Both Corporal Garland and Private Rendell were from 21 Battalion and both died on July 6, 1918, immediately after the Battle of Hamel (July 4). Corporal Garland died of wounds received on the same day and Private Rendell was killed in action.
The war diary of 21 Battalion records how the advance at Hamel commenced shortly after 3.00 a.m. on the morning of 4 July and that by 7.00 a.m. that morning the objectives had been taken and the new position consolidated. The battle took 93 minutes, 3 minutes more than Monash had planned.
21 Battalion was spared the heaviest fighting and its casualties over the 2 days (4-5 July 1918) were relatively light: 6 killed, 3 died of wounds, 1 missing and 46 wounded.
The casualty figures given in the war diary of 21 Battalion for 6 July were 3 killed, 4 wounded and 2 died of wounds. There was a German counter-attack which was launched late on July 5 and lasted to very early morning on 6 July. It appears that Corporal Garland was wounded in this action. There were also patrols sent out on the day. However, the circumstances of Private Rendell’s death that day are not clear. 21 Battalion was relieved by 20 Battalion on the same day (6/7/18).
Overall, the action at Hamel was hailed a major success. The war diary of 21 Battalion includes a copy of the letter (dated 5/7/18) sent by General Sir. W. R. Birdwood to 6 Brigade (21 -24 Battalion):
Just a line of heartiest congratulations on the good work carried out yesterday [4/7/18] by your Brigade in the completely successful operation yesterday morning. Evidently things could not possibly have gone better, and the greatest credit is due to you and every man concerned in it. I shall be grateful if you will pass on my very hearty congratulations both to Battalion Commanders and all their men.
In the war diary, there are also copies of similar congratulatory messages from Prime Minister Hughes, other Allied leaders. In time of course, Hamel came to be regarded as the definitive example of how WW1 battles should have been waged. Even at the time, Monash was keen to identify the success as a model for future planning. He wrote, in part:
The operation is a striking example of the success which invariably results from careful preparation and co-ordinated action, and will serve as a model and standard of the fighting efficiency of the Australian Corps.
GARLAND Eugene Loftus MM 1545
21 B DoW 6/7/18
Eugene Garland was born in Port Albert (1890) and grew up in the local area. He attended the state school at Port Albert and when he enlisted he indicated that he was in the Port Albert Rifle Club. His family had been living in the Port Albert area since the 1860s. His father – Eugene Garland – had had small land holdings in the area and had worked as a local carrier. By the time his son enlisted the father was dead (1904) and the mother – Mary Ellen Garland – appeared as next-of-kin. On his enlistment form Eugene gave his occupation as ‘laborer’. However when his mother completed the information for the (National) Roll of Honour, she gave his occupation as ‘farmer’. The mother did appear in the 1915 rate book with 6 acres at Palmerston so perhaps the family was involved with dairying in some small way. Most likely, even if there were a family farm, the brothers – there were 3 other brothers – would have been working on other farms in the area. Two of the brothers enlisted: John, born 1892, enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy and Arthur, born 1895, enlisted in the AIF. Both survived the War.
When Eugene enlisted he was single and 23 yo. His religion was Roman Catholic.
He enlisted in April 1915 (14/4/15) in Melbourne and joined as reinforcements for 21 Battalion. He left Melbourne in late June (28/6/15) just 2 months after enlistment and proceeded to Egypt and then Gallipoli.
He was taken off the Gallipoli Peninsula and transferred via hospital ship to Malta. His condition was described as ‘Inguinal Abscess’. This period of hospitalisation lasted from mid September to mid October and he returned to duty on Anzac in early November. But he was again hospitalised (26/11/15) and this time taken to Heliopolis and not discharged until early February 1916. The condition on this occasion was given as asthma, trenchfeet and frost bite.
There is a letter in the file, dated 12/11/15, from a Miss C Hepburn [Cecilia Hepburn, born 1898 Port Albert] of Port Albert. She was obviously close to Private Garland. Her letter and the response to it from Base Records give some insight on the limitations of the postal service at the time.
I have a very dear friend at the Dardenelles (sic) but at present he is sick in Malta.
He has been away a good few months now and by the letter I received from him tonight he has not received one letter that I have written to him, and I have his full address. I receive all his letters alright. Could you find out whether the letters are going astray or not.
I have watched the papers to see when the mail goes, and have written regularly. If you could inform me how to get the letters through to him I would be much obliged. He said he is longing for a letter. I have also sent papers which have not been received.
