Silent Heroes - 199 Sgt John Reilly

A couple of years ago I was shown a photocopy of a handwritten diary detailing some of the 1st World War experiences of a young man from Bega, NSW, John (Jack) Bernard Reilly. This diary is not in the collection of the Australian War Memorial at the time of writing. This is Jack's story.

My Photo
Location: Canberra, ACT, Australia

Saturday, February 7, 2009

For Family History Buffs

Just when I thought this story was done and dusted, when all the bits had tumbled tumbled into place and the time had come to move on, my self-satisfied complacency was jolted from its perch.

Let's Recap.

The hero of our story, Jack Reilly, was born JOHN BERNARD REILLY in 1890 in Candelo NSW. The NSW Births Deaths & Marriages database confirms these details and notes his parents as Peter V & Janet M Reilly. (Peter V Reilly married Janet M E Dansey at Bega NSW in 1888.) There is no evidence of any other John B Reilly being born at Candelo, or anywhere near, at any other time that may be relevant to our little puzzle.

In 1930, the Commonwealth Electoral Roll lists a John Bernard Reilly residing at 16 Shepherd St Darlington NSW (a Sydney suburb). He is described as "retired". Living at the same address is one Arthur James Reilly, Labourer.

Australian War Memorial records identify an Arthur James Reilly, Service No. 3410, embarking for overseas service in 1916 with the 1st Pioneer Battalion, 8th Reinforcements. This record notes Arthur's father as Peter V. Reilly. NSW Births Deaths & Marriages confirms the birth in 1892 of Arthur J Reilly, at Candelo NSW, to Peter V and Janet M Reilly.

On the basis of this evidence, it is reasonable to surmise that the two Reilly boys at Darlington in Sydney are brothers and that the John Bernard Reilly at that address is our Jack. Furthermore, it would seem equally reasonable that the term "retired" could be interpreted to being in receipt of a War Pension, suggesting that Jack had continued to suffer from his experiences during the war.

We have earlier noted Jack's marriage, in 1931, to Rose Kirk (Rose Florence Agnes Kirk). The 1936 Electoral Roll shows their address as Cnr Torrington Rd and Marine Pde, Maroubra NSW (just across the road from Maroubra Beach). Jack is described in this record as a "shopkeeper" and Rose as "home duties".

A Mystery

The website contains a small number of family tree records which show a John B Reilly, born 1890 at Candelo NSW, marrying one Eveline B Campion at Eden NSW in 1906 (NSW Birth Death & Marriage records confirm this marriage, together with the birth of EVELYNE B CAMPION at Eden in 1886 to William E and Margaret Campion).

Subsequently, official records describe the birth of Elsie B Reilly, at Cowra NSW in 1908, to John B and Eveline B Reilly. These records later record the death of Elsie at Broken Hill in 1913. Broken Hill Cemetary archives also note the passing of ELSIE NUALLA RIELLY (note spelling) on the 4th of March 1913 and her internment in the Catholic Section on March the 5th.

It should be noted that, on his enlistment papers in 1914, Jack records his marital status as single and provides his mother's name as next of kin. However, official records note that an Evelline Birch Reilly (father being William E) did not depart from this life until 1958.

Who was this Eveline and what connection does she have to our story about Jack? Was Jack's marriage to Rose of questionable legal status, as is suggested by the evidence and assumptions thus far?

Mystery Solved

At first glance, the fact that there is only one record of the birth of a John B Reilly circa late 1800's, the fact that he was born at Candelo NSW (not far from Eden), the fact of the Reilly/Campion marriage at Eden NSW, and the fact of the birth of Eveline Campion also at Eden, would combine to lead to a reasonable conclusion that this record of events was correct. If such were to be the accepted interpretation, it must be concluded that the marriage of Jack to Rose in 1931 was, in fact, an act of bigamy!

But it always pays to take that extra step and check a little further. That step, in this case, saved Jack from being soundly defamed.

The 1930 Electoral Roll records the enrollment of Evelyn Birch Reilly, Albert St Taree NSW, "home duties". The same Roll records one John Bartholomew Reilly, Albert St Taree NSW, Sergeant of Police.

The 1936 Electoral Roll records the enrollment of Evelyn Birch Reilly, 51 Roscoe St Bondi NSW, "home duties" and John Bartholomew Reilly, 51 Roscoe St Bondi NSW, "no occupation".

NSW archives record the passing of John Bartholomew Reilly in 1966 and note his parents as Daniel and Catherine Reilly. These archives also record the birth of eleven children to Daniel & Catherine Reilly, from 1871 to 1897. Three were born at Camden NSW and the remaining eight at Cowra NSW. Yet there is no record of the marriage of Daniel and Catherine and no record of the birth of John Bartholomew.

