News of the death of their son and brother Christopher reached the Armstrong family on their farm in Yallingup early in September 1915. He had been shot in the spine at Gallipoli and died in hospital in Egypt seventeen days later. Christopher’s brother, Alfred (usually called ‘Cedar’), a farm hand on the property, was barely eighteen when he volunteered on 28 November 1915. He had his father’s support, although his service record does not include the certificate which provided permission to enlist. It was probably the same as the certificate preserved in Christopher’s file, doubtless completed a second time by the boys’ father with conflicting emotions.
Alfred joined the 51st Battalion, and after basic training at Blackboy Hill on the outskirts of Perth he proceeded to France. At the end of 1916 he was promoted to corporal, after a satisfactory report from the ‘Telescopic Light School’. For two weeks in February 1917 he was hospitalised with an intestinal infection, rejoining his unit in the field on 15 February. On 31 March he was shot through both legs somewhere on the Menin Road. After initial treatment in France he was transferred to Epsom Military Hospital on the outskirts of London. After five months of treatment there and at Harefield, he began the long journey home on 10 September 1917.
After being discharged in March 1918, Alfred took up residence under canvas on the land that his brother once owned. He called his property ‘Mouquet Farm’. In Margaret River village, people will also tell you that ‘Cedar’ Armstrong was the first shopkeeper in the town.
Alfred died in 1985 and eventually his farm became ‘Sunflowers Animal Farm’, a place where it is possible to feed and pat animals and birds. It is especially popular with children. Some of Alfred’s rough bush-timber construction is still in evidence. Sheds that now provide shelters for goats, calves, pigs and a variety of domesticated birds are either fragments of the original ‘Mouquet Farm’ or sympathetic recreations of what once was there.
Alfred ‘Cedar’ Armstrong’s service record: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=3035306
George Curtis’s service record: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=3479471