The Bednall Archive 
Last updated 24/06/2012

Cecil Beaumont Badnall of Kurramia 1871 to 1917 :
A Brief Biography

Cecil Beaumont Badnall was the son of William Wykeham and Maria Anna Badnall of Wavertree near Liverpool, a grandson of the Reverend William Badnall M.A. Vicar of Wavertree and a great grandson of Richard Badnall of Highfield near Leek in Staffordshire. He was thus a direct descendant of William Badnall of Hanbury and Uttoxeter, the common ancestor of most Bednalls of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and many others elsewhere in England and abroad e.g. Australia. Nothing is known of his early life but his parents, tho’ not rich, were reasonably well off and he would have enjoyed a typical, late Victorian, middle class upbringing. What prompted him to emigrate is not known but the little that is known about his life in Australia, indicates that he was a very able, easy going individual who worked hard and got on well with others. When war came he was one of those who returned to Europe to fight for their mother country and gave their lives doing so. He was unmarried when he died so left no descendants. The following is a brief account of his life.

 Early Years In Wavertree

Cecil Beaumont Badnall was born in Liverpool, in September 1871 and was the 5th child and 3rd son of William Wykeham Badnall and his wife Maria Ann nee Hayes, of Hope Cottage, Wavertree.  His father was (according to his own description) then “a landed proprietor and merchant” but in later years was variously described as an “accountant” or as “agent for wine and insurance”. However uncertain his father's income, the family were reasonably well off employing 3 servants to look after their 12 roomed house. [i] Cecil’s early life, however, is something of a mystery for he doesn’t appear in UK census returns from 1891 onwards so nothing is known about his education, occupation or life prior to 1903 when, as C. Badnall, he is recorded sailing from the Western Australian port of Freemantle, aboard the steamer S.S. Flinders, bound for Geraldton 281 miles to the north. [ii] In 1881 he was described as a scholar and it is likely that his subsequent education was similar to that of his brothers, who were sent away to a boarding grammar school in Ashby de la Zouch. His army service records show that, as a mature adult, he was 5’11” tall, weighed 192 lbs and had brown hair, blue eyes and a ruddy complexion. Apart from the scars of early vaccinations, he had no distinguishing marks. [iii]  

The family home in Wavertree


Sometime before 1893, Cecil (or Charlie as he was known to his Aussi mates) emigrated to Western Australia settling near Kalgoorlie, a city in the goldfields region of Western Australia some 370 miles east-northeast of Perth, founded in 1893 during the Yilgarn-Goldfields rush. Given the date at which he sailed from Freemantle, it’s possible that Charlie was drawn to the area by the prospect of making a fortune as a gold miner.  When he arrived there he would have found very little in the Bulong area where the gold had been found but “the open desert, dotted with its stunted mulga and mallee growths, shimmered back into the horizon." [iv] A few years later the miners had made an impression on the landscape and a new arrival would have been greeted by the sight of “a scattered array of wooden and galvanised iron houses” over which towered the head frame or poppet head of the Great Boulder mine.  All of which would have been covered in and partially obscured by dust. The mines were not particularly prosperous but water and wood were scarce so there were business opportunities and employment to be found, particularly in woodcutting. [v] 

Whatever Cecil’s original intention may have been, he obtained job as a loco driver and platelayer on one of the “Woodlines” supplying timber and firewood throughout the State’s goldfields. Kurramia, the community in which he lived, was a small settlement just 6 miles from Kalgoorlie. [vi] He became involved in local affairs and was for many years a member of the Miners' Institute committee and of the local hospital committee. [vii], [viii] When, in October 1911, the residents of the Bulong district decided to form a progress committee because "there was now no local governing or representative body to bring the wants of/the district under the notice of the proper authorities", Charlie was one of the 12 chosen. The Committee afterwards held a meeting at which it was resolved "that steps be taken to impress on. the Government the necessity of having the embargo of £800 removed from the Oversight lease so that same can be thrown open to prospectors; to try and have the price of water used for mining purposes reduced; and also to try and have Bulong placed on the list of those centres entitled to the prospecting vote." [ix], [x]  Charlie Badnall's abilities were recognised by his employers and by 1916 he was assistant manager of the Kurramia Woodline. [xi]

From time to time, Charlie’s name (if the entry is not a misspelling of Bednall) appears in the shipping news as a passenger travelling either from Freemantle to the Eastern States, i.e. South Australia, Victoria etc, or vice versa, but the purpose of these journies is unclear. [xii] , [xiii]  

Doing His Bit For The Old Country

What spurred him to enlist for service abroad in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and to reduce his age by 4 years in doing so, is not known but no doubt like his many other Australians he wanted to “do his bit” to help the old country. What ever the reason, the fact is he took the oath to serve in the AIF on the 6th of August 1916 and a fortnight later became number 2875 Private C. B. Badnall. A 23-day period of basic training followed, during which he received dental treatment and was appropriately  inoculated and vaccinated. All preparations complete, he was taken onto the strength of the 7th reinforcement for the 48th Battalion on the 14th of September and just under a month later, on the 9th November 1916, he and his comrades embarked in the “Argyllshire” and set sail from Freemantle for England. [xiv]

