Maurice Bertram FREE

Maurice Bertram FREE

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4776), Maurice Bertram Free was born at Forbes, N.S.W. He gave his age as 32 years and 11 months, his marital status as married, and his occupation as poultry farmer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 7 ½ inches tall, weight 110 lbs., with a dark complexion, bluish eyes, and black hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He claimed to have 18 months military service in the G. R. Regiment.

He completed his medical on the 10th November 1915 at Parramatta, and was attested at Parramatta on the 11th November 1915. The Coo-ees had held a recruiting meeting in the Park at Parramatta on the evening of the 10th November, where it was reported that 41 men had offered themselves as recruits.[1]

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion. His service record shows he was made Acting Corporal on 11th November 1915.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Baulkham Hills, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed his wife, Mrs G.[Grace] Free, Cr. Chetwynd Grove and Mary Street, Merrylands, N.S.W.

On 8th March 1916 Acting Sergeant Free departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, along with many of the other Coo-ees, as part of the 15th reinforcements for the 13th Battalion. He arrived in Egypt on the HMAT A15 Star of England on 11th April 1916.

On 19th April 1916 he transferred to the 45th Battalion in Egypt.

On 2nd June 1916 Private Free left Alexandria aboard the transport Kinfauns Castle bound for France, arriving at Marseilles on 8th June 1916.

Private Free served with the 45th Battalion through its first action at Fleurbaix, France, in July 1916, then through the battles around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in August, September, and October 1916.

On 7th October 1916 the 45th Battalion was training at La Clytte, Belgium, where Private Free was promoted to Lance Corporal.

On 15th October 1916 the 45th Battalion conducted a raid upon the German trenches opposite. The raiding party suffered 4 men wounded. Also during the retaliatory artillery barrage 2 men were killed and 8 wounded. It is not clear if Lance Corporal Free was amongst the raiding party but he was wounded in the field, receiving a slight shrapnel wound to his chest. He was evacuated to the 12th Australian Field Ambulance. He rejoined the Battalion on 17th October 1916.

On the 15th of February 1917 the 45th Battalion was training at Mametz Camp, France when Lance Corporal Free was promoted to Temporary Corporal. His rank became permanent on 6th April 1917.

On 27th April 1917 he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant, and detached to 4th Division Infantry School for duty. On 4th June 1917 he was promoted to Sergeant.

On 9th June 1917 the 45th Battalion was in action around Messines, Belgium when Sergeant Free was wounded in action suffering a gunshot wound to his right hand. He was evacuated to the 9th Australian Field Ambulance, then on to 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station, then the 19th Ambulance Train, for journey to the 2nd Camp Hospital at Rouen, France. He was discharged on the 2nd of July 1917 and sent to the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Le Harve, France, arriving on 5th July 1917.

Sergeant Free departed the 4th Australian Division Base Depot on 12th November 1917 and arrived back at the 45th Battalion on 27th November 1917, whilst it was training at St Quentin, France.

On 15th April 1918 Sergeant Free was made a Company Quarter Master Sergeant.

On 29th June 1918 CQMS Free went to England on leave. He returned from leave on 17th July 1918.

On 24th September 1918 CQMS Free was detached for duty with the 27th American Division. He rejoined the 45th Battalion on 2nd October 1918.

On 11th December 1918 CQMS Free marched into the Australian Base Depot at Le Harve, France, for a Medical Board. CQMS Free went before the Medical Board on 17th December 1918. He was classified as B2 and transferred to England, and arrived at Weymouth on 18th December 1918.

On 18th January 1919 CQMS Free departed England aboard the H.T. Ulysses bound for Australia.

He arrived in Australia on 4th February 1919, and was discharged Medically Unfit on 19th July 1919.

[1] ‘The procession’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 13 November 1915, p. 11, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86101767

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