Monthly Archives: March 2015

Bernard COYTE

Bernard COYTE

Bernard Coyte, ca. 1915 (Photograph: Australian War Memorial P09199.001)

Bernard Coyte, ca. 1915 (Photograph: Australian War Memorial P09199.001)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4757), Bernard Coyte was born at Borenore, N.S.W. He gave his age as 21 years and 1 month, his marital status as single, and his occupation as farmer & labourer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 11 inches tall, weight 11 stone, with a dark complexion, brown eyes, and black hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. He claimed that he had no previous military service. He completed his medical on the 14th October 1915 at Orange, and was attested at Orange on the 14th October 1915.

He was reported in The Leader on 22nd October 1915 (p. 6) as one of the men who had ‘volunteered to join in the Coo-ees march as recruits when they arrive in Orange’. His date of joining on his attestation paper in his service record was 23rd October 1915. He joined the Coo-ees when they arrived in Orange on Saturday 23rd October 1915.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Borenore, near Orange, N.S.W N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as father, W. Coyte, Borenore, near Orange, N.S.W.

On 8th March 1916 Private Coyte departed Sydney along with many of the other Coo-ees on the HMAT A15 Star of England, arriving in Egypt on 11th April 1916. He was immediately admitted to the 31st General Hospital at Port Said sick. On 3rd May 1916 he was transferred to the 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital at Abbussia. He was discharged on 8th June 1916. On 28th July 1916 Private Coyte was charged with being Absent Without Leave from 1700 to 1900 on 28th July 1916 at Tel-El-Kebir. He was awarded 24 hours Field Punishment Number Two.

On 6th August 1916 Private Coyte left Alexandria aboard RMS Megantic bound for England. After arriving in England, later in August 1916 Private Coyte was posted to the 4th Training Battalion. On 30th August 1916 he was charged with Being Absent Without Leave from 0900 to 1600 on 29th August 1916. He was awarded Three days confined to Camp and forfeit One days pay.

On 22nd September 1916 Private Coyte embarked for France. On 24th September 1916 he marched into the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples. On 4th October 1916 Private Coyte was taken on strength of the 13th Battalion whilst they were in action in the vicinity of Voormezele in Belgium.

On 15th January 1917 Private Coyte was admitted to the Corps Rest Station with scabies. On 23rd January 1917 he was transferred to the ANZAC R.B. sick with an illness Not yet Diagnosed. On 28th January 1917 he was transferred to the SMD Casualty Clearance Station sick.

On the 6th March 1917 he was discharged from Hospital to the 4th Australian Division Base Depot. On the 20th March 1917 Private Coyte rejoined the 13th Battalion.

On the 21st March 1917 Private Coyte was sent to the 13th Australian Field Ambulance with Influenza. On the 29th March 1916 he was admitted to the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station with an Auxillary Abscess. On the 21st of April 1917 Private Coyte was embarked aboard the Hospital Ship St George for England suffering a Slight Debility. On 23rd April 1917 he was admitted to the Lewisham Military Hospital, and then on 30th April 1917 he was transferred to the Bermondsey Ladywell Hospital. On 28th May 1917 he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford, England. On 1st June 1917 he was discharged from 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, and went on leave.

On 11th September 1917 he moved out of No. 1 Command Depot at Pernham Downs to Overseas Training Brigade at Longbridge.

On 2nd November 1917 Private Coyte departed Southampton for France. On 3rd November 1917 he reported to the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Havre. On 13th November 1917 he rejoined the 13th Battalion when it was conducting training at Fontaine Lez Boulans, France.

On 14th January 1918 Private Coyte was charged with Leaving a Train Without Permission from 12 noon on 11/01/18 to 8.30 pm on 12/01/18 he was awarded 10 days Field Punishment Number Two and forfeit 12 days pay.

