Farnell George & James Wilfred Mardling

July 20, 2015


There were three Mardling brothers who attended St Patrick’s as boarders from Port Fairy; Farnel George (SPC 1903-1904), James Wilfred (SPC 1914-1916), and Thomas (SPC 1914-1916). Tom did not enlist in the AIF.

Farnel and James were both killed in action together on 4 October 1917 at Passchendaele. This publication has combined their biographies as they were together for most of their time in the war.

Farnel George- – – SPC 1903-1904

DoB:- – 1886, South Yarra, VIC

Father:- – William Cooke Mardling

Mother:- – Ellen Isabella Grey, nee Younger

Service No:- 3848

Rank:- – Private

Unit:- – 8th Battalion

Farnel George Mardling enlisted on 16 July 1915 at the age of 28 years and 11 months. He was five feet, eight inches tall, with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was not married, and his occupation was accountant.

James Wilfred – – – SPC 1914

DoB:- – 1890, Swan Hill, VIC

Service No:- 4834

Rank:- – Lance Corporal

Unit:- – 8th Battalion

James Wilfred enlisted on 23 November 1915, four months after his older brother Farnel. James was five feet, six and a half inches tall, with a fresh complexion, -‘greenish brown’ eyes and dark brown hair. He was a single man, whose occupation was bank clerk.

Farnel embarked from Melbourne aboard the Ceramic on 23 November 1915, sailing to Egypt where he underwent further training. James left Melbourne a few months later, on 7 March 1916 aboard the Wiltshire. He also reached Egypt where he trained for some weeks before proceeding to France. James’ unit reached its Battalion in the Field on 29 July, two months after Farnel. It was at this point in late July 1916 that the two brothers were reunited.

After some months on active service, both brothers were granted leave between 10 September and 29 September 1917. Upon their return, their Battalion was preparing for action at Passchendaele. Both Farnel and James were killed together, along with several of their comrades, on 4 October 1917. Eyewitness accounts reveal what happened:

– -‘-¦ We had hopped over on the morning -¦ had taken first objective and dug in, and a shell killed Mardling J W who was a Lewis Gunner, and all the rest of the gun crew, including his brother Mardling F G. This was about dinner time -¦’

-‘-¦ On Oct 4th they, Bells and another man, all that were left of a L G [Lewis Gun] team at Passchendaele in a shell hole near to mine with their gun, when about 10am a shell pitched in their hole and killed all four besides putting their gun out of action. They were brothers from Ballarat, about 25/27 both big fine men, one the corporal of the gun. They were well brought up well educated men professional men or perhaps in a bank. Very much liked and looked up to in the regiment. What remains there were, were afterwards collected and buried on the spot by the pioneers -¦’

Farnel George Mardling, aged 31 years, was buried where he lay at Passchendaele and is remembered at the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial. James Wilfred Mardling, aged 27, was buried at the Oxford Road Military Cemetery, one and a half miles north of Ypres.