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Saturday, 17 May 2008
Great War Issues, Lest We Forget - But We Did Anyway, Leonard Pitchers
Topic: GW - We forgot

Great War Issues

Lest We Forget - But We Did Anyway

Leonard Pitchers

 

The Accident of Leonard Pitchers

[Adelaide Chronicle, 17 October 1914, p. 45.]

 

The story of Leonard Pitchers



Now we come to the events at Morphettville Station at 6.15 pm on 13 October 1914. The story of Pitchers is very straight forward. After a day of work at Morphettville Race course, 200 men, including Pitchers, headed off to the nearest rail station to catch the Glenelg train to Adelaide. [As a historical note - this track has long since been ripped up but the permanent way in the remaining rail reserve is very visible.] While at the platform, men were spilling over onto the rails. Pitchers saw the train coming from Glenelg and helped to shepherd the men out of the way. In doing so, he was so concentrating on his task that he failed to see the train coming from Adelaide to Glenelg which knocked him down. Pitchers was taken to Adelaide Hospital where he died from his injuries.

 

Newspaper Reports

 

1. Adelaide Chronicle

Here is the story as it appeared in the Adelaide Chronicle, 17 October 1914, p. 45:

Tragedy at Morphettville

A Soldier Killed


Never the lotus closes, never the wild fowl wake,
But a soul goes out on the east wind, that died for England's sake.

These stirring words of Kipling's might fittingly have been uttered by the large band of soldiers who came to the city on Tuesday night on leave from the camp, for one of their comrades had lost his life in a noble effort to save others from peril at the Morphettville railway-station early that evening. Private Leonard Pitchers was a fine soldier, 26 years of age. He came from Booleroo, and was a member of the 9th Light Horse in the second contingent. There were over 200 troops waiting on and near the railway lines at the Morphettville station at about 6.31 pm, when two trains were seen to be approaching, one from Glenelg and the other from Adelaide.

"Stand back!" Stand back!" exclaimed Pitchers when he saw the train from the seaside drawing near. He was standing in the middle of the down road, and apparently was unaware of the proximity of the other train, the engine of which struck him on the back and rolled him over. The locomotive passed over his body, which was picked up underneath the first carriage. He was unconscious and in a terrible state, but he had not been killed outright. He was brought to Adelaide by Sergeants Major Sheridan and Holmes and Private Adkin, but before the train reached South Terrace, where Dr. Gunson was awaiting its arrival, Private Pitchers succumbed. The matter was reported to the police by Private J Lowe, of "B" Section, 3rd Field Ambulance Corps, and the body was removed to the morgue in the police ambulance. The locomotive was in charge of Driver Fahey.

 

Men mentioned in the article in order of appearance:

Corporal William SHERIDAN, formerly of the Royal Highlanders, appointed Corporal, Instructional Staff, 16 September 1914, and later 5128 Sergeant William SHERIDAN, 32nd Battalion, 14th Reinforcement.

Sergeant William HOLMES, formerly of Royal Garrison Artillery, appointed Sergeant, Instructional Staff, 16 September 1914. Promoted to Staff Sergeant Major.

162 Private Horace Bismark ATKINS, 3rd Field Ambulance, B Section.

109 Private John Hubert LOW, 3rd Field Ambulance, B Section.

 

Dr John Bernard GUNSON

 

Dr John Bernard GUNSON, Angas St, Adelaide, son of Dr  John Michael Gunson. 

 

2. Laura Standard

 

The Accident of Leonard Pitchers as seen at Laura

[Laura Standard, 16 October 1914, p. 3.]

 

Here is the article that appeared in the Laura Standard 16 October 1914 at p. 3:

A Soldier's Death

Booleroo Resident Killed by Train


In the most tragic circumstances a South Australian soldier passed away at Morphettville on Tuesday. He died no in the attempt to kill others but to save them. The victim was Pte Leonard Pitcher, of the 2nd Contingent, 7th Light Horse. His family lives at Booleroo Centre. It appears that several soldiers from the camp and visitors, including ladies, were collected at Morphettville station awaiting the arrival of a train to take them to the city. A train coming from the Bay was approaching the station just about the same time that the Adelaide 6.15 train was due at the camp station. There was a danger that the traffic would become mixed, and realising the situation, Pte Pitcher stepped forward, and spreading out his arms called to his comrades and the crowd to keep back. But he had miscalculated his own nearness to the approaching Adelaide train, for the engine struck him in the back, and he was thrown down under the wheels. The front wheels of the engine passed over his body in a slanting direction and injured him dreadfully. Dr Gunson was summoned and pronounced life to be extinct.

