Rupert Colman Curnow

by Ken Curnow O.A.M.

Rupert Curnow rode with the 8th Light Horse Regiment in Harry Chauvel’s mounted forces in the Sinai and Palestine from 1917 until victory in 1918, leaving the Army in 1919.  Overcoming health problems that arose during his war service, he was an outstanding citizen who later helped returning service men and women after World War II.  As the Member of Parliament for Ivanhoe, he served his community in many ways, most notably in education and health services.

Rupert in 1919

My father, Rupert Curnow was born in Ballarat, Victoria on the 30th of October 1898, the only son of Josiah and Florence Curnow (nee Daws).  He was educated at a Ballarat Primary School and later at Ballarat Grammar School, obtaining his Matriculation in 1915.  He entered Melbourne University in 1916, commencing a degree in Medicine.


He enlisted in the Australian Military Forces on the 5th of January 1917 and was posted to B Squadron, 8th Light Horse Regiment on the 2nd of February 1917.  He embarked from Australia at Melbourne on His Majesty’s Australian Troopship A73 “Commonwealth” on the 2nd of November 1917 for Palestine – and the Australian Desert Mounted Corps, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel.


He was wounded in the Jordan Valley and spent some time in a military hospital in Jerusalem. On discharge from hospital, he returned to his unit to take part in the advance to Damascus, and later Aleppo. Rupert was promoted to Corporal before war’s end, becoming part of the force that remained in Palestine until later in 1919.


Rupert returned to Australia on the “Malta” on the 7th of July 1919 and he was discharged from the Military Forces in August 1919, having spent some two and a half years in the Light Horse, mainly in Palestine, returning just before his 21st Birthday.