On 4th March 1918 Private Coyte was admitted to the 13th Australian Field Ambulance then to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearance Station with a condition Not Yet Diagnosed. On 6th March 1918 he was transferred to the 19th Ambulance Train, then on 9th March 1918 to the 39th General Hospital. On 12th March 1918 he was discharged, and marched into the 4th Australian Division Base Depot. On 14th March 1918 Private Coyte rejoined the 13th Battalion whilst it was training at Neuve Eglise, France.

On 28th June 1918 Private Coyte went on leave to Paris. He returned to his unit on 11th July 1918.

On 29th July 1918 he was admitted to the 4th Australian Field Ambulance sick. On 30th July 1918 he was transferred to the 12th Casualty Clearance Station sick. On 10th August 1918 he was sent to the Australian Corps Rest Centre and on 18th August 1918 he rejoined the 13th Battalion whilst it was engaged in action in the vicinity of Harbonnieres, France.

On 18th September 1918 Private Coyte was killed in action during an attack launched by the 13th Battalion on the German Lines south of the village of Le Verguier, France. He is buried at the nearby Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

Private B. Coyte's headstone at Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Photograph: S & H Thompson, 6/9/2014)

Private B. Coyte’s headstone at Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Photograph: S & H Thompson, 6/9/2014)

Private Coyte’s’s name is commemorated on panel 68 on the Australian War Memorial First World War Roll of Honour.

Private Coyte’s name is also listed on Borenore District War Memorial, and Orange War Memorial.

Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension – France

JEANCOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

On 6th September 2014 Stephen and I drove to Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, which is located in the small village of Jeancourt, about half way between Peronne and St. Quentin in France.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website http://www.cwgc.org/, Jeancourt was initially a German hospital centre during the First World War, and the extension to the communal cemetery was used by both Commonwealth and German troops. Commonwealth burials were made from April 1917 until February 1918, and recommenced in September 1918. Further burials were added when graves, mostly those made in March and September 1918, were brought in from the surrounding battlefields after the Armistice.

There are 492 Commonwealth burials and commemorations in this cemetery. 207 of these are unidentified. There are also 168 German burials.

Private Bernard Coyte, a farmer and labourer on enlistment per his service record, who joined the Coo-ees at Orange, is the only Coo-ee buried in this cemetery. He was killed in action on 18th September 1918.

The photograph below shows the headstone of Private Coyte (centre in front row) at Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

Private Bernard Coyte's headstone at Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Photograph: S & H Thompson, 6/9/2014)

Private Bernard Coyte’s headstone (centre) at Jeancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Photograph: S & H Thompson, 6/9/2014)

A photograph of the headstone on Private Coyte’s grave will be placed on his individual blog entry, and form part of a Roll of Honour for the fallen Coo-ees on this blog.

John MARTIN

John MARTIN

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4541), John Martin was born at Melbourne, Victoria. He gave his age as 34 years 10 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as labourer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 4 ½ inches tall, weight 10 stone 2 lbs., with a florid complexion, grey eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. He claimed that he had no previous military service. He completed his medical on the 22nd October 1915 at Molong, and was attested by Captain Nicholas at Molong (8 miles from Molong East) on the 22nd October 1915.

After joining the Coo-ees at Molong, he completed the Coo-ee March, and went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

The address he gave on his initial application to enlist form at Molong on the 22nd October 1915 was Bowral, Southern Line, N.S.W. On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was C/o E. J. Arnold, St. John’s Road, Forest Lodge, Sydney, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as sister, Mrs. M. Martin, St. John’s Road, Forest Lodge, Sydney, N.S.W.

On 16th February, 1916 Private Martin departed Sydney on the HMAT Ballarat A70. On the voyage to Egypt the HMAT Ballarat A70 stopped at Ceylon where on 3rd of March 1916 Private Martin was charged with Being Absent Without Leave from 1700 on 7th March 1916 till 1900 on 7th March 1916, and also charged with Breaking Ranks. He was fined 1 pound.

