Return to Flanders

Andy disembarked in Le Havre on 13 October 1917. He would have had a slow, stop-start trip to rejoin his battalion in Flanders. Constant rain and artillery bombardment had created a quagmire that made transport almost impossible. The few roads that were passable were targets for the enemy’s shrapnel and high explosive shells.

Blocks in the traffic were inevitable and constant. At times as far as the eye could see the main arteries of communication would be blocked … Whole teams of wagons were killed, to be dragged out of the way and the vehicle pushed into the mud, to allow the living to pass.

History of the 10th Battalion A.I.F.

Idiot Corner, Ypres, 5 November 1917. Men and pack mules rounding Idiot Corner, on Westhoek Ridge, in Belgium, moving up to the front line. To follow the duckboard and corduroy track was to be seen silhouetted against the skyline, both from the Australian position and that of the enemy - before he was driven from Broodseinde Ridge. But passage over any part other than the top of the ridge was impossible owing to mud. At this point many transports and guns were wrecked by the constant shellfire, and others were lost in the morass. One vehicle actually sank out of sight in the ooze a little to the right of the picture. Australian War Memorial collection E01480
Idiot Corner, Ypres, 5 November 1917.
Australian War Memorial collection E01480

Andy reached his unit in the mud and the mire near Passchendaele on 16 October. Many of the faces he had last seen at Pozières were missing; dead or disappeared, perhaps prisoners of war. He arrived at the tail-end of the 3rd Battle of Ypres [Ieper], just missing the actions at Polygon Wood and the disastrous diversionary raid at Celtic Wood.

The entrance to the General Staff Office at the Headquarters of the 3rd Australian Division in the Ramparts, at Ypres, during the Broodseinde and Passchendaele operations. Australian War Memorial Collection E01184
The entrance to the General Staff Office at the Headquarters of the 3rd Australian Division in the Ramparts, at Ypres, during the Broodseinde and Passchendaele operations.
Australian War Memorial collection E01184

The activities of the 10th Battalion for the next few months reflected the nature of the war on the Western Front: small movements of just a few miles back and forth through rain, mud and icy weather; periods of action interspersed with relative quiet.

On 10 November Andy left Ypres with the battalion for the Boulogne area. After a month of training, rest and recovery, the battalion marched East and into the line at Messines [Mesen]. The weather was very cold. Flooded mine craters froze over.

In this area (though not always the same sector) the battalion remained until the beginning of April – sometimes out, but more often in the forward zone – and, though the sector was a quiet one, the fatigues which were long and tiring gave little rest for either officers or men.

History of the 10th Battalion A.I.F.

Andy was in the line until Christmas, when the battalion was relieved and came out to Wulverghem Camp, a few miles away. The men could not celebrate Christmas as they were still in a forward area, but spending Christmas day warm and dry would have been a welcome present.

The battalion remained in the Messines area for all of January, moving a short way north into the trenches at Wytschaete [Wijtschate] on 23 January. Andy spent a very quiet week here before the battalion moved to Aldershot Camp, where they finally celebrated Christmas on 16 February. Despite the relative quiet of the sector, there was the odd ‘stand to’ alarm raised, and the men would have to be ready for battle with 20 minutes’ notice.

A dugout in the ruins of Wytschaete in January 1918.
A dugout in the ruins of Wytschaete in January 1918.
Australian War Memorial collection E01593

On 23 February 1918 Non-commissioned officers of the 10th Battalion posed for a group photograph at Neuve Eglise [Nieuwkerke].

Group portrait of NCOs of the 10th Battalion, 23 February 1918. Australian War Memorial collection E01781
Group portrait of NCOs of the 10th Battalion, 23 February 1918.
Australian War Memorial collection E01781
Enlargement. CSM A.S. Duncan, centre.  Seated in front of Andy on the left of frame is  Corporal Reginald Roy Inwood, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Polygon Wood in September 1917. Andy and Reg were both 'original' 1914 Anzacs from Broken  Hill.
Enlargement. CSM A.S. Duncan, centre.
Seated in front of Andy on the left of frame is Corporal Reginald Roy Inwood, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Polygon Wood in September 1917. Andy and Roy were both original 1914 Anzacs from Broken Hill.

