Category Archives: July to December 1917

131. E J Appleyard

Edgar John APPLEYARD (609)
8 LHR   DoW 3/8/1917

Edgar John Appleyard was born in Alberton in 1888 and grew up in the district. He attended the Alberton State School. He was a cousin of the six Appleyard brothers, also from Alberton, who enlisted. Two of these cousins (Gordon William Appleyard and Charles Courtney Appleyard) like Edgar, died on active service. Edgar Appleyard had 2 brothers, one of whom – Frank Appleyard – also enlisted, and survived the War.

Edgar Appleyard’s father – Arthur Horatio “Crib” Appleyard – had been the Shire Engineer for the Shire of Alberton. He had died in 1898. The mother – Mary Ann Appleyard – was listed as next-of-kin on the enlistment forms. When her son enlisted her address was given as Alberton but she changed address several times from that point and, at the time of his death, she was living at Windsor in Melbourne.

Edgar was nearly 24 yo when he enlisted and he gave his occupation as ‘labourer’. The father had held land in the local area but there is no indication that, after the father’s death, the wife or sons held land and were farming. Presumably, Edgar was working on other local properties as a farm labourer.

He enlisted in Melbourne, early in the War, on 20/10/14. He was single and he gave his religion as Church of England. It appears he nearly failed the medical because of poor teeth. He was taken on in the newly formed 8 Light Horse Regiment.

His unit left for Egypt in February 1915 and was involved in the fighting at Gallipoli from mid May. 8 LHR was involved in the disastrous attack on the Nek on 7 August 1915. At the end of October Trooper Appleyard was hospitalised for a week. He was returned to duty but after only a few days was hospitalised gain. This time he was taken off the peninsula, transported to Alexandria and admitted to hospital in Heliopolis with ‘debility’. By the time he rejoined the unit in mid December the Gallipoli campaign was effectively over.

On 19 April 1917, 2 years after arriving in the Middle East, Trooper Appleyard was wounded in action. The wounds were serious and he subsequently died of them in early August (3/8/17).
The action in which Trooper Appleyard was wounded was the second unsuccessful attack on Gaza. The war diary of the 8 LHR recorded 6 killed and 67 wounded in the action on that day (19/4/17). The diary also made a point of explaining how the use of two armoured cars in the operation increased the number of casualties. The 2 armoured cars were driven to an advanced position in the Australian lines and, not surprisingly, drew intense enemy fire thereby increasing the number of casualties. The diary was dismissive of the overall value of the armoured cars, both of which were easily put out of action by the enemy, but not before one of them had run over and seriously injured an Australian trooper.

There is an additional reference in the diary that might be highly relevant to trooper Appleyard’s fate. Essentially, the diary notes that the regiment was at that time using the new ‘H. K. Auto Rifles’ – Hotchkiss M1909 – and while this light machine gun had proved ‘invaluable’ it had also been responsible for deaths and injuries amongst the Australians themselves. Poor training in its use had meant that in some cases it was being fired from the shoulder, with deadly consequences for those nearby. There is the possibility that Trooper Appleyard, whose wound was described as a gunshot wound to the back, was in fact the victim of ‘friendly fire’.

Trooper Appleyard was transferred to hospital in Cairo via various casualty posts. He reached there on 24/4/17, 5 days after he had been wounded. It appears that his mother back in Australia learnt of his serious injury by cable on the 26 April. He was described as ‘dangerously ill’. He lived for more than 3 months and over this period there were at least 10 further cables back to Australia to advise that he remained on the ‘dangerously ill list’. There was one cable early on (5/5/17) that advised that he was ‘out of danger’ but this was definitely the exception. The following letter makes it clear that from the start there was no chance of survival. It was written in September 1917 by the Registrar of the hospital in which Trooper Appleyard was nursed and died (14 Australian General Hospital, Cairo). It was written in response to a Red Cross appeal for information on Trooper Appleyard’s death and, presumably, the contents, in some form or other, would have been forwarded to the mother.

I have to state that this soldier [Trooper E J Appleyard, 609] was wounded on the 19th April at Gaza by a rifle bullet which entered the spine and injured the spinal cord, causing complete paralysis of the lower limbs immediately.

He was admitted to this hospital on the 24th April in a paralysed condition and his general condition was naturally serious from the start. The damage to his spinal cord was irreparable, and there was never any prospect of his recovering or of his being sufficiently strong to travel to Australia on a hospital transport.