It would not be unreasonable to conclude that Daniel & Catherine were married in the UK, presented a son, John Bartholomew, and subsequently migrated to NSW. (There is a record of a Catherine Reilly aged 20 arriving in Sydney in 1867 with her 3 year old son John. It was not unusual for a husband to precede his family in those times.)

It is not the job of this journal to follow the family history of those not connected with our tale. However, it is safe to conclude that we have located the John B Reilly who took the hand of Eveline Campion in marriage in 1906 at Eden. That John B was John Bartholomew Reilly, son of Daniel & Catherine, born about 1864 in the UK.

Our John B Reilly can rest in our memories as continuing, in 1906, to enjoy his youth in the dairy country of Bega as he unwittingly prepared for the horrors to come. We can also take comfort that he was able to find love and companionship in his final years.


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Monday, January 26, 2009

A Postscript To War

Some years ago a nice little movie was made called “Sliding Doors”. Its thesis was that each of us is confronted during our life with a series of “sliding doors” and the life experience we enjoy, or suffer, is a consequence of which door we pass through. Some of us may simplify the discussion by reference to “forks in the road”, or “choices”. Whichever term we adopt, there is little doubt that we have arrived at any particular point in our lives as a result of the choices we make along the way. (I guess this could result in deep philosophical argument, but lets not get too complicated.)

Similarly, as we travel those roads and make those choices, many of us leave clues, consciously or otherwise, to show that we have passed that way. Sometimes these clues are obscure, making the search difficult for those who follow.

So it is that we must accept the fact that, had Guglielmo Marconi and others not chosen to take the road leading to the invention of the wireless, or an English ploughman not stolen a horse in the late 1820's, this tale may not have been told.

In 1830 William Favell, Ploughman, arrived in Van Diemans Land transported for life for horse theft. He was to die in Hobart in 1842, without ever seeing his family again. However, in 1841 his son arrived and settled in Sydney with his young wife.

Years later, in June 1894 Frank Edward Favell, a descendant of William Favell, was born in Sydney NSW. Prior to WW1, Frank trained as a boilermaker and served in the Militia as a signaler. Upon his enlistment in 1914, Frank was posted to the 1st Division Signal Company and, in late 1914, sailed in the transport ship “Borda” for Egypt.

It is reasonable to surmise that, with his extended signals training, 181 Sapper Frank Favell was one of the more experienced personnel in a small unit, and would therefore be one of only a few trained in wireless operation at that time.

(At the outbreak of the First World War, the use of wireless for military communication was in its infancy. These early wireless sets, also sometimes called “Marconi Sets”, were not like your modern MP3. They were large cumbersome units the size of a medium refrigerator, draped with wires and aerials and attached to other devices required to generate power.)

John Bernard Reilly was born at Candelo, on the NSW South Coast, in 1890. Known as Jack to his family and friends, he was the son of a dairy farmer, although he subsequently chose a career with the NSW Railways.

As his employment required him to change location from time to time, he was in Murrurrundi when he, with thousands of other Australian men, volunteered for military service in August 1914. Arriving in Sydney with a batch of other recruits, he was posted to the 1st Battalion and commenced his training at Randwick. On the 18th of October 1914, the 1st Battalion with 199 Private Jack Reilly sailed in the “Afric” to join that great Armada assembling at Albany for the charge across the Indian Ocean.

Unknown to each other, Jack Reilly and Frank Favell cruised toward mayhem and glory.

Many of those who served during the First World War kept a written record of their thoughts and experiences. The Australian War Memorial is custodian to some of these precious documents, yet many have been lost or, at best, lie undiscovered in dusty collections of family artifacts. Attempts are being made to locate a diary thought to have been left by Frank Favell. However, recently to hand is a copy of a diary kept by Jack Reilly. It is two brief notes in this diary that form the basis for this little tale.

In his entry for November 28, 1914, Jack tells us of a “wireless received”. Again, on January 4, 1915, he mentions that he is “still with Headquarters Signalers training”. Given the small size of the 1st Division Signal Company and the level of technical knowledge required for wireless operation, it seems reasonable to guess that Jack would have met, known and been trained by Frank, amongst others.

At about 6am on the morning of the 25th of April 1915, Frank Favell struggled ashore at ANZAC Cove with No. 2 Section of the 1st Division Signals Company. Their task was to establish and maintain communications. Approximately 90 minutes later, the 1st Battalion, with Jack Reilly's A Company, landed in the same vicinity to commence an herendous four days of chaos and horror.