 

 

3. The Critic

The Critic of 21 October 1914 posted this story at p. 6:

 

THE MENACE OF MORPHETTVILLE.

The tragic death of a gallant young soldier at the Morphettville railway station the other day ought to point once more to the menace of railway stations that have no platforms.
Morphettville is a glaring instance. The soldier stood on the rails to warn the waiting crowd of the approach of one train, and the other from the opposite direction dashed into him and he was killed. There ought to be a bitter lesson here for the Railways Commissioner. It is the demonstrated danger of allowing two trains to be simultaneously in a station that has no platform. A greater death trap could hardly be imagined. The railway authorities may urge-and not without some force -that the unfortunate young fellow who lost his life was almost wholly to blame. He should not have been on the rails. Probably not; but it is the duty of the department to minimise the risks to which travellers are exposed. Its business is to provide safeguards.
The point "The Critic" wishes to make is that, even allowing for the tragic mistake on the part of the deceased soldier, it should hardly have been possible for him to have been placed in the awful position in which he found himself. That other train should not have been allowed to enter the Morphettville station until the one for Adelaide had left. Is it not clear in these and similar circumstances before, that the simultaneous appearance of two trains at the station should be absolutely avoided in the future? The public, at any rate, will think so.


The first problem encountered with Pitchers is the total lack of documentation about him on any of the national service databases. There is no Service File held by the National Archives of Australia and it is suspected his paperwork disappeared as quickly as he did himself, mainly through the lack of an ajutant within the 9th Light Horse Regiment at that time.

 

The Testimony of George Frederick Gardells WIECK

 

Extract from Captain WIECK's unpublished account
 
[Confidential Memorandum by Lieutenant Colonel GFC Wieck, ex Adjutant, 9th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, 2 April 1919.]

 

Captain George Frederick Gardells WIECK was a career military man who was appointed Adjutant of the 9th Light Horse Regiment on 13 November 1914. In his unpublished account of his time with the 9th Light Horse Regiment, he has this to say about the situation he encountered when he arrived at Warradale.

Here is his account:

The Officer question was even more difficult. The only officers available were those who were not considered good enough for the 3rd LH Regiment. Those who had experience were devoid of character and unable to teach and guide those who had none. Several of the junior officers had had no military training whatever - It will be realised that the task of selecting his officers was not the least difficult the C.O. had to contend with. In spite of all efforts of the C.O. no adjutant was available until an officer of the A & I Staff was appointed on 13th November 1914 and the Orderly Room work was in a state of chaos. For reasons not clear the Commanding Officers set his face against and recommendation for the position of Second in Command; he consistently stated that he could manage quite well without but it is strongly suspected that he could see no one in whom he could place the requisite confidence. As a matter of fact, at this stage a Second in Command would have been invaluable for supervision of training of officers and N.C.Os, and for co-ordinating the progress of "C" Squadron.

 

This vignette paints a devastating comment about the competence of administration in the 9th Light Horse Regiment at the time of Leonard Pitchers death and could explain the loss of his records.

For more information on George Frederick Gardells WIECK and his published work, See:

Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

 

Public Records 

So let's look at the things we do know.


Birth Certificate

Here is the extract from his Birth Certificate.

        Surname:PITCHERS
        Given Names:Leonard
        Date:6 December 1880
        Sex:Male
        Father:Henry PITCHERS
        Mother:Rose SOUTHWOOD

From the above, it was possible to compile the family genealogy at the time of the birth of Leonard Pitchers. 