He lived until the 3rd of August growing progressively weaker all the time. During these months he was always cheerful, was a great reader and wrote a large number of letters. He was entirely free from pain and never made any complaint, and his death was a gradual and very easy one….

Trooper Appleyard’s file contains extensive medical notes, including a post mortem report, which make for graphic reading. In a sense, this material is the medically objective – and far more confronting – version of the letter written by the Registrar, who was presumably trying to give some sort of comfort and our modern day sense of ‘closure’ to the family. The post mortem gives as the cause of death … GS wound of spinal cord – myelitis and Septic cystitis & extensive bed sores. The bed sores were described as … large deep excavating bed sores on buttocks extending to the sacrum. There were similar lesions on the heels. The medical notes reveal the ongoing, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempts to control infection in the bladder. They also indicate that the patient was being treated on a water bed.

The mother was advised by cable within two days of her son’s death. His funeral service was conducted by Chaplain Captain E Warren Tompkins and he was buried in the British Military Cemetery, Cairo. Uncharacteristically, there is no record of any personal kit being returned to the mother.

Death notices appeared in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 15/8/17:

APPLEYARD – Died of wounds 3rd August, at 14th A.G. Hospital, Cairo, Gunner Edgar John, fourth son of the late Arthur H. Appleyard, of Alberton, South Gippsland, and dearly loved brother of Alice, Annie, Harriet, Fred, Frank (on active service), and Muriel, aged 28 1/2 years.

A call to duty, ’twas nobly done,
In doing his duty a crown he won:
No fear for self, in trying to save
The lives of others his life he gave.
For him, our gallant hero,
We breathe a silent prayer:
We love and honour his noble name,
We know he is in God’s care.

APPLEYARD. – Died of wounds on 3rd Aug. at 14th A. G. Hospital, Cairo, Gunner Edgar John, 4th son of the late Arthur H. (formerly shire engineer) and Mary Ann Appleyard, of Alberton, Sth. Gippsland, and brother of Alice, Annie, Harriet, Fred, Frank (on active service) and Muriel, aged 28 1/2 years.

Though Thou hast called me to resign
What most I prized, it ne’er was
mine,
I have but yielded what was Thine:
Thy will be done.

Ironically, these notices of his death appeared just 2 weeks after the local paper had encouraged locals to write to Trooper Appleyard in hospital in Egypt. The mother by this point was living in Melbourne and it appears that it had taken time before people in the district knew that he had been wounded and that his condition was so serious. The information appeared in a short article on 1/8/17, just 2 days before he died and, obviously, far too late for his benefit:

Mrs. Appleyard, Windsor, has received word from the Australian Red Cross Information bureau that her son, Private Edgar Appleyard, of the 8th Light Horse, is in the 14th Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis. His legs are paralysed and his condition is regarded as dangerous. Those of his friends in this district who would like to write to him, should address letters No. 609, Private E. Appleyard, !4th Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, c/o Officer Commanding Australian Section Base, Cairo, Egypt.

On 7/9/17 the local paper published another article on the death of Trooper Appleyard. It is worth reproducing in full because it shows the incredible paths that information on serving soldiers could take to reach the family back in Australia. The episode also shows the power of the local paper to present the narrative of the War, at the immediate level of individual soldiers, including those who as locals had until recently lived among them. The lessons from this particular section of the narrative are all about kindness, compassion and courage:

Tribute To A Brave Soldier
Mrs M. A. Appleyard, Windsor, has received the following letter from Private T. P. Payne, Melbourne, referring to the death of her son: –
Dear Mrs. Appleyard. – You will please pardon me intruding upon you at this time, but you will understand my reasons when I tell you that it is my great admiration for a gallant gentleman and sympathy for his loved ones that impels me to write you. By the last mail from Egypt I received a letter from my brother who is attached to the staff of the 14th A.G.H. In it he states: “I am now engaged in attending a very serious case. It is a laddie named Appleyard, who comes from Albertan, near the Lakes. He was wounded on 19th April at Gaza, and since that time has been partially paralysed from hips down. The injuries are most serious, and it takes us an hour each day to dress them. “Appy” is the gamest boy I have ever seen, and although his case is helpless he is always laughing and joking whilst we are dressing him; never a word of complaint escapes his lips. Just as I am writing (2.15 a.m.) he is sitting up in bed as happy as can be puffing a cigarette. His chief thought is of his home.” I might tell you my brother was very fond of him, and I’m sure nothing that his mind could suggest would be omitted to comfort and cheer your boy. Jim used to go to Cairo every chance to get sweets, etc for him. In another letter he described the bed upon which your lad was, and it will surely interest and somewhat console you to know that all that science and goodness could produce was at his disposal. Jim says: “In bad cases water beds are used – that is an india-rubber mattress is filled with water; his hips are on an air cushion, and he is packed up up in the most convenient way with pillows.” It is indeed a very sad duty to write you in this way, but I felt it would be somewhat of a comfort to hear from a stranger of the wonderful courage of your son. I do trust that you are bearing your sorrow with a spirit as brave as that of your boy. I am sure that you all are, and you in particular. If you should care to correspond with to my brother I am enclosing his address, and I am sure he will be as happy to serve you as he was proud to assist your gallant soldier son. Once again I ask your pardon for intruding myself.

