Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Weathers, Lawrence Carthage (1890–1918)

by John Ritchie

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Lawrence Carthage Weathers (1890-1918), by unknown photographer, 1916-18

Lawrence Carthage Weathers (1890-1918), by unknown photographer, 1916-18

Australian War Memorial, H06789

Lawrence Carthage Weathers (1890-1918), undertaker and soldier, was born on 14 May 1890 at Te Kopuru, near Dargaville, New Zealand, son of John Joseph Weathers, labourer, and his wife Ellen Frances, née McCormack, both Adelaide born. Aged 7, he sailed with his parents to Adelaide; the family settled in rural South Australia and Lawrence was sent to Snowtown Public School. By 1913 he had become an undertaker and may have sensed—if he did not understand—where paths of glory lead. On 10 September he married a 23-year-old, Melbourne-born domestic servant, Annie Elizabeth Watson, at her father's home in the Adelaide suburb of Unley; the young couple lived nearby at Parkside and were to have two children.

Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 February 1916, Weathers embarked with the 43rd Battalion in June. After further training on Salisbury Plain, England, in November he was taken with units of the 3rd Division to the Western Front. Sickness confined him to hospital from January to April 1917. On the night of 10 June, during an operation at Messines, Belgium, he was wounded and was away from his battalion until 3 December. Promoted lance-corporal on 21 March 1918, he was gassed on 26 May at Bois L'Abbé in the Villers-Bretonneux sector, France, but rejoined his unit within a month.

After the capture of Mont St Quentin, the duty of clearing a small area criss-crossed with barbed wire entanglements north of Péronne fell to the 43rd Battalion on 2 September. The major objective was Scutari trench. The unit went forward at 5.35 that morning, but was halted by scything fire. From the vanguard Weathers attacked the enemy garrison and killed its leader. Replenishing his stock of bombs, with three others he went back into the fray. Given cover by a comrade's Lewis-gun, Weathers seemed oblivious to danger as he scaled the German parapet and hurled his bombs into the trench below. By 7 a.m. resistance ceased. He took three machine-guns and 180 prisoners back to his lines. His uniform caked in mud, with blood streaming down his face and five days stubble, Weathers looked quite a 'card' to his mates when he returned with souvenired German binoculars and pistols festooning him like a Christmas tree. The strain and the release of nerves showed in his chatter of how he had 'put the wind up' the enemy. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross.

Promoted temporary corporal on 10 September 1918 (his fifth wedding anniversary), Weathers received a short respite from action before moving with his battalion to attack the Hindenburg line between Rosnoy and Bony. At dawn on the 29th the engagement commenced; wounded by shell-fire, Weathers died before dusk. He never knew of his V.C. which was gazetted on Christmas eve. Buried in Unicorn cemetery, Vendhuille, France, he was survived by his wife and sons. His elder brother Private Thomas Francis Weathers, 9th Light Horse Regiment, had died from wounds on 15 June 1915 at Gallipoli.

Select Bibliography

  • K. R. Cramp, Australian Winners of the Victoria Cross in the Great War 1914-19 (Syd, 1919)
  • E. J. Colliver and B. H. Richardson, The Forty-Third Battalion (Adel, 1920)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1918 (Syd, 1942)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily, revised and condensed by J. Williams and A. Staunton (Canb, 1986)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Dec 1918
  • Argus (Melbourne), 5 July 1941
  • card index: personnel, AIF, 1914-18 (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

John Ritchie, 'Weathers, Lawrence Carthage (1890–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/weathers-lawrence-carthage-9021/text15867, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 1 December 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Lawrence Carthage Weathers (1890-1918), by unknown photographer, 1916-18

Lawrence Carthage Weathers (1890-1918), by unknown photographer, 1916-18

Australian War Memorial, H06789

Life Summary [details]

Birth

14 May 1890
Te Kopuru, New Zealand

Death

29 September 1918
France

Cultural Heritage
Occupation