Jack was seriously wounded during the night of May 19/20 while repelling a massive Turkish counter attack. He was evacuated and subsequently recovered to serve the remainder of the war in England and France. He returned to Australia in 1919, but died at a relatively young age in 1942.

Frank was wounded at Lone Pine in August and was evacuated from Gallipoli shortly after. He eventually returned to Australia and was medically discharged in 1916. Twelve months later he re-enlisted and served in the Middle East, where he was again wounded. Frank lived to a good age, passing away in 1967.

Decades after the end of WW1, in the mid seventies, Anthony (Tony) Favelle (yes, an “e” was added in the 1920s) was born in Gosford NSW. Tony is a direct descendant of the William Favell mentioned above, transported to Van Diemans Land, and thus related to Frank Favell. In the same year Lisa Clements was born in Canberra. Lisa is related, on her mothers side, to Jack Reilly. In 2001, Tony and Lisa were married and their first child, a son, was born in mid 2008.

While we cannot credit Frank and Jack's brief association with Tony and Lisa's marriage, we would not have discovered the connection had Jack Reilly not chosen to put his experiences on paper. Nevertheless, this tale does serve to remind us that our ancestors made certain choices which mapped their lives and provided the foundation for our own.

It is possible some of those “maps” rest uneasily in that pile of old boxes “out back”. Perhaps we should dust them off and take a peak!

Jack's Mates

Jack Reilly's Mates
Throughout his diary, Jack Reilly is very thorough in mentioning the names of people with whom he comes into contact. In all, there are 38 people whose names he provides (excluding the famous such as Generals, etc). Jack's story would not be complete without some mention, however brief, of the fate of those whose lives touched Jack during this period.

I have been successful in tracing the fate of 37 of those names, thanks to the excellent records made available by the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia. The only name I have been unable to trace is due to an incomplete entry on the copy of Jack's diary available to me. This will probably be corrected upon further advice.

The following information commences with the date each individual is first mentioned in the diary:

4 September 1914 – Fred Banks
311 - Frederick Alfred Banks was a 36 year old station master when he enlisted on 17th August 1914. He was posted to B Company, 3rd Battalion and travelled to Egypt with the first Expeditionary Force. He was admitted to hospital in Cairo on the 8th February 1915 and was returned to Australia on 4th May 1915. He was subsequently discharged as unfit in June 1915.

16 October 1914 - Stan Asquith
185 - Stanley Clarence Asquith joined A Company, 1st Battalion in August 1914. He was discharged on the 29th September 1914 on medical grounds.

28 October 1914 – Major Dawson
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.

28 October 1914 – R. Barri......?
Unable to trace due to incomplete name.

28 October 1914 - Capt B I Swannell
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 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.

28 October 1914 – Sgt Larkin MLA for Willoughby
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.

28 October 1914 – R J Massie
Robert John Allwright Massie was born on the 8th of July 1890 and joined the 4th Battalion on the 31st August 1914. During his service he rose to the rank of Lt Colonel. Massie was wounded four times at Gallipoli and again while serving in France with the 33rd Battalion. During his service he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the Croix de Guerre and Mentioned in Dispatches on four occasions. He returned to Australia in 1919.

8 November 1914 – Private Kendall
147A - Varley Haddon Kendal enlisted on 2nd of September 1914 and joined A Company of the 3rd Battalion. While travelling to Egypt he contracted pneumonia and died on the 8th of November 1914. He was buried at sea somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

13 November 1914 – Adams
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.

13 November 1914 – Lomas
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.

13 November 1914 – Jack Moir
1117 – John Moir was a 23 year old labourer who enlisted with the 1st Battalion on the 29th of August 1914. He returned to Australia on the 15th of March 1915 and was discharged.

14 November 1914 – Lance Corp. Churchill
111 – Henry Bass Churchill, born in England, was a 22 year old bank clerk when he enlisted with the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914. He was granted a commission in the Imperial (British) Army and appears to have served with those forces until the conclusion of the war. He does not appear to have returned to Australia, settling in England after the war.

25 November 1914 – Lieutenant King
Second Lieutenant Edward Vivian King was an electrical engineer when he enlisted on the 3rd of September 1914. He returned to Australia on the 20th of October 1915.

18 December 1914 – J. Cairns
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.

18 December 1914 – J. Grant
104 – John James Grant was a 34 year old coachman from Woolahra when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 18th of August 1914. Arriving in Egypt with his unit, his horse skills were identified and he was transferred to 1st Division HQ as a groom, in which capacity he served throughout the war. He returned to Australia on the 9th 0f April 1919, no doubt considering himself to be one of the luckiest men alive.