Trooper Appleyard’s name is included on the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial in the main street of Yarram. His name is also included on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor, but, inexplicably, the entry does not mark his death on active service.

Trooper Edgar John Appleyard, courtesy Yarram and District Historical Society.

References

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 APPLEYARD Edgar John 609
Roll of Honour: Edgar John Appleyard
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Edgar John Appleyard
Red Cross Wounded and Missing file: Edgar John Appleyard

 

130. W Browney

William BROWNEY (1071)
5 Divisional Ammunition Column KiA 28/7/1917

Wllliam Browney was born in Ipswich, Queensland. The details of his background are sketchy. In his file there is extensive correspondence about the distribution of his medals. This was because before the AIF was prepared to give them to his foster mother they needed to be sure that there were no surviving male family members who, in terms of the legislation, had a more substantial claim. Correspondence from the foster mother – Susan Adelaide Beadmore – offers a brief account of the boy’s childhood:

I took W Browney 15 [this was subsequently corrected to 25] years ago he was then 7 years old. His mother was dead & I have not heard of any living relations since infact I dont think he had any bros or sisters I was the only one that had anything to do with him & he looked to me as a mother. 3/1/1921

The foster mother resided at Korumburra and William Browney – also known as William Beadmore – attended the local state school there. When he enlisted, he did so at Foster and he gave his address as that of his foster mother at Korumburra. She also recorded on the (National) Roll of Honour that the place with which he was ‘chiefly connected’ was Korumburra.

At the same time, William Browney had a definite connection to the Shire of Alberton. His death – 28/7/17 – was written up in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 17/8/17:

We learn with much regret that Driver W. Browney, of Wonyip, was killed in action in Flanders, France on 31st July [sic]. He was one of the oldest residents in that district, the adopted son of Mrs. Beadmore. When he enlisted 19 months ago [it would have been closer to 30 months earlier] the residents gave him a send-off at Ryton Hall.

The reference to William Browney being one of the ‘oldest residents’ points to the fact that Wonyip was not really opened up for settlement until the turn of the century. William must have gone there for work after he finished his schooling.

Even though he was working and living in the Wonyip district he was not identified as someone from the Shire of Alberton. His name is not recorded on either the Roll of Honor or the Soldiers’ Memorial. It appears that his connection to the Shire of South Gippsland was seen as stronger. As indicated, his foster mother linked him to Korumburra and his name is recorded on the roll of honor for the South Gippsland Shire.

William Browney enlisted as a 27 yo on 7/1/15. He was single and he gave his occupation as labourer. His religion was listed as Church of England. He left Australia as reinforcements for 9 Light Horse Regiment. However, in Egypt in May 1916 he transferred to the artillery and joined 5 Divisional Ammunition Column. He left the Middle East in August 1916.

Not long after he reached France he was hospitalised with influenza for 2 weeks, in September 1916. Then in November 1916 he was hospitalised again, with ‘cattarh’.  It appears that this general condition was subsequently re-diagnosed as another bout of influenza, and also asthma, and he was transferred to hospital in England in December 1916. It appears that there was further illness, again influenza, in February 1917. His general health was clearly problematic. He did not return to the front line in France until the end of June 1917. He was killed in action one month later on 28/7/17.

There is no Red Cross file for Driver Browney but there is some information in the war diary of the 5th Australia Divisional Ammunition Column. At the time, the unit was working in the Poperinghe area, just over the border with Belgium, near Ypres. The main work appeared to be the rebuilding of ammunition dumps which had been destroyed by enemy shell fire. For example, 3 days before the death of Driver Browney, the diary records:

Forward Dump in Cambridge Road destroyed by enemy shell fire. 2 Officers and 100 Other Ranks sent out to re-establish dump, which was completed by dawn on 26.7.17.

