Tuesday 25 June 2013

An Anzac Remembered Gallipoli 1914/1915

John Henry Bannan served Australia.
Born to James and Sarah Bannan on the 8th July 1894, John grew up in Georgetown near Port Pirie and became a Farm assistant.
When World War 1 broke out, and Australia declared war (4th August 1914), John decided early on (and at the age of 20 and 4 month) to enroll at Oaklands (now Warradale Army Barracks) . The oath taken was to “well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Australian Imperial Force, from 1st December 1914, until the end of the war”. For John, this would be 4 years and 207 Days, with 4 years and 6 days served overseas – returning from Europe on the 18th April 1919 well after 11/11/18 when the Armistice was signed officially bringing hostilities to an end. John was finally discharged on the 25th June 1919.
John served Australia in the 10th Battalion and the 50th Battalion.
He was taken on strength into the 10th Battalion on the 8th July 1915.
First posting was a baptism of fire: Gallipoli as the 4th reinforcement to the 10th Battalion, a unit that would later become known as “The Fighting 10th”.

Colours and patch for the 10th Battalion
“The 10th Battalion was one of the first to be raised for the AIF during the First World War” and was recruited from South Australia.
Unit records show that John joined the Battalion whilst it was at the beginning of 3 days leave – where “ample fresh water, bathing in the sea without fear of shot or shell” and “fresh fruit, stationery and grooming” was being enjoyed by the troops.
Anzac Cove 1915
Anzac Cove 1915
It would not be long before John experienced war. His Battalion took over from the 11th Battalion a section of Defence. First chore was digging new trenches.. a task which seemed to “go on and on”. The new trenches were completed on Sunday the 18th.
Unit diary entry for the 31st July read: “The weather during the month has been hot and dry. A large number of men have been sick, principally with diarrhea. The men have been obliged to work very hard improving our trenches, mapping new fire positions and bomb holes.  During the last week of July the enemy has been very busy bomb throwing, and we have replied.
The health of the men cannot be said to be good, indeed both officers and men are very run down and badly need a thorough rest before they are fit for any marching or attacking” (1)
As was the case with many, fatigue was a constant battle, causing John to fall asleep whilst on duty. As a result, he spent 6 days with “No 2 Field Punishment”. His sentence to commence on the 18th of August 1915.”  Field Punishment Number Two was a punishment where “the prisoner was placed in fetters and handcuffs”  but “was still able to march with his unit and submit to hard labour. This was a relatively tolerable punishment.”(2)
No further diaries exist for the Battalion until April 1916.
John was admitted by field ambulance to casualties with “Septic hands” on the 25th September and rejoined his unit on the 27th September, again sick with Diarrhea to the Light Horse hospital on the 8th October, rejoining his unit on the 11th. Diarrhea was such a problem, that at one stage, 45% of the 10th Battalion was away from the front line with Diarrhea.
The 10th Battalion continued in Defence and Attack positions at Gallipoli. They were one of the last Battalions to evacuate, arriving in Alexandria (Egypt) 29th December.
After a period of 2 months, John was transferred to a new Battalion – the 50th – which was made half of Battle hardened soldiers, and half of new recruits.
References: (1)AWM records (2) Wikipedia

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