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Saturday, June 8, 2013

George Victor Browning


During the First World War, 27 officers of the Australian Customs Service served their country of birth, or adoption, in the military forces or in a support capacity.  
George Victor Browning  was one of them.


George Victor Browning


George Victor Browning had joined the Department of Trade and Customs, as a junior clerk, in 1915.  He was one of six children (five boys and one girl) born to Charles and Ellen Browning of Eastbourne Street, Windsor, a suburb of Melbourne. The Brownings saw four of their boys off to war, the fifth, Roy, being too young. Walter, serving in the 22nd Battalion, was killed in action at Bullecourt on the 3rd of May 1917. He would have been only a short distance from his brother George who was in the same action. Norman, serving with the field artillery, was wounded but returned home safely at the end of the war. Charles, the first to enlist in August 1914, served at Gallipoli and in France, also returning home at war’s end. When George enlisted on January the 24th 1916, his three older brothers were already in uniform.

As George marched into the recruiting depot he would have been determined to enlist and join his brothers, in particular Norman and Walter who had signed up only eight or nine days earlier.  At only five feet four and a half inches tall, he needed to stretch a little to make the grade. This was helped, no doubt, by his thick mop of black hair, which could have accounted for an extra inch or so.  He would also have hoped that his pale complexion and protruding ears did not give the recruiting officer reason to question his age, because he was going to tell a lie. George was to give his age as 18 years when, in fact, he was only 17 years and 4 months. He need not have worried; the war machine was too hungry for new recruits.

George was posted to the 13th reinforcements of the 21st Battalion and commenced his training at Broadmeadow Camp. Early July saw his unit board the transport “Ayreshire”, arriving in France on November the 22nd 1916, via a two month training session in England. No summer sports for these lads, it was straight into a miserable winter on the Western Front.

Life in the trenches was no boy scout camp.  If the Germans weren’t trying to kill you, then nature would take over. Mostly, everything bad happened at once and one of the most miserable impacts was a disease known as “trench foot”. Trench Foot was, in fact, a fungal infection brought on by prolonged exposure to dampness. If not treated, gangrene and amputation could result.



AWM E00081 - 
Australian ambulance men at
Bernafay carrying victims of trench foot
George Browning found the harsh conditions of that first winter in France cared little for sensitive southern feet and he was an early victim of trench foot, being hospitalised for three months in early 1917. However, he was able to return to his unit in time for the action at Bullecourt on May the 2nd, the same battle that saw his brother killed.

Another bout of trench foot in August/September 1917 saw George have a further break from the front, but he was back in the thick of things by the time the Australians advanced and captured Broodseinde Ridge, east of Ypres, in October.


Late 1917 saw the Australian army in a rather battered state. Units had been heavily depleted and replacements were both slow in arriving and inexperienced. It was time to draw breath and take stock. For George Browning, this meant a period of leave in Paris, followed by a further three weeks in Britain, together with participating in the regrouping that was being undertaken. However, the human harvesting machine demanded more fodder and, by late March 1918, it was back to work.

April 1918 saw the beginning of actions that would eventually lead to the German surrender. The 21st Battalion, with many other Australian and allied units, took part in battles at Hamel, Amiens and Mont St Quentin. The 21st suffered heavily and was, by September that year, reduced to barely company strength. In late September, the order was given to disband and reinforce other units.

However, the survivors of the 21st had other ideas and on the 25th of September they mutinied. Commonsense seems to have prevailed and the order to disband was withdrawn before the day was over. Yet, the writing was on the wall. The 21st Battalion fought its last engagement at Montbrehain on the 5th of October and was withdrawn from the front the next day, being finally disbanded on October 13th. George Browning was redeployed to the 24th Battalion on that day and returned to Australia in June 1919. He was discharged from the AIF shortly afterwards.


Courtesy National Archives of Australia, 
series J2364 Circa 1940-1955. 
George Browning is believed to be middle row, 
far left in light suite and dark hair.
George returned to his employment with the Department of Trade and Customs and was married to Olive in the early 1920’s. They had, at least, two sons and the young family relocated to the new national capital, Canberra, around 1930, taking up residence in Lister Crescent, North Ainslie and, later, in Toms Crescent, Ainslie.  

Following the family example, George and Olive’s boys enlisted in the services during World War 2.  Walter joined the navy in 1942, returning home safely in 1945. Victor joined the army in 1944, but sadly died of illness in 1945 while still undergoing training with 19 Infantry Training Battalion.


George Victor Browning passed away in Canberra on the 19th of March 1971.  He had done his duty.
    

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hugh Gerner Brain


During the First World War, 27 officers of the Australian Customs Service served their country of birth, or adoption, in the military forces or in a support capacity.  
Hugh Gerner Brain  was one of them.


