Archibald Owen Ivall


Birth Date:
23 Feb 1883
Death Date:
31 Oct 1917
Service Branch:
Australian Army, 1st Australian Tunnelling Company
Service Number:

Archibald Owen Ivall was born 23 February 1883 in Chalvey, a village now a suburb of  Slough. He was the youngest of six children born to Owen Ivall (b1846) and Emily Maria Ivall nee Moss (1846-1883). His mother died 18 days after Archibald was born. Owen’s occupation was a whitesmith ie a polisher or finisher of metal goods. He married again in 1885 to Sarah Smith nee Plumridge (a widow). Both lived in Eton, which is near Chalvey. They argued frequently and separated in September 1887. I cannot find either Archibald or Owen in the 1891 census, but have found what appears to be Sarah living alone.

In 1901, Archibald, aged 18, a domestic helper, was living in Lambeth at the house of his eldest sister Emily Maria (31), her husband Oliver Carter (40) and their children Joseph (3) Ethel (1) and Ivy (4 months).

In 1910, The Daily Mirror initiated an “interesting agricultural experiment”. They picked men from the ranks of the unemployed in London and offered them work on a farm in Essex. An article on 29 March 1910, contained the following description of how they recruited Archibald.

The Daily Mirror eventually arrived at the Salvation Army shelter at Millbank, outside which a long line of men were waiting in file to purchase shelter for the night. From among these men one was chosen and offered work. His name is Archibald Ivall, born in Windsor and twenty-six years of age. The past ten years he has been in London. He has been an odd-job man most of his life. Since Christmas he has had no work at all, and before then he had earned a living as a porter. He expressed himself anxious for work and accepted immediately the terms offered to him.

The following item appeared in The Daily Mirror dated 7 October 1910 :

 “Daily Mirror” Emigrants Sail Today to Farm in Australia

Two strong, healthy, happy emigrants leave England for Australia this morning. They are Archibald Ivall and William Munson, The Daily Mirror farm labourers who, six months ago, were starving on the Embankment. It will be remembered that as a result of Mr Faulconbridge’s opinion that any healthy and sound man taken from any surroundings could be placed upon a farm and as a labourer be worth a living wage at once, The Daily Mirror arranged with Mr Faulconbridge to train these two men, who were picked at random from the Embankment.

How successful the experiment was our readers have already been told, and descriptive accounts of the men’s work and progress at the farm have been published from time to time in The Daily Mirror. They have learned to plough and sow, to feed and look after cattle, build a haystack and countless other duties of farm work. A brief diary of The Daily Mirror’s farming experiment is as follows :

February 10, 1910 – Mr Faulconbridge makes offer of farm work to unemployed men

March 25 – Munson starts work at Fen Farm, Ardleigh near Colchester followed by Ivall four days later

May 5 – Men making steady progress, Mr Faulconbridge enthusiastic

July 1910 – Men so improved that offers are made for them to go to Queensland, Australia. They decide to go after harvesting.

September 30 – Work concluded at Fen Farm. Complete success of experiment.

 During this week, Ivall and Munson, assisted by The Daily Mirror, have been making arrangements for their passage.

Both men have been like “fish out of water” – to use their own expression – in London this week – they have missed the open, free life of the country. They sail from Liverpool this morning on board the steamship Dorset and will arrive at Brisbane, Queensland, the first week in December.

Work has been guaranteed them on arriving at Brisbane by the Queensland Government. They will work the land and both hope to have farms of their own very soon. Ivall is twenty-six and Munson twenty-one years of age. “I shall come back to England one day with my pockets full of money!” said the younger emigrant to The Daily Mirror yesterday.

An item in The Daily Mirror of 28 October 1910 said that Mr Faulconbridge had sold his farm in Essex and also left England for Queensland. Shipping records show that Archibald Ivall arrived at Brisbane on the Dorset on 9 December 1910.