The HMAT Ballarat A70 arrived in Egypt on 22nd March 1916.

On 1st April 1916 Private Martin was transferred to the 54th Battalion at Ferry Post, Egypt.

On 19th June 1916 Private Martin left Alexandria aboard the Transport HT Caledonian bound for France, arriving at Marseilles on the 29th June 1916.

Private Martin joined the 54th Battalion early in July 1916 when it was conducting training at Thiennes, France. On 7th July 1916 Private Martin was evacuated to the 12th Casualty Clearing Station suffering from Haemorrhoids. On 10th July he was placed aboard the 18th Ambulance Train bound for Calais, France. On 13th July 1916 he was placed aboard the Hospital Ship Newhaven that departed for England and arrived at Dover later that day. Private Martin was then admitted to the General Military Hospital at Colchester, England.

As a result of being hospitalised with his ailment Private Martin was not present with the 54th Battalion when it was involved in the Battle of Fromelles later that month.

On 20th September 1916 Private Martin marched into the 14th Training Battalion at Larkhill, England. On 14th October 1916 Private Martin departed England bound for France, marching into the 5th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples on 16th October 1916. On 30th October 1916 Private Martin departed the 5th Australian Division Base Depot to rejoin his unit.

On 2nd November 1916 Private Martin arrived at the 54th Battalion when it was in the trenches in the vicinity of Longueval, France.

On 14th December 1916 when the Battalion was resting at Montauban, France, after just coming out of the trenches, Private Martin was evacuated to a Field Ambulance suffering from Trench Feet. On 16th December 1916 he was admitted to the 11th Stationary Hospital at Rouen, France. On 17th December 1916 he was sent to Calais, France. On 17th December 1916 Private Martin boarded the Hospital Ship Carisbrooke Castle bound for England. On 18th December 1916 he was admitted to the 1st London General Hospital.

On 15th January 1917 Private Martin was discharged from Hospital and granted leave till 30th January 1917, when he marched into the 1st Convalescent Depot at Pernham Downs, England.

On 28th February 1917 Private Martin departed Folkestone, England, bound for France aboard the Transport Invicta. He arrived at the 5th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples, France, on 1st March 1917.

On 21st March 1917 he left the 5th Australian Division Base Depot to rejoin his unit. On 23rd March 1917 Private Martin arrived at the 54th Battalion when it was engaged in consolidating work and resting in the vicinity of Longueval, France.

On 27th May 1917 the Battalion was resting at Beaulencourt, France where Private Martin was promoted to Corporal.

On 19th of July 1917 Corporal Martin was transferred to the 14th Training Battalion in England. He arrived in England on 24th of July 1917.

On the 5th October 1917 he attended the 37th Army course of P. & B. instruction at Tidworth and qualified as “fair”.

On 12th January 1918 in a letter to 14th Training Battalion he changed his next of kin from his sister to his new English wife Mrs Louisa Minnie Martin, whose address was 64 Bessborough Place, Bessborough Street, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, S.W.  On 16th January 1918 he made a new will bequeathing his real and personal estate to his wife.

On 1st April 1918 Corporal Martin departed Dover for France arriving at the Number 1 Overflow camp at Beaumarais, France. On 4th April 1918 Corporal Martin left Beaumarais to rejoin the 54th Battalion. On 10th April 1918 he arrived at the Battalion when it was preparing to go into action in the vicinity of Aubigny, France.

On 24th April 1918 the 54th Battalion was engaged in action in the vicinity of Villers Bretonneux, France, when Corporal Martin received a gunshot wound to his chest. He was evacuated to the 15th Australian Field Ambulance, then on 25th April 1918 to the 61st Casualty Clearing Station, then onto the 10th General Hospital at Rouen, France.

On 3rd May 1918 he was sent to Hospital in England, arriving at the 5th Southern General Hospital at Portsmouth, England, on the 4th May 1918. On 15th May 1918 he was transferred to the 5rd Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford, England. He was discharged from hospital on 17th May 1918 and went on leave, reporting back to the 4th Convalescent Depot at Hurdcott, England, on 31st May 1918.