20 January 1915 – D. Carter
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.

20 January 1915 – Billington
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.

20 February 1915 – Alan Tindale
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.

20 February 1915 – H. Reaves
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.

20 February 1915 – Bill Barry
362 – William John Barry was a 29 year old railway shunter when he enlisted on the 24th 0f August 1914. He joined the number 3 Battery, Australian Field Artillery and served at Gallipoli, England and France. He returned to Australia on the 4th of December 1918.

20 February 1915 – Jim Greenwood
896 – James Esrick Greenwood was a 24 year old labourer from Bega when he joined the 15th Battalion in 1914. Landing at Gallipoli on the 25th of April, he was promoted to Corporal on the 10th of May, Sergeant on the 11th of May, Company Sergeant Major on the 29th of May and Lieutenant on the 5th of October 1917. Greenwood was wounded on the 4th of July 1918, gassed on the 28th of August 1918 and returned to Australia in July 1919. Jim Greenwood received the Military Cross during his period of service.

8 March 1915 – P. Wise
796 – James Peel Wise was a farmer from Tamworth when he enlisted in the 13th Battalion on the 17th of September 1914. He was 21 years old. Wise was promoted to Corporal in November 1915, while at Gallipoli, and to Sergeant in March 1916. Serving in France, he was wounded in action in November 1916 and was unable to return to his unit until September 1917. Wise was again promoted to Company Sergeant Major in November of that year and eventually returned to Australia on the 23rd of March 1919. Wise was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal on the 18th of June 1918.

8 March 1915 – Colin Hall
2707 – Colin Fletcher Hall was a 23 year old farmer from Tamworth. He enlisted in the Australian Army Service Corps as a Driver on the 22nd of September 1914. He served in both Gallipoli and France, being awarded the Military Medal in November 1917. Hall returned to Australia in December 1918.

18 March 1915 – Charlie Lee
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.

18 March 1915 – Sid Samson
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.

25 March 1915 – Norman Fraser
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.

25 March 1915 – Eric Ritchie
1377 – Eric Cecil Howard Ritchie enlisted in the 3rd Battalion on the 19th of August 1914. He was from Bega, 24 years of age and had been employed as a bank clerk. Ritchie suffered from Jaundice and hepatitis late in the Gallipoli campaign.. He was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1917, but was Killed in Action in Belgium the next month. He is buried at Tyne Cot British Cemetery.

14 April 1915 – Tom Whiteley
88 – George Thomas Whiteley was 25 year old mounted police trooper from Bega when he joined the 4th Battalion on the 25th of August 1914. He transferred to 1st Division HQ in March 1915 and was wounded in Gallipoli on the 30th of April 1915. Whiteley returned to Australia in December 1918, having been married in Britain.

25 April 1915 – Bob Burns
719 – Robert Burns was born in Newcastle in 1890. He was employed as a carpenter when he joined the 2nd Battalion on the 22nd of August 1914. Burns served in Gallipoli from the landing, although he did suffer from influenza in August 1915. Promoted to Sergeant on the 26th of October 1916, while serving in France, he was subsequently wounded a few days later. Burns married an English lass in January 1918 and returned to Australia in May 1919.

2 May 1915 – Ted Smith
219 – Edward Ellis Smith was a 23 year old labourer from Kempsey when he enlisted in the 13th Battalion on the 1st of October 1914. He injured his knee at Gallipoli in late May 1915 and took some time to recover. Returning to his unit in France in 1916, he was wounded in December of that year, again in February 1918 and once more on the 28th 0f March 1918. Smith appears to have married a girl in Malta in March 1916.

2 May 1915 – Cousin Pat
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.

13 May 1915 – Tas Bland
376 – Archibald Atkinson Bland was 26 years of age and from Bega when he enlisted on the 1st of September 1914. Joining the 1st Light Horse, he was wounded at Gallipoli on the 18th of June 1915. He was returned to Australia and subsequently discharged in March 1916. A stubborn lad, he re-enlisted in the 6th Australian Field Artillery and served until the end of the war in France. Bland returned to Australia in February 1919.

13 May 1915 – Lance Cpl MacKenzie
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.

13 May 1915 – Sam Weingott
127 – Samuel Weingott was 21 years of age when he enlisted on the 24th of August 1914. A taylors 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.