The Daily Mirror published this letter from Archibald on 1 May 1912

Agricultural College, Gatton, Queensland                                                           18 March 1912

 Sir – Will you please accept my best thanks for training me through your Daily Mirror Scheme for the Unemployed for Farm Work and for sending me to Australia. I have been at Gatton College since I landed here and I have done very well. There is room for thousands more like myself, who are willing to work as I have for the last fifteen months. Mr Faulconbridge is on his way to England and when he returns I commence working on my own farm, a selection of 450 acres and I hope soon to be employing men. This will, I think, prove to you that there are many men as unfortunate as myself who might be trained on the land and better their position.

Again thanking you, yours obediently

                                                            (Signed) Archibald Ivall

There were items in The Daily Mirror on 17 and 18 May 1912 in which Percy Faulconridge was interviewed. He talked enthusiastically of Archibald’s progress and prospects as a farmer in Australia. Percy said that he would like another 100 men to come out to Queensland to be trained by him and asked for applications. Assisted passages costing £6 would be available.

Archibald is listed in 1913 Australian Electoral Rolls as living in Laidley, Moreton, Queensland. Laidley is a small town about 50 miles west of Brisbane. His occupation is given as labourer in the first issue and farmer in the second issue for that year. When he volunteered to join the army in October 1915 he gave his occupation as a labourer on the railways, so it appears that he didn’t remain in farming for long.

The Australian National Archives website has documents recording Archibald’s service in World War 1. He enlisted on 9 October 1915 at Forest Hill, Queensland aged 32 years and 8 months. Forest Hill is a small rural township in the South of Queensland, a few miles north of Laidley. His height was 5 ft 4 inches and weight 9 stones 4 lbs. He was unmarried and gave his next of kin as his friend, Mr P Faulconbridge, Forest Hill, Queensland. This has been crossed out and Mr R T O Ivall (brother), The Fire Station, Southwark Bridge Road, London handwritten in, dated 3 January 1918 (Robert Thomas Owen Ivall, 1876-1953, was Archibald’s elder brother). Archibald embarked from Sydney on 20 February 1916 aboard the HMAT Ulysses, disembarking at Marseilles on 5 May 1916. He was a Sapper in the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company and took part in fighting near Ypres in Belgium.

The Australian 1st Tunnelling Company Memorial at Hill 60 in Zwart-Leen, Ypres, remembers the men (probably including Archibald) who fought above and below the ground there. One of the most famous positions on the Western Front, Hill 60, had been formed in the 19th century from the soil taken from a deep railway cutting. The hill’s height of 60 metres gave it immense strategic importance in that flat country and both sides continually fought for it. The British tunnelled into the hill in 1915 and 1916 to plant mines which killed many Germans when they exploded. The 1st Australian Tunnelling Company took over the tunnels and mines on 9 November 1916. The Company’s primary job was to keep intact two great mines being prepared for a major assault to break the enemy front. Protecting the mines from the Germans involved the diggers in ferocious underground fighting. The work was exhausting and six months’ service in the tunnels of Hill 60 was regarded as the limit of strain any troops could stand.

Archibald died of wounds on 31st October 1917 in the 7th Australian Field Ambulance. I don’t know the circumstances of his death except that the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company was constructing dugouts near Ypres at this time. He was 34 and is buried in the Menin Road South Military Cemetery, Ypres.

Archibald’s service file contains several letters written by Mary Faulconbridge (wife of Percy Faulconbridge). She said that Archibald had told her that she was “the only mother he ever had”, that he was nominating her as his next of kin and would receive his military pay should he die. The Australian army’s reply was that nomination as next of kin on the enlistment papers gave her no rights to claim Archibald’s estate which was allocated by the Public Curator according to the law. The Public Curator told her that she could only receive his military pay if a will was found leaving her money. No will was found so Archibald’s money and effects were sent to his brother Robert Thomas Owen Ivall in England.

The War Memorial at St Mary’s Church, Church St, Slough lists 266 people, including A O Ivall (whose name is on one the stones around the base).

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