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Ambrose James Bourke (MM)


Serial No:
Serial No. 17311

1st Divisional Signal Company


Ambrose James Bourke (MM) - Information

Ambrose'€™s father, train driver Lawrence Patrick Bourke'€™s family owned part of Mount Erin in Campbelltown. Lawrence married Ann O’Dea who came to Campbelltown with her sisters to live with their aunt on Badgally Road. Starting a family, Ambrose was born in Sydney on the 13th of December 1894. When the war started, Ambrose was living in Goulburn with his family and was working as a Customs Officer. At the age of 21, he enlisted in Sydney on the 20th of March 1916. He was placed as a Sapper with the engineer reinforcements from February to August 1916, and then to the Depot Signal Training Company.

Ambrose left Melbourne on the 11th of May 1917 on the HMAT Shropshire, and arrived at Plymouth on the 19th of July. He left Folkestone for France in mid December, and was taken on strength to the 1st Divisional Signal Company on the 28th of December. Ambrose was responsible for supplying and relaying vital information for use by the artillery, units and headquarters during operations. On the 5th of October 1918, he was recommended for the Military Medal for devotion to these duties. Prior, Ambrose took part in operations at Bellicourt, as the Hindenburg Line was breached. On the 29th of September, Ambrose and two others were working a switch board that carried the telephone lines of four field artillery brigades and the American infantry and tank corps. It was vital that the reporting of information regarding enemy troop movements and reports of enemy fire went through. Ambrose and his colleagues established and maintained these communications under heavy fire. In order to achieve this, the men disregarded their own safety to patrol the many cables making sure that they were not cut.

Ambrose served until the end of the war. Just four days after the Armistice, he reported to Graylingwell War Hospital on the 15th of November complaining of deafness in both ears. He was then admitted to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital in England. He stayed in hospital until the following year, and was invalided home to Australia on the 3rd of March 1919. Upon returning to Australia on the 25th of April, he was examined in hospital. Here, he stated that for the last year (most of 1918) he has had buzzing in his ears. He was advised to seek further medical attention from an ear specialist. Two months later, he was awarded the Military Medal on the 17th of June for devotion to duty under fire.