14 May 1915 – Dick Edwards
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.

14 May 1915 – Ted Weppler
385 – Edward Weppler was a 29 tear old carter from Bega when he enlisted on th 1st of September 1914. He joined the 1st Light Horse, serving at Gallipoli and the Middle East for the duration of the war. Although he seems to have suffered repeated bouts of illness, he did not return to Australia until January 1919.

14 May 1915 – Brideson
167 – John Thomas Brideson was born in 1894 and was working as a stockman in the Camoweal district when he enlisted in the 1st Battalion on the 30th of August 1914. He was admitted to hospital in Mena in March 1915, suffering from Measles. Brideson rejoined his unit at Gallipoli on the 7th of May 1915, was wounded on the 13th of May and died of wounds on the 14th of May. He was buried at sea.

20 May 1915 – Joe Dietze
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.

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Jack's War From 20 May 1915

The following details are an interpretation of the details on Jack's service file. These were hand written and sometimes difficult to follow. Certain abbreviations used by military personnel at the time are sometimes difficult to decipher, although valiant attempts have been made to provide an accurate description.
  • 20.5.15 Wounded Gallipoli – bullet wound to face & scalp
  • 28.5.15 Admitted to No.1 General Hospital after evacuation on Hospital Ship Saleka
  • 12.6.15 Admitted to convalescent hospital at Helouan recovering from wounds
  • 22.6.15 Discharged to Base Detail in Cairo fit for duty
  • 8.7.15 Admitted to No.1 General Hospital – asthma & wound to eyelid
  • 14.7.15 Discharged for duty
  • 19.2.16 Attached for duty No.1 General Hospital Heliopolis
  • 29.3.16 Temporarily attached to 1 Australian Pay Corp Cairo
  • 1.5.16 Embarked for overseas on Euripides
  • 10.8.16 Temp. attached Australian Army Pay Corp London
  • 18.9.16 Promoted to temporary Lance Corporal
  • 26.10.16 Admitted to Western Fever Hospital (Throat) Found to be meningoccic carrier
  • 12.2.17 Australian Army Pay Corp London
  • 13.2.17 Australian Army Pay Corp London
  • 27.4.17 Attached to AMLO at Havre
  • 22.11.17 Appointed acting Corporal whilst employed on embarkation duty.
  • 1.12.17 Appointed acting Sergeant Admin HQ
  • 17.4.18 To retain rank of acting Sergeant
  • 18.4.18 Admitted 2nd Auxiliary Hospital, Southall, bronchitis
  • 23.5.18 Discharged to duty
  • 24.5.18 Rejoined HQ London ex hospital; still acting Sergeant
  • 2.6.18 Proceeded overseas to France for embarkation duty at Calais
  • 4.10.18 Continues embarkation duty at Calais
  • 6.10.18 Admitted to hospital sick – bronchitis. Reverts to Lance Corporal
  • 24.10.18 Transferred to England – bronchitis
  • 20.11.18 Transferred 3rd Auxiliary Hospital Dartford
  • 2.12.18 Discharged hospital and granted furlough – Paris leave.
  • 11.12.18 Admitted Stationary Hospital in Paris, bronchitis. (Emb. Staff)
  • 18.12.18 Discharged from hospital
  • 27.12.18 HQ London – Lance Corporal – detached from attached duty for return to Australia (Emb.Staff) per Nevasa
  • 5.3.19 Boarded Nevasa
  • 15.3.19 To ships hospital sick bronchitis
  • 22.3.19 Discharged to duty ex ships hospital.
There are also notes on file relating to a small amount of correspondence, although copies of this correspondence do not appear to be available.

Next of kin were advised on 28 July 1915 that Jack had been wounded. A letter was received dated 4 October 1915 from family seeking further information regarding his injuries and a reply was forwarded dated the 11th of October.

Next of kin were also advised on 24th October 1918 when Jack entered Hospital on Oct 6th.
Following his return to Australia, 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 it is discussed, though not widely, 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.

A Soldier's Pain
by Laurie Favelle, April 2008

An image charging through the dark
Exploding in a cloud of red;
More appearing, bayonets seeking,
Leaping, screaming, falling dead.
Firing, loading never stop,
Rifle barking, barrel hot,
Score a hit with every shot,
Bursting flesh, set to rot.

And I weep!

Then the faces start their dance
Of men I used to know.
I count and name them passing by,
Drifting slowly row by row.
Empty eyes that cannot see....
Oh,Christ, is that me?
God please take me, set me free,
Am I your son upon his tree?

A silent scream explodes within,
I wake – another night in paradise.

And I weep.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jack's Diary - 1 May 1915 to 6 June 1915

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 tome 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.

