Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

TINDAL, Archibald Robert

TINDAL, Archibald Robert
Tindal's grave stone at Adelaide River War Cemetery.

Archibald Robert Tindal was born on 18 January 1916 at Fir Grove, Eversley in Hampshire, England, to Archibald Arthur and Hilda Dorothy Tindal. His parents and their two year old daughter, Elizabeth, had travelled from Australia to the Tindal family seat of Fir Grove, Evensley, a few months earlier on the ship Miltiades, which left Australia in August 1915, travelling via Melbourne, Cape Town, and Durban, arriving in England on 15 October 1915.

Tindal’s father had married Hilda Dorothy, the daughter of Archdeacon Moxon of Grafton, on 5 June 1912. Prior to leaving for England, the family were managing the property at Gunyan, near Texas, close by the Queensland border, for Tindal’s grandfather, Charles Frederick Tindal.

Tindal’s father, Archibald Arthur, had responded to newspaper advertisements for English Army Reservists living in New South Wales to join the Expeditionary Force to Europe and the family undertook the journey to England; this would have been an anxious time for the young parents in those days of World War I with German U-boats patrolling the oceans. The family arrived in England to find that following the death of his grandfather, Charles Grant Tindal, in 1914, Archibald Arthur’s aunt, Anne, had turned the family home Fir Grove into a Red Cross Auxiliary hospital for wounded soldiers returning from the front.

Tindal’s father, looking no more than sixteen years old in his uniform, is recorded as enlisting on 19 October 1915. He may have been enrolled as an army Cadet during his time at school in England and by the time Archibald Robert Tindal was born, he had joined his battery in the Royal Field Artillery with the rank of Second Lieutenant in the 177th Brigade. He went to the Somme in France in March 1916, when his young son was only a little over two months old, and it was there, in the Battle of Guillemont, that he lost his life on 18 September 1916. Thus his son, Archibald Robert Tindal, never knew his father.

The branch of Australian Tindals is descended from Lieutenant Charles Tindal RN (Royal Navy), who had sent several of his sons to Australia to become pastoralists under the guidance of his friend William Ogilvie. Charles Grant Tindal, Tindal’s great-grandfather, the first Tindal to arrive on Australian shores, was only twenty years old when he arrived in New South Wales in 1843. William Ogilvie and his family had properties first in the Hunter River area of New South Wales, and then on the Clarence River in the Northern part of the state. He and his family guided the young Tindals when they began their lives in rural Australia.

Fate dealt the Tindals some harsh blows, with other brothers of Charles Grant losing their lives at a young age, but he was able to carry on the family business and expand, before returning to England to reside permanently. The family went home to England several times and two of his grandsons, sons of Charles Frederick Tindal, Archibald and Charles, were educated in England where they were listed as boarders at All Saints school in Wokingham in 1901. Charles Grant Tindal made over the titles of his Australian enterprises to Charles Frederick Tindal, whose son, Archibald Arthur, returned to Australia after studying in England, and studied further at Hawkesbury Agricultural College in New South Wales.

The Tindal home was at Ramornie, near Grafton, which was built by Charles Grant Tindal in 1858, and was the headquarters of the Tindal Australian Pastoral Enterprises. The business included the importing and breeding of Australian thoroughbred horses as well as a meat canning industry, the Australian Meat Company, which commenced in 1866.

After the end of World War I and following the tragic death of her husband Archibald Arthur, Hilda Tindal brought the children home to be near family. Tindal’s grandfather, Charles Frederick, was by then living at Bona Vista, Armidale. The family settled at Hill Cottage, 133 Dangar Street, Armidale. Tindal was enrolled as a day student at The Armidale School, known as TAS. The school was the only Greater Public School outside Sydney in New South Wales and was known for its excellent educational facilities. Archibald was a junior in Tyrell House and later a House Captain and a Monitor during his years at TAS from 1925 to 1934. He was also a member of the School Cadet Corps.

It was only natural that young 'Archie', following on in the family tradition, would want to be in the Defence Services. On leaving school, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force on 16 July 1934 as an Air Cadet and then quickly rose through the ranks becoming Pilot Officer (1 July 1935), Flying Officer (1 July 1936), Flying Lieutenant (1 January 1938), Squadron Leader (1 June 1940) and finally Wing Commander (1 January 1942). During this time, he served with 3 Squadron, 24 Squadron, and HQ Northern Area, in addition to attending several different air force training schools. In January 1942, Tindal was posted to HQ North Western Area, Darwin, as Area Armament Officer.

During the Japanese attack on Darwin, Wing Commander Tindal manned a Lewis machine gun and opened up on the Zeros flying overhead. He continued the one-sided struggle for some time before he was finally killed by a shell from a strafing Zero. Wing Commander Tindal’s grave is located in the war cemetery at Adelaide River. He was twenty-six when killed and was the first Air Force casualty on mainland Australia.

After World War II, an airfield south of Katherine, Carsons Field, was renamed Tindal Airfield after Wing Commander Tindal. Now called RAAF Base Tindal, it serves as a permanent reminder of Tindal’s heroic actions during the initial raid by the Japanese on Darwin on 19 February 1942.

Compiled by Margaret Woods with assistance from Angus Mitchell, Tindal's nephew, for Armidale Family History Group Inc

Can you tell us more about this person? Please contact us.