"Private Badnall" and "Private Howard", another employee of the Woodline, were given a good send off by their employer, friends and neighbours, which took the form of a social and dance at the Miners' Institute. As the Western Argus reported the following day, "Special trains by direction of the manager. Mr. A. McFarlane, were run from each end of the line, and conveyed a large number of visitors to Bulong". Later the Woodline manager, Mr McFarlane, presented a purse of gold and a wrist watch to Private Badnall and a purse of gold and a "soldier's outfit," to Private Howard and said that he was losing the services of a valuable assistant. He also promised to hold the positions of both men open for them. Private Howard also received a wrist watch, presented by the secretary 'of the Woodcutters' Union, "in recognition of his services to the cause of unionism" .[xv]

 Into Battle With The 48th Battalion

After disembarking in Devonport on the 10th January 1917, these “Australian reinforcements”, as Cecil and his comrades were designated, marched into the 12th Training Battalion camp at Codford the following day and spent the next three months there. Fully trained and fully fit, they sailed for France from Folkestone on the 10th April that year. The record states that Cecil “marched in from England” to the depot at Etaples, a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department of Northern France, the following day and “out to the unit” three days later. At last he was in the war zone, on the strength of the 48th Battalion and like his comrades, a part of the 4th Australian Division's 12th Brigade. [xvi]  

Their arrival couldn’t have been more opportune. The War had settled into that phase of semi-stagnation, with both sides launching attacks from behind their long and convoluted lines of trenches and the successes of one day being reversed the next. The situation Cecil and the other Aussie reinforcements faced was thus one in which, after massive artillery bombardments intended to cut barbed wire and destroy enemy defences, waves of attacking allied infantry emerged from their trenches into "No Man's Land" and advanced towards enemy positions.  Protected by deep and heavily reinforced bunkers and warned well in advance by the bombardment, the surviving Germans would try to repel the attackers with machine-gun fire and artillery support from the rear. Often, these attacks gained only a limited amount of territory and were usually followed by German counter-attacks with the result that both sides sustained heavy losses while remaining more or less in the same relative positions. [xvii]

 On the 11th of April 1917, as Cecil and the rest of the 7th reinforcement of the 48th Battalion arrived in France, the 4th Division, consisting of the 4th and 12th Brigades, assaulted the Hindenburg Line in the First Battle of Bullecourt. The battle was a disaster, with over 3,000 casualties and 1,170 taken prisoner by the Germans. For Cecil and the other AIF reinforcements the long 8 months delay between enlistment and action was abruptly ended for on the day they were taken on to the Division’s strength, “the 1st and 2nd Divisions were struck by a German counter attack at dawn near the town of Lagnicourt, by a force of up to twenty three battalions as the Germans attempted to take advantage of the weakness that had developed in the Allied line following the British offensive at Arras. The Australians were initially forced to abandon the town to the Germans and in the process several artillery batteries were lost, however, at seven o'clock a successful counter attack was launched by four Australian battalions, resulting in the town being recaptured and the guns reclaimed". [xviii]  

[More about the Australian Forces at Bullecourt?]

What actions Cecil was involved in and exactly how he died is unknown but in May and early June, the Division had been involved in preparations for the Battle of Messines, which was launched on 7th June 1917, following 4 days of bombardment of the enemy positions and a final, massive explosion of mines.  The latter ripped the German lines open, knocked British observers, 400 metres away, off their feet and is said to have been heard in Downing Street, London.   Was Cecil one of those killed by a sniper’s bullet or as the result of enemy shelling, while quietly waiting for the signal to go over the top, or did his death occur while he was exercising his skills as a loco driver/platelayer in connection with the mining of German positions?  Who knows? One fact is clear, he was “killed in action” on the 2nd of June 1917 and his remains subsequently buried in La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery WSW of Messines, Belgium. 

A cable to England on the 26th of June confirmed his death and steps were taken to inform his mother.  In July, Western Australian newspapers informed  Charlie’s mates in Kurramia and elsewhere that he was one of the many “Killed In Action” in the “5th Military District”. [xix]  


On Tuesday 7th August 1917 one more brief announcement was added to the many columns of Australians who'd given their lives far from home fighting alongside the "old country". Inserted by his Kurramia mates, it simply said "BADNALL-In respectful memory of Cecil B. (Charlie) who was killed in action in France, on June 2nd 1917"Charlie continued to be remembered "In Memoriam" by relatives and others who'd shared his friendship and love. [xx]

Though not a wealthy man "Charlie" had made a will in which he nominated his cousin, Robert William Dalby of the School House, Broad Arrow (now a ghost town) 38 km north of Kalgoorlie, as his next of kin. [xxi]   Probate was granted to Robert in March 1918 [xxii] making it his task to dealing with army bureaucracy and ensure that "Charlie's" war medals, plaque, scroll, etc got to "Charlie's" mother. He also had to deal with the few personal possessions his cousin had left behind that were, eventually, found safely stored in “Ulysses", the AIF Kit Store in England, i.e.

