SECOND LIEUTENANT MAURICE EDWARD KOZMINSKY
19TH AUGUST 1916 AGE 31
BURIED: WARLOY-BAILLON COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, ISRAEL
'Life is service' comes from a very famous quotation but whether it was Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) or Rabindrath Tagore (1861-1941) who wrote it the Internet can't decide. It could of course be neither. However, this is the full quote:
I slept and dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and saw that life is all service. I served and saw that service is joy.
Maurice Kozminsky enlisted in May 1915, received a commission in July, was promoted Lieutenant in January 1916, and sailed from Australia in March. After a spell in Egypt, he joined the 7th Battalion in France and on 22 July 1916 went into action with them at Pozieres.
The Australian success at Pozeires on the 23rd came at a huge price and had costly consequences too. Since their's had been the only success, the Germans subjected the area to their greatest artillery barrage yet, a frenzy of savagely remorseless bombardment. By the 29 July the 7th Battalion's losses were so great that they had to be withdrawn. However, they were in action again on 15 August. Kozminsky was killed on the 19th.
In June 1917, Kozminsky's family asked if the Australian Red Cross could find out what had happened to him. The reports do not make for pleasant reading: "he was hit by machine gun fire in left side thigh and stomach and later on got one arm blown off by shell". "I saw him on the stretcher with one arm off and shot through the abdomen". "He left no message, being too weak to speak". Kozminsky was described by one witness as "the whitest man that ever went into action", and by another as "a Russian, and a favourite with the boys and a game sort of fellow".
In fact, the Kozminsky family were not Russian. Abraham Kosminsky, Maurice's father, was 14 when he arrived in Australia from Poland. He built up his business interests there until by 1912 he was Chairman of Austral Hat Mills Ltd, where Maurice was a director and a prominent members of Melbourne's Jewish community.