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11 April 2010

Private Archibald Percy Choat of Cherry Gardens

Archie Choat was the third of the seven sons of Joseph Choat and Alice Mary Choat (nee Broadbent). He was born in 1897 at Cherry Gardens, but the family moved to Clarence Park before he was old enough for school. He attended Goodwood Public School and was working as a farm labourer for the Duncan family at 'Gum Creek' near Clare before he enlisted.

As he was only 18 years old, he needed his parent's permission to enlist alongside his older brothers Ray and Wesley on 12 July 1915, and all three were allocated to A (or 'Ack') Company of the SA/WA-recruited 32nd Battalion with sequential regimental numbers.

Embarking from Adelaide on 18 November 1915, the Battalion disembarked at Suez on 18 December 1915, and after training in Egypt sailed for France in June 1916. On 19 July 1916 the inexperienced battalion was thrown into the poorly planned Battle of Fromelles. During the night of 19/20 July 1916 Ack Company of the 32nd Battalion was cut-off by German counter-attacks and Archie and his brother Ray were killed. Their brother Wesley was wounded by shrapnel and captured by the Germans. Archie's body was found and buried at the Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, France. His name is inscribed on: the State National War Memorial, the Goodwood Primary School honour board, the Goodwood Anglican Church Monument, the Unley Town Hall honour roll and the family grave at Mitcham Cemetery.

After his death his parents and friends wrote to the Red Cross and the Department of Defence and placed family notices in the Advertiser remembering Archie. Among the letters and messages, his parents said their 'hearts were rent, and well nigh broken'. His brother Wesley escaped from the German prison camp and received the Military Medal in recognition of his bravery in doing so. It was common for family and friends to include a short poem in notices placed in the newspaper, and the following poem was the one chosen for Archie by his friend 'Olly':

rest on in peace, o warrior brave
now your task is o'er
all your best you gladly gave
to help us win the war
but the last post now has sounded
you've laid aside your sword
and god has called you from us
to your noble-won reward

Photograph: Courtesy State Records of South Australia


  1. Hi I am researching family history and would like to know if the Percy CHOAT referred to is descended as a grandson of a Henry CHOAT (1827-1904) and Caroline CHOAT (nee TURNER) (1825-1904). Henry had a son Joseph (b. 1865).

    Henry CHOAT is a gt gt gt father of myself.

  2. Peter, I don't know whether Archie (and Wesley and Ray) Choat's father Joseph was Henry's son. This Joseph died on 2 August 1933 (so it is possible if he died about age 68), and their mother Alice Mary on 28 July 1946 (aged 77, so she was born around 1869 and would have been a few years younger than Joseph as you would expect). The whole family (including Archie and Ray who were both killed at the battle of Fromelles), is commemorated in the Mitcham cemetery. I have a photograph of the memorial stone as well as photos of the three boys. As you might be aware, Birth, Death and Marriage data at the State Library of SA should help with your research.

  3. I am researching the choat brothers and cousins who went to ww1 and would like to know all their names, I have gotten cribs and draws and would appreciate any assistance. I can be contacted on 0438740838
    Thank you