Sir Hugh Gerner Brain


It was Tuesday morning, July the 13th 1915 and a typical winter’s day in Melbourne, with scattered cloud and cool temperatures. Australia’s campaign at Gallipoli was in its third month and casualties were mounting. The Melbourne newspaper, The Argus, reported in its issue on that day that total Australian casualties were 2298 killed, 8097 wounded and 783 missing. The newspaper also advised that the new minimum height for new recruits was down to five foot two inches, allowing selection from a much larger pool of potential recruits.


Hugh Gerner Brain
Imagine, for a moment, a pale, almost sickly young man with a mop of brown hair, neatly combed and with grey eyes peering out from beneath thickish eyebrows. He is only slightly built, perhaps a little under  five and half feet in height with a beak-like nose hovering uncertainly in the centre of a pleasant, but plain, face.
His quiet and precise manner mistakenly suggests a degree of nervousness as he approaches the recruiting staff who had recently established a depot in downtown Melbourne.  This was not the first time he had attempted to enlist, having been previously rejected on physical grounds. On this occasion, however, he would not be turned away.


Born on the 3rd of December 1890, Hugh Gerner Brain was in his 25th year as strode into the recruiting depot. A quick medical examination, an oath, a signature or two and he marched out as a new recruit in an Australian army struggling to maintain operational viability.

Hugh had attended Armadale State School and, following the award of a scholarship, University High School, a co-educational private school.[1]  His education had been interrupted following an accident and his wish to study law was not to be fulfilled. He sat the State public service exam in 1906, commencing employment with Victorian Public Service Commission. In 1913, Hugh transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service and the new Inter-State Commission with the Department of Trade and Customs.

Hugh Brain’s abilities received early recognition, being temporarily advanced to “corporal” in early October 1915 as the new 31st Battalion was being formed. The battalion embarked for service overseas on the 5th of November aboard the “Bakara”, and arrived in Suez on the 7th of December.  The unit did not proceed to Gallipoli as the evacuation was about to commence. Any disappointment amongst the troops on having missed the action was to be dispelled, however, when the 31st Battalion was decimated in its first action at Fromelle in July 1916.
Fortunately for Hugh, however, he had been snatched up by ANZAC HQ. His advanced administrative skills were in high demand and assisted his early advance through the ranks.  


The Australian Dictionary of Biography takes up the story:


“Posted to 1 Anzac Corps headquarters in March 1916, he rose to warrant officer while serving on the Western Front and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (1917). In August 1917 he was commissioned and transferred to A.I.F. Headquarters, London, as deputy assistant adjutant general. Promoted captain in August 1918, he returned to Melbourne in June next year for duty with the business board of administration, Department of Defence. He was appointed M.B.E. (1918) and O.B.E. (1919), and placed on the Reserve of Officers on 30 September 1919.

After the war Brain took George Swinburne's advice, left the public service and joined Edward H. Shackell & Co.: the firm administered secretarial and shareholding matters for the Baillieu-engendered Collins House group of companies, based on the Broken Hill silver, lead and zinc resources, and governed from Collins Street. Shackell was the brother-in-law of W. L. Baillieu. With Aubrey Bulte, recruited from the Public Works Department, Brain worked as secretary to the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd, Metal Manufactures Ltd, Amalgamated Zinc (de Bavay's) Ltd, Minerals Separation Ltd and Hampden Cloncurry Copper Mines Ltd. On 3 June 1920 at St Mary's Anglican Church, Caulfield, he had married Monica Eva Futcher.

In 1929 Brain, Bulte, Victor Bolderman, Ellis Davies and Marsden Blackwell purchased shares in Edward H. Shackell & Co. On Edward's death in 1932, the group assumed control, with Edward's brother Harold as governing director. The company was renamed Secretariat Pty Ltd. At its peak, Secretariat administered the affairs of forty-seven firms, including over thirty gold-mining companies. The goldminers were dispensed with in the late 1930s as the company concentrated on the manufacturing firms, Electrolytic Zinc, Associated Pulp & Paper Mills Ltd, Metal Manufactures and its subsidiaries, Austral Bronze Co. Pty Ltd, Cable Makers Australia Pty Ltd and Austral Standard Cables Pty Ltd.

Members of The Australian Naval Board.
Brain is on extreme right
During World War II Brain's business talents were put to public use. He was deputy-director of hirings, Army Headquarters, Melbourne, honorary assistant-secretary, business matters, Department of Defence, and business member (1941-42 and 1944-46) of the Naval Board; he was also a member of the Naval Charter Rates Board, of the committee establishing war-damage insurance regulations and of the paper industry wartime advisory council. In addition, he performed part-time staff duties with the Volunteer Defence Corps in 1943-46.