13th May: Light Horse landed yesterday & came up to reinforce us. I suppose they won't like doing infantry work. I saw Tas Bland. Went into trenches 7am. Very quiet so far. Can hear our fleet bombarding the Dardenelles. They shelled our trench. One burst & killed Lance Cpl MacKenzie & wounded another man. One missed Sam Weingott & I by inches and entered the bank on opposite side making a hole 5ft deep & 9 ins in diameter.

14th May: Light Horse in action. Saw Dick Edwards, Ted Weppler & Jim Greenwood. Did 18 hrs in the trenches. Had 6 hrs rest and now in again for 24 hrs. H. Reeve returned from hospital. He had been slightly wounded in the head. Snipers very busy in the gully. Another of our chaps killed in the trenches this afternoon, shot through the head. Brideson was shot by a sniper yesterday afternoon quite close to me. The bullet entered his groin and looked very bad.

Historical Comment

19-20 May 1915

CW Bean leads us into the events of this period:

At Anzac............. the foothold of the invaders was so slight that, in the opinion of the Turkish staff, a trifling success must drive them back to the sea.
“ The position at Anzac,” wrote the chief of the Turkish general staff after the war, “was without parallel in history. The opposing trenches were so close together, and the line of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was very close to the sea. Consequently they were much confined, and would make every effort to enlarge their position.”
For these reasons von Sanders decided, as he himself states, to drive away his enemy from Anzac at least by “one last decisive attack.” Fresh Turkish troops for this offensive became available about the middle of May. “The plan,” writes Kiazim Pasha, “was to attack before day-break, drive the Anzac troops from their trenches, and follow them down to the sea.”
The Turkish troops were to be secretly massed during the night of the 18th, and at 3.30, while it was still dark, were to rush at all points and at the same moment across the narrow space separating the opposing lines. During the night of May 18th the final dispositions were carried out. The actual infantry numbered about 42,000.
“The divisions,” says Kiazim Pasha, “were good. The 2nd and 16th were fresh; the other two had taken part in all the previous fighting.”
On May 18th, for the first time since the Landing, the Turkish rifle-fire at Anzac dwindled, until for minutes together, scarcely a shot was fired. The strange peacefulness of the day was for a long time broken only by the activity of the newly-emplaced Turkish 8-inch howitzer on Chunuk Bair, which regularly threw its heavy shell into Courtney’s Post and the head of Monash Valley.
At 5 p m , however, the enemy opened from all sides the heaviest bombardment yet experienced at Anzac. This storm fell chiefly upon the Australian line from the Pimple northwards to Courtney’s, the shells arriving from south, east, and north. The orderly room of the 2nd Battalion was hit; from a position on Mortar Ridge three guns were fired against the line of the 1st Brigade on MacLaurin’s Hill, their crews and the officers directing them being plainly visible from Scott’s Trench, which they enfiladed at 600 yards range.

So the scene is set for this Turkish attempt to end the stalemate at Anzac. They did succeed in keeping their arrangements secret but there was a strong suspicion amongst the Anzacs at all levels that something was up. Accordingly, the men were stood too at 3am and plans were made for reserves to be ready if needed.

The story of what took place, as we can read in Jack's diary, generally describes what happened all along the line from around 3.30 am until a little after 5am on the 20th. In that short space of time some 10000 Turkish soldiers died. Over the next 24 hours or so the Turkish commanders attempted to renew the attack here and there, but enthusiasm was tempered by the incredible losses.

This attack did lead to a temporary truce on May 24, to allow for the burying of the dead, but Jack had left the field of battle by that time.


19th May: enemy shelling our trenches all day with 8.2 gun (“Jack Johnsons”). It was awful. Some of our chaps were blown to pieces. They made a mess of our trench and we expect an attack tonight.

20th May: the enemy attacked us at 3am and we gave them hell. Charlie Lee & I were together in the firing line and we had the sport of our lives. It was hard to miss them. They came up in swarms like lambs to the slaughter and all was necessary was to hold the rifle & fire. Some of the Turks Charlie & I shot are only 4 or 5 yards from our trench. We shot them down so quickly that the few who were left turned and fled and we shot them before they could get back. One Turk got into our trench & bayoneted two before he was shot. The attack lasted three hours and we slaughtered thousands. They are lying dead in heaps from one end of the firing line to the other (2 miles). Had a narrow escape about 6am. A bullet hit me on the back of the neck and passed through the collar of my coat without doing any harm. Fairly quiet all day. Expect another attack tonight.

9pm: On sentry in the firing line. Saw two Turks creeping up to throw bombs and I shot both of them.