Then for 28/7/17 the entry reads:

Another Forward Battery Dump destroyed. The working party despatched to re-establish same reported work complete by dawn 29.7.17

and, for the same day:

1 Other Rank Killed and 1 O.R Wounded by explosion of enemy bomb dropped from aeroplane.

Driver Browney was of the very few members of the AIF killed by enemy aerial bombing.

The body was recovered and Driver Browney was buried in the nearby Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Vlamertinghe, Flanders.

His mother was advised by cable dated 2/8/17, less than a week after he had been killed.

In April 1918 his meagre personal kit – 2 Wallets, Photos, Cards, Blank disc, 2 Religious books – was returned to his foster mother at Korumburra.

Apart from the correspondence in the file to do with the issuing of the medals there is nothing else that throws light on this man’s story. It appears that it was inevitable that his personal history would fade, and certainly the recognition of his presence in the Shire of Alberton did not last, even to the end of the War. Others from Wonyip were remembered and celebrated but William Browney, also known as William Beadmore, was not.

Driver William Browney, also known as William Beadmore, Wonyip. Courtesy of Australian War Memorial

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

National Archives file for BROWNEY William 1071
Roll of Honour: William Browney
First World War Embarkation Rolls: William Browney

 

 

129. E N Lear

Eric Nightingale LEAR (10966)
3 Divisional Train  DoW 24/7/1917

Eric Nightingale Lear’s name appears on the honor roll for Won Wron SS. However, it does not appear on either the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor or the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial. His link to the shire is complex and hard to uncover.

Eric Nightingale Lear was born in Fryerstown in 1891. It appears that his father – D’Arcy Connor Lear – who had been a teacher at Tarraville, shifted to Fryerstown, near Castlemaine, in 1890. The father had been born in the district (Tarraville, 1862) and was a prominent local. He held many civic offices – Secretary, South Gippsland Rifle Club; Treasurer, Tarraville Mechanics’ Institute … – and was even said to have been one of the organisers behind the development of the local football association. He was also the convenor of the local union of state school teachers. He married Florence Mary Nightingale in 1890, the same year he shifted to Fryerstown. Florence Nightingale was also definitely local. Her family was also from Tarraville. Her younger brother, Charles Frederick Nightingale, would in time become one of the local councillors for the Shire of Alberton. When the local paper – Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative – reported (10/8/17) the death of Sergeant Eric Lear, it made the connection between the 2 local families:

Yesterday, Cr. Nightingale received word that his nephew, Sergeant Eric N. Lear, son of Mr. D’Arcy Lear, had died of wounds. … Mr. Lear has lost his oldest son.

As well as the connection to his mother’s family (Nightingale) in the local district, Eric Lear had many cousins in the wider Lear family in the Shire of Alberton.

Notwithstanding the obvious sets of family connections to the Shire of Alberton from his parents’ generation, it is difficult to uncover the precise links to the district that Eric Lear had. As indicated, he attended the state school at Won Wron but, surprisingly, it does not appear that his family was in the district at the time. It appears that the parents and other 5 younger children were in Fryerstown. Possibly, for some reason or other, he was sent to live with his uncle – Charles Frederick Nightingale – and during this period he attended the school at Won Wron. It remains a mystery but the reality is that there was only one E N Lear who enlisted in the AIF and that person was Eric Nightingale Lear who was born at Fryerstown in 1891 and whose name appears – as killed – on the honor roll of Won Wron SS.

Eric Lear enlisted on 17/5/16. Prior to enlistment he was serving with the senior cadets at Carlton and according to his enlistment papers he held a commission in his unit. There are also forms in his file indicating that prior to enlistment he applied and was recommended for a commission in the AIF. This was in February 1916. However, he left Australia (3/6/16) with rank of driver, in the  3rd Divisional Train and was not promoted to the rank of sergeant until June 1917.

When he enlisted in Melbourne, Driver Lear was 24 yo and single. However, he married – Annie Lear – before he embarked for overseas. His wife’s address was South Yarra. His occupation was given as clerk in the Federal Public Service. He gave his religion as Church of England. There are other references in his file which show that he had been a student at Wesley College and that he had been a ‘scholarship’ student. His family also spoke of his sporting – cricket and rowing – prowess.

As indicated, Eric Lear married just before embarking for overseas service. In his file there is a communication written on behalf of his wife which highlights the way that such women had to come to terms with the real possibility that the husband would be killed. The letter was written by Rev J T Lawton, the Presbyterian clergyman at South Yarra, the church where the wife worshipped.