The prompt reply from Base Records (19/11/15) informed Miss Hepburn that Private Garland had been sent to Malta, ‘sick’, on 23/9/15. The letter also offered some kind of apology for what was very obviously a poor mail service.
I beg to inform you that everything possible has been done by the Postmaster General’s Department and this Office to improve the service, but the difficulty of distributing mails to troops on active service is very great, and is almost regulated by the exigencies of the Military situation, which is the prime factor in the war.
An Australian Postal Unit will shortly arrive in Egypt, and it is hoped that the Mail Service will thereby greatly improve.
Private Garland’s battalion left Alexandria in mid March 1916 (19/3/16) and disembarked at Marseilles, one week later, on 26/3/16. In France he was first promoted to lance corporal (28/2/17) and then corporal (4/10/17). There is very little on his service in France over 1916-1917 in his file. Over this two year period, 21 Battalion saw action at Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt and Broodseinde Ridge.
There was some leave for Corporal Garland in Paris in January 1918 and then 2 weeks in England in March 1918. He was wounded in action on 6/7/18 and died of wounds – shrapnel wound which perforated the abdomen – on the same day. He was buried by Rev. A Fogarty in the Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy-Sur-Somme.
The cable informing his mother of the death was dated 13/7/18. News of his death was published in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 24/7/18:
Word reached Mrs. Garland, Port Albert, on Thursday [18/7/18], that her son Corporal Hugh Garland had died of wounds on 6th inst. The sad news cast quite a gloom over the Port, for he was born and schooled there, and was thought very highly of.
Just a few days after his death, Corporal Garland was recommended for the Military Medal. The recommendation was dated 10/7/18 and the award was confirmed at the end of the same month. The recommendation was based on his actions at Hamel, 4 – 5 July.
The battalion war diary also features an extended account of the action leading to Corporal Garland’s Military Medal. The actual recommendation written for the Military Medal is shorter than this account; although, specifically in respect of Corporal Garland, it is substantially the same. As is evident, in relation to the same episode, Lance Corporal Donald James Creighton (5317) was recommended for, but not subsequently awarded, the Croix de Guerre. He survived the War and returned to Australia in 1919.
1545 Corporal Eugene Loftus Garland
5317 Private (Lance Corporal) Donald James Creighton
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.
On the morning of 4th July 1918 during the attack North East of Villers-Bretonneux [Hamel] after the final objective had been reached, portion of the line was harassed excessively by sniping from a Communication Trench in which we had established a block.
These two Non-Commissioned Officers moved out with a Lewis Gun along the Communication Trench and engaged the enemy under heavy sniping fire. The Germans, after suffering casualties at their hands were compelled to withdraw. These N.C.O.s pursued the enemy for a distance of five hundred yards past the block and inflicted further losses on the enemy, although they themselves were exposed to more severe fire the further they advanced.
Again on the night of 5th July 1918, during a minor operation these N.C.O.s were included in a party which was covering the left flank of the action. About daybreak the enemy became very active with sniping and machine-gun fire. Cpl Garland & L/Cpl Creighton again pushed forward together armed with a machine gun with which they took it in turns to ‘hose’ the enemy, firing from the hip. Their action was so successful that the enemy was again demoralised and had to withdraw in haste from their front.
Both these actions were performed under heavy machine-gun and sniping fire from the enemy, and on their return from their second adventure they were both wounded, Garland being severely injured. Later a party of their comrades went out into No Man’s Land and brought these N.C.O.s back to our lines. The men speak in glowing terms of their deed and without doubt this timely act at a critical juncture was of great service to all concerned and contributed largely to the success which attended the operations.
On 2/10/18 the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative published the letter that Mrs Garland had received from the Commanding Officer of 21 Battalion, dated 17/7/18 . The letter also included the relevant official recommendation for the Military Medal:
In handing you the attached copy of the recommendation for gallantry for which your son was awarded the Military Medal, I desire, as Commanding Officer of the Battalion, to express my appreciation of the deed which rebounds to your son’s credit and adds lustre to the already fine record of this unit. The sympathy of all ranks under my command goes out to you in your sorrow, for Cpl. Garland was held in high esteem by us all. In dying he lived up to the high standard that has always characterised his work, and leaves behind him an unexcelled soldierly record of duty well done.