3am: (21 May 1915) Expecting the attack & everybody ready. I am lying on the top of the parapet with bayonet fixed and loaded. When I got hit it felt as if I got hit in the face with a hammer which knocked me off the top into the bottom of the trench and then oblivion. Was only unconcious a few minutes, and was very surprised to find I was not dead. Got on my feet with assistance. They called for stretcher bearers but I said I could walk but I only got a few yards when I fainted from loss of blood. The Doctor patched me up and I went, with a stretcher bearer's assistance, to the field hospital on the beach, where I had my wounds dressed. They gave me some “borrie” and a cigarette. Needless to say I smoked two coming down. I was then put in a boat and taken to the Hospital Ship about 5 miles out. I was glad of a rest as I had no sleep for 2 days and nights. Met Joe Dietze on board. He did not recognise me I was in such a mess. Remained several days waiting for more wounded. Came round by Greek coast to Lemnos Island where we stayed a couple of days and took on more wounded. We were nine days reaching Alexandria. Had a terrible time with my eye which was most painful. Entrained for Cairo. On the way the nurses gave us tea and bread and butter, oranges and cigarettes. Arrived at Heliopolis about 8pm. Taken by motor to the Palace. Was then motored to Luna Park Hospital.

6th June: still in Hospital – doing fine – wounds all fine but have bullet in jaw to be taken out.

This is the last entry in Jack's diary.



Jack appears to have made his last diary entries after the events he was recording. Not surprising considering the somewhat hectic time being experienced at Gallipoli and his subsequent wounds. As a result, his recollection of his last 48 hours at Gallipoli is actually one day ahead of actual events. Jack was wounded, and the action which caused his wounds, on the 20th of May 1915, not the 21st. This is supported by his Service Record, the 1st Battalion War Diary and the commentary of C W Bean, Official Historian.

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Jack's Diary - 25 April 1915 to 29 April 1915

Historical Comment
For those who landed on Gallipoli at the commencement of the campaign, the period from 25 – 29 April was one of desperate struggle.

(Morning 25.4.15 1st Btn below Plugges Plateau, ANZAC Cove)
There had been a plan, a grand plan. The plan said that the British and French should land at Cape Helles on the southern end of the Gallipoli Peninsular and that the Anzacs should land further north, around Gabe Tepe, about halfway up the coast towards Suvla Bay.
The plan said the the Turk wouldn't have the “ticker” for a serious resistance.

The plan said that the British/French forces would join with the Anzac troops and sweep easily into Constantinople. The plan was wrong.

The plan didn't count on the skill of the German commander of the Turkish forces, General von Sanders.

The plan didn't count on the courage and determination of the Turkish commander facing the Anzacs, Mustafa Kemal, later to become Kemal Attaturk, President of Turkey.

The plan didn't count on the desperate courage of the Turkish soldier, fighting for his homeland.

Finally, the plan didn't count on the Anzacs being dumped, bunched up and confused, on a narrow little cove with steep, gorse covered terrain immediately behind.

And there was no “Plan B”.

The Australian 3rd Brigade was tasked with being the first ashore and providing the covering force. That is, take the high country, secure the beach and hold on until reinforced. The 3rd Brigade was tough, largely made up of miners from Mount Morgan, Broken Hill, Moonta, the WA goldfields and Tasmanian tin mines. They took the heights and secured the beach, but to hold it would require great courage and enormous effort.

The men of Jack's 1st Battalion, waiting with a mixture of excitement and apprehension aboard the Minnewaska, could hear the gunfire and, as the sun rose, saw the figures of 3rd Brigade men silhouetted against the skyline on the heights overlooking the beach.

The 1st Battalion Diary for the 25th of April reads thus:

6.15am Commenced disembarkation
7.40am Landed without loss
8.00am Received orders to send company forward
8.35am B Company ordered forward but were halted
9.30am Received orders to reinforce Col. MacLagan of the 3rd Brigade
10am The whole battalion was thrown into the firing line and worked independently of battalion head quarters."

There are no further entries until the 29th when it is noted that “the battalion was withdrawn from the firing line to rest and reorganise”. It was then that the cost of those first four days become evident to all.

The 1st Battalion roll call on the 29th told the story as a little over 400 of the 973 officers and men who landed were present. Many simply disappeared, blown to fragments of rotting flesh, or lying unburied in no mans land, their scattered and anonymous bones not to be discovered until 1919, if then.