 

Parents

Henry Pitchers (1837-1909) and Rosa Southwell (1837-1899) were married on 8 March 1858 in Hindmarsh Valley, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

 

Children

William Henry Pitchers (1858-1927);

John Southwell Pitchers (1860 - ?);

Frank Pitchers (1862-1939);

Gertrude Pitchers (1864-1913);

Sarah Preston Pitchers (1866 - ?);

Alfred Pitchers (1868-1903);

Rose Pitchers (1871- ?);

Elizabeth Pitchers (1873- ?);

Ernest Pitchers (1874-1949);

Florence (Doll) Pitchers (1876- ?);

Lucy Alice Pitchers (1878- ?); and,

Leonard Pitchers (1880-1914).

 

The Will

On the 8 October 1914 he wrote out his will witnessed by two law clerks in Adelaide. Probate was granted on 25 January, 1915. The beneficiaries and executors were his brother Ernest and his sister Lucy Alice WILSON nee PITCHERS. The estate was sworn not to exceed £2,500.

Coroner's Report

The first problem is the coroner's report. There was none. There is a file - The State Records reference is GRG1/44 - 13/10/1914 - No 364 - which apart from the detectives reports that summarise the reports in the newspapers, there is little else.

 

Death Certificate

His Death Certificate extract provides us with very little information:

        Surname:PITCHERS
        Given Names:Leonard
        Date:13 October 1914
        Sex:Male
        Age:34 years
        Status:Single
        Relative: 
        Relative 2: 
        Residence:Booleroo Whim
        Death Place:Adelaide

It does raise issues of information conflict. The newspaper report mentions Pitchers as being 28 while his birth and death certificates confirm that he was 34 years of age. This is relatively minor considering that the notion of age was quite a flexible concept in the AIF at the time. Men changed their ages to fit in with the desirable criteria for selection.

 

7th or 9th Light Horse Regiments

One conflict of information raised in the newspaper stories is the identification of Pitchers as being in both the 7th and 9th Light Horse Regiments. His death occurred in the week when a name change occurred. At the beginning of his service, Pitchers was enrolled in "B" Squadron, 7th Light Horse Regiment, a composite Regiment made up of a squadron from New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. The 7th Light Horse Regiment was formed at the beginning of October 1914, with Lieutenant Colonel Miell as the Commanding Officer. The overflow of New South Wales recruits meant that the 7th Light Horse Regiment was over subscribed in that state allowing the authorities to raise a new composite regiment based in South Australia which would provide two squadrons and Victoria, one squadron. Again Lieutenant Colonel Miell, a South Australian, was appointed as the Commanding Officer.

See:
7th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, Outline
and
9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, Outline 

 

 

Pitchers was in the 7th Light Horse Regiment, "B" Squadron during the first week of October but in the 9th Light Horse Regiment, "A" Squadron during the second week of October at the time of his death.  

 

Public Acknowledgement 

At the time, in 1914, Pitchers was acknowledged and recognised by his local communities. His death was memorialised on two Rolls of Honour.

 

Booleroo Centre

 

Roll of Honour at the Booleroo Centre Institute

[From Tributes of Honour, SA & NT War Memorials.]

 

The entry on the Roll of Honour at the Booleroo Centre Institute reads:

PITCHERS L. Accidentally Killed Whilst In Camp

 

Hammond

 

Hammond Roll of Honour

[From Tributes of Honour, SA & NT War Memorials.]

 

The entry on the Roll of Honour at Hammond reads:

L PITCHERS



In contrast, no entry for Pitchers appears on the South Australian War Memorial nor is there an entry on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial, nor has he been granted a Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave.

 

Location of Grave

In fact, currently, no one knows quite where Pitchers was buried. It was certainly not West Terrace Cemetery, the most logical place. West Terrace Cemetery was in easy transport distance between the Adelaide Hospital and Morphettville. There is no information about who paid for the funeral although judging from the news story, it is likely that this task was undertaken and paid for by the AIF. However, this is just supposition based upon later history since there were no funeral notices or anything of that nature to help assist in resolving this matter.

 

Conclusion

Leonard Pitchers, who was killed through being run over by a train, earned him the unenviable distinction of being the first 9th LHR man to be killed while on active service. Yet he is not remembered on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial nor on the Adelaide War Memorial.