Less than a week after this photo was taken Andy would be back in the trenches, where he would experience something for which he had never trained or prepared. His war was about to take a very different turn.

Sources

NAA: B2455, DUNCAN, AS. National Archives of Australia.

First World War Embarkation Rolls. Australian War Memorial collection.

Limb, A, 1919. History of the 10th Battalion A.I.F.. 1st ed. London; Melbourne: Cassell and Co.

Lock, C.B.L., 1936. The Fighting 10th: a South Australian centenary souvenir of the 10th Battalion, A.I.F., 1914-1919. Webb & Son, Adelaide. Reprinted in 2000 by The Naval & Military Press in association with The Imperial War Museum

Featured image: A view, in silhouette, of Australian artillery limbers loaded with ammunition proceeding along the Ypres Road. Australian War Memorial collection E00829

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Interlude

Pop, you died long before I was born. Although I never knew you, I will remember you.

You were wounded in the Gallipoli landing. The hot shrapnel that sliced into your back nearly killed you, but you survived. Other soldiers were repatriated to Australia for lesser wounds, but you were sent back to Gallipoli. Was it then that you learned your brother Hugh had been killed at Cape Helles? With lost and delayed mail you may not have known for some time.

You fought at Gallipoli until the evacuation. Then you were sent to France. The industrialised warfare and the scale of destruction were like nothing you had ever seen.

You took part in the capture of Pozières on 23 July 1916. The next evening the Germans started a massive artillery bombardment and you were injured for a second time. You don’t remember what happened. Perhaps you were buried by that exploding shell. Your leg wound was nothing compared to the shell shock that gripped you.

You were shipped to England to recover, but you couldn’t shake feelings of dread, the churning stomach, the lack of appetite, the bad dreams. You hoped to be sent home to Australia, to the wife you had married just four months before the war. After all, most shell shock cases were given a military discharge, weren’t they?

But you weren’t sent home. You were moved from one hospital to another, then to convalescent accommodation. Your hopes of a trip back to Australia lessened with each new day you spent in England.

On 23 March 1917 you returned to active duty. You surely knew that it was exactly eight months since your battalion had stormed Pozières.

You were posted to the A.I.F. training units on Salisbury Plains. It must have been a relief not to be sent back to the Somme. You had the job of training reinforcements just arrived from Australia, of preparing them for the horrors of the Western Front. Were you one of those tough-as-nails Regimental Sergeant Majors? Did you push your men harder because you knew what they were about to face?

Then, on 19 September 1917, you received orders to rejoin your original unit in France. For over a year you had been in England, hearing accounts of the battles of the Western Front, seeing injured men come through the training camps to be rehabilitated and sent back to the front. Now it was your turn. Did you fight a feeling of returning dread as you read your orders, or were you fatalistic about what was to come?

Anzacs at Windsor

Did Andy Duncan have tea with King George V? In my previous post I suggested this family story may have come from the Anzac tea party held in Windsor Great Park in October 1916.

The Adelaide Advertiser reported the tea party in detail

ANZACS AT WINDSOR. (1916, 29 November) The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA.) p. 10. Newspaper article found in Trove reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Australia.
ANZACS AT WINDSOR. (1916, 29 November) The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA.) p. 10. Newspaper article found in Trove reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

A tea party in Windsor Park in the middle of October is, it must be confessed, a risky undertaking under any circumstances. When it comes to entertaining 6,000 wounded soldiers in various stages of convalescence and varying degress of helplessness the “founder of the feast” is, it will be readily agreed, “asking for trouble.” Mrs. Dennistoun Fïske, an Australian lady (sister-in-law to the late Major General Sir J. Hoad), who has on sundry occasions entertained wounded soldiers on quite a big scale, decided, however, that she could trust the clerk of the weather to behave decently on Saturday, October 14, and made arrangements to entertain on that particular day 10,000 wounded soldiers at tea somewhere.