Whoever these men thought they were when they climbed into the landing boats on the 25th, the survivors were very different people four days later.
It Begins
By Laurie Favelle
On our own now, the launches gone,
With sailors bending to the oar.
In silence, with thoughts too deep,
We contemplate the coming chore!
It's a game no longer.
25th April 1915(Sunday): Landed on Gallipoli about 7am under fire and got a hot time. We had to advance and reinforce the 3rd Brigade. When we got to the top of the hill it was like hell. Shrapnel and explosive bullets rained on us like hail. A great many of our chaps were killed and wounded. Two of my best mates, Jim Adams and Bob Burns were severely wounded and I heard since that Bob had died.

29th April: The battle is still raging and the 1st Battalion has been relieved in the trenches and 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.

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Jack's Diary - 1 April 1915 to 24 April 1915

1st April: Reviewed by Sir Ian Hamilton.

3rd April: All leave stopped. Went to Cairo to get money from the bank. Had a tight squeeze to get through on a crook pass. Also had a job to get money owing to not having my identification disc with me. Left camp at 6pm to entrain for destination unknown. Arrived Alexandria 5am. Went aboard “Minnewaska”. Rumoured we are going to Dardenelles. Loading goods all day. J. Cairns and I got out and went up town. Got back about an hour before we left the wharf and anchored in mid stream.

10th April: Left 6am and steamed into Mediteranian Sea. Weather a bit choppy.

11th April: Bit of a swell on. Feel a bit sick. Making straight for Dardenelles where we are to land and take Constantinople.

12th April: Arrived at Lemnos Island where we remain awaiting orders. Greeks came alongside selling fruit which was very acceptable.
14th April: Still anchored in harbour of Ladros. Great fleet of troopships, man of wars, submarines, etc in port awaiting orders.
Went ashore at Lemnos today in ships boat and marched through Greek village. Very picturesque and clean, a contrast to arab villages we been accustomed to see. Saw a number of humped cattle. Had lunch ashore and then returned to Minnewaska. Met Tom Whiteley from Bega and Colin Hall from Attunga aboard.
(1st Btn boat drill Lemnos Harbour.umpCAPJKK9P)
17th April: Went ashore today and had a good walk around island. It is very pretty country. The hills are very green and covered with pretty wild flowers. Everewhere are green fields of wheat and growing thickly between the stalks are beautiful red poppies.
We marched through the village of Madros. The houses are built of stone with tiled roof are very close together but look clean and picturesque and remind me of picture I have seen of a Swiss village. There are soldiers everywhere, English, French and Australians. The Harbour is a fine sight from the hills being almost crammed with troopships, man of wars, submarines, etc. we return to the ship about 3pm. Our chaps captured a Turk spy yesterday and brought him aboard.

18th April (Sunday): General Birdwood spoke a few words to us. He is a fine stamp of a man and one couldn't help but like him. A seaplane flew around the harbour this afternoon. It was a fine sight.
Historical Comment
General Birdwood clearly understood that the Australian soldier was different in attitude to his English counterpart and, therefore, needed to be handled differently.
Chapter 7 of Beans “History” describes some of the qualities of General Birdwood.

"From the first day when, strolling round the Zoological Gardens at Gizeh, he found many an Australian youngster gazing at the cages, he chatted simply to them, chaffed them, and treated them not as professional soldiers, but as the natural human beings they always were. Moreover he never made the mistake of setting before them low or selfish ideals. His appeal to them from first to last was based upon the highest and most honourable grounds. Sometimes he asked too much of them, but he always asked it for a worthy reason-the general good for which the allies were fighting. And that was always the way to appeal to the Australian. Birdwood was ambitious, but he was a man of intense uprightness. If he realised that a thing was wrong, nothing would induce him to do it. Above all he possessed the quality, which went straight to the heart of Australians, that of extreme personal bravery.
All these attributes made Birdwood a rare leader-undoubtedly one of the greatest leaders of men possessed by the British Army during the war. Though of good general sense and ability, he was probably not outstanding as a tactician, nor had he the cast of mind peculiar to an organiser. His delight was to be out in the field among his men, cheering them by his talk, feeling the pulse of them. He would come back from the front apparently far more interested in the spirits and condition of the men than in the tactical situation. Indeed the importance which he attached to small things was constantly a puzzle to outsiders. He wrote personally to every officer who was decorated, and his correspondence with anxious or distressed relations in Australia was enormous. When addressing the men, he constantly concluded, with a smile : “And, mind, whatever you do, write regularly to your mothers and wives and sweethearts because, if you don't, they will write to me.’’

24th April: Left Harbour of Ladros 5am. Anchored north of Lemnos Island. Expect to land on Gallipoli Peninsula tomorrow morning.

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