(Arthur) Rupert Marriott was born in 1888 at Devonport, Tasmania.
His parents were Frank & Rebecca (nee Mincham d 1894). Frank was born in Ballarat, Victoria, Rebecca in Tasmania. They were married in 1887 at Port Sorell near Devonport . After Rebecca’s death, Frank married Eliza Goodie who became stepmother to Rupert & his sister. Frank was a jeweller and the family spent many years in Tumut NSW.
Rupert was the eldest of 2 children. He had 1 sister. He did not marry.
Rupert enlisted on 24 Jan 1916.
He stated occupation as fitter and address as O’Brien Street, Bondi.
He was tall and slight being 5ft 9in (175cm) tall; weighed 130lb (59kg); chest 33-36in (84-91cm). He had no distinguishing marks; a medium complexion, grey eyes, light brown hair; and was Church of England.
He named his stepmother Eliza as his next of kin.
He was assigned Service Number 2484 and attached to 4th Reinforcements for the 31st Battalion which was part of the 8th Brigade of the 5th Division.
War Service: Egypt
Rupert and the 4th Reinforcements departed Melbourne on HMAT Anchises on 14 Mar 1916 for Egypt, disembarking at Suez on 15 Apr.
He joined 31st Battalion on 20 Apr at Ferry Post camp on the Suez Canal where they were training. On 15 May he had 2 days sick with arthritis. After 4 more weeks training they moved north to Alexandria where they boarded HMT Hororata & departed for Europe on 16 Jun.
War Service: Western Front:
31st Battalion arrived in Marseilles on 23 Jun 1916. They moved north to Morbecque 20km west of Armentieres.
After a week’s acclimatisation they moved east and moved into trenches 11 Jul near Bois Grenier. They were relieved on the 16th but moved back to the front on the 19th for a leading part in the infamous Battle of Fromelles.
On the 19th & 20th the 31st Battalion successfully occupied the German trench but were forced back as their flanks were exposed & they eventually were surrounded & had to fight through Germans to get back to their original front line. They suffered 544 casualties. Rupert was one of the fortunate ones unscathed.
Though severely mauled there was only 10 days rest before they were back in the front line again on 30 Jul until 15 Aug. They withdrew for a month’s training & rebuilding before another stint in the line 22-28 Sep.
On 9 Oct whilst they were out of the line Rupert was temporarily detached from 31st Battalion to the 8th Light Trench Mortar Battery (LTMB). This unit was comprised of infantry soldiers manning the light (3 inch) mortar. Bigger mortars were assigned to Artillery units. As a Brigade unit, 8th LTM Battery supported all 4 Battalions of the 8th Brigade. Rupert’s first engagement was on 10 Oct.
14 Oct saw the Brigade start to withdraw from the front & prepare to move south to the Somme. They commenced the journey on 16 Oct & took up positions on the front line at Flers, 5 km south of Bapaume, on 22 Oct.
However on 17 Oct Rupert dropped out of the 15km route march “without first reporting to an officer”. He was charged with the military catch-all of “Conduct to the prejudice of good order & military discipline”. He was awarded 2 days Field Punishment.
The Brigade was relieved from the front line on 4 Nov, having suffered 32 killed & 108 wounded or missing.
On 11 Nov while resting Rupert was permanently transferred to 8th LTM Battery. One week later on 20 Nov, just as the Brigade was beginning to deploy back to the front line, he was evacuated sick with a fever of unknown origin. He spent 5 days in hospital at Etaples on the coast and then 4 weeks in the Base Depot before rejoining his unit on 20 Dec in a rear area near Albert. This was the extremely cold Somme winter of 1916/17.
After spending 4 weeks training & moving through rear areas Rupert’s unit was back in the front line 17 Jan near Guillemont. They were relieved on 28 Jan & on 30 Jan Rupert was evacuated sick for 5 days.
They were back in the front line on 16 Feb. 23 Feb saw the beginning of the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, however on 25th Rupert was again evacuated sick with diarrhoea & gastritis. He spent a month in a rest camp and rejoined his unit on 27 Mar at Bapaume which had recently been captured by 8th Brigade troops.
They were relieved in the line on 7 Apr & engaged in training and fatigue parties. 18 Apr the Brigade was relieved and moved back but the 8th LTM Battery stayed and were detached to 5th Brigade 2nd Division which was designated to participate in the 2nd Battle of Bullecourt. The remainder of April was spent practising for the upcoming attack.
The Bullecourt battles were very costly for AIF units and reduced the troops’ belief in the higher command. The 2nd Battle commenced on 3 May and the 5th Brigade had a very torrid time and did not reach their objectives. Their Battery of 46 soldiers suffered 23 casualties.
Witnesses stated that he was in a shell hole when a shell landed killing him and wounding his 2 comrades. This was in the first half hour of the attack and short of the objective. His identity disc was removed and a subsequent shell buried him. His body was not recovered.
He was identified by his mates as of “fair complexion, about 5ft 9ins height, …. fairly well built but his lungs were a trifle weak”.
He was originally posted as Missing but soon changed to Killed. He is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France
On 16 Jun SMH Roll of Honour notice stated:
“MARRIOTT -Killed in action in France, May 3, 1917, Gunner A. R. Marriott beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Marriott, O’Brien-street, Bondi aged 29 years.
MARRIOTT-Killed In action May 2, 1917, Gunner A. R. Marriott, only son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Marriott, Clifton, 6 O’Brien-street Bondi. Inserted by his sorrowing sister and brother-in-law, Pearl and Jack Scholes, North Goulburn.”
On 8 Jun1917 the Adelong and Tumut Express and Tumbarumba Post had a testimonial:
A FALLEN HERO.
Gunner A. Rupert Marriott, son of Mr Frank Marriott, of Bondi and formerly a resident of Tumut for many years, has been killed in action in France. He was 27 years of age, and belonged to the 8th Brigade, Light Trench Mortar Battery, having enlisted on March 14, 1916, prior to which he was in the employ of the Australian Gaslight Company.
He fell on May 2. He was through the big pushes at Pozieres, Bapaume and on the Somme all the winter and just prior to being killed was mentioned in despatches for rescuing two of his mates in No-man’s Land under very heavy fire. Rupert was just entering into manhood when he left Tumut, and was at one time on the Express staff.
He was a stalwart, robust young man, and a true stamp of soldier. How many of such have made the supreme sacrifice for freedom and liberty?
His comrades posted his fountain pen and watch to his mother. No other personal effects came through official channels.
His father Frank died in 1946 and his stepmother Eva in 1950.
Rupert is also commemorated on the Bondi Memorial in Waverley Park and the Tumut Public School Memorial.