"Lest we forget"

Ironically, he was forgotten and still remains officially forgotten. Perhaps in the future Pitchers may be publicly remembered. 

 

Further Reading:

Tributes of Honour, SA & NT War Memorials, Booleroo Centre Institute

Tributes of Honour, SA & NT War Memorials, Hammond

Andrew Kemp's Genealogy Page

Lest We Forget - But We Did Anyway

The Light Horse

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Great War Issues, Lest We Forget - But We Did Anyway, Leonard Pitchers

Posted by Project Leader at 9:32 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2010 8:49 AM EAST
9th LHR AIF War Diary, 17 May
Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR

9th LHR, AIF

9th Light Horse Regiment

War Diary, 17 May

Pro Gloria et Honore - For Glory and Honour

Regimental March -  Marching Through Georgia

 

 

The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.

 

The Diary

 

1914

Sunday, May 17, 1914

See 4th Military District, South Australia for militia activities.

 

1915

Monday, May 17, 1915

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Alexandria

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Transport X2 sailed 0500.

3rd Light Horse Brigade Details Routine Orders No. 2

5. Native Syces. All orders to the native syces are to be issued to their Jemadar. In case of any misunderstanding the head Jemadar is always available at Brigade Headquarters. Non commissioned officers and men are especially warned not to ill treat these natives. Latrine accommodation for the natives will be supplied as soon as possible.

6. Reinforcements - 4th Reinforcements, 99th Light Horse Regiment 15 men.
7. Extract from General Order No. 20 - Discipline - The attention of the GOC has been drawn to cases in which officers have been consorting with NCOs and men in hotels, in the street, and other places. Such a practice is contrary to the regulations and customs of the service and is entirely subversive to discipline, and the GOC will hold Commanding Officers responsible that it is put a stop to. All ranks should be reminded that a strict observance of the proper relationship between officers and men reflects credit on a private soldier and his regiment, as much as on the Officers.

Carew Reynell Diary - There is every comfort for the majority of officers on this transport as she is a passenger boat but the men are terribly crowded as there are so many more than she is meant to carry.

We have our Regiment, the 8th Regiment, Brigade Headquarters, Royal Engineers, New Zealand dismounted Light Horse and a collection of various details most of whom are wounded men who have recovered and are returning.
Altogether 1700 men, 90 Officers and ships crew.

We have a guard posted on the upper deck day and night for aeroplane or submarine but at night they couldn't see 50 yards anyway - there is no moon.

 

1916

Wednesday, May 17, 1916
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Roadhead, Serapeum.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - No entry.

 

1917

Thursday, May 17, 1917
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - El Fukhari
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - The Regiment undertook routine work for the day.
Hotchkiss Rifle teams paraded from 0800 to 1000 and 1200 to 1500 for instructions under Farmer, Lieutenant MO.
Signallers training same hours.
Daily parade for junior Non Commissioned Officers commenced from 1400 to 1500.
 

1918

Friday, May 17, 1918
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Auja Bridgehead defences
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0700 Two deserters, Turks, surrendered to “B” Squadron.
1800 Relieved by 10th Light Horse Regiment. Regiment moved by squadrons to led horses bivouac west of Jordan River. Orders received to supply daily two, day patrols, each strength of one troop and two night patrols each strength one Officer and nine Other Ranks.
2030 Brigade issued orders for practice turnout, the Regiment parading mounted in fighting order within 36 minutes.

 

1919

Saturday, May 17, 1919
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Tel el Kebir
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0900 Took over camping ground lately occupied by 3rd Ghurkhas, 400 yards north of Tel el Kebir Railway Station.
1730 Transport and escort arrive.

 


Previous: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 16 May

Next: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 18 May

 

Sources:

See: 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Contents
Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy

 

Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF

Bert Schramm Diary

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 17 May

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 26 July 2010 10:31 AM EADT
Friday, 16 May 2008
9th LHR, AIF, The peculiar case of Arthur Carrington Smedley
Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR

9th LHR, AIF

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment

The peculiar case of Arthur Carrington Smedley

 

 
The Casualty Form for Arthur Carrington Smedley

 

Introduction

The disappearance of Arthur Carrington Smedley from Gallipoli creates an intriguing mystery that lingers to this day. His circumstances were covered by much contradictory testimony gathered from eye witnesses at Gallipoli. Because of the diverse nature of each item of testimony, the fate of Corporal Smedley remains as one of the more peculiar stories from Gallipoli.

