One of the men from out of town who appears on the Mothers’ Memorial is Philip Eric Kemp Devine from the Mount Leinster area near Dalby, about 90 kilometres west of Toowoomba. Philip’s parents were Alfred Ernest and Elizabeth Clare Devine, pastoralists, who had also lived and worked in the Taroom district, where Philip was born in 1893. Philip gave Mount Leinster as his address, and his occupation as grazier, when he enlisted in Brisbane on 22 June 1915. His education at Toowoomba Grammar School (1908-1909) ties him to the city; the Mothers’ Committee who built the Mothers’ Memorial included all the deceased old boys of TGS. Later, PhIlip’s father wrote to the AWM that his previous military experience was in the Toowoomba Grammar School Cadet Corps.
Philip was 5’9” tall and weighed 141 pounds. His complexion was described as fresh, with brown eyes, brown hair, and his religious denomination was COE.
After initial training at Enoggera, Philip was posted to the 10th Reinforcements of the 9th Battalion. He embarked for Egypt at Brisbane on A69 Warilda on 5 October 1915. This allowed him to reach Egypt a short time before the original battalion returned from Gallipoli, after eight months of intense fighting. When these men from Gallipoli returned in January 1916 to the bases in Egypt that they had left in March and April 1915, they were to be merged with about 40 000 raw recruits from Australia. The number of units was doubled. New battalions and divisions were created for the AIF’s next commitment on the Western Front in France. While at Zeitoun, Philip Devine was transferred to the new 49th Battalion (known as the “daughter or pup battalion” of the 9th), and promoted to corporal. He moved to Tel-el-Kebir where the new battalion was raised and became a sergeant on 13 April 1916. After another seven weeks of training the 49th embarked for Marseilles on 5 June.
The battalion arrived in France on 12 June and was in the trenches less than ten days later. As part of the 4th Division, the 49th was held back during the Pozieres fighting until the Australians of other divisions had secured the village and the heights beyond it. Then the 4th Division was given the task of capturing Mouquet Farm just to the north of Pozieres. Here the battle raged just as fiercely as at Pozieres. On 13 August Philip Devine was reported killed in action. He was evidently given a battlefield burial, but with the attack going on for several more weeks all evidence of his grave was obliterated. After the war his grave was not found. Philip was approaching his twenty-third birthday when he died. His name is listed among the Australians who have no known grave on the Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.
At Mount Leinster back on the Darling Downs his parents received the news of his death. His father signed receipts for the Memorial Plaque and Scroll, his Victory Medal, campaign medals and copies of the booklet Graves of the Fallen. Like so many of the fallen of the Great War, Philip’s memory was not lost within his family. Fifty years after he died a niece wrote to the army seeking details of his service career for a family history.
Toowoomba Grammar School Archive Records state that he started on 10th February 1908 and left on 1st December 1909. The School Magazine of November 1916 states, ‘Eric Devine, killed in action in France, was a son of a well-known old boy, A. E. Devine of Dalby. He sailed from Brisbane’ in the spring of 1915.