There is a Red Cross report for Corporal Garland. Essentially, it confirms the account of his actions with the Lewis Gun on 6 July; although there are the usual inconsistencies about time and the nature of the wound: hit by a sniper in the thigh as opposed to hit by a bomb & badly wounded in the chest. It is also worth noting that while the official record has the funeral service being conducted by Rev A Fogarty who was the Roman Catholic Chaplain attached to the Casualty Clearing Station where Corporal Garland died from his wounds, there is in fact a witness statement from the same Rev A Fogarty which states clearly that, The funeral service was performed by Rev. F. O’Neill C. F.
Corporal Garland left a will (September 1915) leaving all his property and effects to his mother. As with so many other locals, BP Johnson, Barrister and Solicitor of Yarram, acted on behalf of the mother. He also followed up the life policy for the deceased soldier with The National Mutual Life and secured the formal death certificate from the AIF.
Several lots of personal effects, in 3 separate packages, were returned in early 1919:
(1) 1 Religious book, 1 metal watch (damaged) & strap
(2) 1 Religious book, 2 Notebooks, 1 Mirror (broken), 2 German books, 1 Map, 1 French Book, Photos, Cards, Letters, 1 Tie, 1 Wallet, 1 Wrist watch (glass broken) & strap, 7 Coins, 1 Cloth Wallet, 1 Cap Band, Various papers.
(3) 1 Wrist disc, 1 Belt buckle, 1 Tassel, Buttons, 1 Badge, 1 Metal ring, 1 Metal watch (damaged).
In March 1919, Corporal Garland’s mother was advised that the Military Medal for her son was available. The letter from Base Records (4/3/19) in Melbourne is interesting in terms of the attention to limiting expenses associated with any formal award ceremony:
I am in receipt of a Military Medal which has been awarded to your son, the late No. 1545 Corporal E.L. Garland, M.M., 21st Battalion, and shall be glad to learn at your earliest convenience whether you desire this decoration to be handed to you publicly on the first suitable occasion, or whether you would prefer it to be transmitted to you direct from this office.
The public presentation could possibly be arranged to fit in with some local function in your district, as the Department cannot be responsible for any expenses in connection with travelling to Melbourne or other large centre.
The mother took the simplest option and replied (14/3/19),
I desire this decoration to be transmitted to me direct from your office, thanking you for same.
The medal was immediately despatched from Melbourne with a very fulsome form letter (17/3/19),
It is with feelings of admiration at the gallantry of a brave Australian soldier who nobly laid down his life in the service of our King and Country, that I am directed by the Honourable the Minister to forward to you, as the next-of-kin of the late No. 1545 Corporal E. L. Garland, M.M., 21st Battalion, the Military Medal which His Majesty The King has been graciously pleased to award to that gallant soldier for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty while serving with the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force.
I am also to ask you to accept his deep personal sympathy in the loss which, not only you, but the Australian Army has sustained by the death of Corporal Garland whose magnificent conduct on the field of battle has helped to earn for our Australian soldiers a fate which will endure as long as memory lasts.
On the first anniversary of his death, the following In Memoriam was printed in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative (4/7/19):
GARLAND – In loving memory of our dear friend, Corp.
E. L. Garland, killed on active service on 6th July, 1918.
As true a heart as ever beat
Has passed away from earth,
But memory dwells within the hearts
Of those who knew his worth.
In dawn of his splendid manhood,
When the tide of life was high,
He lived to make others happy.
Oh, why did he have to die?
-Inserted by Mr. and Mrs. W. B. McKenize [sic] and family
[Most likely this was from Mr and Mrs William Hodgson McKenzie. William McKenzie was a farmer from Tarra Valley but he had also been a publican at Port Albert and was involved in district sports.]
Corporal Garland’s name is commemorated on the roll of honor of the state school at Port Albert, as well as appearing on both the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor and Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial.
Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative
O’Callaghan G (Comp) 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901, Vol 1, The Alberton Project
National Archives file for GARLAND Eugene Loftus
Roll of Honour: Eugene Loftus Garland
First World War Embarkation Roll: Eugene Loftus Garland
Red Cross Wounded and Missing file: Eugene Loftus Garland
Honour and Awards: Eugene Loftus Garland
RENDELL Clyde Henry 5074
21 B KIA 6/7/1918
Clyde Rendell was born in North Devon in 1895 and grew up in the area, attending the North Devon State School. The Rendell family had been in the district from the 1860s. The father – Henry Prescott Rendell – farmed about 100 acres at Devon and had previously run a blacksmith business in Yarram.
