My grandmother was christened Pearly Isabella Tight. Growing up I had met some of her siblings, my great aunts and uncles. And I had heard some stories about her parents: John Tight who was born in Yass, and Mary Isabella Brown who was from Camden. John had siblings but he was the youngest and many had died young. I knew that many Tight relatives lived in and around the suburb of Rosebery and that her Aunt Bridget had been a notable midwife in the area. I was pleased to see that she has been commemorated with the Bridget Tight Reserve. It looks like a very nice place for kids to play.
Patrick William (known as William) and Bridget Ann Tight married in 1887. In 1895 their son, Michael George Tight, was born. Before Michael’s birth Bridget had had four children but only two survived infancy. My grandmother spoke about her Aunt Bridget, and I think she mentioned William but I’m sure she didn’t mention a young cousin, Michael, who had died in the First World War. My grandmother was only 12 in 1918.
Australian military service records have become easily available in recent years:
- the National Archives of Australia Discovering Anzacs website has Michael’s offical service record
- the Australian War Memorial includes Michael on its Roll of Honour and in its collection is a studio portrait which was originally on an Honour Board made by Anthony Hordern and Sons Ltd to commemorate employees killed in the war.
- Michael was killed in France so his grave is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which keeps good records
- a good summary is contained on Virtual War Memorial Australia
Michael enlisted on 1st March 1916. The application to enlist and medical examination is dated 4 January 1916 and his age at that time is given as 21 years 3 months. This would make his DOB October 1894. His actual birth date was in 1895. (I’m too stingy to request a copy of his birth certificate but his NSW birth registration number, 29040/1895, suggests a late 1895 birth date). Either there was a simple miscalculation because it was so early in the year or someone decided it was better to say he was 21 years old and not 20. He was 5′ 6″ (168cm), 134 lbs (61kg), had a “fresh” complexion, with brown hair and blue eyes.
He received his basic training at Bathurst and Liverpool between March and June 1916 and departed from Sydney on the troopship Wilshire 22 August 1916, arriving in Plymouth 13th October 1916. He departed Folkestone aboard the SS Arundel 13th December 1916 and joined the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion in France 19 December 1916 via Etables. Throughout 1917 his battalion was positioned against the Hindenburg Line mostly near Ypres. On 12 January 1918 he was sent on leave to the UK. He rejoined his battalion on 1st February 1918 but was hospitalised with appendicitis 21st March 1918. After recovery he was discharged and rejoined his battalion 27th May 1918.
On 10 June 1918 Bridget wrote to Base Records, Victoria Barracks. She had received a letter from Michael saying he had been admitted to hospital after being gassed and while there developed appendicitis. Base Records replied saying it had no information.
The 3rd Battalion took part in the final Allied offensive commencing in 8th August near Amiens. It then fought in the Battle of Albert (1918) which was part of the Second Battle of the Somme. On 23rd August the 3rd Battalion advanced from Proyart and attacked fortifications near the town of Chuignes, which was captured. Michael was killed in action on this day and buried 800m north of Proyart.
His body was exhumed and re-buried at the Heath Military Cemetery (Plot III, Row A, Grave 19) not far away on 26th May 1919. The Graves Registration Report lists 5 soldiers who died on 23 August and who were exhumed from the same location: three from the 2nd Battalion and two from the 3rd Battalion, Private M. Tight and Private J. Jordan.
The Concentration of Graves form confirms some of the details, in particular the map reference for the location of Michael’s first burial: 62D.SE.R.13.a.8.4. This is a trench map reference. It is possible to access trench maps and then use the reference to find the location but the tMapper website can convert trench map references into GPS coordinates. The reference above converts to 49.893750N, 2.689694E, or 49°53’37.5″N 2°41’22.9″E which is about 1000m north west of Proyart, which looks like this now. The location is near a road between Proyart and Méricourt-sur-Somme.
I recommend using the ‘GuideMe’ feature in tMapper. This allows you to enter each part of the trench map reference sequentially and prompts you with a range of possible values for the next part. Using this I realised I did not need to enter ‘SE’. It is also a good idea to double-check by accessing the map from an independent source. Map 62D SE is available from army.gov.au and it confirms the same location as indicated by tMapper.
Family Notices (1918, September 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15802687
TIGHT - Killed in action, August 23, 1918, Pte. Michael George Tight (Lewis Gunner), A Company, 3rd Battalion, third son of Mr and Mrs W Tight, St Anthony George street, Mascot aged 22 years. R.I.P. Loved by all who knew him
TIGHT - Killed in action, August 23, 1918 Pte M. G. Tight. His unknown grave is the bitterest blow, That only those who loved him know, Inserted by his loving friends, Mr and Mrs. W. H. Griffiths and family
Family Notices (1920, August 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15903630
TIGHT.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Private Michael George Tight, killed in action at Proyart France, August 23, 1918, late A. Company, 3rd Battalion, aged 22 years. R.I.P. In our hearts his memory will live for ever. Inserted by his loving parents, brothers, and sisters.
Family Notices (1922, August 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16020742
TIGHT. - In sad but loving memory of our dear son and brother, Private Michael George Tight, No 6107, A Company, 3rd Batt., killed at Proyart France August 23, 1918, R.I.P. Inserted by his sorrowing father and mother, sisters and brothers.
Michael is commemorated on Mascot War Memorial.
On 14th October 1918 Michael’s older brother, Joseph, had a son who was baptised Michael George Tight. I don’t have any proof but I fancy the newborn baby was named after his uncle.