Secretary of Gold Mines of Australia Ltd, Western Mining Corporation Ltd and Western New South Wales Electric Power Pty Ltd, Brain was a director of Austral Bronze and Cable Makers of Australia, and joint managing director of Metal Manufactures. In 1956-68 he was chairman of the Australasian Temperance & General Mutual Life Assurance Society. By 1960 Bulte, Davies and Blackwell had died. The shares of Secretariat were sold jointly to E.Z., A.P.P.M. and W.M.C. Brain retired from the company that year and established a consultancy in Lonsdale Street.

Named Victorian Father of the Year in 1959, Brain gave his £500 award to Melbourne Legacy, an organization with which he was actively associated from 1930 (president 1935). He sat on the Baillieu Education Trust from its foundation in 1935 (chairman 1941-52), and for some thirty years was a member of the Soldiers' Children's Education Board and the advisory board to the Council for Christian Education in Schools. Although not a graduate, he chaired the University of Melbourne's appointments board for twelve years and was a board-member of the summer school of business administration for fourteen; he was, as well, a councillor of Ormond College, a trustee of St Hilda's College and a fund-raiser for International House. For over thirty years he was a member of the Schools' Board and its successor, the Victorian Universities and Schools Examination Board, and chairman of its finance committee.

Among his other public positions, Brain was a trustee of the Cairnmillar Institute, a member of the advisory board of the Melbourne Young Women's Christian Association, chairman of the appeal committee of the Melbourne Lord Mayor's Fund for Hospitals and Charities, a member of committees of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria and chairman of the Anzac Fellowship of Women. He had been a special constable during the 1923 police strike and a member of a large, anti-subversion group in Melbourne during Jack Lang's turbulent premiership of New South Wales. In 1951 he was associated with Sir Edmund Herring in 'A Call to the People of Australia'. Brain was for many years a member of the finance committee of the Liberal Party, Victorian branch. In 1963 he was appointed foundation president of the Victorian Institute of Licensed Shorthand Writers. For forty-five years he was honorary secretary of Premises Ltd, the company which backed the Athenaeum Club, of which he was made an honorary life member. He was also 'moneyer' for nearly twenty years of the Beefsteak Club.

Brain was an energetic, talented and highly valued servant, rather than a leader. With a sound sense of humour, he was fond of practical jokes. As a hobby, he wrote limericks about hundreds of Legacy members. His honours, including life membership of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, culminated in a knighthood in 1972. Sir Hugh died on 31 December 1976 at Heidelberg and was cremated with Presbyterian forms; his wife, son and two daughters survived him”.



[1] Frank Strahan, 'Brain, Sir Hugh Gerner (1890 - 1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp 246-247.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Custom of Service - Eric William Benjafield

During the First World War, 27 officers of the Australian Customs Service served their country of birth, or adoption, in the military forces or in a support capacity. 

 Eric William Benjafield  was one of them.



29919 Gunner Eric William Benjafield
By the time Eric Benjafield enlisted in the AIF in early 1916, the sense of adventure which characterised those who joined in the early stages of the war had been replaced with a more sober realisation of what lay ahead.  The heavy casualties from the Gallipoli campaign had brought a new realism to the decision to “join up”.  Yet, when this fresh faced young man lined up for his new uniform, the full horrors of the Western Front had not yet been encountered by Australian troops.
Eric William Benjafield was born on the 7th of October 1893 at Latrobe in North West Tasmania. Life in that beautiful part of the world would have been great for a young lad.  Plenty of fresh air, good food - locally produced - and exercise aplenty all served to produce strong and healthy young men, at just the time the Empire called.
Queens College Hobart
Eric's father, Frederick Benjafield, was Postmaster at Devonport West Post Office and wished to ensure his son had every opportunity to progress through life.  It was for this reason that young Eric found himself a boarder at Queens College in Hobart, where he completed his education.
While he commenced his career as a “civil servant” in the young Commonwealth Public Service, available records do not indicate, definitively, in which Commonwealth Department Eric served.  However, the Australian Customs Department in Canberra clearly identifies a “Benjafield, EW” as one of their officers who served in the 1st World War.  Furthermore, Australian War Memorial and National Archives of Australia records indicate only two Eric Benjafield's as serving in that war, one of whom is an Eric William Benjafield.  Given that the other Eric is described as an orchardist or farmer from south of Hobart, it is reasonable to consider that “our” Eric was an employee of the Customs Department.
Eric appears to have relocated to Melbourne at some stage prior to his enlistment.  The evidence for this is suggested from two sources.  The first pointer to Eric's residency at this time is his pre-enlistment medical examination which was conducted, in Melbourne, on the 28th of January 1916.
The second pointer is less precise.
Voting age in those days was at 21 years, which meant Eric was too young for the election of September 1914 and, as could be expected, there is no electoral roll record of him up to that time.  However, the next election was called for the 5th of May 1917 (writs issued on the 26th of March 1917) and the Conscription Referendum was held in 1916.  Troops, both at home and abroad would have been given the opportunity to register and vote and, in any case, Eric attained his “majority” in October 1914.  The only Electoral Roll entry is of an Eric William Bengafield (note spelling) in the 1919 roll showing an address at 195 Brighton Rd Elwood Vic.  As this is the only “Bengafield” of any gender or given name in Australia on an electoral roll between 1901 and 1936, it is reasonable to assume this to be “our” Eric and representing his civilian residency in 1914-1916.
Claremont Camp near Hobart,Tasmania
Notwithstanding his whereabouts when he chose to enlist, Eric must have returned to Tasmania shortly thereafter, for family or military reasons we can guess, as his attestation papers were signed at the Claremont Camp outside Hobart on the 3rd of April 1916.  Perhaps it is as well that he did choose to visit his family at this time.  Nevertheless, he was soon back in Melbourne as part of the 120th Howitzer Battery.