The question of a suitable rendezvous was, of course, of prime importance, involving questions of transport, not only of the men themselves, but of the wherewithal to feed and amuse the guests, and the provision of sufficient shelter for all should the clerk of the weather signify his disapproval of the gathering in his usual effective manner. The King came to the rescue of Mrs Fiske (and her myriad of helpers) by granting the use of Windsor Great Park for the rendezvous, and the difficulties of transit, &c., reduced the number of probable guests to 6,000. To entertain even that reduced number was, however, not a small undertaking, even if the clerk of the weather proved – as he happily did – in benevolent mood. Happily Mrs. Fiske enjoyed the cordial and active support of scores of willing helpers, who “delivered the goods” required to make the tea party a success without a hitch.

Hundreds of motor cars, motor omnibuses, taxi cabs, brakes, and carriages had to be requisitioned to bring the big party from London. Honorary services were provided in this direction by the Acton Taxi Drivers’ Association, an organisation of taxi-men possessing their own cars, who week by week, for nearly two years past, have patriotically, at their own expense, undertaken to give drives to wounded soldiers. The taxi-men found 75 taxi-cabs, and carried four or five men each from London and back. Private owners also lent cars. Hundreds of “waitresses” were required. These were organised by Lady Edward Spencer Churchill and the Mayor of Windsor, and included many wives of officers A band was wanted, and the band of the 2nd Life Guards met the requirement.

Then there was the food required – 1,250 lb. of meat, 4 tons of flour, 6 dwt. of sugar, 1,000 lb. each of currant and plain cake, 12 barrels of grapes, 15 boxes of apples, 150 lb. of tea, £25 worth of butter, and 20,000 cigarettes. The committee of the London Chamber of Commerce gave the meat and also a grant of £50 towards the cost of the transport. Messrs. Tate gave the sugar, the London Corn and Flour Association contributed the flour, whilst Selfridge’s supplied the currant cake, and Messrs. J. Lyons & Co. the plain cake, as well lending the crockery ware.

The gathering took place on the Cavalry Exercise Ground, near Queen Anne’s Gate.This had been specially laid out by Crown authorities under the direction of Colonel Claude Willoughby, Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park. Water was specially laid on, and about a dozen field ovens installed for the purpose of boiling the water. Two huge marquees were erected, each capable of accommodating one thousand men, tea being served in batches.

The men came by train, by motor cars, buses, and vehicles of every description, and some even came on steam launches up the river, private generosity providing practically all transport, whatever form it took.

To see the endless stream of vehicles arriving and depositing their human freights beneath the giant elms and oaks, and in front of an enormous marquee, rather reminded one of an Ascot race day. But an Ascot of a new character and more wonderful than any seen before, in which all the men wore the blue suits and red ties of honor, while most of the ladies accompanying them were in nurses’ uniform.  There were, of course, some cruelly maimed men, unable to move without assistance, but it really seemed as if these were the jolliest of all.

There was a tremendous tea of all kinds of sandwiches and cakes and tea and coffee. There was not much left of any thing when the “big attack” was over. Before that the Duchess of Albany and Princess Alexander of Teck and Princess May of Teck followed a little later by Princess Christian, made a tour of the tables and spoke kindly words to the guests. After tea there were races, and a pleasant afternoon was concluded by the pleasant drive back to London through the lovely country lanes of the land which we call “Home.”

This seems a likely origin for the family story, but there are other possibilities. On 10 March 1917 the Reading Mercury newspaper reported –

THE KING AND WOUNDED SOLDIERS

A number of wounded soldiers – mostly Colonials – visit Windsor every week, and, by permission of the King, are shown over Windsor Castle. They are afterwards entertained to tea in the servants’ hall.

