Eyes brown, Hair black, Complexion dark
Morton SOLOMON, by Peter Allen
Story text (with minor edits and additions) is reproduced with permission from the copyright holders, the Australian Jewish Historical Society on behalf of Peter M. Allen.
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Morton Solomon was born in Pittsburgh, USA, in 1893, to Cecilia and Solomon (Sol) Solomon, an ophthalmic optician. Morton also trained as an optician and by July 1913 the family - with daughter Cora and stepmother Esther - had arrived in Western Australia and opened the Opticians Parlor - Solomon and Son in Hay St, Perth.
Age 21, he enlisted at Blackboy Hill Camp in the AIF’s 32nd Battalion (D Company) on 19 July 1915 as No. 1367 Private Morton Solomon. He trained at the camp before the battalion combined with South Australians, subsequently embarking aboard HMAT A2 Geelong from Adelaide on 18 November 1915.
They arrived at Suez, Egypt, one month later. In January he spent two weeks in a Field Hospital with an ‘inflamed corn on left foot’ and:
“Found guilty, 16 May 1916, of holding a conversation with a prisoner in the guard tent: admonished.”
From Egypt to France
The Battalion, part of the 8th Brigade, joined the newly raised 5th Australian Division in Egypt, sailing from Alexandria on 17 June to join the British Expeditionary Force. They disembarked at Marseilles on 23 June for the Western Front in the north of France, 20km west of Lille, at Fleurbaix.
Having only entered the front-line trenches three days previously, the 32nd fought its first major battle, at Fromelles on 19-20 July. According to the Australian War Memorial website, the attack was a disastrous introduction for the 32nd and it suffered 718 casualties. This was almost 75 per cent of the battalion's total strength, but closer to 90 per cent of its actual fighting strength. Many men were killed during the pre-assault phases by enemy or ‘friendly’ artillery fire, while many advanced too far and got lost in no-man’s land or were cut-off by the German counter-attack – the result of poor planning, maps, and communication.
Morton’s record gives no indication of the circumstances of his death, only that a Court of Enquiry in September determined that he was ‘Killed in Action on 19 July 1916’ – exactly one year after his official enlistment.
No grave - but never forgotten
As he has no known grave, Private Morton Solomon’s name is engraved on Panel 6 at VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France.
He was one of ten Jews amongst the 2,000 diggers killed at the Battle of Fromelles: Australia’s – and Australian Jewry’s - worst-ever 24 hours.
DNA is still being sought for family connections to
|Soldier||Morton SOLOMON 1893-1916 born Pittsburgh, USA|
|Parents||Solomon SOLOMON b. 1864 Russia, d. 1916, Western Australia|
|and Cecilia ADOLPH b. 1867 Germany, d. 1907 Pennsylvania, USA|
|1 Sibling: Cora (married Leon Woodman 1928, later divorced)|
|Maternal||Isaac ADOLPH b. 1841 Germany d. 1903 Ohio, USA and Rosa Levy b. abt 1841 Germany d. 1915 Pennsylvania USA|
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