Premier visits local French school to be re-named after South Australian WWI soldier

South Australian WWI soldier Arthur Clifford Stribling will be immortalised in France with a local school to be named in his honour.

The school in the small town of Blangy-Tronville in the Somme region will be re-named the Arthur Clifford Stribling School.

Private Stribling didn’t receive any particular military honour, but was chosen because he personifies the typical Australian digger who helped save Blangy-Tronville and the broader Somme region.

Premier Jay Weatherill visited the town on Sunday (Monday SA time), where he laid a wreath at Private Stribling’s grave in Blangy-Tronville. He also visited the school and unveiled a plaque with students.

Private Stribling was born and bred in the small South Australian town of Tarlee, where he was a farmer. He served on the Western Front and died of wounds sustained at VillersBretonneux on Anzac Day, 1918.

The honour will also herald a closer relationship between Tarlee and Blangy-Tronville. The towns are of a similar size – Tarlee has a population of 310, Blangy-Tronville has 552 people.

A group of Tarlee residents, including students from Tarlee Primary School, will visit BlangyTronville next year, where they will present a portrait of Private Stribling by South Australian artist Robert Hannaford.

The State Government is providing a $30,000 grant to help pay for the trip.

Background

Arthur Clifford Stribling was born in Tarlee on 4 February 1890.

He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1916 and was assigned to the 50th Battalion engaged in fighting on the Western Front.

The 50th Battalion was predominantly composed of men from South Australia. In total, 720 men of the Battalion were killed in action and 1,557 were wounded.

Private Stribling died of wounds sustained at Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April 1918, aged 28. He was buried at Blangy-Tronville with 15 other soldiers. He was not married and had no children.

He was part of an Allied force which halted the German advance towards Amiens and recaptured the town of Villers-Bretonneux.

Australian operations in the region were commanded from Tronville Castle, a 17th Century mansion in Blangy-Tronville.

Quotes attributable to Premier Jay Weatherill

This is a touching tribute for Private Stribling and the brave South Australians who fought and died alongside him on the Western Front.

The heroics of Private Stribling and his mates ensured generations of children in Tarlee and Blangy-Tronville could go to school in a peaceful environment.

World War I marked the beginning of a connection between South Australia and France which was born on the battlefield and now extends across a broad cross-section of shared interests.

Private Stribling wasn’t chosen because he is a decorated war hero, he was chosen because he personifies the typical Aussie digger.

Last month, I visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and placed a poppy next to Private Stribling’s name on the Roll of Honour.

I also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the inscription reads “He is all of them. And he is one of us.”

To me, that sentiment encapsulates this honour for Private Stribling, who represents all South Australians who fought on the Western Front.