Gunner Albert Steele
3rd Field Artillery Brigade
Service Number: 3298
Born: 1889 Singleton, NSW
Died: 30 October 1917, Westhoek Ridge, Belgium
Albert Edward Steele was born in Singleton in 1889, the son of George and Elizabeth Steele. George, a railway guard, was transferred to Penrith in the late 1890s. Elizabeth died at their home in Thurston Street Lemongrove in February 1900 leaving George to raise his children, the youngest being just 2 years old. After leaving school, Albert Steele was apprenticed as a baker for three years to William Walker, a baker in High Street Penrith. Later he worked as a head steward on several ocean liners before his enlistment. Steele’s father George died in late August 1915.
A week later, Steele and his brother Percy enlisted on 6 September 1915. He was allocated to the 17th Battalion. As both parents had died, he listed his sister Evelyn as his next-of-kin. Two younger brothers, Arthur and Ray, also enlisted in December 1915.
Steele embarked on 20 December on the HMAT Suevic. After his arrival in Egypt, Steele was stationed at Zeitoun near Cairo for training. He was transferred to the 58th Battery, 15th Field Artillery Brigade as a gunner in March 1916.
After training in Egypt Steele was sent to the Western Front, disembarking at Marseilles on 29 June 1916. In January 1917, he was sent to hospital with tonsillitis. By March he was back in the field. In August he was in Etaples and was charged with being AWOL, forfeiting 8 days pay.
Steele was killed by a ‘whizz-bang’ shell in Glencourse Wood on Westhoek Ridge near Ypres on 30 October 1917. He was in a dugout at the guns when a shell killed him and Gunner James Hayden outright. Steele and Hayden were buried together beside the Menin Road. The blacksmith, Farrier Sergeant Barnett and Bombardier Briggs made an iron cross to mark the site.
Steele’s three other brothers survived the war and returned to Australia. They are also on the Honor Roll at Penrith Superior Public School.
- Hoege Crater Cemetery, Zillebeke Belgium
- Honor Roll, Penrith Superior Public School
- National Archives Australia: B2455 STEELE A E
- Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau File no 2610601
- Australian War Memorial First World War Nominal Roll
- Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
- Penrith City Library Biography files
- Nepean Times (Trove)