Herbert William SPICER

Herbert William SPICER

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4897), ‘William Herbert Spicer’ was born at Wimmin, Victoria.[1]  (He signed his name Herbert William Spicer on his Attestation Paper, and other official records record his name as Herbert William Spicer, so it appears  his first and middle name may have not have been recorded in the correct order  on his service record). [2] He gave his age as 21 years and 2 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as farm labourer. His description on his Certificate of Medical Examination was 5 feet 4 inches tall, weight 9 stone 6 lbs., with a fair complexion, gray eyes, and fair hair. His religious denomination was Anglican. He claimed that he had no previous military service.

He completed his Certificate of Medical Examination at Gilgandra on 12th October 1915, two days after the commencement of the Coo-ee March.  It is not clear exactly where he caught up with the Coo-ees, but he had joined them by the time they arrived at Wellington, as his Certificate of Medical Examination was co-signed at Wellington on 16th October 1915 (the day the Coo-ees arrived at that town).  He was attested by Captain T. A. Nicholas at Stuart Town on 20th October 1915.

After the Coo-ee March he went into Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On the 31st of January 1916 Private Spicer was charged with being absent from parade. He was fined 5 shillings.

The Dimboola Banner and Wimmera and Mallee Advertiser reported on 31st March 1916 that ‘Private Herbert Spencer, youngest son of Mr F. W. Spicer, of Lochiel, who enlisted at Gilgandra, N.S.W., was one of the famous “Coo-ees,” who marched 320 miles to Sydney’.[3]  This information was provided to this newspaper by his brother-in-law, Mr. A. A. Fechner, formerly of Dimboola, who had moved to Gilgandra with his wife Lily (Herbert’s sister) about 1911.[4]

‘H. Spicer’ was presented with a watch and a wallet at a send-off held for the Gilgandra Coo-ees at the Australian Hall in Gilgandra on Friday 3rd March 1916.[5]

His name was recorded as ‘Herbert Spicer’ on his embarkation roll, and his address at time of enrolment was ‘Gilgandra’.  His next of kin was listed as his father, F. [Frederick William] Spicer, Dimboola, Victoria.

On 8th March 1916 Private Spicer 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 11th April 1916.

On 16th April 1916 he was transferred to the 5th Division Cyclist Company (along with fellow Coo-ees Private Richardson and Private Megarrity).

On 17th June 1916 Private Spicer left Alexandria aboard the Transport Manitou bound for France.  He arrived at Marseilles on 25th June 1916.

On 8th July 1916 Private Spicer was attached to the 2nd ANZAC Headquarters as escort to the G.O.C. [General Officer Commanding] in France.  He was detached to join the 2nd ANZAC Cyclist Battalion on 28th September 1916.

On 10th October 1916 Private Spicer commenced a training course at the Signals School. He returned to his unit on 27th December 1916.

On 3rd February 1917 Private Spicer was charged with conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, in that he did upon being issued with his rum contrary to regulations, hand it to another soldier. He was awarded 3 days Field Punishment No. 2.

On 26th March 1917 Private Spicer was detached for duty with the 2nd ANZAC Corps Anti-Aircraft Section.

He returned to his unit from this detachment on 19th of May 1917.

On 21st May 1917 he was detached for duty with the A.P.M. [Assistant Provost Marshal] 2nd ANZAC Corps.  He rejoined his unit on 5th June 1917.

On 23rd July 1917 he was sent to the Power Buzzer School. He returned to his unit on 1st August 1917.

On 4th August 1917 Private Spicer went on leave.  He returned from leave on 16th August 1917.

On 10th September 1917 the 2nd ANZAC Cyclist Battalion commenced work burying cable in the vicinity of La Clytte, Belgium, when the working parties came under attack by gas shelling.[6] Private Spicer was one of 43 men in his unit evacuated the next day with mustard gas poisoning. He was taken first to the 103rd Field Ambulance, then to the 9th Casualty Clearing Station, and the 11th Casualty Clearing Station.

On 12th September 1917 Private Spicer was placed aboard the 21st Ambulance Train for evacuation to the 53rd General Hospital at Boulogne, France.

On 23rd September 1917 he was transferred to the 1st Convalescent Depot at Boulogne. On 25th September 1917 he was transferred to the 10th Convalescent Depot.

On 18th November  1917 Private Spicer marched into the Base Depot at Le Harve, France. He rejoined his Battalion on 25th November 1917.

On 30th November 1917 Private Spicer was sent to the 43rd Field Ambulance, then back to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station sick. On 1st December 1917 he was placed aboard the 5th Ambulance Train.  He arrived at the 9th Convalescent Depot at Boulogne, France, on 2nd December 1917. On 4th December 1917 he was transferred to the 29th General Hospital at Boulogne.

He was discharged to Base Depot on 2nd February 1918. He rejoined his Battalion on 7th February 1918.

On 25th March 1918 Private Spicer was detached for duty with the 1st Australian Division Signals Company.

On 13th September 1918 Private Spicer went on leave to England.  He returned from leave on 29th September 1918.

On 24th January 1919 Private Spicer was officially transferred to the 1st Australian Division Signals Company.

On 4th June 1919 Private Spicer departed France to commence his return to Australia. He arrived at No. 1 Group at Longbridge, England, on 5th June 1919.

On 4th July 1919 Private Spicer departed England aboard the H.T. Norman bound for Australia.

He arrived in Sydney on 20th August 1919, and was discharged Termination of Period of Enlistment on 12th October 1919.

 

[1] NAA: B2455, SPICER HERBERT WILLIAM

[2] Herbert William Spicer, Victorian Birth Registration, 1896, Reg. no. 22234.

[3] ‘News and Notes’, Dimboola Banner and Wimmera and Mallee Advertiser,  31 March 1916, p. 2. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152834929

[4] ‘Obituary’, Gilgandra Weekly and Castlereagh, 18 June 1936, p. 4. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article113030512

[5] ‘Our Soldiers’ Column’, Gilgandra Weekly, 10 March 1916, p. 14. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119923509

[6] Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War, AWM4 Subclass 12/2 – 2nd ANZAC Corps Cyclist Battalion, AWM4 12/2/15 – September 1917.

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