It is also possible that the story refers to one of the King’s many visits to troops and hospitalised soldiers during the war. In 1916 the King visited Australian troops on Salisbury Plain in September and December

 

Sources

ANZACS AT WINDSOR – The Adelaide Advertiser, 29 Nov 1916. Newspaper article found in Trove

THE KING AND WOUNDED SOLDIERS – The Reading Mercury, 10 Mar 1917. Newspaper article found in the British Newspaper Archive

KING REVIEWS ANZACS – Warrnambool Standard, 30 Sep 1916. Newspaper article found in Trove

THE KING’S PRAISE – Clunes Guardian and Gazette, 29 Dec 1916. Newspaper article found in Trove

THE KING REVIEWS AUSTRALIAN TROOPS – Pathe Gazette newsreel, c.1916. Australian War Memorial collection F00071

A slow recovery and no trip home

Andy’s “Blighty wound” did not end his military service, though it did keep him out of action for almost a year. He was hospitalised in England from 2 August to 18 September 1916, then marched into Command Depot No.2, Weymouth. Command Depots were convalescent homes for men who no longer required hospitalization but were not yet fit to rejoin their unit. Command Depot No.2 housed those men not expected to be fit for duty within six months. Rehabilitation and training at No. 2 Depot was to harden up recovering soldiers and prepare them for a return to active service. According to the Weymouth Anzacs website, “While the general training in the new unit concentrated on toughening-up, the individual training a soldier received was governed by medical inspections under which he was categorized weekly according to fitness.”

Weymouth, England. The remedial gymnasium at the Weymouth No 2 Medical Command Depot with patients undergoing treatment and exercise. Australian War Memorial collection H17159
Weymouth, England. The remedial gymnasium at the Weymouth No 2 Medical Command Depot with patients undergoing treatment and exercise.
Australian War Memorial collection H17159
A family story says that Andy had tea King George V. This may be a reference to the celebrations at Windsor Great Park, held by the King’s permission, on 14 October 1916.

Anzacs Entertained
ANZACS ENTERTAINED. (1916, 16 October) Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas.) p. 5. Newspaper article found in Trove reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Australia.
Andy was finally ready to return to duty in March 1917. On 23 March – exactly 8 months after the taking of Pozieres –  Andy was transferred on strength to the 70th Battalion, to be temporary Regimental Sergeant Major at Wareham. He must have been thankful not to return to the front, but disappointed that he wasn’t on his way home.

On 11 June 1917 Jane Duncan wrote to Victoria Barracks

Dear Sir

I am now writing to you to thank you on my receiving the Warrant Papers of my husband & I am returning you the required slip. Hope same reaches you safely. In my husband’s last letter he said he had been made R.S. Major in charge of the 70th Battalion which they were forming over there in France (somewhere). Of course he has gained his positions well & had some very narrow escapes. Would you mind letting me know if Warrant Officer’s duties are dangerous & also what address do I use, the Warrant Officer address or the Regimental Sergt. Major. When convenient for you to do so &  still continue to send any further particular concerning him direct to me until further notice.

So thanking you once again for your kindness.

I remain

Yours sincerely

Mrs E.J. Duncan

From May to July 1917 Andy was on command at Officer School of Instruction, Chelsea Barracks, then at the No.3 School of Instruction for Infantry Officers, Candahar Barracks, Tidworth, until September 1917. He would have been involved in training Australian troops in musketry and trench warfare.

Tidworth, England, c. 1918.  Instruction in use of the prismatic compass. Non Commissioned Officer School. Australian War Memorial collection P00062.008
Tidworth, England, c. 1918.
Instruction in use of the prismatic compass. Non Commissioned Officer School.
Australian War Memorial collection P00062.008
In mid-September Andy received notice that he would proceed overseas and rejoin his unit in France.

While in England Andy bought himself a silver fob watch and had his initials engraved on it. Probably after receiving his posting to France Andy mailed the watch home to Jane for safekeeping. As he wrapped the watch to post, he must have wondered about his chances of seeing Jane and the watch again.

Andy's watch. Photo courtesy of Bill Wall
Andy’s watch. Photo courtesy of Bill Wall
Sources

NAA: B2455, DUNCAN, AS. National Archives of Australia.

Featured image: View from Worgret Hill looking towards the timber buildings of Wareham Camp. Australian War Memorial collection A03246

“I have seen quite enough”

The Western Front 1916

Andy’s battalion sailed for France on the RMS Saxonia, the men disembarking in Marseilles on 3 April 1916. They quickly entrained for Strazeele, not far from Dunkirk. The three-day train journey across the lush French countryside must have been a welcome change from the scrubby gorse of Gallipoli and the sands of Egypt.