There were 7 children in the family. The 2 oldest sons – Percy, born 1893, and Clyde – enlisted. Percy Holden Rendell (469) enlisted 8 months after his younger brother. He was badly wounded on 4/10/17 with gunshot wound to ‘shoulder and head’. He was hospitalised in England, operated on and then returned to Australia where he was discharged as ‘medically unfit’ on 29/5/18.
Clyde Rendell’s mother was Eliza M Gay and when the father provided the information for the (National) Roll of Honour he noted that Edward Thomas Gay, who died of TB in the United Kingdom in early 1917 [see Post 100], was a cousin of his son. There was also another connection: Frank Harrison, an English immigrant farm worker, [Post 165] who died of wounds on 19/5/18 had worked on the Rendell farm.
On the enlistment papers, Clyde Rendell’s occupation was given as farmer and he obviously worked on the family farm.
At the time of enlistment (29/1/16) Clyde Rendell was 20 yo. He had his medical in Yarram with Dr Cook and was then re-examined in Melbourne where he formally enlisted. On the enlistment papers he indicated that he had attended four drills for the Senior Cadets but had had ‘no kit issued’. His religion was given as Church of England on the enlistment forms but, at the same time, both his and his brother’s name are commemorated on the honour roll for the local Methodist Church.
Clyde Rendell enlisted in 21 Battalion (13 Reinforcements) and left for the UK in early July (3/7/16). He was hospitalised, on the troop ship, for about one week on the voyage from Australia. His unit reached Plymouth 2 months later (2/9/16) at which point there was further training with 6 Training Battalion. He finally joined 21 Battalion in France in November 1916 (22/11/16).
In the middle of January 1917 he was taken out of the lines with ‘Trench Feet severe’ and was transferred back to hospital in England (Northampton War Hospital). He did not return to his battalion in France until September (22/9/17). Almost immediately (6/10/17), he was again hospitalised with ‘Trench Feet’. He received treatment for several months and in February 1918 the condition was described as ‘Trench Fever’. He did not rejoin the battalion until April (18/4/18). In this period of treatment from early October 1917 to mid April 1918 there was an incident in January (22/1/18) when he broke out of camp and was absent from duty for several hours. He received the severe sentence of 14 days of Field Punishment No.1, and he also lost 14 days pay.
One month after he rejoined the battalion he was again sick and hospitalised (17/5/18). This was his third period of hospitalisation on the Western Front. This time it was a combination of ‘Influenza’ and ‘Trench Feet’. He rejoined the battalion on 6 July and was killed in action exactly one month later, at Hamel, on 6/7/18.
It appears the family was notified by cable dated 16 July 1918. The following death notice appeared in Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 19/7/18:
Rendell – Killed in action, July 6th, 1918. Clyde H., the dearly loved second son of H.P. and E.M. Rendell, and brother of Percy (returned), Belle, Linda and Clem. Age 22 yrs 9 months.
A soldier and a man.
[Two children – Henry and Leslie – had died as infants]
In the same edition there was a more detailed account of the way the news was received.
Word was received at Devon North on Wednesday [17/7/18] that Lance Corporal C. H. Rendell, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Rendell, has been killed in action. Sympathy for the bereaved family is expressed on all sides. Blessed with a sunny disposition, and an open-hearted generous nature, the young soldier was very popular, and a gloom was cast over the district when the news of his death came through. He will be remembered by all South Gippsland sportsmen as a fine stamp of Australian manhood, a promising axeman, and a clean footballer. It is worthy of note that the four soldiers who received their send off from the North Devon Our Boys’ Association on the night that the late Corporal Rendell was farewelled, two have been killed, viz., Private A. (Bill) Barlow [Post 160] and Lance Corporal C. Rendell; Private G. McKenzie has been returned wounded. The fourth, Private H. McKenzie, is still abroad. The deceased soldier had been two years in active service, and till the fatal wound had never received a scratch. He was three times in hospital suffering from trench feet. Private P. H. Rendell, invalided home through wounds, met his brother two days before leaving England.
It appears that very early in his service he held the rank of lance corporal but then reverted to private when he reached the UK. It is interesting that the debilitating ‘trench feet’ (‘severe’) that had seen Rendell hospitalised for months on end was downplayed in this report.
