Duty with Honour – The War Service of L/Sgt Max Arkell

Max Kenneth Dick Arkell, a Newcastle man, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on the 13th of July 1915 at Liverpool, NSW. As a Private in the 30th Battalion (Newcastle’s Own),  he undertook formal training at Holsworthy Barracks. Embarking at Circular Quay on the 9th of November, Max sailed on the Troopship HMAT Beltana for Suez, Egypt. Arriving on the 11th of December, he was encamped at Tel el Kebir, near the Suez Canal. Arkell participated in defence of the Suez Canal in the early days of the campaign against Ottoman forces in the Sinai. While at Tel el Kebir, Private Arkell was disciplined for insolence to an NCO (non-commissioned officer), and made to march night-time drills.

Courtesy of AWM. Members of B Company, 30th Battalion (in support) amongst the ruins on the Cambrai Road, Bapaume, during the day on which the Australians entered the town. Left to right: Unidentified; Cpl C Boland; L/Cpl R McKinnon (standing); Pte Page; Cpl F McDowell (back); Cpl Cecil Edward Alcorn Belgian Croix de Guerre (foreground); Sergeant Max Kenneth Dick Arkell (standing); Pte A C Walker MM (standing); Cpl W H Linsley.

Embarking for France on the Troopship HMAT Hororata, Private Arkell reached Marseille on the 23rd of June 1916. His unit made its way to the frontlines, fighting in the Battle of Fromelles between the 19th and 20th July. Arkell took a shrapnel wound to the back in the early days of this battle. The following March, his unit participated in the liberation of Bapaume, near Amiens. It was during this battle that he distinguished himself with particular bravery, earning himself a mention in despatches from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. His promotion to Corporal soon followed, and he undertook a significant period of training in England at Tidworth Camp in Wiltshire.

He returned to his unit at the frontlines near Amiens in March of 1918. In June of that year during the German Offensive, he received battle wounds once again. It was in the early days of the Hundred Days Offensive of August 1918, after his promotion to Lance Sergeant, that he received a fatal wound to his shoulder and leg, succumbing the following day. He was buried with honour in the Daours Cemetery-Extension outside Amiens the next day.

Written by Joel Kelsey

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