It was 1913 when gifted Wilfred Oswald Jose was declared Young Exhibitioner of St Peters College – the title bestowed upon the best-performing student for the year.
Just a year later, he was at the front of the queue at Morphettville waiting to enlist in the army at the age of 19. His two older brothers would also sign up.
As the youngest member of the 10th Battalion scouts of 1 Section, A Company, he soon had a few more older-brother figures in his life, several of whom had attended the same school.
After training with his new mates in Australia and Egypt, Jose was deployed to Gallipoli, where he was unfortunate enough to be among the first to land, but fortunate enough to survive the bloodshed and chaos that ensued.
Falling sick from time to time during the following months, Jose battled through, and was temporarily promoted for his efforts.
At the end of the Gallipoli campaign Jose returned to Egypt, and it seems he had made as much of an impression on his superiors in the military as he had on his teachers at school.
Deployed to France in mid-1916, Jose once again found himself embroiled in a massacre, with the 50th Battalion suffering heavy losses on the Western Front.
The fighting slowed during the cold of a European winter – Jose’s first and only – but then picked up pace again in 1917.
A letter written by 50th Battalion comrade Major Harry Seager revealed that Jose perished during an attack on Noreuil in Northern France, which was held by the Germans who had fortified it with mortars, mines and machine guns hidden in houses.
“In the centre of the Battalion they had also suffered machine gun fire before entering the village and here also the gallant and lovable Lieutenant Jose fell,” he wrote.
Enough Aussies died fighting at Noreuil that the small French village has a dedicated Australian cemetery, and that is where Jose was buried.
While most of his adopted brothers of A Company didn’t make it through the war either, in a small comfort to his parents, Jose’s real older brothers both made it home unscathed.