Training as a Gunner, Eric Benjafield with his mates in the 120th boarded the HMAT “Aeneas” and sailed from Melbourne in early October 1916.  They arrived in Plymouth on the 19th of November and continued their training in England until their deployment to France in March 1917

On the 3rd of April, Eric transferred to the 105th Battery, operating near Bapaume, and on the 13th was severely wounded while his unit was engaged in an artillery duel. Sadly, he succumbed to his injuries and died the next day.
The Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau took an interest into the circumstances of Eric's death. In their report the following eyewitness statements were quoted:



  • At Noreuil, near Bullecourt, April 14/17 (April 14, 1917, ed), we were in action and Gnr Benjafield was wounded by a shell fragment, which caused septic poisoning.  He walked to the dressing station and was sent to the C.C.S. (3rd) (No.3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, ed) where he died at 12 (noon) next day.  He was buried in Achill le grand Cemetery, about 2 miles from Bapaume, and I saw the grave about a month later, when I went to the same C.C.S. Wounded.  His great chum, Gnr Paton, sent his things home.” 11628 Gnr I. Robey, 105 Howitzer Bty, 28.8.17.


  • “I saw him wounded at Moriel (or Moreai, ed) Gulley – he was caught by a gas shell in the leg and arm.  I carried him to the dressing station where he died some little time after from septic poisoning.  I do not know place of burial and cannot refer to anyone for further particulars.”  2182 Gnr C M Harris, 105 Howitzer Bty, 17.9.17
Greviller British Cemetery
Eric William Benjafield was finally laid to rest at Greviller British Cemetery, Bapaume, France.


However, for those that were left this was and would never be the end of the story.  Eric's family, as with tens of thousands of other families across the nation, would live with the memory of a son, husband, father who would not return.  What's more, they would continue to receive “official” reminders of their loss from a government that, perhaps, was equally struggling with its own grief, or guilt.



So it was that Eric's family (similar to countless others) received the following “official” communications:


1 July 1917 – Certificate of Report of death;

22 October 1917 -  Package containing personal effects (a disc, metal chain, gold ring, knife, 2 keys, belt, badges, signalers badge, metal wrist watch and strap);

27 March 1920 – Photo of grave;

7 May 1921 – British War Service Medal;

28 November 1921 – Memorial Scroll and Kings Message;

11 August 1922 – Memorial Plaque;

9 April 1923 – Victory Medal.


To paraphrase King George “.....a brave life given for others in the Great War.”

A Custom of Service - An Introduction


Flag of The Australian Customs Service

The Beginning

The Australian Customs Service began its life as a consequence of a citizens referendum which bound the separate Australian states - New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and eventually Western Australia - to form a Federal Commonwealth. This Federal Commonwealth required the establishment of a Commonwealth Government, with powers agreed by the states and included in the new Australian Constitution . Section 51 of the new Constitution specified powers to be granted, in particular responsibility for trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States, bounties on the production or export of goods, lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys, quarantine, weights and measures, copyrights, patents of inventions and designs, and trademarks. The year was 1901.

With the passing of the Customs Act 1901, the Department of Trade and Customs and the Department of Customs and Excise were formed.


Department of Trade & Customs

The Department of Trade and Customs was established as an advisory and regulatory body and survived, more or less in its original form, until 1956. It had responsibility for social and economic research, patents and trademarks, industrial and scientific research and defence industries.