The next six weeks were spent training for the conditions of the Western Front, including drills for gas attacks. On 6 June the battalion went into the line for the first time at Fleurbaix, an hour’s march from Fromelles. 

Fleurbaix, France. c.1916 Soldiers walk along the path beside the row of front line trenches. Australian War Memorial collection P00437.017
Fleurbaix, France. c.1916. Soldiers walk along the path beside the row of front line trenches.
Australian War Memorial collection P00437.017
Soon they marched to join the ‘Big Push’ and the attack on Pozieres on 22 July. The 3rd Brigade was heavily shelled with poison gas and high explosive shells, but took Pozieres before dawn the next morning.

Andy was wounded in action. It was 24 July, the start of a fierce and relentless German artillery bombardment that continued for days. Suffering from shell shock and a leg injury from an exploding shell he was sent to the 10th General Hospital in Rouen, then to England. He was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth on 2 August 1916, then moved to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall.

Exterior view of the building which was occupied by the 3rd (London) General Hospital during the war. Australian War Memorial collection A01040
Exterior view of the building which was occupied by the 3rd (London) General Hospital during the war.
Australian War Memorial collection A01040
Despite having a long recovery ahead of him, Andy was fortunate to have been hospitalized before the intense fighting to hold Pozieres and take Mouquet Farm. By the time the AIF was relieved at Pozieres in early September they had suffered more than 23,000 casualties; almost 7,000 dead or missing, 17,000 wounded.

On 23 August Andy wrote from Wandsworth to a friend in Broken Hill

I would have written before, but our outward mail was stopped for some weeks owing to us proceeding from Flanders to the Somme to take part in the big push.

Our first job was the taking of Pozieres, which we took on Sunday morning, July 23. The same brigade was allotted that task as was in the original landing at Anzac. We took the village with only few casualties, but as soon as it came daylight on Sunday morning the Huns started counter-attacks, and when we beat them back they started shelling.

They kept on with counter-attacks and shelling up till Monday night, when I had an argument with one of their shells, and the shell won, as I remember no more until I was well away from the firing line on my way to a clearing station.

No doubt you have seen the big casualty lists, and it was mostly through the shells that we had so many killed and wounded. Of course, our own guns were going as well. We got so badly knocked about on the Sunday that we had to have the remainder of the division sent up to help us. On Monday morning they had to send the second division in to give us a hand. But we hung on to the village, or what was left of it, as it was a most important position, especially to the Huns.

No doubt the Huns are good fighters when they are in a good trench, but when it comes to close quarters then up go their hands, and they shout for mercy. I might say that they did not get much mercy at Pozieres, as all the prisoners taken there could be counted on your fingers and toes, and all wounded at that. But there were heaps of dead. Well, I have seen quite enough, and this is my second time wounded, and the only time I have been away from my battalion since I first joined it at Morphettville over two years ago.

I am hoping this may be a trip back to Australia for me. I arrived here from France on August 2. I am still in bed. but I am hoping to be out very soon.

Informal group portrait of unidentified Australian soldiers sporting helmets (Pickelhauben) and caps captured from the Germans in the battle of Pozieres. Some have their hands raised, possibly in a feigned gesture of surrender. In the front on the ground is a Lewis gun. Australian War Memorial collection EZ0135
23 July 1916. Informal group portrait of unidentified Australian soldiers sporting helmets (Pickelhauben) and caps captured from the Germans in the battle of Pozieres. Some have their hands raised, possibly in a feigned gesture of surrender. In the front on the ground is a Lewis gun.
Australian War Memorial collection EZ0135
Sources

NAA: B2455, DUNCAN, AS. National Archives of Australia.

Limb, A. 1919. History of the 10th Battalion A.I.F. 1st ed. London; Melbourne: Cassell and Co.

1916 AWM4, 23/27/6 – April 1916. First World War Diaries – AWM4, Sub-class 23/27, 10th Infantry Battalion.

‘Pozières, First Australian Division Memorial – Bombardment 24-26 July 1916’. Australians on the Western Front 1914-1918: The Australian remembrance trail in France and Belgium.