 

The Family

 

Telegram from Alice Smedley to the Department of Defence, 21 October 1915

 

The underlying story is the slow and protracted torture of Smedley's family which they underwent, not knowing the fate of their relative. The letters from the various family members are horrowing and point to the daily, and ongoing anguish they suffered until the matter was put to rest, if indeed it ever was for the family.

 

Enlistment Details

Enlisted on 28 December 1914 as 605 Private Arthur Carrington Smedley, 28, an auctioneer by trade and single. He lived with his mother North Adelaide South Australia Mother Alice C Mrs Smedley at a house called “Ranfurley” in Brougham Place, North Adelaide in the state of South Australia. His denomination was Church of England.

 

Service

He embarked on A10 "Karoo", 11 February 1915 from Melbourne as part of D Troop, B Squadron, 9th Light Horse Regiment. Sometime in 1915 he was promoted to Corporal.

 

Events

 

Walkers Ridge at Gallipoli, August 1915.

 

It was on the main track of Walker’s Ridge that Smedley was struck by a high calibre shell which tore off an arm and a leg and left another leg in a precarious situation.

 

Witness Reports

Below are the witness reports of the situation.

287 Private Alfred John Jolliffe

287 Private Alfred John Jolliffe, 9 ALHR, 25 November 1915:
Statement re Smedley 605:

"Saw him after he had been badly wounded one leg blown off at thigh, the other lower down, was taken to Clearing Station. Informant heard he was dead."

 

331 Private Louis William Saler

331 Private Louis William Saler, 9 ALHR, 25 November 1915:

"Report on Smedley 605 - Informant said that Smedley was struck by a shell which destroyed both his legs. He died on the Peninsula but informant could not say exactly where."

 

562 Sergeant E Collette

562 Sergeant E Collette, 1st ALH, Gezira Hospital, Cairo, 9 December 1915:

"Informant states that about the 8th or 9th of August an 11.3 shell landed amongst four men together on the main track of Walker’s Ridge. He saw Smedley soon afterwards in a dying condition with an arm and a leg blown off. He was taken abourd a hospital ship."

 

341 Sergeant Stephen Henry

341 Sergeant Stephen Henry, 9 ALHR, Ghain Tuffieha, 14 December 1915:

"He was promoted Corporal. He was wounded on Walker’s Ridge by a 9” shell, and his left leg blown off. He died on the way down to the base hospital. The stretcher bearers told witness this. He came from Adelaide, S. Australia."

 

754 Pte CH Hutchinson

754 Pte CH Hutchinson 9 ALHR, Lowland Converlescent Camp, Mudros, 24 December 1915:

"About August 10 Smedley was badly wounded by a shell and stretcher bearer J Forman of B Squad who took him down told witness he lost both legs, one having been taken off by doctor on the beach before putting him on Hosp Ship."

 

244 Trooper CT Cotton

Letter written by 244 Trooper CT Cotton, Abbey Wood, Kent, 5 February 1916.

Hut K.2.
Australian Camp,
Abbey Wood,
Kent.
Feb. 5th 1916.

The late Corporal Smedley joined the 9th Light Horse Regiment while we were in training at Broadmeadows Camp, Victoria, where I got to know him well, being in the same troop and tent.

He was promoted to Lance Corporal at Heliopolis Camp a few days before he left Egypt for the Dardanelles with the regiment and on July 30th, in the rest camp below Walker's Ridge, he was promoted to fall Corporal, and on August 9th on Walker's Ridge he was badly wounded by 9 inch shell while in charge of fatigue party.    Smedley although badly wounded seemed to be suffering very little pain and was as cheerful as ever when he was taken down to the dressing station by stretcher party and he passed way at the dressing station at Anzac Cove.  The last man I know to have seen Corporal Smedley was Trooper Wainwright of the same troop and of Corporal Smedley's section and he would no doubt be able to give more information than myself. Trooper Wainwright was still with the Regiment when I saw him last on August 27th.