The Commonwealth Lighthouse Service became part of the Trade and Customs department shortly after its formation. Shipping in Australian waters depended heavily on the operation of lighthouses to aid safe navigation. Trade, immigration and commercial fishing were all subject to the need to operate safely in the coastal zone and functioning lighthouses were essential.


North Head Quarantine Station,
Sydney 1919
As previously mentioned, the Commonwealth was responsible for quarantine and the Commonwealth Quarantine Act of 1908 facilitated the introduction of a Federal Quarantine Service in 1909. This service was not only responsible for quarantine control of products and people from overseas, but also controlled the movement of plant and animal products between states.


The Department of Customs and Excise

Section 90 of the new Australian Constitution gave exclusive power to the Commonwealth over the imposition and collection of duties relating to customs, excise and bounties. This function was vested in the Department of Customs and Excise.

It also became obvious, due to the conflicting interests of the separate states, that a body was required to adjudicate matters relating to interstate trade. As a result, the Interstate Commissions Act was passed in 1912, with the Commission being established in 1913 under the control of the Customs and Excise departme


Those Who Served

Upon entering the Australian Customs headquarters in Constitution Avenue, Canberra, one is confronted with a memorial to all those Customs Officers who have served in times of war. On the section dedicated to officers who served during the First World War there is a list of 27 names. In researching these names many interesting stories have been unearthed. Amongst those 27 we can find a pilot in the fledgling Air Force, a future knight of the realm, at least one future general and a spelling error of some significance.

The names of these men are listed below. Their story, one by one, will be told in future episodes as the research is completed.


Listing in order of appearance on the Customs Honour Roll (the order is representative of the date of enlistment):

CR Cowling
IA Ridgway
RV Wilson
HG Ralethorpe (spelling error - should be Palethorpe)
JLR Burney
JL Lacey
DG Robertson
HG Brain
W Parkes
TR MacNee
AN Trask
GV Browning
FP McArdle
EW Benjafield
EN Lear
C Storey
WG Duffy
JR Lowe
CR McColl
W Jones
JRD O’Loughlin
WE Cremor
TAC Taylor
DR Conly
RW Thompson
EH MacDonald (YMCA)
AF Parkin (Munitions)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Project - An Introduction

My Silent Hero is offered to help YOU find the story of a family member who served Australia during the First World War (WW1).

The project is not intended to provide a full biography of these mostly forgotten people; there are many fine historians and writers who can, and do, perform that role. What we do offer, however, is an outline of a person's service history and their life before and after the war .

"My Silent Hero" had its beginnings as "The Silent Hero Project", some 5 years ago. It has evolved, very slowly, into a process to address particular groups of service men and women, as well as individuals.  Concentrating on the First World War, this project worked, initially, on a chap called John Bernard Reilly (see more) and will move to looking at some of Jack's Mates (as mentioned in his diary) when time and funding permits. A memorial in the entrance to the headquarters of Australian Customs in Canberra attracted our attention and became an assignment of its own. This is progressing slowly as very little is known of the people involved. For example, in the case of the Customs assignment, the only information available were the surname and initials of the servicemen, together with the fact that, at the time of their enlistment, they were employed by Australian Customs or one of its sub-agencies. It is entirely possible that not all personnel will be satisfactorily identified.

In the case of My Silent Hero, however, it is hoped that the involvement of family members may simplify the process of discovery through the provision of more background information.  While our work thus far has been voluntary, we have decided to charge for services to individual enquirers in order to raise funds to enable more research.  At some point we may also seek donations to further this project. There are, after all, more than a third of a million names to recognise.

Consider this, in Mudgee NSW  there is a memorial to those who served during the WW1 with the name "A Smith" engraved upon it.  The National Archives of Australia (NAA) list 5253 "Smiths" in their record of WW1 service personnel, including 383 with the initial "A". Now, a researcher is going to have serious problems with that.  On the other hand, if we knew that "A Smith" was actually,say, Athol Edward Smith, that he was born around 1885 in Hargraves NSW, that his father was Edward Smith and mother Constance Smith, then we can stand a much better chance.  If we also knew that he was a fettler on the railway and that he had a brother, George, who also enlisted, we could be much more confident of success in identifying the correct chap. (The entry on the Mudgee memorial is real, as is the NAA information. The "Smith" details are fictitious and for illustrative purposes only.)

In seeking to put together the stories of our "silent heroes", our researchers will use their knowledge of where to find the most useful publicly available material (free or otherwise). We also subscribe, at the highest level, to the best genealogy websites. All our research is conducted online in order to provide you with the best possible result at the lowest possible cost.

