Wednesday, April 25, 2012

At the Broadmeadows Army Training Camp in the First World War

My grandfather was a coachbuilder. He was keen to serve his country during the First World War so volunteered for service on 12 June 1915 at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne.  He was assigned as a Private in the 8th Reinforcements, 22nd Infantry Battalion which he joined on 22 June. He was sent to the Broadmeadows army training camp, Melbourne, where this photo was taken.

Trainees at the Broadmeadows Army Training Camp, Melbourne in about July 1915

My grandfather is second from left in the back row. I would love to know who the others were and I think I have found a clue to their identity in my grandfather's notebook which contains the following list of names: Gus Sterling, Bill Serties, Bill Liston, Frank Tribe, Malcolm, Norm, Harry.

I have confirmed that William Ferrier Liston joined the same battalion at about the same time as my grandfather, so suspect that he is the Bill Liston in the notebook. I have written about Bill Liston in A First World War soldier who suffered years later. I think that the list of names in the notebook is probably the list of the others in the photo.

Within a few weeks of enlisting an old knee injury was aggravated when my grandfather slipped in the mud and twisted his leg, and two days later caught his foot in some wire. He was sent to a Clearing hospital and then to the Base hospital on 31 July. He was found to have a displaced cartilage in his left knee. He was discharged from hospital on 4 August but was told that he would need to rest before having an operation on the knee in September.

Meanwhile, on 26 August, his Battalion embarked for overseas service. On 20 September he was re-admitted to hospital for a knee operation and was discharged two weeks later and sent on leave. He was bitterly disappointed that he had not been able to disembark with his battalion. The disappointment was heightened when he returned for a medical examination on 3 December. There was still some stiffness in his knee joint. He could walk fairly well, but the Medical Board considered that he could not march and he was discharged as permanently unfit for service.

He tried again to enlist in October 1916 , but once again was found to be unfit. He always carried his Medical Certificate of Unfitness together with the photo at the Broadmeadows training camp with him in his wallet until he died in 1962.

Further information about Bill Liston, including an excellent article by Rod Martin, can be found on Lenore Frost's website.

1 comment:

Fi said...

Interesting story and another perspective on the ANZAC theme. The mateship within the battalion was obviously very strong. Thank you for telling your grandfather's story.

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