‘Pozieres, The Windmill’. Australians on the Western Front 1914-1918: The Australian remembrance trail in France and Belgium.

1916 ‘Sergeant-Major A. S. Duncan’. Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), 15 October, p.2.

Featured image: Postcard – Private Albert Edward Kemp to Annie Kemp, ‘Australians Parading for the Trenches’, circa 1916. The postcard depicts the ‘men who shortly after midnight of Sunday, July 23, 1916, took Pozieres by a splendidly dashing advance through shrapnel, shell, and machine-gun fire.’ Museum Victoria collection MM 90948

Meanwhile on the home front

While Andy was overseas Jane Duncan was a dutiful wife. She took an interest in the newspaper reports of the Gallipoli campaign and later the Western Front. She clipped newspaper articles for Andy to read when he returned home.

Elizabeth Jane Duncan nee Stewart c. 1918
Elizabeth Jane Duncan nee Stewart c. 1918. From the author’s collection. Copyright Andrew Palmer.

Jane wrote regularly to the Department of Defence, advising frequent changes of address and seeking updates on Andy’s situation. She also wrote to the newspapers in Broken Hill, Adelaide and Melbourne to share any news from the front.

On 27 May 1915 Jane wrote

I suppose you know that Sergt. Duncan enlisted at Broken Hill and after his departure I sold our home & came to Beaufort to be with my mother till such times as Mr. Duncan returns

Jane Duncan's letter to the Department of Defence, 27 May 1915.  B2455/3525935 © Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia) 2013.
Jane Duncan’s letter to the Department of Defence, 27 May 1915.
B2455/3525935
© Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia) 2013.

To be with my mother. Not her father? Family memories suggest that Jane and her father, John Stewart, only got along in small doses. Jane’s relationship was with her mother.

It wasn’t long until Jane’s free spirit saw her leave Beaufort again, though she returned regularly to her parents’ home. Jane’s letters to the Department of Defence record her travels.

• In August 1916 she was in Broken Hill “for a month or two”, staying with friends.

• On 24 October 1916 she changed her address to Beaufort, “as I have left Broken Hill & have returned to Victoria”.

• In April 1917 Jane wrote, “I am in Sydney for a few months” and gave her address as 146 Flinders Street, Moore Park, Darlinghurst.

• By 31 January 1918 Jane was lodging at the Dunolly Coffee Palace and planning to stay “for some considerable time”.

• On 5 April 1918 Jane was back in Beaufort, but by mid-May she was residing at 11 Victoria Road, Malvern with her aunt, Elizabeth Anne Downes White (nee Stewart). Jane stayed in Malvern until news came of Andy’s repatriation to England in January 1919, then she returned to Beaufort for a month or so.

• By 11 March 1918 she was in Bung Bong, near Maryborough. It is possible that Jane’s travels to Dunolly and Bung Bong were associated with family, as the Whites and the Stewarts were mining families with connections to the central Victorian goldfields.

• The Riponshire Advocate of 29 June 1918 reported that Jane was in Banyena.

• On 19 April 1919 Jane wrote to advise that she would be leaving Bung Bong for Beaufort and requested any further news of Andy be sent to the Stewart home.

 

Sources

NAA: B2455, DUNCAN, AS. National Archives of Australia.

1918 ‘FOR THE EMPIRE.’Riponshire Advocate (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 29 June, p. 2.

Wounded, then back to Anzac Cove

Crammed full with wounded from the Gallipoli landing, the S.S. Ionian made for 17th General Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt. If Andy was lucky, he would have been dosed with morphine for the journey, but he may not have received decent medical treatment until he reached Egypt.

P01016.002
The wharf at Alexandria, showing ambulances waiting to take from the steamship Ionian men wounded in the Gallipoli landing. Australian War Memorial collection P01016.002

Andy was admitted to hospital on 1 May. His condition was recorded as “dangerously ill”, but Jane Duncan received the standard notification

Sergeant Duncan is not reported seriously wounded. In the absence of further reports Egypt advises all wounded to be progressing satisfactorily.