In his novel, The Blind Man's Garden, Nadeem Aslam begins with the sentence, "History is the third parent." At My Silent Hero, we believe that knowing our family story is vital in our understanding of who we are.  Our story has many strands and is not always perfect.  It is, however, real and by knowing it we will understand that we do, in fact, belong.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 29 April 1915


Jack Reilly's Diary:

29th April: The battle is still raging & the 1st Battalion has been relieved in the trenches & sent back to the base to rest.  Had a bathe in the sea and had some tea which has greatly refreshed me.  Thank God I am still safe, but I believe we have a hot time ahead yet.

1st May:  Still resting at the base but expect to return to the firing line this afternoon.  Left the base 7pm and returned to firing line.

2nd May:  Still in trenches – things a bit quiet – plenty of bullets wizzing about but only an occasional shell.  Our trench is on a hill at the top of a deep ravine.  The ascent is so steep that we have to climb up on a rope about a hundred yards long.  The rest is cut with steps.  Went down in the gully this afternoon and made some tea.  Met Ted Smith & P. Wise from Tamworth and had a yarn while the billy boiled.  I forgot to enter that cousin Pat was wounded in the head last Sunday but not seriously.  You can imagine what it was like here the first two days after we landed.  When the roll was called there was only four hundred left in the 1st Battalion, that is 6 hundred killed & wounded.  Although we had such a hot time I came through without a scratch.  The nearest touch I had was when a bullet penetrated the iron cap of my entrenching tool handle and remained in the wood.

9th May:  Still in the firing line.  We do 18 hours and then have 24 off, when we can boil our billys & cook our food.  We are getting excellent food every day.  We get tinned meat & vegetables, bacon, cheese & jam, with biscuits.  I am in splendid health, never had such an appetite before.  We are holding the Turks back now with ease.  In some places our trenches are only 15 yards apart.  The Turks have trench overlooking the gully up which our stores are brought & they have snipers picking off our men as they go along.  One day they shot 14 stretcher bearers.  We also have to go there for water.  I have to laugh when I think of it, that every time one has to go for water one has to give the beggars a shot at oneself.

Jack Reilly was wounded on about the 19th of May 1915.  He was evacuated to Egypt and eventually recovered from his wounds.  He later served in France and returned to Australia in 1919.  Jack was discharged on the 27th of June 1919, having been away for nearly five years.

What sort of man was Jack when he returned we will never know. What we do know is that he was ill, suffering repeatedly from respiratory ailments. He was about 29 years of age when discharged, but it would be another 12 years before he married Rose Kirk in 1931, suggesting that it may have taken some time to recover, both mentally and physically.

While some WW1 commentators have referred to the post war suffering of veterans, it is not a
subject that is generally discussed. Yet what is discussed, though not widely, is that perhaps as many who died during the war (over 60,000) were to pass away in the next 20 years or so following their return. So it is no surprise to learn that 199 Sergeant John Bernard Reilly rejoined his mates from the 1st Battalion on the 18th of February 1942, at the age of just 52.
A hero now silent, but not forgotten.

The First Battalion History records the following: 

On April 26 the Battalion was still scattered along most of the front, although by evening about 300 stragglers had been collected.  These spent the night in Shrapnel Gully, just below its junction with Monash Valley.......During the 27th and 28th such men as had been collected were used as supports for the firing line and small parties were sent up to reinforce where required.

On the 29th orders were received to assemble the Battalion on the beach to reorganize, and every effort was made to muster the scattered troops.......The men bathed and slept, and on the morning of the 30th a muster parade was held and the casualties ascertained with more or less accuracy.

The Battalion had landed with a strength of 30 officers and 942 other ranks....the number of killed, wounded and missing from April 25 to 29 inclusive (totalled) 366.

The First Battalion continued to serve with distinction throughout the Gallipoli campaign and later the war in France.  During its four and half years of active service 286 officers and approximately 6000 other ranks were to serve with the Battalion.  Killed were 49 officers and 1116 other ranks; wounded were 111 officers and 2052 other ranks.  Approximately 232 men received awards for gallantry, including three Victoria Crosses.

Jack's Mates

In Countdown To ANZAC 13 April 1915 we referred to 37 people that Jack met and mentioned in his diary.  Approximately 18 of those men landed with Jack and the 1st Battalion on April 25 1915.  The following is a brief outline of their fate:


Major Ross Campbell Dawson was 34 years old when he enlisted on the 27th August 1914.  He was appointed OIC A Company, 1st Battalion, and was the officer whose signature appears on a great many of the Attestation Papers of those men who enlisted at that time.  He was wounded with a bullet wound to the neck on the 25th April 1915 as his troops were attempting to establish themselves on that first day.  He returned to duty on the 21st of June, but was subsequently seconded from duty on the 29th October 1915.  He suffered a septic arm in January 1916 and embarked for Australia later that month.  Dawson was subsequently diagnosed with nervous depression, insomnia and neurasthenia and was discharged in June 1916.  He died on the 22nd August 1947.


