship “Dunluce Castle”.  He was then transferred to England and admitted to the military hospital in Fulham.

In March 1916, Private Emmerton rejoined his unit in Alexandria, Egypt, and on 21 March disembarked in Marseilles, France.

Battle of Pozieres

Private Emmerton was killed in action on 29 July 1916 at the Somme during the Battle of Pozieres. He was one of 23,000 Australians to be killed in a six weeks to capture a piece of ground of approximately 200 by 300 metres. According to Australia’s official historian Charles Bean, Pozieres ridge:

“…is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth.”

Following Private Emmerton’s death only a scarf and pips were returned to his oldest surviving brother, Joseph, who lived in Stanley.  His body was never recovered. 

Private David Emmerton was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal and is honoured at:

  • Villers-Bretonneux, France
  • War Memorial, Stanley, Tasmania
  • Australian War Memorial, Canberra

The Frank MacDonald Memorial Study Tour visited Menin Gate and attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers Bretonneux, where Ruth laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Tasmania.

Prior to travelling to the Western Front, members of the Frank MacDonald Study Tour visited the Australian War Memorial  in Canberra, where Ruth placed a poppy near the name of Private David Emmerton on the Roll of Honour (pictured above).

Find out about other Frank MacDonald Memorial Study Tour soldiers research and pilgrimages.