LIEUTENANT WILFRED VIVIAN HUBERT LUTHER BIDSTRUP
3RD APRIL 1917 AGE 27
BURIED: NOREUIL AUSTRALIAN CEMETERY, FRANCE
Wilfred Bidstrup, an accountant from South Australia, was killed in action on 3 April 1917 leading a group of bombers in a night attack on the German trenches. Witness reports vary wildly but the fact of his death was never disputed.
He was killed "by a Boche machine gun while advancing to the attack. His platoon met a German strong-point and had a bad time".
"I saw casualty killed at Noreuil, France by a machine-gun bullet whilst on a bombing raid. He was killed under my eyes, not instantly but he died of wounds shortly afterwards."
"He was found by a search party, sent out to look for him, dead, riddled with bullets and his revolver empty".
"I found his body next day, with his revolver lying by his side. All the cartridges had been fired off. I could see no marks of a wound on his body, so he must have been killed by a bullet."
Bidstrup's mother, Minna, chose his inscription from a poem called 'To S.H. Killed in France (From his First Schoolmaster)" by W. Snow which was published in The Spectator on 15 May 1915. This is the first verse:
You, killed in action, leading men!
I hardly yet believe it true:
For me you're still the boy of ten,
Blue-eyes and curly-haired, I knew.
The poem recounts the triumphs of his schooldays, of his year at Oxford before he volunteered, forsaking the 'magic' gown' for duty. This is the last verse:
And is this all? was all in vain
The life that you so early gave?
No life is short that's nobly spent,
No hero's death is premature.
The inscription, particularly the penultimate line of the poem, is much better known than the rest of the poem and is quite regularly found on war graves.