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Wilfred Race (1889-1917)

Labourer from Ireshopeburn served in France with the Australian Imperial Force

Wilfred Race was born on 17 July 1889, son of Aaron, a lead miner, and Margaret Race of Ireshopeburn. He had six brothers and one sister. Wilfred was was admitted to Wearhead School on 27 August 1894, and left school on 7 July 1904. According to the 1911 census, Wilfred was living as a boarder in Paragon Street, Stanhope and working as a quarry labourer.

In 1911, aged 22, he sailed from London to Fremantle, Western Australia, giving his occupation as farm labourer. When he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Perth, in February 1916, he had been living in East Fremantle, working as a bread carter, and gave as next-of-kin his brother Albert who lived in Spennymoor.

He embarked for France as a private in D Company, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, unit number 1236. He sailed on the Wandilla, leaving Melbourne on 6 June 1916, arriving at Plymouth on 26 July of that year. Early in July the ship docked in Cape Town and the soldiers were allowed some shore leave. It seems that Wilfred may have had rather too good a time on leave as he was disciplined for going absent without leave for six hours on 3 July. His punishment was the loss of one day’s pay.

Wilfred’s battalion proceeded to France from Southampton on 24 November 1916. The Pioneer battalions, usually one to a division, were organised much as an infantry battalion but were engaged mainly on making and repairing roads, railways, water pipes and so on. It could be very dangerous work, as these were prime targets for enemy artillery.

He was killed on 12 July 1917, and is buried in Kandahar Farm Cemetery, West Vlaanderen Cemetery, Belgium, Grave No I.B.16

Civil Parish: Stanhope

Birth date: 17-July-1889

Death date: 12-July-1917

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Ireshopeburn, County Durham
Paragon Street, Stanhope
East Fremantle, Australia

Education: Wearhead School, 1894-1904

Employment: Quarry labourer in Stanhope
Bread carter in Australia

Family: Father: Aaron Race
Mother: Margaret Race
Brothers: Joshua, Aaron, John, George, William, Albert
Sister: Isabella

Military service:

Private, number D Company, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, Australian Imperial Defence Force

Medal(s): British War Medal

Memorial(s): Kandahar Farm Cemetery, West Vlaanderen Cemetery, Belgium, Grave No I.B.16
Saint John’s Chapel, village green, war memorial
Saint John’s Chapel, town hall, roll of honour

Gender: Male

Contributed by John B | Mel Brown