244 Trooper CT Cotton
9th Austrailian Light Horse

 

Testimony from Letters

Correspondence was also examined where references were made to Smedley.

218 Trooper George Ernest Aikeman

Extract from letter from - George Aikeman, 9th Light Horse, King George Hospital.    12.9.15. Waterloo, London.

"Well Floss poor Arthur Smedley had his leg blown off and reported wounded. He died some time later."

 

148 Lance Corporal Edmund Neville London

Extract from letter received by Mr. McEwin, C/o Dalgety & Co. Adelaide, from Lance Corporal London of the 4th Aust. Field Ambulance

"You mention seeing a letter from Arthur Smedley. The poor fellow was severely wounded by a shell - eventually died from its effects. He was terribly, knocked about I believe receiving a goodly share- of the force of the shell."

 

Mr G.W.F. Prince Coulter

Extract from, letter from G.W.F. Prince Coulter, 28 Grenfell St. Adelaide. (Dalgety & CO. Ltd.)

"It was only a few days ago that in conversation with Mr. A. Codlee of Prospect he mentioned that his son Lister was with Arthur and knows he was wounded badly - one leg lost - and died 5 days later."

 

260 Corporal Francis Arnold Gillen

Extract of letter from 260 Corporal Francis Arnold Gillen, No. 3 General Hospital Lemnos Island, dated 21.8.15. (Letter from Brother P.S. Gillen, 36 Ward St. North. Adelaide).

"He, Arthur Smedley, and I were in a main trench ---- without any warning, the shell - a big 8 inch from the Turkish forts - burst right in front of Smed, hurled him into the air and dropped him over a chain away into another trench. Poor old Smed did'nt live long, both his legs and right arm were terribly injured and had to be amputated. He was conscious after the amputations but never knew he lost his limbs. Before he died he was talking about seeing the Flemington National next year".

 

Mr Ray Turner

Extract from letter from Ray Turner, Rayville Park, Snowtown,

"I had a letter from Frank Rice the other day telling me that poor old Smed had died of wounds at Gallipoli they were friends, also a boy named Cameron said he and Frank buried dear old Smed and had put a little wooden cross with a few words on it on his grave Rice's address is - Q.M.S. F.E. Rice C. Cc. 10th Infantry Bat. 1st. A.I.F. (No. 10135).

 

Official Treatment

On 22 January 1916, he was declared absent from unit on account of wounds for a period of over three months and placed on the super-numerary list. Later on a Board of Enquiry found that Corporal Smedley had died of wounds on the 9 August 1915.

This all seems rather straight forward although rather peculiar that he should be considered missing when he was in the hands of the medical authorities. Missing is usually attributed to someone who is either obliterated by a bomb or dies in some unknown place. But not in this case. Yet he went missing.

Apparently he was recorded as having boarded the ship and placed under medical care. Then nothing. Smedley disappears and so does his record. Everything just vanishes. No one has the slightest idea where Smedley is except that he wasn’t where the schedule stated – in Cairo. It was the cross to Cairo in which the disappearing act occurred.

This statement of account was sent to the grieving family:

"We have received your inquiry for 605 Tpr AC Smedley, 9 ALH. The 3rd AGH infom us by telephone he was never in their hospital. We already had an inquiry for him and on our evidence he must have died on board a hospital ship about 10th Aug. He had been promoted to Cpl and was badly wounded on Walker’s Ridge by a shell, one of his legs being afterwards amputated by the Dr on the beach. Though we have no evidence by an eye witness of his death, several men told us he was already in dying condition when he was carried to the beach, and he was so badly wounded – both an arm and a leg being blown off – that no one could wish him to have lived."



This is indeed one case of nobody being there. It was conjectured that he died while at sea and they buried him at sea, a common practice. It is one thing to lose a body but quite another to lose his papers. The reality is that no one knew what happened to Smedley, a poor fellow doomed to roam the Mediterranean like the Marie Celeste, finding no home and no answers from and to the living.