On 19th July 1918 Corporal Martin marched into the overseas Training Brigade and on 15th August 1918 he departed Folkestone for France. On 16th August 1918 Corporal Martin arrived at the 5th Australian Division Base Depot at Le Harve, France.

On 22nd August 1918 Corporal Martin rejoined the 54th Battalion whilst it was in reserve in the vicinity of Proyart, France.

On 1st September 1918 Corporal Martin was with the 54th Battalion when it was involved in the successful assault on Peronne, France. During this assault the 54th Battalion lost 27 men killed, 147 wounded and had 9 men missing. Corporal Martin was one of those killed in action.

Corporal Martin is buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Peronne, France.

John Martin's headstone at Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 6/9/2014)

John Martin’s headstone at Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 6/9/2014)

Corporal Martin’s name is commemorated on panel 159 on the Australian War Memorial First World War Roll of Honour.

John Martin’s name is also recorded on the Coo-ee March Memorial Gateway at Molong as one of the five men who joined the Coo-ee March at Molong on 22nd October 1915.

Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension – France

PERONNE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

On 6th September 2014 Stephen and I drove to Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, which is located on the south west side of Peronne Communal Cemetery at Peronne in France.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website http://www.cwgc.org/, Peronne fell to the Germans on 24th September 1914. It was captured by the 40th and 48th Divisions on 18th March 1917, then was retaken by the Germans on 23rd March 1918. It was taken by the 2nd Australian Division on 1st September 1918.

The military cemetery extension was used by the 48th (South Midland) Division in March 1917, then was used by the Germans in 1918, and then by Australian units in September 1918. Further burials were made in the cemetery extension following the war when graves in the battlefields and smaller cemeteries north and east of Peronne were brought in and reburied.

There are now 1,595 Commonwealth soldiers of the First World War buried or commemorated in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension.  This number includes 488 Australian soldiers, many of whom died during the capture of Peronne between the 1st and 3rd September 1918. There are also 97 German war graves.

John Martin, a labourer on enlistment per his service record, who joined the Coo-ees at Molong, is the only Coo-ee buried in this cemetery. He was killed in action on 1st September 1918 during the 54th Battalion’s successful assault on Peronne.

The photograph below shows John Martin’s headstone (second from the left) at Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension.

Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Peronne, France (Photograph: S. & H> Thompson, 6/9/2014)

Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Peronne, France (Photograph: S. & H> Thompson, 6/9/2014)

A photograph of the headstone on John Martin’s grave will be placed on his individual blog entry, and form part of a Roll of Honour for the fallen Coo-ees on this blog.

Stanley E. Stephens’ letter about his ‘baptism of fire’ in the trenches

Transcript of an article by “Coo-ee” Stanley. E. Stephens titled ‘A Baptism of Fire” published in The Farmer and Settler on 17 August 1917, p. 2.

‘A BAPTISM OF FIRE
A “Hop-Over” In France
VIVID DESCRIPTION OF TRENCH RAID.

The “raids” upon the German trenches carried out by the British forces have been among the most successful enterprises with which the war has made newspaper readers familiar, and their effect upon the enemy has been of the highest military importance, breaking down his moral, shattering his nerves, and making him, in most cases, an easy prey to the attacking party. A vivid description of one of these raids, and one that is interesting also, because of the personal and psychological disclosures made, was given by Stan E. Stephens, formerly on the “Farmer and Settler” staff in a letter that he wrote from France shortly before he participated in the attack upon Lagnicourt, in which action he was reported among the “missing.”

