2015 has been an interesting year.
It is the centenary of the WWI Gallipoli campaign, a defining event in Australia’s history that I knew very little about. As the commemoration of Anzac Day approached, I decided to end my ignorance, and started reading accounts about it from a variety of sources. I’ve already posted a few things about that journey earlier on this blog.
Alongside my own “Gallipoli campaign” I have also been doing some research into my family tree. That was something I started more than 30 years ago when my two Grandmothers were still alive. I obtained as much information as I could from them and then, in those pre-internet days, I hit a dead end.
Recently I decided to see if I could pick things up again after discovering a website that gave free access to basic genealogical records and was able to discover another 100 years of family records, taking me back to the mid-1700s and adding a bit of substance to a few family “myths”.
Yesterday those two different areas of research may have come together. Completely by accident I discovered a man who is possibly a distant relative who served with the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) in the Gallipoli campaign.
He was born in the small English town where I grew up and his (not too common) family name is the same as my Grandmother’s maiden name.
At some stage prior to 1914 he moved to Australia.
He enlisted with the 1st Field Ambulance in Sydney early in September 1914 only three weeks after its formation. A month later he boarded the HMAT Euripides to join the convoy sailing from Albany WA to join the war in Europe. However, the destination changed while they were en route, and they disembarked in Egypt.
As part of the 1st Field Ambulance he would have been part of the first ANZACS to be sent from Egypt to Gallipoli and could have been among those in the 25th April landing, dealing with the high number of heavy casualties.
So far I’ve not been able to find any specific records related to his service, but as a survivor of Gallipoli, he would have been posted to the Western Front with the rest of the 1st Field Ambulance, where again he survived and returned to Sydney after the war.
Just over 20 years later he was killed in a workplace accident in Sydney.
After writing the above I’ve been able to find a copy of his military record on the National Archives of Australia website and have confirmed that he was at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, but a few days later was shipped off to No.1 General Hospital at Heliopolis, Egypt with a bullet wound to the right thigh.
He re-joined his unit at Gallipoli on 10th July.