A grieving mother
Hiram Rutherford’s name appears on the Honour Board in Peacock Hall at Ballarat High School. From Alfredton, Hiram was the son of Eliza and James Rutherford and had become a civil servant by the time he enlisted as a 20-year-old in July 1915. In November of that year, he sailed from Australia, bound for the battlefields of Europe, and his parents were never to see him again. He travelled first to Egypt then on to France with the 46th Battalion. In September of 1916, he was wounded in action, but his wounds were not severe and he was soon able to rejoin his battalion.
On April 11th 1917, at Bullecourt in France, Hiram Rutherford was listed as ‘missing in action’ and his parents were notified accordingly. James and Eliza Rutherford were then left like thousands of other parents, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
In a letter to the army dated August 18th 1917, Eliza wrote, ‘I would be pleased to have any information re my son. It seems strange that in the four months (since he has been missing) no information can be given as to his fate.’ It was on November 26th 1917 that a Court of Enquiry heard evidence from some of Hiram’s comrades that led to the official determination that Hiram had been ‘killed in action’ on April 11th 1917.
We do not know to what extent grief was a factor, but Eliza Rutherford died just four months later. Hiram Rutherford has no known grave and is one of the 10,885 Australians commemorated on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.
Eliza is buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery Private A Section 5 Row 2 Grave 19
Thank you to Garry Snowden for submitting this story.