PURNELL, Francis Ormond (1888-1916) +

Modified on Tue, 09 Aug 2016 15:27 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Students, Geelong College, Biography of War - World War I

PURNELL, Francis Ormond (1888-1916)

F O Purnell (War Service)

F O Purnell (War Service)

Francis Ormond Purnell was born on 30 January 1888, the son of Alexander Purnell and Elizabeth nee Anderson, of Talbot Street, Newtown, he attended The Geelong College from 1899 until 1902.

On leaving the School he entered the firm of Hawkes Brothers, Geelong, and remained in their employ for twelve years, until his enlistment in the AIF on 15 March 1915. He enlisted as a Private, but soon proved his capabilities, and was made 2nd Lieutenant before leaving Australia with the 12th Reinforcement Group to 14 Battalion on 23 November 1915 from Melbourne on HMAT A40 Ceramic. He was further promoted Lieutenant in Egypt, where he transferred to the newly-formed 46 Battalion, and was given his Captaincy at Pozieres. He was Acting Company Commander when the troops were reviewed by Sir Douglas Haig in July 1916. He was killed in action at Flers on 13 November 1916.

Private W J Sanders, 46 Battalion, reported to the Red Cross Information Bureau:
‘Casualty was killed at Gueudecourt together with Brigadier Glasfurd of the Highland Regiment attached to the 12th Brigade on 13 November 1916, whilst in the trench. Casualty was killed by a whizz-bang. I saw his grave.’

His signaller, Private Spencer Sturges (of Launceston, and Moonee Ponds) was also killed in the same explosion. Captain Purnell was buried by Father Devine, 46 Battalion Padre, at Bancourt British Cemetery, Flers - Grave X.A.18.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp90-91 (citing Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; Photo Pegasus December, 1916.)