The parents placed a bereavement notice in the local paper on 2/8/18 thanking … their many kind friends and relations for visits, letters, telegrams and cards, expressive of sympathy in their recent sad bereavement in the loss of their son and brother, Clyde H. Rendell, killed in action on July 6th.
On the first anniversary of Private Rendell’s death (6/7/19), the following In Memoriam appeared:
RENDELL- In loving remembrance of our dearly loved
son and brother, Clyde H., Rendell, who was killed
in action in France on July 6th, 1918.
He lived not for himself alone,
But had a nobler, higher aim.
His work is o’er, life’s battle won –
Our loss is Heaven’s great gain.
Sad and oft our hearts do wander
To his grave far, far away,
Where they laid our darling brother
Just a year ago to-day.
-Inserted by his father, mother, brothers and sisters.
Private Rendell was buried in the ‘Austral Military Cemetery, 4 ½ mile East South East of Amiens’ and then the family was advised in April 1920 (1/4/20) that .. his [Private Rendell] remains have been exhumed and re-interred in the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery (Australian Memorial Cemetery), 1 ½ miles north of Villers-Bretonneux.
The family received two packages of personal effects. The first was in February 1919 and the second in April of the same year:
Testament, Photo Wallet, Pencil, Metal Watch (Damaged), Letters, Cards, 2 Wallets, 1 German Note (value 1 Mark), 2 Coins, Metal Medallion, Stamps, 2 Discs & Chains. (D.1244) 2 Letters from Commonwealth Bank of Australia, London
Notebook, testament, letters
On 16/8/18, the local paper also published a letter which Private Rendell had written to his mother about a month before his death. Presumably, he was replying to a letter he had just received from her, one that had reminded him of fond memories of life at home.
A SOLDIER’S LAST LETTER.
DEVOTION TO HOME AND COUNTRY.
Writing to his mother, North Devon, on May 30th, the late Clyde Rendell says:—How beautiful these lines seem to me out here! What memories they recall! We see it all now; the daily grind of cooking, washing and sewing, with the tired eyes at night and the big basket of darning still to be done long after we were sound asleep. And the few spankings we got in comparison with the many we so richly deserved, and all the self-denial, worry and anxiety which we caused you. We could not see it then — blind little beggars that we were — but we see it all now in all its sublime beauty and nobility, and needless to say we are longing for the time when we can return home to make amends by giving you some of the love and devotion which you so ungrudgingly gave to us. This is one of our greatest desires, and one which by God’s help, we shall be able to fulfil when the war is won, and we come home. We should be ashamed to show our faces before that is achieved, for after all, it is really you, our mothers, and our homes for for whom we are fighting. If you could see the suffering and hard ships endured by the brave women and children of this unhappy land, where so many homes have been ruined, you would not want us to return until victory has been won. When the gift of freedom is ours, then we will come home and lay it reverently at your feet, for it will be hallowed by the blood of many comrades. Then we shall devote our lives to the service of our country in the upbuilding of happy homes and noble citizenship. Pray for us, that this high and holy vision may never fade from our minds, and that we may be given courage and patience to finish our task. Then, what a glorious home-coming there will be! Till then, we remain where we are, fighting for our mothers and our homes, “somewhere in France.”—
Your affec. son, Clyde.
The letter is remarkable for the overt sentimentality. It serves as a reminder of how soldiers saw their role in the fighting as a form of heightened moral crusade, and it matches the messages of pro-conscription pamphlets and the content of sermons delivered by local Protestant clergymen such as Rev. George Cox (Post 26). The War was a time of moral awakening and deeper understanding. Within this perspective, the dreadful sacrifice made more sense.
Private Rendell is remembered on both the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor and the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial. Additionally, his name appears on the honor roll for the local state school (North Devon) and the equivalent district roll. As noted, it also appears on the ‘Methodist Church Yarram Yarram Circuit’ under North Devon.
Studio portrait of 5074 Private Clyde Henry Rendell, 21st Battalion from Yarram, Gippsland, Victoria. Courtesy, Australian War Memorial
Courtesy, Yarram & District Historical Society
Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative
O’Callaghan G (Comp) 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901, Vol 3, The Alberton Project
National Archives file for RENDELL Clyde Henry
Roll of Honour: Clyde Henry Rendell
First World War Embarkation Roll: Clyde Henry Rendell
Red Cross Wounded and Missing file: Clyde Henry Rendell