Rupert Frederick Arding Downes (MC)
Serial No. 21214
29th Battalion & 32nd Battalion
Rupert Frederick Arding Downes (MC) - Information
Rupert was a son of Frederick William Arthur and Caroline Frances May Downes. He was born in Camden on the 25th of January 1886. He grew up in the area with his many siblings, and attended Kings School. Rupert’s father was a Member of Parliament, later a Town Alderman and farmer. Rupert began working as an orchardist, while living with his family in Brownlow Hill. At the time, he was attending the Cadet Training School. He was rather sweet on Katie May Maddrell, the sister of his brother, Edgar’s wife. At the age of 29, Rupert decided to do his bit and enlisted in the AIF. He signed up in Liverpool on the 30th of September 1915. While he was training, he met Katie in Sydney where they married on the anniversary of ANZAC Day, the 25th of April 1916. He then applied for a Commission. It was granted, and he became a 2nd Lieutenant with the 1st Light Horse Regiment. Then, in mid October 1916, he was posted to the 11th Reinforcements, 29th Battalion. He was sent abroad upon the HMAT Afric, which departed Sydney on the 3rd of November 1916.
Rupert landed in Plymouth in early January 1917. The following month, he was on command at the school of instruction at Hurdcott. Rupert’s new young bride followed him to England. Here, she worked in the London Office of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd. She stayed with a Mrs Hussey Cooper on Hersham Rd, Walton-on-Thames in Surrey. In late April, he was transported to the Western Front in France. He left Etaples Base, to join the 29th Battalion in the field. Two weeks later, Rupert was completing duty with the 1st ANZAC School in mid May. On the 26th of May, he was promoted to Lieutenant. He rejoined his unit, in late June, and before long in September, was leading his Platoon against the Germans at Polygon Wood during the Third Battle of Ypres. The following month, he reported sick to hospital with tonsillitis. Fierce fighting had erupted following the German Spring Offensive, which commenced in March. On the verge of loosing the war, the Allies pulled together and started pushing the Germans back. Rupert was then involved in operations at Morlancourt between the 28th and 29th of July. Here, he skilfully led his platoon, where they came across a German stronghold. They attacked it, managed to reach the final objective and continued on for 300 yards. While the Battalion consolidated their new position, Rupert protected their flank, inflicting heavy German casualties. The following day, he had to withdraw, and held off an enemy counter attack, in complete disregard for his own safety. However, when he and his men returned to the Company, the Commanding Officer was missing. Rupert took charge, and reorganised their defensive line to repel further counter-attacks. For his escapades, Rupert was recommended for the Military Cross for gallantry and devotion to duty. After the Battle of Amiens in August, the Allies were successfully pushing the Germans back. When the 29th Battalion attacked Mount St Quentin, Rupert was awarded the Military Cross. On the 12th of October, Rupert was transferred to the 32nd Battalion. The guns fell silent at 11am on the 11th of November. Rupert remained with his unit in France, until he was transferred to Hurdcott Camp, England in February 1919. Rupert returned to Australia on the 15th of May 1919.
Back in Australia, Rupert and Katie began their family. They were blessed with Phyllis, Denyse, Elizabeth Coghill and Rupert Frederick, known as Derick. Sadly, Derick was sadly killed during the Second World War. A pilot with the RAAF, Derick was killed in a flying accident on the 7th of October 1942.