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Colbinabbin man visits WWI battlefield where ancestor died

Corop-born Corporal Arthur Ristrom was serving in B Company, 14th battalion, 4th division AIF when he was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Epehy, September 8, 1918.

ELAINE COONEY April 3, 2014 4:10am

Colbinabbin resident Don Risstrom threw a penny in the spot where his relative died in battle in Northern France. Photo: supplied


Colbinabbin’s Don Risstrom took a trip to France last year to see where his grandfather’s cousin Arthur Ristrom was killed in WWI.

Don began collecting information about Corop-born Arthur at the beginning of last year and made a trip to Europe to discover his heritage.

When he arrived at his relative’s grave he said a tear came to his eye for the man who ‘‘gave his life for his mates’’.

He left a 50 cent piece at the grave site and a penny by the road close to where Arthur was killed.

In the lead-up to Anzac Day, Don wanted to share what his relative went through in WWI.

Arthur enlisted in the army in 1915 and went to Suez but was discharged following a bout of rheumatic fever.

When he recovered he re-enlisted and joined the 14th battalion 4th division Australian Imperial Force in France.

In 1917 he was wounded at Polygon Woods and three month later rejoined his unit.

On the first day of the Battle of EpehySeptember 8 1918the 4th division 4th brigade attacked the Hindenburg outpost line between Bellicourt and Bellen-glise.

The Australian soldiers were backed up by troops from France, Britain and America.

At 5.30am, the 16th battalion attacked the village of Le Verguier (on the fortified Hindenburg Line) followed by the 13th and 15th battalions and finally the 14th battalion.

Arthur, a corporal, was killed that day somewhere near the Buisson Ridge.

His battalion held the line until September 19 in its last action of WWI.

Arthur’s cousin Stanley Risstrom (from the 3rd Pioneers) was in the area at the time and asked Arthur’s comrades how he was killed.

They told him he was shot while looking over the top of a shell hole.

Stanley wrote to the commanding officer and the reply said Arthur was in B Company and, as they were advancing, was shot through the throat and died immediately.

He was buried near Ascension Wood and later moved to Bellicourt Cemetery.

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