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SALMON, John Walter (1889-1956)

SALMON, John Walter (1889-1956)

'Jack' Salmon was born on 22 November 1889, the eldest of twelve children of old Collegian, Dr Henry Robert Salmon (1861-1910) and his wife, Alice Jane nee Walter.

'Jack' Salmon's father died in 1910, leaving his widow with eleven offspring.

'Jack' had attended Geelong College from 1903 until 1907, while his younger brothers attended Ballarat College. While at school he made a mark in sport rather than as a scholar: being short he coxed the 1st Rowing VIII for three years (1904-06); he played in the 1st Cricket XI in 1907 and was an outstanding rover in the 1st Football XVIII in 1906 and 1907.

Younger brother, R A 'Bob' Salmon, had served on Gallipoli with the 5th Battalion, and Jack and Wilfred enlisted in the AIF on 5 October 1915, after the minimum height was lowered from 5ft 6ins to 5ft 2ins (Jack stood 5ft 2ins in his socks). They embarked for Egypt on HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 18 November 1915 as Drivers in 10th Battery, 4th Field Artillery Brigade. They served on the Somme, at Lynde, Armentieres, Messines, Amiens, Sausage Valley, Pozieres, Mouquet Farm, and Ypres.

Jack's son, Brigadier John Robert Salmon CBE noted:
'They transferred to Gunners on arrival in France on 19th March 1916. After the Somme, the brothers considered their future and that of their younger siblings and mother. 'Wiff endeavoured to join the RAFC but it was full. He was accepted for the RFC but was killed in action three days after getting his wings (he died in gallant circumstances having on his own initiative, attacked a German force of 22 twin-engined Gotha bombers, each armed with three machine guns, which were returning from a successful raid on London on 7 July 1917. Officer Cadet Jack Salmon identified the body and attended the funeral.

Jack (had) applied for a commission and, after courses in England at St John's Wood and Lark Hill, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 7t September 1917, and posted to 13th Battery, 5th Artillery Brigade, 2nd Division AIF. He survived many attacks as a forward observation officer (FOO) and was promoted Lieutenant. On 27 September 1918, 5th Artillery Brigade Operation Order No 11, attached as Appendix 10, ordered Lt J W Salmon to join the left battalion of 119th American Infantry Regiment as Liaison Officer for an attack on 29 September. After the attack, on being released to rejoin his unit, the 13th Battery, a stray shell fell among his group, killing his Signaller, and blowing off Jack's right arm at the shoulder. This was the third time he had been wounded, and he barely survived. He returned to Melbourne in July 1919.

Bob was wounded and received a Military Cross 'for rescuing men in No-Man's Land at Fromelles on 19 July 1916' (he was by now with 57 Battalion, having transferred to that unit in Egypt). Geoff, an even younger brother, joined them in France with the artillery, and survived the war unscathed'

'Jack' returned to Australia, embarking on 25 January 1919 on HMT Ceramic.

His brother, Lt Wilfred Graham 'Wiff' Salmon, RFC, was killed on active service on 7 July 1917, and buried at Dartford (Watling Street) Cemetery, Kent, Grave A.1655.

E I 'Tim' Ware, an Old Geelong Grammarian, wrote to his parents on 10 August 1917 about the Salmon brothers:
'Poor little Wiff Salmon who went away from us ... was killed while fighting raiders over England. It was hard luck, he was such a fine chap and I believe it is said that he was one of the best cadets that had gone through the RFC School. Flying seemed to come naturally to him. Jack, his brother, is in England now getting his commission in this mob.'

'Jack' managed Talindert, Eddington and Gnarpurt Stations, near Camperdown for Chester Manifold for many years. He died on 20 September 1956.

Pegasus published a brief obituary in December 1956:
'John Walter 'Jack' Salmon of 'Eddington', Camperdown, died on September 20. He attended the College from 1903 to 1907 and was a member of the first XI and XVIII. He then engaged in pastoral pursuits throughout his life except for the period of the first World War, when he served abroad in an artillery unit of the AIF and was severely wounded just before the close of hostilities. His father, Mr H R Salmon was a Collegian of the 'seventies', while his sons, John and Bill are Old Boys of the 1940's.'

His sons, Brigadier John Robert Salmon CBE (1926-2013), and William Arthur Salmon (1928-2018), were both educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Pegasus December 1956 p54; Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. p303-304 (citing The Pegasus; J R Salmon, Salmon Antecedents: A summary of one Salmon Family in Australia and of their Antecedents; Australian War Memorial).
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