Major Swannell in centre
Major Blair Inskip Swannell born in Britain on th 20th August 1875.  He was an engineer who was a veteran of the South African Campaign (the Boer War) and thus one of the more experienced officers in the 1st AIF at that time. The exact fate of Major Swannell is not known.  He was at the forefront of the landing and advance of the 1st Battalion when it landed on the morning of 25th April.  It appears that, with Sgt Larkin and others he reached the feature known as Baby 700.  He is listed as KIA on April 25 1914, but his body was never identified (this was a common fate of many at Gallipoli).  His identity disc was located on the 2nd of May by a Captain Bigwithen of the NZ Expeditionary Force.
  
Sgt Larkin standing on left of donkey
321 -  Edward Rinnex Larkin was the 34 year old Member for Willoughby in the NSW Legislative Assembly.  He enlisted on the 21st August 1914 and joined the 1st Battalion.  Larkin landed with A company and was reported KIA on the 25th April or 2nd of May.  His remains are buried in the Valley of Death at Gallipoli and he was posthumously Mentioned in Dispatches. 

134 -  James William Adams was a 22 year old plumber when he enlisted on the 22nd of August 1914.  He joined the 1st Battalion and landed at ANZAC on 25th of April, where he received a gunshot wound to the leg.  He rejoined his unit on the 22nd of June, but suffered a serious influenza attack on the 13th of August, just a few days after the attack on Lone Pine.  He was evacuated to England in September and served the remainder of the war in England and France.  He returned to Australia on the 27th of January 1919.

188 – Geoffrey Ronald Lomas joined the 1st Battalion on the 1st September 1914. He was 19 years of age and had been working as a stockman.  He received a gunshot wound to the arm at Gallipoli on the 15th of May 1915.  Taking some months to recover, he didn't return to his unit until the 13th of November of that year, just as the temperature was starting to plummet.  He served throughout the war in England & France, but seems to have suffered greatly from continuing bouts of trench fever.  He returned to Australia on the 22nd of November 1918.

201 – John Cairns was a 29 year old bookkeeper from Goondawindi.  He joined the 1st Battalion on the 4th of September 1914.  He appears to have landed at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915, but was sent to hospital by his commanding officer a few days later, about the 1st of May.  He was diagnosed with venereal disease and sent back to Australia and discharged in August 1915.  

202 – David William Carter enlisted with the 1st Battalion on the 3rd of September 1915.  He was 22 years of age and had been employed as a railway shunter.  Landing at Gallipoli, he was wounded sometime between the 25th and 29th of April and was evacuated to hospital.  Carter returned to his unit in June, survived the attack on Lone Pine in August, was promoted to corporal in November and was sent to Egypt following the Gallipoli evacuation.  Carter was promoted to Sergeant in February 1916 and arrived in France on the 28th of March.  He was killed in action in the vicinity of Poziers, sometime between the 22nd & 25th of May 1916 and is buried in Poziers British Cemetery.

140 – Leslie James Billington was a 22 year old English boy when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 24th of August 1914.  He was wounded at Lone Pine between the 6th & 9th of August 1915.  Recovering from his wounds, he served throughout the war, achieving the rank of sergeant, and returned to Australia in May 1919.

178 – Allen  Reginald Tindale was 19 years of age when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 1st of September 1914.  Describing himself as a clerk when he enlisted, he landed at Gallipoli on the 25th of April with his unit.  Tindale received a gunshot wound to the arm at ANZAC on the 5th of June, but was able to return to duty in August.  He was promoted to corporal and remained at Gallipoli until the evacuation. Tindale was promoted to Sergeant in February 1916 and received a commission to 2nd Lieutenant in April of that year.  Sent to France, he was wounded in May 1916 and again, more seriously, in April 1917.  Tindale was returned to Australia in November 1917 where he was invalided from the army.

179 -  Harry Morell Reeve was a 20 year old shearer upon his enlistment in the 1st Battalion on the 1st of September 1914.  He received a gunshot wound to the hand sometime between the 25th and 29th of April, but returned to his unit on the 8th of May.  Harry was again wounded on the 5th of June and died of his wounds the next day.  He was buried at sea.

100 – Charles Lee was a horse driver and just 21 years of age when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914.  Lee was reported as Missing on the 5th of June 1915 (at Gallipoli) and a subsequent Court of Enquiry confirmed that he had been Killed in Action on that date.

189 -  Sidney John Samson was 24 years old and a mechanic when he enlisted in the 1st Battalion in 1914.  He was wounded at Gallipoli between the 25 and 30th of April 1915, and again in France on the 11th of April 1917.  While he returned to his unit in December 1917, he was sent back to Australia in August 1918.

