45. The Nek: Patrick SWEENEY 451, James MOYSEY 138, James PICKETT 232

Trooper Patrick Joseph Sweeney 451, 8 LHR C Squadron
Trooper James Edgar Moysey 138, 8 LHR A Squadron
Sergeant James Burnett Pickett 232, 8 LHR B Squadron

All 3 men were killed in action with the 8 Light Horse Regiment at the Nek on 7 August. Initially, Sweeney and Pickett were recorded as ‘missing’ but this was quickly changed to ‘killed in action’ and the 3 families were individually informed of their son’s death by cable on 25 August 1915. The bodies were never recovered – the bodies were still on the battlefield at the end off the War – and the names of the 3 men are recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial. There was no Red Cross report instigated for any of them: it was abundantly clear to those who survived what had happened.

Another common characteristic for the 3 men was the lack of parental correspondence in their individual service files. This always makes it more difficult to fill in the personal details of an individual’s life.

Patrick Joseph Sweeney

In a real sense Patrick Sweeney was the most ‘local’ of the three. He was born in Yarram, attended the local state school and was working in Yarram when he enlisted. His family – the father was also named Patrick – lived in Yarram.  On the (National) Roll of Honour form, the father listed Yarram as the place with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’. The family was Roman Catholic.

Patrick enlisted in Yarram on 16 September 1914. He was 28yo and single. He gave his occupation as labourer. There was another brother – William Henry Sweeney – who was Patrick’s twin. He enlisted as a 28yo on 25 September, also at Yarram, and also in the 8 LHR.  The reason that he too did not die at the Nek was because at that time he was in hospital in Alexandria. He had been wounded earlier on 8 July 1915: compound fractured skull and left tibia. Burns face and arms. He was repatriated to the UK then back to Australia where he was eventually discharged on 25 December 1916. There was also another, older brother – Cornelius James Sweeney, 35yo – who enlisted round the same time, also at Yarram, but in 15 Battalion. Cornelius made it through to 1917 when he was killed at Bullecourt.

When the father completed the (National) Roll of Honour form he gave the place of death as just ‘Gallipoli’ but when the family placed in memoriams in the local paper the location was given as ‘Lone Pine’.

Patrick Sweeney’s name appears on the Shire of Alberton Honor Roll, the honor roll for Yarram State School and the Shire of Alberton War Memorial.

The in memoriam placed in the paper on 7 July 1916 is striking for its very Catholic references. Strangely, the date of death is incorrect.

Sweeney – In loving memory of our loved son and brother, P. J. Sweeney, of 8th Light Horse, who fell in action at Gallipoli on the 8th August, 1915.

A precious one from us is gone,
His fond, true heart is stilled;
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled.

Immaculate heart of Mary,
Your prayers for him extol;
Oh, sacred heart of Jesus,
Have mercy on his soul.

– Inserted by his loving parents and sisters.

The following year, on 8 August 1917,  the in memoriam was more political. By this point, 2 sons were dead and another had been discharged on medical grounds. The family had definitely done its ‘duty’, at a time when there was a strong push to compel others to do their duty and serve:

Sweeney – In loving memory of our darling son and brother, Trooper P. J. Sweeney, 8th Light Horse, killed in action at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, on 8th Aug., 1915.

We tried our best to keep him;
We pleaded for him to remain.
But he said, “My country is calling,
Let me go, or I will die in shame.”

He needed no recruiting speech
When he heard his country’s call.
He’s sleeping now at Lone Pine,
Beloved and mourned by all.

– Inserted by his loving parents, sisters and brothers.

The family continued to place such in memoriams – for the 2 Sweeney brothers killed – through to at least the 1920s.

James Edgar Moysey

The details for James Moysey are limited. His name is not included on any local memorial.

He was born in Yinnar, South Gippsland. He enlisted at Bairnsdale on 21 September 1914. He was 25yo, single and he gave his occupation as labourer. His religion was Church of England.

His parents were Isaac and Harriett Moysey of Orbost. After the War the mother was living in Mount Gambier, SA.

When the mother completed the (National) Roll of Honour form she gave Orbost, Gippsland as the place with which her son had been ‘chiefly connected’. She also gave his occupation as labourer. As was the case with Patrick Sweeney’s family, she too gave Lone Pine as the place of death.

On the face of it, there is nothing to tie Trooper Moysey to the Shire of Alberton. However, Moysey is an uncommon name and there was only one J E Moysey who enlisted, and he was killed in action. Whilst there was no link evident in the personal service file, there clearly was a connection to the district because on 8 October 1915, just 2 months after his death, the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative noted the following:

We learn from the “Argus” that Private J. E. Moysey, aforetime school teacher in this district, and a prominent footballer, was killed in action at the Dardanelles on August 7th. He was born in Yinnar in 1889. His parents live in Orbost.

James Burnett Pickett

James Burnett Pickett completed his medical at Yarrawonga and enlisted in Melbourne on 15 September 1914. He was 19yo, single and he gave his occupation as jackeroo. His religion was accorded as Church of England. On his enlistment papers he indicated that he had served 1 year in the senior cadets and reached the rank of 2nd. lieutenant.

He was born at Rupanyap near Horsham. His family must have moved to the Yarram area when he was child because he features on the honour rolls of 2 local state schools – Yarram and Darriman – and in both cases he is recorded as having been killed in action.

The parents were James and Annie Pickett. However it appears that the father had died by the time James enlisted. It was the mother who wrote her permission on the enlistment form: I consent to my son James Burnett Pickett joining the Australian Expeditionary Force. The mother also completed the (National) Roll of Honour form and on it she gave Canterbury as the place with which her son was ‘chiefly connected’. Canterbury was also given on his enlistment papers as his current address, so it appears that immediately prior to enlisting James had been living with his mother in Melbourne. The fact that he was in the senior cadets suggests that he and been living in the metropolitan area there a few years.

At the same time, it appears that James must have spent a good deal of his childhood and teenage years in the Yarram district. He was certainly still remembered as a local lad. In the 9 August 1916 edition of the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative there is a large article on the commemoration, on Friday 7 August 1916,  of the second anniversary of the War. As part of the ceremony, the Shire Medallion was handed out. By this point more than 200 of these medallions had been issued, but some of the very first men to enlist had not received them so this was an opportunity for relatives or friends to collect them on behalf of the men. One of the medallions to be handed out was to go to J. B. Pickett (killed). There is no way of knowing if the medallion was collected, or by whom. However, it is clear that James Pickett was still regarded as local. Even though he was to receive a medallion, his name is not included on either the Shire Honor Roll or the Shire War Memorial.

Whereas the parents of both Patrick Sweeney and James Moysey gave Lone Pine as the place of death, James Pickett’s mother at least recorded it as Walker’s Ridge, much closer to the Nek.  She must have picked this detail up from a former mate of her son, as there is no evidence in the files of any of the 3 men that the Nek was ever given as the specific location where they had been killed.


Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

Patrick Joseph Sweeney 451, 8 LHR

National Archives file for SWEENEY Patrick Joseph

First World War Embarkation Rolls: Patrick Joseph Sweeney

Roll of Honour: Patrick Joseph Sweeney

James Edgar Moysey 138, 8 LHR

National Archives file for MOYSEY James Edgar

First World War Embarkation Rolls: James Edgar Moysey

Roll of Honour: James Edgar Moysey

Sgt. James Burnett Pickett 232, 8 LHR

National Archives file for PICKETT James Burnett

First World War Embarkation Rolls: James Burnett Pickett

Roll of Honour: James Burnett Pickett

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