“On the night of February 4th, we ‘went in’ — into the front line,” he writes. “As we had suspected for some time past, we were to do a ‘stunt.’ There was a ‘hop over’ for us, to try to take a trench that some other battalion had taken and failed to hold, four or five days before. We dumped our blankets, and at about eight p.m. moved off in Indian file; stopped a moment at an ammunition dump at a chalk pit, to fill our pockets with bombs; then on again, in dead silence, crouching. We passed through a sap running forward to our front line, which we entered, squeezing past the Victorians that were holding it, and thus getting into position for the ‘hop over,’ only a few minutes to ten p.m. It had taken us two hours to come three-quarters of a mile. The moon was like an electric incandescent lamp in the frosty sky. Our hearts were thumping, and one heard muttered words and curses, as we stumbled into our places, and nervously filled our magazines and fixed our bayonets. I was wondering if I could ever bring myself to get over that bank, two feet above my head, where I crouched in what was merely a shell-hole connected with other shell-holes, and called a trench. Fritz was quiet. It must surely be ten o’clock — the time we were to go over. The big wild Irishman, Tom Riley, was on my right, Finlayson and Lord on my left.

“The plan of attack on this occasion was explained to us before we moved off, and was similar in the main points to the teachings we had had back in England. A two-minute barrage was to open on the enemy wire at ten p.m. making a passage for us, and then lifting to the trench, putting the enemy to flight, and smashing things up generally. At the end of two minutes (10.2 p.m.) the barrage was to lift altogether, and play on to the enemy supports and communications. We were to hop out at one minute past ten, and it was estimated that it would take us a minute to cross, reaching the wire as the barrage lifted to the supports — distance across, 150 yards. Our objective was a trench (already known as Stormy trench), in which Fritz had a strong post.

A Nerve-steadying Drink.
“Some one said: ‘Get ready’, and I was just wishing I was at home, or anywhere else in the wide world, when a fervent ‘Ah!’ in the vicinity made me look around. A mess-tin full of rum was being passed along. Everyone took a swig, and passed it on. There was plenty in it when it came to me, and I just gulped down a couple of mouthfuls and handed it to Fin, when, ‘bang,’ ‘bang,’ ‘screech,’ ‘screech,’ over our heads came some shells. Many men involuntarily ‘ducked,’ but were reassured by someone saying: ‘They’re ours.’ So they were. The barrage had started — only a minute to go! Thank Heaven for that rum. It pulled me together, stopped the nervous trembling that made me afraid that everybody would notice me and think I was going to ‘squib’ it. I was cool enough to notice things then, but still I glanced hatefully now and then at the top of the bank above me.

“Somebody said: ‘Now!’ There was a bustle, and I found myself up in No Man’s Land jostling someone to get around a shell-hole. The order had come simultaneously from both ends of our line, so that we at the centre were a bit behind — a sag in the middle. Everything could be seen as clear as day; the line stretched out to right and left. We crouched in our advance, moving slowly, picking our way, with the shells shrieking over us, and bursting only a few yards in front of us. I thought about the ‘backwash.’ Why weren’t some of us killed. Would they knock our heads off if we stood up straight? We were in semi-open order, perhaps five or six deep, and advancing slowly. Oh!, the weight on my back from the heavy kit and the stooping. Yet I felt amused at the struggles of a chap that was sitting down, softly cursing a piece of barbed wire— such silly, meaningless curses. Another stumbled in front of me, and I nearly jabbed him with my bayonet. Then I looked around smartly, to see if any one was close enough behind me to treat me likewise.

“The wire! We were up to it already. But the shells weren’t finished. They had made a good mess of it, I saw as I stepped through from loop to loop. A piece caught me somewhere, but something gave way and I was free again. No; the shells weren’t finished yet. ‘They are bursting behind me.’ I exclaimed to myself, ‘Why on earth don’t I get killed? Are they charmed, so as to kill only Fritzes.’ I caught the flash of another out of the tail of my eye, and then there was a straight line of intermittent flashes in front. What’s this? At that moment I slid and scrambled down a steep, bank and found myself in the German trench!

