What started as an attempt to identify my late grandmother’s World War 1 mystery photo has morphed into a memblog for the soldiers and officers of the 3rd Reinforcements, 14th Battalion AIF.
The following list of service men who served in the 3rd Reinforcements has been created from that unit’s official nominal roll, and the ongoing process is to allow each man’s experiences be shared via a memory blog and that has been contributed to by family members.
You can click here for more information on the unit’s formation and history but briefly, the First World War history of the 3rd Reinforcements is inherently tied up in with the 14th Battalion’s history, and in turn both their history is enmeshed with the AIF’s 4th Brigade, especially where the latter along with a New Zealand Division were subsumed into a new -formed division in Egypt of the British Army’s ‘Mediterranean Expedition Force’ (M.E.F) subsequently named the Australian and New Zealand Armed Corps (ANZACS).
During the First World War the 3rd Reinforcements and the 14th Battalion sailed from Australia in February 1915, as part of the 2nd Australian contingent bound for Egypt .
The 14th Battalion was originally composed of about 1000 men of whom their commander (then Colonel) Sir John Monash said though not ‘privileged’ to sail with the first convoy (contingent) of Australia troops, the 14th certainly aspired to rank as an equal beside its three senior Infantry Brigades.(see Wanliss’s history of the 14th).
The 14th Battalion’s appointed regimental staff pre Egypt :
Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel R.E.Courtney VD
Second in Command: Major J. Adams
Quartermaster: Major H.N.Young VD
Adjutant: Captain C.M.M. Dare
Medical Officer: Captain G.H.Loughran
14th Battalion Company Commanders appointed pre Egypt:
A Company- Major R.RANKINE, Lt. J.G.T HANBY, 2nd Lt. K.G.W.CRABBE
B Company – Captain W. R. HOGGART, Lt.H.N.BOYLE, 2nd Lt. H.R.HARRIS
C Company – Captain T.H.STEEL, 2nd lt. W.E.GROOME, 2nd lt. V.C. Cumberland
D Company – Captain C.E. CONNELLY, Lt. W.H.HAMILTON, 2nd Lt. D.L.K. RICHARDSON
E Company – Captain F.H.WRIGHT, 2nd Lt. G.L. GILES, 2nd Lt. A.R.COX
F Company – Captain W.C.N.BALDOCK, Lt. B. COMBES, 2nd Lt. L.E.BALL
G Company – Lt C.R.HUTTON, Lt. A.H.CURWEN-WALKER, 2nd Lt. R.WARREN
H Company – Lt. A HENRY, 2nd Lt. R.W.GRAHAM, 2nd Lt. O.C.W.FUHRMANN
The 14th, along with the 13th, 15th, and 16th went from Australia as the AIF’s 4th Brigade (commanded by Monash)
The troops disembarked at Alexandria and the 14th Battalion was conveyed by train to a new camping ground named ‘Aerodrome Camp’ situated on the desert fringe of Cairo‘s southern suburb Heliopolis.
In Egypt the 14th (as other battalions) were reformed into a four or ‘double-company’ system (as opposed to the 8-company system it was formed as in Australia).
“The double company organisation was adopted to bring the AIF Units into line with the organisation of the British Army which had adopted this system some time previously. The half-companies were called platoons, four of which went to the company.” (Wanliss, p.)
14 Battalion’s new ‘Four-Company System’ commanders, post- Egypt arrival:
A Company (formed from co A & co E): Officer-in-command Major Rankine, 2IC – Captain F.H.Wright.
B Company (originally Co B & Co F): OC – Captain Baldock, 2IC – Captain W.R.Hoggart
C Company (originally Co C & Co G): OC – Major Steel, 2IC – Captain Hutton
D Company (originally Co D & Co H): OC – Captain Connelly, 2IC – Captain A Henry.
Under the command of Sir Alexander Godley, the 4th Brigade itself next became a portion of the newly-formed New Zealand and Australian Division of the M.E.F, which formed up in the desert on March 23rd 1915 for inspection by the High Commissioner of Egypt.
The 4th Brigade was among the first to land at Anzac Cove on the 25th of April 1915, and despite heavy losses continued to serve at Anzac (from April) until the official December evacuation that was Australia’s formal withdrawal from the Turkish-held peninsula commonly referred to as Gallipoli.
So when you are reading official documents or the service record of your 3rd Reinforcement soldier, especially at Gallipoli between April and December 1915 it will be either documented from the parent control body (the M.E.F), its subsidiaries (ANZAC Force, the AIF or the 4th Brigade) or his managing body (the 14th Battalion).
Newspaper stories, diaries, letters and other non-official documents may be talking from his ‘Company’ perspective (A,B,C, or D) or from his Unit (3rd Reinforcements) or from the perspective of the 14th Battalion, the unit that was his team when he signed up, and may still have been with after the reshuffle in Egypt.
According to the 13th Reinforcements Nominal Roll (Australian War Memorial) dated 19th February 1915, there were 156 men of the 3rd Reinforcements who sailed for Egypt aboard HMAT A54 Runic with the 14th Battalion as part of the AIF 4th Brigade:
WARRANT OFFICERS 3rd Reinforcements 14th Battalion
Rank Name Age Regiment Number
1st Lieutenant Thomas Ninian HILL : 19 years
2nd Lieutenant Norman Kingsley STRACK: 25 years
Sergeant Daniel Edward DOEWRA: 39 years, #1532
Sergeant Leslie Raymond Talbot GILBERT: 19 years #1554
L/Sergeant Jack ALLEN: 39 years, #1690
Corporal James Frederick MAHER: 23 years, #1583
Corporal John ROLPH: 20 years, #1609
Corporal John VERTIGAN: 20 years, #1633
Corporal Edwin Lewis PURBRICK: 40 years, #1658
Corporal George Bowdres WEBB: 32 years, #1691
Signaller Gilbert Beresford DYER: 26 years, #1649
These following portraits of soldiers are from my grandmother’s mystery war photo, probably “D” company of the 14th Battalion formed after March 1915 at Egypt,and served in the formative action on the Dardenelles’ pensinsula after the landing at Gallipolli in April 1915.