Despite all the information available, it still remains a mystery today as to what actually happened to Smedley. We can only guess at the truth but no more than that.

 

Source of Information

Service File of Arthur Carrington Smedley held at National Archives of Australia, Bar Code - 8086630.

 

Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment, AIF

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

  


Citation: 9th LHR, AIF, The peculiar case of Arthur Carrington Smedley

Posted by Project Leader at 7:03 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2010 10:18 AM EAST
9th LHR AIF War Diary, 16 May
Topic: AIF - 3B - 9 LHR

9th LHR, AIF

9th Light Horse Regiment

War Diary, 16 May

Pro Gloria et Honore - For Glory and Honour

Regimental March -  Marching Through Georgia

 

 

The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.

 

The Diary

 

1914

Saturday, May 16, 1914

See 4th Military District, South Australia for militia activities.

 

1915

Sunday, May 16, 1915

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Cairo

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Entrained for Alexandria with 25 Officers and 454 Other Ranks. All horses and transport left at Heliopolis under Veterinary Officer with 30 Other Ranks of Regiment. The 1st Reinforcements less 20 men were absorbed as were also 50% of the 2nd Reinforcements. The balance of these together with the 3rd Reinforcement and 4th Reinforcements and sick of the Regiment were left at Heliopolis as a Regimental Depot.

One Other Rank and three storemen were left at the Ordnance Base, Alexandria. Saddlery removed at Heliopolis and kit bags were taken to Alexandria and stored. The Regiment embarked from Bunkers Quay on Transport X2 by 1800.

3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary - 0430 Arrived at Alexandria. Embarked Minominee [X2].

Headquarters, 8th Light Horse Regiment, 9th Light Horse Regiment, Signalling Troop, B Train, Field Ambulance and other details.

In all, 91 Officers 1,461 Other Ranks = 1,552 men and 3 interpreters.

Carew Reynell Diary - Train left at 0120 arriving Alexandria at 0730 on 16 May.

We were not allowed to embark until about 1500 or 1600 so sat on the wharf most of the day.

The ship didn't leave till about 0400 on 17 May.

It was decided at the last to bring bicycles and officers' sleeping valises but half expect to lose both.

 

1916

Monday, May 15, 1916
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Roadhead, Serapeum.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - No entry.

 

1917

Wednesday, May 16, 1917
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Abasan el Kebir
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - “C” Squadron marched in from El Gamli at 1300 being relieved by “A” Squadron from the 10th Light Horse Regiment.
At 1400 Chauvel, Major General Sir HG, KCMG, CB [Anzac Mounted Division] and Hodgson, Major General W, CMG, OB [Division Commander] inspected the Brigade. [Column commander] Chauvel, Major General Sir HG, KCMG, CB, expressed his appreciation of the work done by the Regiment in polishing up bits, spurs and stirrup irons and cleanliness of the camp.
 

1918

Thursday, May 16, 1918
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Auja Bridgehead defences
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Quiet day with the usual wiring and digging parties.
Reserve trenches now called Inner Bridgehead Defences now being constructed by parties from 8th and 10th Light Horse Regiments under direct supervision of Daly, Major TJ.

 

1919

Friday, May 16, 1919

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Zagazig

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 0900 Regiment less transport and escort of one Non Commissioned Officer and eight Other Ranks moved to Tel el Kebir. Mounted Squadron B proceeded by road.

1300 A and “C” Squadrons, dismounted, entrained at ASC siding.

Commanding Officer and Adjutant proceeded by motor car. 1630 Arrived at Tel el Kebir and bivouacked.

 


Previous: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 15 May

Next: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 17 May

 

Sources:

See: 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Contents
Australian Light Horse Studies Centre, AIF War Diaries of the Great War, Site Transcription Policy

 

Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF

Bert Schramm Diary

9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Roll of Honour 

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 16 May

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 26 July 2010 10:32 AM EADT
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Rifle Clubs, Question 11, and the 9th Light Horse Regiment
Topic: MilitiaRC - Rifle Clubs

Australian Rifle Clubs

Attestation Paper 1914 - 1918

Question 11

 

Question 11 on the AIF Attestation Paper reads as follows:

 

 

 An interesting question which set off a trail of interest with me a few years ago when the children's GGF listed the following on his attestation papers:


2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, Served 2 years with Tumby Bay Rifle Club.

Of course, the curiosity is raised as to why a person would include a rifle club as part of military service. My nephew and myself were members of a rifle club in WA and apart from all the regulation things that had to be dealt with as par for the course, there was nothing martial about it. So the connection is tenuous. A puzzler indeed for the person in the 21st century.


A bit more digging and we find rifle clubs being listed in the Commonwealth General Military Orders as they become active or are deactivated. In addition to shooting, their main task, they also undertook rudimentary drills and led by a captain, usually a nominal position a la Captain Mainwaring in "Dad's Army".

There was a very serious side to the Rifle Clubs which is missed by most historians of the Great War, but one which laid the underpinnings for the Australian defence posture from 1901 - 1910 and the roll on effects into the Kitchener Report.

My understanding is that Hutton was asked to put together a low cost military model for the defence of Australia upon Federation. The state's model - producing Imperial formations which would slot into the British Army seamlessly - proved to be outrageously expensive and far beyond the resources of the Commonwealth. Boer War commitments nearly ruined the state governments and it certainly crippled the growth of the Commonwealth for many years. So Hutton was assigned the task of coming up with a solution that fit the funding ability from the states' empty coffers. With little money, the soolution was relatively simple.

Hutton selected the Boer Commando system as the best model for the defence of Australia. This was the greatest accolade that could be paid to Oom Paul and his methodology of fighting the British. Hutton aped the Boer system of defence while ironically being committed to fight against it and stamp out the Boer Republics. To get trained cells of men without actually incurring too much cost the notion of Rifle Clubs came into play. The Commonwealth would provide the rifles and ammunition while the members would pay the rest. The clubs would be an integral part of the military with the Australian Instructional Staff taking care of the drills and shooting training for the leadership cadres of the clubs. In essence, if Australia had been invaded during this period, one would have seen a replay of the Boer War although this time Australians riding in the commandos.

After the Kitchener reforms where the posture was to be changed from a guerrilla force to a military that would once again fit seamlessly into an Imperial Expeditionary Force, massive battalions and regiments were formed, and while not stated, appeared to be slotted into an Imperial scheme with 7 infantry divisions and 2 cavalry divisions. We can see how this played out in the Great War with 5 Infantry Divisions, 2 Cavalry Divisions and 1 Training Division - just one division short of the Kitchener Plan and that was only because the PM, Billy Hughes could not get his desire for another division through cabinet.

For regions not able to be adequately served by this structure or for those not eligible to serve, the rifle clubs remained an integral part of the landscape in their quasi military role.

Here are a few other members of the 9th LHR who also answered Question 11 regarding Rifle Club service:

552 Pte Albert Ernest King, Served 3 years in the Tumby Bay Rifle Club
689 Pte John Diamond, Served 7 years with Appollo Bay Rifle Club
717 Pte Arthur Harry Charles Jackson, Served 3 years in the Sandringham Rifle Club
895 Pte Edgar Ernest Mathews, Served 3 years in the Crystal Brook Rifle Club
943 Pte Carl Martin Steicke, Served 10 years in the Caltowie Rifle Club
1000 Pte Edgar William Gifford, Served in the Port Germain Rifle Club
2475 Pte John Thomas Ward, Served 3 years with Red Bank Rifle Club, Victoria
2803 Pte Guthrie Hugh Lipson Baillie, Served 1.5 years with Tumby Bay Rifle Club
2824 Pte Frederick Harry Schwartz, Served 2 years with Mannum Rifle Club
2986 Pte William Bumett Willison, Served 2 years with the Salisbury Rifle Club


These are just a few examples.

 

Further Reading:

Australian Rifle Clubs

The Australian Militia, 1899 - 1920

AIF - Lighthorse

 


Citation: Rifle Clubs, Question 11, and the 9th Light Horse Regiment

Posted by Project Leader at 10:11 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 25 July 2010 4:08 PM EADT

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