Geoffrey Broome was born in Rockhampton, Queensland on 4th August 1896 to William and Francis Broome.
He was their second son and Geoffrey’s father was the younger brother of Edmund Broome,
who was vicar of St. Nicholas, Hurst during the early part of the twentieth century.
Geoffrey was educated at Rockhampton Grammar School before commencing work at Mount Morgan, about twenty miles from his parents’ home in Rockhampton.
By the start of the First World War Geoffrey was eight months into a five year apprenticeship in the electrical works of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Co. Ltd.
He had already shown an interest in the military, having served in the Junior and Senior Cadets.
On July 1st 1914 Geoffrey joined 'E' Company of the 3rd Infantry Citizens Militia Force and shortly afterwards he wrote to his father requesting permission to enlist in the army and received the following reply:
17th July 1914
I was surprised to get your postcard this afternoon.
If you are bent on joining the Expeditionary Force of course neither Mother nor I will go against your doing so and you have our formal consent to join.
Your affectionate father,|
Geoffrey attested for service in Mount Morgan and formally enlisted on 23rd September 1914.
He was just eighteen years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 8 stones 3 lbs.
Geoffrey was assigned to the 15th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, which was created six weeks after the outbreak of the war.
Three-quarters of the battalion were recruited as volunteers from Queensland and the rest from Tasmania.
With the 13th, 14th and 16th Battalions it formed the 4th Brigade, commanded by Colonel John Monash.
The Queensland and Tasmanian recruits were united when the Battalion undertook elementary training at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria.
They embarked for overseas from Melbourne on 22nd December 1914 aboard HMAT Ceramic, as part of a seventeen ship convoy that carried 4th Brigade to the Middle East.
After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the Battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving in early February 1915.
Here 4th Brigade moved into camp near Heliopolis and became part of the New Zealand and Australian Division.
Initially the men expected to be deployed on the Western Front, but with the advent of the Dardanelles campaign it became apparent that their destination was to be Gallipoli.
The 4th Brigade landed at Anzac Cove late in the afternoon of 25 April 1915 and from May until August the 15th Battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the Anzac beachhead.
The 4th Brigade held the left-centre sector including Pope's Hill and Quinn's Post.
Quinn's Post was the most advanced point of the front line.
Located on the northern edge of the main ANZAC line, it protected the Monash and Shrapnel gullies, which led back to the beachhead.
If it had fallen, the Turks could have broken into the heart of the ANZAC position.
The first really heavy fighting after the landing occurred on the 18th and 19th of May and this engagement is now known as the Second Battle of Anzac.
For several days prior to the attack the Turks had been tunnelling against a portion of the Australian line where the trenches were within 10 yards of one another.
On 18th May they exploded a mine beneath the front line trench and subjected the ANZAC lines to a heavy bombardment from field guns, howitzers and 12-inch guns.
Then at midnight on 18th May a violent fire from rifles and machine guns broke out along the whole front, with firing being particularly heavy from the Turkish position at the head of Monash Gully.
Quinn's Post bore the brunt of the attack but after heavy fighting the Turks were repulsed.
During the fighting on 18th May 1914 Geoffrey Broome was killed in action at Quinn's Post; he was eighteen years old and had been on active service in Gallipoli for only three weeks.
Geoffrey was buried nearby in Shrapnel Gully and his funeral on 20th May 1915 was presided over by Rev. Frederick W. Wray, Chaplain to 4th Brigade.
On 15th June Geoffrey's parents received a telegram with the sad news of his death.
Some time later Serjeant Major Fraser wrote, telling more about Geoffrey’s time at Gallipoli:
Your son Geoffrey landed in the same boat as I did on 25th April, during the afternoon, and next morning we were sent to reinforce our other Battalions.
We had to carry a case of rifle ammunition between two men, up and down high hills and small cliffs with no pathways, and often through mud and water knee-deep, all the time under heavy shrapnel and snipers' fire.
Your son and myself carried a box between us.
Several times I wanted him to stay behind as he was very fatigued but he insisted on staying with us, although several stayed behind.
On the night of the 26th we took up a position on the extreme right, relieving the 5th Battalion, advanced half a mile further towards the Turks, and dug ourselves in, where we remained for five days on very scanty rations.
We were then relieved from this position and taken direct to Quinn’s Post, where there was not a single trench, and we had to set to and dig ourselves in under a severe fire.
We put in nearly two months at Quinn’s.
We lost over a thousand men at Quinn’s.
About midnight on 17th May we were called to arms and hurried into the firing line.
The Turks did not attack until 8 a.m.
Their trenches were only 15 or 20 feet from ours, and they came out in masses.
We would shoot them down as fast as they came, and as one dropped another came up.
They were only about three feet from us when young Broome stopped one.
Then we saw him drop, shot clean through the head.
He died a few moments later.
He was known amongst the Company as one of the bravest.
There is a cross over his grave behind Quinn’s Post.
He was twice wounded.
I was next to him when he was killed, and there were several others alongside of us killed in the same hour.
In September William Broome wrote to the Base Records Office in Melbourne enquiring about Geoffrey’s effects.
Six months later he received a solitary brown paper parcel delivered from Egypt by Thomas Cook & Son containing Geoffrey’s wallet, prayer book, match box, chain and keys.
After the war families were permitted to pay for personal inscriptions to be added to the gravestones of their loved ones.
In April 1921 William Broome duly submitted an inscription to the Base Records Office but this was rejected as it slightly exceeded the 66 letter allowance.
This was then reduced to:
SON OF W. AND F.P. BROOME, ROCKHAMPTON, QUEENSLAND. AGED 18.
Geoffrey is now commemorated on the
Lone Pine Memorial.
His older brother John also fought in the First World War and was invalided home after receiving a gunshot wound to the chest while fighting in Polygon Wood during the Third Battle of Ypres.
Geoffrey is remembered locally on a brass plaque in St. Nicholas Church, Hurst which reads:
In loving memory of |
second son of
WILLIM and FRANCES BROOME
Killed in Action at the Dardanelles.
May 18th 1915, Aged 18 years.