Mrs. Lear, a member of my congregation, desires me to request that you will be good enough to notify me in case of death of her husband

No. 10966 E. N. Lear
1st Co
22 A.S.C
3rd Div. Train

and to prevent any mistake such instruction might be inserted on his attestation sheet.

The letter also pointed out that the husband had probably given his religion as Church of England [he had]. Hence the need to adjust the record to reflect the wife’s wishes. The requested changes were made.

Driver Lear reached England in July 1917 and after further training eventually proceeded overseas to France in February 1917. By this time he held the rank of sergeant. In France, the 3rd Divisional Train was responsible for ensuring the movement of supplies to the front line. At the time the 2 basic modes of transport were the ‘trench tramways’ and ‘pack transport’, with mules. The latter was a more dangerous proposition because the mules were used to carry the essential supplies closer to the front line. There is no Red Cross report for Sgt. Lear but the relevant unit diary – Supplies & Transport, 3rd Australian Divisional Train – indicates that on 15/7/17 Sgt. Lear was detached to serve with pack transport. This was in the general area of Messines. The same diary records his death over the period 23-25 July:

No. 10966, Sgt. Lear, E. N., admitted to No. 2 A.C.C.S., 24-7-17, suffering from G.S.W

and

No. 10966, Sgt. Lear, E.N., died of wounds at No. 2 A.C.C.S., 24-7-17, and struck off N.C.O’s., supernumerary strength.

Another record describes the wounds as: GSW. R. Axilla, arm, thigh, buttock, knee, calf.

From the same unit diary, it appears that the supplies Sgt. Lear was transporting to the front line at the time he was wounded included 60 duckboards, 4,000 sand bags and 60 small A-frames. The diary also gave a breakdown of casualties – including the mules – for the month of July: 4 mules killed and 4 wounded and 5 men killed and 15 wounded.

The cable advising those back home of the death was dated 31/7/17. Presumably, the information was delivered by Rev. J T Lawton.

Interestingly, the amount of personal kit returned was considerable. It came in 3 lots.

April 1918: 2 Discs, Knife, Cigarette Holder, Pencil, Pipe, Match Box Cover, 6 Coins, Card, Photos, Lanyard, Whistle, Post Office receipts, French Book, Note-Case, Pocket Book, metal Cigarette Case, Wallet, Gospel, Metal Watch.

April 1918: 1 Suit Case, 2 Keys, Tunic, Mirror (damaged), Pipe Rack, Cigarette Case, Badges & Shoulder Titles, Tie Pin, Razor strop, piece Cobblers Wax, Wallet, Shaving Paper Case, Canvas Bag, Letters, Unit Colors, Cards, Photos, 3 Brushes, pr. Spurs, Photo Wallet, London Guide, Suit Pyjamas, Pipe, Burnisher, 2 Kt bag Handles, Note Book refills, Testament, 3 Handkerchiefs, 2 Collars, 2 Neck Ties, Razor Hone, Notebook, Pin, 2 pencils, 2 match Box Covers, book (Novel), Sam Browne Belt.

May 1918: 2 Pipes, Pouch, Razor in Case and Blades, Razor Strop, Knife, Fountain pen, Belt, 1 pair Leather Gloves, Metal Wrist Watch (damaged), and Strap, Electrical Torch, Combination Knife, Fork and Spoon in Case, Comb.

Both the size and specific contents – eg Sam Browne Belt – suggest an officer’s kit rather than a NCO’s. Probably some of the kit reflected his time as a officer in the senior cadets (60th Infantry). It is also possible that those serving in a Divisional Train were better able to manage the logistics of holding and moving greater amounts of personal kit.

Sergeant Lear was buried at Trois Arbres Military Cemetery, Steenwerck, Nord Pas de Calais.

On the (National) Roll of Honour, his wife gave Parkville as the location with which he was ‘chiefly connected’.

A brief death notice appeared in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 10/8/17:

LEAR – Died of wounds at the front on 24th July, Eric Nightingale Lear, eldest son of D’Arcy Lear, North Melbourne. Age 26 years.

As reported in the local paper (7/8/18), his name was read out at the unveiling of the Won Wron school honor roll on 31/7/ 18.

References

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 2, The Alberton Project

National Archives file for LEAR Eric Nightingale 10966
Roll of Honour: Eric Nightingale Lear
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Eric Nightingale Lear