“Disc, 2 wallets, 2 notebooks, French book, 3 handkerchiefs, 2 match boxes, buttons, metal ring, cards, photos, letter.”

Despite further searching, no trace was found of either "Charlie's" “Sandhurst Kit” or his “gift wristlet watch”. With letters going to and fro between Robert in Australia and various army units in England and Australia and the preparation and issuing of medals, photos etc, it was not until late 1922 that Robert and the various Army officers he was in contact with, finally completed the process that began when "Private Badnall" died. By that time "Charlie's" mother had received not only notification of her son’s death and burial but also “circular BRM 46/1368”, a “booklet on graves”, the “Where Australians Rest” pamphlet, a memorial plaque and a scroll but also photographs of the grave. What she made of all this and how the news of her son's death affected her is, sadly, not known. But Charlie's cousin Robert and his family continued to place their tributes to his memory in the In Memoriam column of the Western Argus until Robert and his wife died.

In loving memory of Private C. B. Badnall of Kurramia, killed in action

somewhere in France, 2nd June 1917

“He fought bravely and fell when duty called”

Private Cecil Beaumont Badnall's War Medal -front

Private Cecil Beaumont Badnall's War Medal -Engraved rim

Private Cecil Beaumont Badnall, 2nd Div.48 Battalion, AFI- View on rear.

1914-1918 War Medal:  2875  Private C. B. Badnall  48 BN. AIF


[i] Census of England & Wales 1871, PRO RG10/3851/fo.28/pg.3; 1881, PRO RG11/3717/fo. /pg.12 ; and 1891, PRO RG12/3002/fo   /pg 8.

[ii] The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) Thursday 14 September 1893 p 2, Shipping Sailing from the Port of Freemantle, 13th  Flinders, steamer, Tait, For Dongarra and Geraldton. Passengers For Geraldton: C. Badnall, Strom,

[iii] National Archives of Australia. Series accession number B2455/1: Item No.3043760, Badnall Cecil Beaumont: SERN 2875: POB Liverpool England: POE Kalgoorlie WA : NOK Dalby Robert William.

[iv] Macdonald, Alexander: “In search of El Dorado : a wanderer's experiences”, G.W. Jacobs & Co., 1907 See also later edition published London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1910.

[v] Western Australia Now & Then –Kalgoorlie: Bulong

[vi] Census of Western Australia 1916. Brown Hill, Kurramia, Division of Kalgoorlie No. 60.

[vii] Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896-1916) Tuesday 28 September 1909 Page 8 col. 3

[viii] Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 - 1916) Tuesday 2 August 1910 Page 8, Col. 4 Annual meeting of subscribers to the local hospital was held in the Miners’ Institute Bulong. C. Badnall was one of the new members elected to the committee.

[ix] Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896-1916) Tuesday 1 August 1911 Page 15

[x] Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896-1916) Tuesday 31 October 1911 Page 13

[xi] Kalgoorlie Western Argus Tuesday 10 October 1916. page 18, col.1

[xii] The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) Tuesday 11 October 1898 Page 2, Col. 2 Shipping Port of Freemantle. Sailing for the Eastern Ports (Adelaide-Melbourne etc)  S.S. Perth, 2500 tonnes, Master Jorgenson. Passengers:… Badnall

[xiii] The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) Monday 21 December 1908 Page 3, Col. 2. Passengers By The Oruba.  The RMS Oruba which is due to arrive today from the Eastern States has the following passengers on board: For Freemantle:… Badnall

[xiv] National Archives of Australia. Series accession number B2455/1: Item No.3043760, Badnall Cecil Beaumont: SERN 2875:  Attestation Paper Dated August 1916 and Army Form B 103 Casualty Form-Active Service

[xv] Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896-1916) Tuesday 10 October 1916 Page 18 col.1

[xvi] National Archives of Australia. Series accession number B2455/1: Item No.3043760, Badnall Cecil Beaumont: SERN 2875:  Army Form B213 Dated 8th June 1917 and Army Form B 103 Casualty Form-Active Service

[xvii] Australian War Memorial World War 1 1914-1918  

[xviii] Military History of Australia During World War 1.

[xix] The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) Tuesday 17 July 1917 Page 5,  Col. 3 See also The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954): Tuesday 17 July 1917:  Page 5, Col. 4

[xx] Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896-1916) Tuesday 7 August 1917  Page 15 col. 1   See also the Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA: Tuesday 8th June 1920 Page 15 .

[xxi] In 1922 Robert Dalby moved to the school at Quindalup, Busseltown, Western Australia. (see reference 3).

[xxii] Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896-1916) Saturday 19th March 1918 Page 8 col. 2

©A.W.Bednall Macclesfield 2000-2008