Joseph Herbert Spencer
Serial No. 3469
54th Battalion & 35th Battalion
Joseph Herbert Spencer - Information
The Spencers lived on a property called Hopelands in Wedderburn. Alfred's father, Joseph Higgson Spencer owned part of a colour printery called 'Deaton & Spencer Publishers and Show Cards Manufacturers.' Joseph was born in Paddington and later attended Stanmore Public School before his parents relocated to the Campbelltown area. He continued his education and became an engineer. Joseph did quite well for himself and eventually acquired land at 64 and 65 Richard Rd in the Berowra Park Estate. When Joseph was 30 years old, he decided to enlist in the AIF at Moore Park, Sydney on the 2nd of January 1917. He was then sent overseas as a Private with the 54th Battalion. He left Sydney on the HMAT Anchises on the 24th of January 1917. Tagging along for the ride was, his younger brother, Alfred, who had joined up shortly after him.
Joseph and Alfred landed in Devonport in late March. Joseph was then marched into the 14th Training Battalion. After spending some time sick in hospital, he was stationed to Windmill Hill at Perham Downs, where he was transferred to the 62nd Battalion. He then proceeded overseas to the Western Front from Southampton. Once in France, he was marched into Rouelles Base, and was then taken on strength to the 35th Battalion in September. At the time, the 35th was engaged in operations in what was to be known as the Third Battle of Ypres. During these assaults, Joseph was declared wounded and missing in action on the 12th of October 1917. His family was subsequently informed by telegram that he was missing believed wounded. Sadly, this came at the same time as news that their other son, Alfred, was wounded also at Ypres. Into 1918, the army and the Spencers had no idea what had happened to Joseph. His father began writing the military for answers in January, resulting in an investigation. The Red Cross checked German records to see if Joseph was a prisoner of war or was on a death list. Eventually in June 1918, a Court of Inquiry was conducted. Interviews with Joseph's comrades revealed that at Menin Road near Passchendaele during the Third Battle of Ypres he was wounded. However, at the time, there was heavy shelling and what exactly happened to him from then onwards is unknown. The Court concluded that Joseph was killed in action on the 12th of October 1917.
In Wedderburn, the terrible news was hard for the Spencers to hear, after months of hoping for any sign from Joseph. Sadly, this had a shocking affect on the family and his parents passed away shortly after the war ended. Joseph's siblings Robert Hirst, Alfred and Emma, in a state of grief, had to manage such tragic losses. They collected and treasured Joseph's war medals and memorial.