Arthur Clark Bongers
Serial No. 21
Arthur Clark Bongers - Information
Arthur Clark was born in Orange in 1888, and was the oldest of seven children of John and Julia Bongers. John Bongers, a Minister, was shortly posted as the Minister of Religion to the Congregational Church in Campbelltown. Packing up his wife and young son, he moved the family to the area. While stationed there, John and Julia had two more children, John Frazer born 1891 and Dorothy May in 1893. John's time at the Congregational Church ended in 1896, and he then took other positions throughout the state, Victoria and in Queensland, relocating his family with him.
Arthur was 27 years old when he enlisted at Toowoomba, Queensland on the 30th of October 1915, just 21 days after his younger brother, Frank, had joined the AIF. Luckily, they were placed in the same units, before becoming members of A Company, 42nd Battalion on the 16th of February 1916. Arthur and Frank departed Sydney Harbour together on the 5th of June 1916 aboard the HMAT Borda.
Arriving in England to receive further training, the 42nd Battalion left Southampton for France in November 1916. Soon after going into the trenches on the Western Front, Arthur witnessed the death of his brother who was killed in action on the 14th of February 1917. After this experience, Arthur's health declined. On the 24th of July, he was taken out of the lines sick. Transported to the 5th General Hospital in Rouen, he was then evacuated to England with debility. Arthur required extensive rest and was admitted to both Passmore Edwards Hospital and Fovant Hospital by the end of the year for debility and tonsillitis. In February 1918, after more than six months in hospital, he returned to duty. He rejoined the 42nd Battalion in the frontlines, just in time for the German Ludendorff Offensive. The Russians had surrendered in November 1917, and the German Army were now able to increase their presence on the Western Front determined to knockout the Allies. Breaking through the stalemate, the Germans seemed unstoppable. The firepower of these attacks and counter attacks were immense. The 42nd Battalion were holding the line in front of Amiens, an important railway junction and target for General Ludendorff. However, after these devastating attacks, a continual throng of illnesses, and the loss of his brother, eventually had its toll on Arthur. In April 1918, he was taken out of the lines and evacuated to hospital in England. Here, Arthur was diagnosed with neurasthenia, a form of shell shock. By July, he was being treated in hospital in Weymouth and was subsequently invalided home to Australia on the 24th of August 1918.