Too Quick for Fritz.  
“Our barrage was just lifting. A Fritz officer afterwards said: ‘I knew you were   Australians; you come in with your barrage; you are too quick for us.’ Yes, we went in with the barrage, instead of a few moments after it— and without a casualty!

“The details of this, my first hop-over, my baptism of fire, are indelibly printed on my memory. I shall always remember the impressions made on me, down to the most trivial incident of the hop-over. Thinking over it afterwards, I have tried to reason out why we got in with our barrage. It’s a good fault, for it prevents the Germans from getting ready for us when the barrage lifts. The Germans reckon that the Australians are always too quick for them that way. I certainly believe that a spirit of ‘don’t-care-a-damn’ was abroad; or, maybe, it was hereditary bloodthirstiness that came out in the excitement, and made us, for the time being, all ‘hogs for stoush.’ I think only the fear that we would be killed by our own curtain of fire kept us from actually running. It wasn’t the rum, anyhow, as the slanderous have asserted. The rum, I found out afterwards, was our first casualty, being broken in the coming up, so that the only rum issued was half a demi-john to a small section of trench that I happened to be in. The jar was found by a chap taking German prisoners back half an hour later, still   nearly half full.

“Just by the way, I might mention that he gave this batch of Fritzes a nip each, and filled his own waterbottle before giving the remainder to the Victorians (the men holding the old front trench), and bustling his herd back to Chalk Pit. The poor beggars wanted it!   They were almost in a state of collapse from our bombardment. I was to experience the same sort of bombardment very soon after.

Delighted to be Prisoners.
“To get back to it: The Fritzes that remained in the trench to meet us were still down their dugouts when the first men hopped in. The trench was big, wide, and deep. They came up crying, ‘Mercy, kamerad,’ whining and cowering in the bottom of the trench in a way that made me feel very brave; and, I have no doubt, the same feelings were experienced by others. They were shooed off at once in batches of ten or a dozen, as they were found, back to — somewhere. They were delighted to find that they were to be prisoners, pointing back to our lines and saying, ‘Mercy, kamerad,’ and ‘Kamerad good,’ etc. But they didn’t care about going over the top to go back. I helped one chap persuade his lot to go. I don’t think I actually stuck it into them, but they went! Like a mob of sheep, once started on their feet, they raced over the top and across No Man’s land for their very lives, the escort a good last, laughing fit to burst, at their scurry.

“Finlayson was separated from us in the hop-over, and entered the trench some distance on our right. Lord and I were together. Our bombardment continued on the enemy reserves, and Fritz had commenced ‘putting them into us.’ The row was deafening, and we were having casualties; not very many, but every now and then the order would be passed along for stretcher bearers. Just as I stepped down for a smoke (it would be about midnight) Fin. came along the trench looking for us. After yarning for a minute or two he went back to fetch his web gear and rifle, etc., up to our ‘possy.’ He and I had been mates for a long while, back in Kiama, and together with Lord, had run our affairs on an ‘all in and share alike’ basis, since going into the line. He had only been gone about ten minutes when another mate named Moss Paine came to tell me that Fin. was killed. I went back along the trench with Moss, but Fin. had been hit in the chest with a piece of shell that exploded in the trench, and had dropped without a word. Another good chap, Dave Whittingham (a tent mate at Duntroon), was hit everywhere, and died in half an hour. Moss Paine, who was standing between them— the three were talking together—was not touched. Needless to say, I was much upset. “The little bit of a trench we took has ‘opened up the game’ on this front, seemingly. It was on a rise that obstructed our observation of enemy lines; now the tables are turned.”’

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116642518

Note: Stanley E. Stephens was The Farmer and Settler newspaper’s official reporter on the Coo-ee March. He also joined the Coo-ees at Gilgandra as a recruit, and had the rank of sergeant on the march. Francis Charles Finlayson (whose death is reported in this article) joined the Coo-ees at Parramatta.