When he enlisted, Edward Radburn gave his place of birth as Lucknow (Bairnsdale). However when the father completed the details for the (National) Roll of Honour form, he gave the place of birth as Boolarra. The father also recorded Boolarra as the place with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’. He gave his son’s primary school as Outtrim, near Leongatha. However, the father’s address on the enlistment papers, and also on the embarkation, roll was recorded as Gunyah. Further, when Edward Radburn left for service with the AIF, the brief piece in the Gippsland Standard and AlbertonShire Representative (16 October 1914) described how he was farewelled from Gunyah. Basically, it appears Edward Radburn and his family were living on the border of the Shire of Alberton and this probably explains why his name is not recorded on either the Shire Honor Roll or the Shire War Memorial. At the same time, the family was certainly known in the district. For example, the Gippsland Standard and AlbertonShire Representative reported on 6 December that James Radburn – the father – who had been a sergeant of police for many years had been sworn in as a Justice of the Peace and that … he is sure to prove a very worthy justice. His appointment will be a great convenience to the residents of Gunyah. Similalrly, there is a Radburn Road in the district. And Edward’s sister, Lucy, and father both appeared at several patriotic concerts held in the Wonyip (Ryton) Hall – he acted as the MC and she performed as a singer.
Edward Radburn enlisted in Melbourne on 1 October 1914. On enlistment, Edward gave his age as 19yo but according to the father, when he completed the Roll of Honour form, his son was only 18 years and 10 months when he died from wounds some 9 months later, on 10 July 1915. There is no sign in his service record of the written permission required of the parents whose son was underage.
Edward was single and his occupation was recorded as farm hand. Presumably he was working with his father. He gave his religion as Church of England.
In correspondence in the service file, the father – James Radburn – referred to himself as an ‘old soldier’ but there is no record of Boer War service under that name. At the same time, as already noted, it appears that the father had seen service in at least the police force. Correspondence in his son’s AIF service file reveals that the father was proud of his son’s enlistment.
Private Radburn was in the 9 Light Horse Regiment. The official record states that he died from wounds on 10 July 1915. The wound was a gunshot wound to the thorax. When he was admitted to the hospital in Alexandria – 17 General Hospital – on 8 July 1915, he was described as ‘dangerously ill’ and he died within 2 days.
The father was informed by telegram of his son’s death on 15 July, less than one week later, which, by the standards of the time, was very prompt. Obviously, the fact that he died in a major hospital in Alexandria meant that the family could be advised promptly. Similarly, the funeral was attended to expeditiously – it happened on the same day that Private Radburn died – and the details were passed back to the family in Gippsland: Rev. S A Marsh officiated and the burial was at Chatby Military Cemetery, Alexandria. A small number of personal effects – Testament, cigarette case and watch(damaged) – reached the family in April 1916.
Even though the reporting of this particular death ran far smoother than most of the others we have looked at to this point, there were still discrepancies. All the AIF forms give the date of death as 10 July 1915. Yet, the formal death certificate issued by the Municipality of Alexandria has the time and date of death as 9.40pm on 9 July 1915. More worrying for the family was that the date of death was originally given as 29 June; and this error was not corrected until the end of April 1916. In the intervening 9 months, the father received advice from his son’s friends in 9 Light Horse Regiment on the circumstances of his death. They told him that he had been seriously wounded on 29 June, transferred off Gallipoli and taken to hospital in Alexandria where he died round 10 July, just after having been admitted. It took several letters from the father before the AIF admitted their initial advice was wrong and the record was corrected.
The war diary for 9 Light Horse Regiment does not record any action for 29 June. It does record 2 killed and 4 wounded on 28 June – the day before – when, at Walker’s Ridge, the Australians fired at the Turkish trenches in a sustained manner for 1 hour. It was another feint intended to … assist landing of troops at Cape Helles. The Turks replied with heavy shelling and this was when the casualties were sustained. Private Radburn could have been one of the 4 wounded. The next entry in the war diary is for 30 June. Very early that morning, in the period from just after midnight up to 5.30 am, the Turkish forces mounted a major attack on the 9 Light Horse Regiment’s trenches at Walker’s Ridge. The fighting was intense and after it finished, the Australians counted 54 dead Turkish soldiers immediately in front of their trenches. There was 1 Australian killed and 8 were wounded. Presumably, Private Radburn was one of the 8 wounded. The fact that the action occurred so early in the morning might explain why the 29 June was given as the date he was wounded. He was taken off the Gallipoli Peninsula and transferred by ship to Alexandria, a process that took at least 1 week.
When he died in hospital in Alexandria, Edward Radburn was still only 18yo and he had been in the AIF for not much more than 9 months.
Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative