"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
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Great War, Military Biographies, Frank Dudley Beaumont, His Story Topic: GW - Biographies
Frank Dudley Beaumont, His Story
At the turn of the century, Frank Dudley Beaumont was a rising star in the cavalry. During the Second Anglo Boer War, 1899 - 1902, he served successively with:
The Cape Mounted Rifles;
The Roberts Colonial Horse; and,
The Cape Coloured Forces as a Lieutenant.
The next record of Beaumont is in the 1913 electoral roll where he was registered in the Federal seat of Oxley.
Beaumont then enlisted in the 9th Infantry Battalion at Enoggera on 17 September 1914 as 1095 Private Frank Dudley Beaumont. He was allotted to "D" Company. Despite being 47, being born in 1867, he stated his age as 44 to fall under the 45 year age ceiling. The place of birth was recorded as Brighton, Sussex. His next of kin was stated to be Mrs Verschoyle, Dunsford, Surrey.
The last record of this life was a burial on 30 September 1914 at Toowong Cemetery on the corner of Frederick Street and Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong. The location of Beaumont's grave was at Portion 5, Section 118, Grave Number 13.
It is known that he had one sister called May Elizabeth Beaumont who was born in 1869 who appears to be his next of kin, Mrs Verschoyle. He has a brother, Harold Beaumont whose address is unknown and a former girlfriend Dell whom he possibly met in South Africa for she was in Transvaal in 1914.
In relation to known friends, there was John Charles Browne, a journalist and former officer who had known him for some three years. Browne enlisted as 414 Colour Sergeant John Charles Browne who served with the 15th Battalion, C Company. His other friend was Herbert Mark Meadows Maddock, a public servant working for the Commissioner of Public Health in Brisbane. Later Maddock enlisted as a Captain in 9th Battalion, 6th Reinforcement.
Beaumont wrote a succession of letters to different people explaining his circumstances and his intentions.
Letter 1 - to his sister May Elizabeth Beaumont.
Good-bye, dear old May.
Things have got beyond my control, so there is nothing to do but end it. Good-bye, and God bless you. It is terrible for Dell but things are quite hopeless.
Your heart-broken brother,
Letter 2 - to Captain Alexander Clifford Vernon Melbourne, OC, 9th Battalion, D Company.
Sorry not is have been able to "play the game," but circumstances over which I have no control have been too strong for me, so when you receive this I will be is the land of shade. I wish I could have gone there by an easier route, and have died as a man should: but it was not to be. My apologies to you and your officers, and the best of luck to you all.
Frank D. Beaumont.
Letter 3 - to his brother, Harold Beaumont.
My dear Harold,
The end has come at last. Fate been been too strong for me to fight against, and in sporting parlance I have got to "throw up the sponge"! What I want you to do is this: Supposing that anything really good eventuates from those bonds, please divide the money between Dell and yourself. It might come after my death; it would be just lay luck. Thank God she is at present in the Transvaal staying with her brother; so the shock, I hope and pray, may not be so great. I only hope Uncle Somerset will pay my debts, for I would like to leave my name clear. Good-bye and good luck to you, love to dear old May and the girls.
Your unfortunate brother,
Frank D Beaumont.
P.S. I enlisted in the Expeditionary Force for the war a week ago, and if I had some money to pay certain obligations I would been gladly gone intend of taking this step. - Frank.
Letter 4 - to his friend Tom.
Brisbane, Sept. 27th, 1914.
My dear Tom,
I am so seriously involved (and this last silly escapade has put a finish to it) that I am going to end my useless life. Many thanks to you all for your kindness to me. Should, at any time in the next few months, you have any spare cash, there is a gold chain and sovereign case pawned for 35/- with M. Harris, Edward Street, which I would like you to send to my girl. Maddock would give you her address, and I know Harris would let you have them on showing this. There is also a silver wristlet watch pawned for 5/- (it cost £2/10/- seven months ago), and a silver cigarette case pawned for 30/-, which if you care to take out, I would like you to keep. My love to Harry. Good-bye old chap, and good luck.
Frank D Beaumont.
Letter 5 - to the Secretary of the United Services Institute of Queensland.
Brisbane, Sept. 27th, 1914.
The Hon. Secretary, U.S.I. of Q.
I wish to apologise to you and the committee for the non-payment of my wine account. My affairs are so frightfully involved that I am about to terminate my worthless life. Good-bye, and good luck to you and the members.
Frank D. Beaumont.
The letters map out a steady decline in the mental health of Beaumont. From the last two letters, it was obvious that he had pawned all his goods and still was largely in debt, especially to the United Services Institute where he received wine on credit. It looks like the financial loss from the "last escapade" and the wine bill together brought about his decision to end his life.
Just after 4 pm on the afternoon of 28 September 1914, near the Hamilton Hotel, by Racecourse Road, Beaumont decided to take his last breaths. To accomplish the deed, he had acquired a bottle of strichnine poison. Beaumont put the bottle to his lips and drank the contents.
Death was slow and painful. At about 4.30 Frederick Ernest Grimley, a motorman, employed by the Tram Company, and residing in Ann Stree, Valley, noticed Beaumont lying near the Hamilton retaining wall and moaning. Grimley asked Beaumont what he thought had happened. In response Beaumont asked for a drink of water, and said he had taken a fit. Grimley replied, "You have taken no fit. What have you done to yourself ?" The reply from Beaumont was, "I had some strychnine in my pocket, and took it to see how it would act."
Grimley left Beaumont to fetch an Ambulance and the police and on returning found him dead.
What really drove Beaumont to take his life is unknown. It appears that he had already made that decision in July 1914, possibly after the collapse of his relationship with his companion Dell and her departure to the Transvaal. After the elapse of more time and financial trouble, it seems as though it became all too much for him. It appears as though his friends urged him to enlist as a way to get himself back onto a positive track. This seems to have failed as Beaumont still considered that his life was "worthless". Ten days later he was dead.
Great War, Military Biographies, 1547 Driver Charles Burns Topic: GW - Biographies
1547 Driver Charles Burns
Desert Mounted Corps Routine Order No. 763
During the Great War, there were many unsung heroes who came to the fore from the most unlikeliest of sources. The story of 1547 Driver Charles Burns is one such illustration of a quiet hero.
The record transcribed:
23rd September 1917
763. Act of Gallantry
The Corps commander directs that a record be made of the gallant conduct of the undermentioned man, under the following conditions:-
No. 1547 Driver C Burns, "B" Troop, ALH Signal Squadron.
No. 7/472 Trooper Moffat, New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade was bathing on the evening of the 11th instant, when he was carried out to sea. On hearing his call for help, Driver Burns swam out to his assistance, and with great difficulty, after the life line had broken, brought in Trooper Moffat, very exhausted. The current was very strong at the time and another Trooper of this Brigade who went out at the same time as Driver Burns had in turn to be assisted in regaining the shore.
An entry will be made in the conduct sheet in Driver Burns in accordance with King's Regulations para. 1919 (XIV).
On 23 September 1917, he was mentioned in the Routine Orders of the Desert Mounted Corps for a singular act of bravery.
The person transcribing the story was a little bit careless with his work and mixed up some very important details. The person Burns rescued was 11/1472 Trooper George Shepherd Moffat from the Wellington Mounted Rifles, who came from Masterton in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand. The number allocated to Moffat in the RO actually belongs to 7/472 Trooper Charles Augustus Evans of the Canturbury Mounted Rifles, a man who came from Wairau Bar near Blenheim on South Island. It is a salutary lesson to realise that the contemporary records are also riddled with errors and thus should never be used without scrutiny. Despite the mistake, the heroism of Burns was recognised and well deserved. His other heroism, doing his duty to the best of his ability also finds recognition in other places.
During his work with the Signal Squadron, he is credited as never having missed a single day's duty. All through the campaign, he cared for a pair of heavy draught horses in the peak of condition.
Church of England
Bridgetown, Western Australia
Age at embarkation
Next of kin
Guardian, Frederick S Brockman, Bridgetown, Western Australia
Great War, Military Biographies, The old man of the AIF, George Paul Topic: GW - Biographies
The old man of the AIF, George Paul
George Paul, 1918
3664 Corporal George Paul and the AIF
The story of 3664 Cpl George Paul's enlistment in the AIF makes fascinating reading. At 69, he became one of the oldest recruit to see service in the AIF.
Here is the article from the Sydney Mail, 7 August 1918 at p. 34:
Enlisted at 69.
There are few soldiers or the A.I.F. possessing long a record of soldiering as Corporal George Paul, now living at Wallaballah, a little township two miles from Quirindi. He must have surely been born under the planet of Mars, for he has fought in all the principal British campaigns during the last half century. Corporal Paul served first in the Ashanti war in 1873-4, under Sir Garnet Wolseley, and afterwards in the Zulu War of 1874, under Lord Chelmsford, father of the one-time popular Governor of New South Wales, and Queensland, and now Viceroy of India. He fought again at Tel-el-Kebir under Sir Garnet Wolseley, in 1882, and went twice to the Boer War of 1899-02, under Sir Ian Hamilton and Lord Methuen. He holds the Ashanti, Zulu. Egyptian, and King's and Queen's South African medals. Finally, and most remarkable of all, he enlisted in the A.I.F., and fought in France with the Tunnellers. He was then 69 years of age and how he came to he enlisted, both for the Boer War and the present war is a long story. It turned that when a man is keen enough, or when fighting is still the blood, nothing will stop him. It is all open secret, locally, that his official age was a year younger when he enlisted in the Boer War than when he joined the A.I.F. When the first 'March to Freedom’ arrived at Quirindi last May, the veteran Corporal was there to meet it, and instantly he picked up the step, and marched into town with the boys, keen on joining up again. With all his half-century of soldiering, the years lie lightly upon him, and with his easy carriage, alertness, and bronze face, "old George" would pass easily amongst strangers as a man of fifty. The story of his life deal with adventure and events, which, together, make up some of the most stirring chapters in the history of the expansion and consolidation of the British Empire. Our illustration shows Corporal Paul in his A.I.F. uniform. What an example for young Australians who have not answered the call.
The story was repeated again in the R.S.S.I.L.A. Official Year Book [Coronation Issue], 1937 which gave a brief vignette about the man similar to that in the Sydney Mail article shown above. Since the R.S.S.I.L.A. Official Year Book was published in 1937, and given the year was when George Paul died, the story was more of an obituary.
George Paul had his baptism registered on 15 February 1848 at the parish of Dornoch, Sutherland so we can assume he was born somewhere around that time. His father was James Paul [b. 1832] and mother known as Kate. We know from NSW Certificate No. 15984 that George Paul died at Quirindi in 1937, making him 89 at the time.
While nothing about him prior to 1900 can be verified, there is nothing in his story that leads to doubt about accepting his history of service. Once he commences service in Australia, then he is picked up by the official records.
The first official record of service we have is that 1123 Trooper George Paul enlisted in the Bushies, the New South Wales Imperial Bushmen. Here are his details from Murray:
Service number: 1123
Unit: NSW IMPERIAL BUSHMEN
Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Source: Murray page number - 104
He was allocated to the last formed NSW squadron, F Squadron. Here is his name and rank recorded on the list published in the Sydney Mail, 7 April 1900 at p. 79. George Paul's name is underlined in red.
New South Wales Imperial Bushmen, F Squadron, Sydney Mail, 7 April 1900.
The Sydney Mail, 28 April 1900 at p. 984 published a photograph of all the men from F company taken the day before they departed. 1123 Trooper George Paul is circled in red.
Some men of the New South Wales Imperial Bushmen, F Squadron
[From: Sydney Mail, 28 April 1900, p. 984.]
Paul embarked from Sydney on the Armenian, 23 April 1900. He spent over a year in South Africa taking part in many of the key engagements of the war.
He arrived back in Sydney on the Orient landing at Cowper Wharf, 15 July 1901. A cartoon series of the landing published in the Sydney Mail, 27 July 1901, p. 217.
A cartoon series of the landing
[From: Sydney Mail, 27 July 1901, p. 217.]
Paul was awarded the Queen's South African Medal with 5 bars - Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, Rhodesia and South Africa 1901. There is a bit of a question as to whether he arrived as a Sergeant or Lieutenant.
Paul's next period of service reflected some form of senior rank as he enlisted as 23 Sergeant George Paul, 1st Australian Commonwealth Horse (NSW), A Squadron. Here is his Murray entry from the AWM:
Service number: 23
Unit: 1BN AUST CMNWLTH HORSE (NSW)
Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Source: Murray page number - 169
Since this was a Commonwealth formation, his Attestation Papers can be accessed through the NAA.
Again the Sydney Mail was on the job. In the edition of 8 February 1902, at p. 344, they published a picture of the 1st Australian Commonwealth Horse (NSW), A Squadron where we see Sgt Paul seated with his men. He is circled in red.
1st Australian Commonwealth Horse (NSW), A Squadron
[From: Sydney Mail, 8 February 1902, p. 344.]
Paul embarked from Sydney on the Custodian, 18 February 1902. By the time they arrived and prepared for action, the war was coming to a close. Peace broke out on 2 June 1902.
George Paul returned from South Africa on 11 August 1902.
After that, we lose touch with him although it appears that he might have married somewhere along the way. His attestation papers mention a wife Mary Ann but there is no record of this marriage in NSW.
During the Great War, while the "Freedom March" passed by his town, he began the march again and enlisted as a soldier. When he joined up his previous military service was recognised and was made Acting Sergeant but on active service was promoted to Corporal. Here he is in uniform, 3664 Cpl George Paul, No 4 Tunnelling Company prior to embarkation.
Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A69 Warilda on 22 May 1916
Rank from Nominal Roll
Unit from Nominal Roll
4th Tunnelling Company
Returned to Australia 17 March 1917
14 June 1917
War service: Western Front
Embarked Sydney, 22 May 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 18 July 1916.
Proceeded overseas to France, 15 October 1916.
Admitted to 26th General Hospital, Etaples, 6 December 1916 (debility); transferred to England,13 December 1916, and admitted to Dover Hospital; discharged to No 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs, 16 December 1916.
Marched out to No 2 command Depot, Weymouth, 20 November 1916.
Commenced return to Australia from Plymouth on board HT 'Beltana' for discharge (senility), 17 February 1917; arrived Sydney, 15 May 1917; discharged (medically unfit), 14 June 1917.
Paul embarked from Sydney on the HMAT A69 "Warilda", 22 May 1916 and arrived at Plymouth on 18 July 1916. From there he went to France on 16 October 1916 ending up at the base at Etaples. Once there, after 2 months, on 6 December 1916, he was admitted to hospital at Etaples with debility. From that moment he was on his way back to Australia, first to Tidworth, then Weymouth, and finally Plymouth where he boarded the Beltana on 17 February 1917 for a trip back to Australia. It looks like the military authorities finally tumbled to the fact that George was not 48 but a tad bit older. When Paul reached Sydney, on 14 June 1917, he received a medical discharge on the grounds of senility.
This is indeed one of those good stories, which occasionally we come across and makes it a sheer joy to research.
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