I must admit I am very proud to be an Australian but an Australian that has had family members that have represented our country in the Australian Defence Force. I am fortunate enough to have had two relatives serve at Gallipoli and lucky that both survived. My Great Grandfather on my mother’s side, PTE Frederick BISHOP, was with the 13th Bn, AIF and was wounded during the early stages of the fighting in May 1915. He would recover and serve again with the 45th Bn, AIF on the Western Front before returning to Australia after the war. My other relative, my first cousin three times removed, was LTCOL Henry William BRYANT- the first Commanding Officer of the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital. This is the drive and passion behind the book. I wanted to recognise the work that my relative, as well as the other men and women, that served with this hospital did to support the war effort during WWI. Henry was an old man when he went off to war. I assume it would not happen today but at the age of 65 he became a Commanding Officer of a hospital being sent to the front. From all reports he did a marvellous job and was mentioned in dispatches twice for his service at Lemnos. However he battled dysentery for a number of months which cannot be good of someone at that age, on an island with little or no water and not having a balanced diet. This was all compounded when news arrived at the Front that his wife has passed away whilst he was overseas. It would have been a very difficult time for Henry and more difficult to recover. He was invalided home in late 1915 where he went back to his medical practice. However he never fully recovered and passed away only 6 years later in an Anzac Hostel. I am proud of Henry’s service and the service of the men and women of the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital. This Anzac Day I will think about them and what they endured during WWI.
Next year Australia will start to commemorate 100 years of Anzac. Centennial celebrations will occur both domestically and internationally from 2014 through to 2018. The pinnacle will no doubt be the 100th Anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli in April 2015. I think this period will be a wonderful time to produce the book. If it was to align with the 100th Anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli then this only leaves me 18 months to finish researching and write the book. Balancing family, work, social commitments etc will make it difficult to achieve however my two previous books were written in the same sort of time frame. So commencing November 2013, I have decide to pick up the pace and start dedicating a bit more time to my research.
I implore all readers who may have a relative of the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital who hasn’t contacted me already to please do so. I really would like to have a photo of every member of the hospital if possible including their own personal stories and experiences. I will be reaching out as well to the community of Adelaide to try and contact relatives that may still be living where the unit was raised some 99 years ago. Lastly you should start to see more blog posts which have been few and far between to date.
I received this week an email from the son of PTE Garnet Dewar. He shared some wonderful photos of his father that were taken in Jan 1916 in Egypt; a dashing young man. He enlisted in 1914 and was part of the original manning of the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital. Garnet’s son told me a wonderful and interesting story of how his father remembers mixing mustard on the beach in Gallipoli when a turkish shell landed nearby on a tent unfortunately killing all nine occupants. For the remainder of his life he would always recall this story and tell it to family and friends whenever he used mustard on his food.
PTE Dewar was a radiographer and had signifcant experience using x-rays. This would have come in very handy at the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital both on Lemnos and on Gallipoli. Thanks goes to PTE Dewar’s son for sharing some of his father’s experiences with me.