1154 – Norman Byron Fraser joined A Company of the 1st Battalion on the 26th of August 1914.  He was 19 years old, from Byron Bay and had been working as a clerk.  A Court of Enquiry in January 1916 determined that Fraser had been Killed in Action at Gallipoli on the 2nd of May 1915.  He has no known grave.

97 – Patrick Joseph Reilly was a 37 year old platelayer from Bungendore when he enlisted in the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914.  He was wounded on the 25th of April at Gallipoli and again on the the 10th of August during the attack and later defence at Lone Pine.  This wound was more severe and he returned to Australia in December 1915.  Pat was medically discharged in August 1916.

341 – Hector McKenzie was 28 and a Launch Proprietor when he joined A Company, 1st Battalion, on the 24th of August 1914.  He was killed in action at Gallipoli on the 10th of May 1915.

127 – Samuel Weingott was 21 years of age when he enlisted on the 24th of August 1914.  A tailors cutter from Sydney when he joined the 1st Battalion, he succumbed to wounds received at Gallipoli and died at sea on the 5th of June 1915.  Prior to his death, he specifically requested not to receive a Christian burial.  Sam was one of four brothers who enlisted in the AIF.  His brother Alexander was killed in action at the landing at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915.

1250 – Richard William Edwards was an engine driver who was born in Wales in 1880. He joined the 1st Battalion on the 22nd of October 1914 and promoted to Sergeant in December 1914.  Following a shell blast injury at Gallipoli, he was returned to Australia and discharged in January 1916.

94 – Sandoe Joseph Henry Dietze, AKA Joseph Henry Dietze and Joseph Henry Sandoe.  He was born in Cornwall in 1894 as Joseph Henry Sandoe but due to his mother's remarriage early in his life, he preferred to be known by his stepfathers name of Dietze.  He joined the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914.  Dietze was wounded at Gallipoli on the 28th of May and again on the 27th of August 1915.  Promoted to Company Quarter Master Sergeant, he was wounded in France in January 1917.  Following his commission to 2nd Lieutenant in August 1918, he was killed in action on the 18th of September.

History's Lesson

A moment's reflection by a student of history will undoubtedly bring to mind the sad fact that the lesson's of history are rarely learned.  The vanity of humanity and our perpetual pursuit of that which is possessed by others, under whatever guise, provides the smoke that effectively screens any clarity of vision or effective enlightenment.

The following is a direct quote from Appendix VII from The Official History of The First World War by Charles Bean.  Decide for yourselves.

“After the war of 1914-18, there came to the notice of some Australians the existence, in the National Museum at Athens, of a memorial to members of an earlier force which had served its country in the Dardanelles. On a marble monument are the names of twenty-eight Athenians, grouped under the names of their “tribes” (that is of their electoral divisions), as well as of others who fell at Byzantium (which 750 years later became Constantinople) and elsewhere. In the Manuel of Greek Historical Inscriptions (Hicks and Hill, Clarendon Press, Oxford, England) the editors conjecture that the fighting at the Dardanelles (or Hellespont) took place in 440 B.C. when the people - or aristocracy - of Samos revolted against the Athenian democracy, and the colony of Byzantium also took the opportunity to revolt. In a sea and land war, in which Pericles and the poet Sophocles both served as leaders , the Athenians won.”

On a slab of marble across both columns of the monument is an inscription in Ancient Greek.
This has been translated.... as follows: 

These by the Dardanelles laid down their shining youth
In battle and won fair renown for their native land,
So that their enemy groaned carrying war’s harvest from the field-
But for themselves they founded a deathless monument of valour.

Another Australian suggested a shortened version to commemorate others who fell on the same shores 2355 years later:

They gave their shining youth, and raised thereby
Valour’s own monument which cannot die.
__________________________________


Postscript

Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal)
Atatürk was born Mustafa Kemal at Salonika (now Thessalonika, Greece). After graduating from the military academy in Constantinople (Istanbul), Kemal pursued his military career with the Turkish Army in Syria. A member of the Young Turk revolutionary movement which deposed the Sultan in 1909, he took part in the war of 1911–1912 against Italy in Libya. During the Second Balkan War in 1913 he became the chief of staff of the army in the Gallipoli Peninsula, until posted as military attaché at the Turkish embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Kemal returned to Gallipoli in 1915 as commander of the 19th Division, the main reserve of the Turkish Fifth Army, and was thus on hand to oppose the ANZAC landing in April. His superb grasp of strategy and ability to inspire his troops by his reckless bravery in action boosted Turkish morale and proved decisive in thwarting allied plans.


In 1934 Atatürk wrote a tribute to the ANZACs killed at Gallipoli:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.

This inscription appears on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, ANZAC Parade, Canberra.