GUNNER ARNOLD ALEXANDER MACULLY MACULLY
AUSTRALIAN FIELD ARTILLERY
23RD OCTOBER 1918 AGE 24
BURIED: PREMONT BRITISH CEMETERY, AISNE, FRANCE
Macully was a volunteer, every Australian soldier was a volunteer as there was no conscription in Australia. But it was an issue that bitterly divided country. In October 1916 the Government held a referendum on the issue and was defeated by 72,000 votes. It held another referendum in December 1917 when it lost by 166,588 votes.
It may not look like it but Mrs Macully is referring to conscription in her son's inscription. Arnold Macully had recognised that he had a duty to fight for God and his country - the Latin 'Deo et patria' lending gravitas to the sentiment. But she hadn't forced him to do his duty: "Mother dear I must go" speaks of a tender but determined son and a mother who is unwilling to part with him. The implication is clear, Arnold Macully was no shirker and Mrs Macully had not forced her son to enlist.
Macully served with the 14th Brigade Australian Artillery. All the Australian divisions had been withdrawn from the Western Front for rest and recuperation after the Battle of Montbrehain on the 5 October. Not only were they exhausted having been in continuous action since August but there weren't enough Australian reinforcements to make up the casualties and some battalions were operating at less than half their strength. However, some artillery units remained to support the British and American infantry. The 14th Brigade was one of those that remained. On 23 October they were engaged at Le Cateau, providing a creeping barrage for a British attack.
Macully's Red Cross file states that he was admitted to the 55th Casualty Clearing Station on 23 October and died the next day. A witness told his mother:
"It happened at dusk one evening late in October, and Gunner Macully was in his dugout in the waggon lines when he was badly wounded by a shell in the thigh and side." His mate helped place "him on a stretcher, and carried him to an Ambulance by the road-side. He was quite conscious and chattered cheerfully to the Drivers Saunders and Edwards, telling them how to apply the Field Dressing. He was then taken away, and they learnt later that he has succumbed to his wounds."