Jane probably provided The Adelaide Chronicle with its 29 May article

SERGEANT A. S. DUNCAN. Chronicle (Adelaide, SA) 29 May 1915, p. 45
SERGEANT A. S. DUNCAN. (1915, May 29), Adelaide Chronicle, p. 45. Newspaper article found in Trove reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

Andy’s hospital stay gave him some respite from the dysentry and enteric fever that swept through the men at Gallipoli. He was treated at Alexandria for 37 days, then spent another 12 days at Tanta Government Hospital.

On 17 June 1915 Andy was discharged from hospital, carrying in his back the Turkish shrapnel that was to torment him in later years. He was judged fit for duty, and rejoined his unit at Gallipoli on 8 July 1915.

At the start of the great August offensive Andy was promoted to Company Sergeant Major. During the battle for Lone Pine Andy’s battalion was in support at Silt Spur, holding the existing lines.

Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey, 1915-08-17. A soldier from the 10th Infantry Battalion in a tunnel trench at Silt Spur. Shafts of light beam into the tunnel from firing positions (right), while on the same side bombing tunnels lead off from the main corridor. Australian War Memorial collection P02321.026
Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey, 1915-08-17. A soldier from the 10th Infantry Battalion in a tunnel trench at Silt Spur. Shafts of light beam into the tunnel from firing positions (right), while on the same side bombing tunnels lead off from the main corridor.
Australian War Memorial collection P02321.026

September’s cooler weather turned wintry by the end of the month. On 23 September Andy was reprimanded for neglect of duty at Anzac. Details of the reprimand are not recorded, but it appears to have come at a time of relative quiet. During lulls in the fighting some men took the opportunity to move about the trenches more freely, and some received reprimands for not staying below the trench parapet.  One officer had been reprimanded earlier for setting a bad example for his men. Perhaps Andy’s reprimand was of a similar nature.

November brought violent storms and heavy seas. On 21 November, in bitterly cold weather, the 10th Battalion left Gallipoli, rotated out of the line for a rest at Mudros on Lemnos island.  What Andy did not know was that he was leaving the peninsula for the last time.

The History of the 10th Battalion records that on arrival at Mudros

the blizzard which caused so many casualties on Gallipoli came upon them. That blizzard “which in four days by flood and frost caused 200 deaths, 10,000 unfit for further service, and 30,000 sickened and made old”.

During this severe weather Andy was reprimanded a second time for neglect of duty at Serpi rest camp.

While at Mudros Andy would have learned that Gallipoli was to be evacuated. How did he feel on hearing the news? There must have been relief, certainly. But he would not have the chance to visit the graves of the fallen and say a final farewell. Did he feel that he was letting his mates down by evacuating after all they had fought for?

Composite view of Mudros Harbour on the Greek island of Lemnos near the Turkish coast and tent lines at Serpi Camp. The camp at the time was occupied by the 3rd Brigade, after the evacuation of Gallipoli. Australian War Memorial collection A02170C & A02170D
Composite view of Mudros Harbour on the Greek island of Lemnos near the Turkish coast and tent lines at Serpi Camp. The camp at the time was occupied by the 3rd Brigade, after the evacuation of Gallipoli.
Australian War Memorial collection A02170C & A02170D

Andy spent Christmas day 1915 on Lemnos. The next day he sailed for Egypt, disembarking at Alexandria on 29 December and entraining for Tel-el-Kebir Camp.

Sources

NAA: B2455, DUNCAN, AS. National Archives of Australia.

Kearney, R. 2005. Silent Voices: the story of the 10th Battalion AIF in Australia, Egypt, Gallipoli, France and Belgium during the Great War 1914-1918. New Holland Publishers, Sydney.

Limb, A. 1919. History of the 10th Battalion A.I.F. 1st ed. London; Melbourne: Cassell and Co.

Walsh, M. 1997. War Diary of Lieutenant Colonel Frederick E. Forrest MC.

Bean, C.E.W. 2007. Bean’s Gallipoli: The diaries of Australia’s official war correspondent. Edited and annotated by Kevin Fewster 3rd ed. Crows Nest NSW: Allen & Unwin.