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ANZACS in World War I

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign - in 2015 - State Records NSW will be highlighting a selection of State archives relating to NSW soldiers and nurses from throughout World War I that encapsulate the Anzac spirit!


Anzac is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula in modern-day Turkey on 25 April 1915. The Gallipoli campaign has been described as the moment of birth of nationhood for both Australia and New Zealand.  The Anzac spirit which has survived Gallipoli included the ideals of mateship, endurance, courage, ingenuity and a larrikin sense of humour.

Railway Employees join the AIF

Ambulance Trams - used to convey wounded military personnel from Woolloomooloo Wharf to Randwick Military Hospital, c.1915.  Digital id 17420_a014_a0140001138 The First Australian Railway Supply Detachment, 11th A.A.SC., 19 December 1914.  Digital id 17420_a014_a014000498 Anzac Day celebrations during the 1917 Railway Strike,  Eveleigh Workshops.  Digital id 15309_a015_a015000044

This is a list of railway staff who were killed at the Dardanelles (Gallipoli) in 1915.  Arthur Edwards, the first entry on the list was killed on the first day of the campaign, 25 April 1915.Register of Deaths, Railway Services Superannuation Board.  R351/1/[1]

Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914.  Australia, along with the other members of the British Empire, were automatically involved in the war.  Recruiting offices opened around Australia on 10 August 1914 and by the end of the year over 52,000 volunteers had been accepted into the Australian Imperial Force, or AIF.  Many industries and companies faced the prospect of losing male employees to military service and the Railways was no different.  This excerpt is from the Register of Deaths of the Railways Services Superannuation Board (R351/1/[1]).  Included on the page are thirteen men who are listed as dying in the conflict at the Dardanelles.  This list was used to extract both probate packets and railway personal history cards to demonstrate some of the documents commonly found in the probate packets of soldiers who died in World War I.

Charles Alfred Turner: #2473, Driver, 1 Reinforcements 2nd Remount Unit

This personal history card for Charles Alfred Turner notes that he was a driver working out of Eveleigh.  While there is no note for when he enlisted it does state that Turner died in the Garrison Hospital in Sydney of meningitus.  Turner was in the 2nd Remount Unit (#2473) and he died one day before his unit embarked for service overseas.NRS 12922 [11/16727] This is the cover page of the probate packet for Charles Alfred Turner.  It states that he was an engine driver and died while on military service.NRS 13660 4-71763 This hand written will is dated 8 November 1915, just three days before Turner died of meningitus at the Garrison Hospital in Sydney.  NRS 13660 4-71763 This Affadavit of administration confirms Turner died while on military service (see Note 6 - "in the employ of the Commonwealth Military Forces"), with an estate valued at 85 pounds.  Turner named his wife, Mary Ann Turner as executor and sole beneficiary.  NRS 13660 4-71763 This form is often found in the probate packets of soldiers.  It is a reminder to the executor of the will to lodge the official documents with the Supreme Court of NSW.NRS 13660 4-71763

John Riley: #2221, Private, 3rd Battalion (Infantry)

This personal history card for John Riley notes that he was a cleaner in Sydney and was released from his duties to enlist on 13 May 1915.  Riley was a Private (#2221) in the 3rd Battalion (Infantry) and he died of wounds on 2 September  1915.  NRS 12922 [11/16699] Riley was a Private in the 3rd Battalion (Infantry) and he died on 2 September 1915 at the Valetta Hospital on Malta.NRS 13660 4-77046 This death notice document issued by the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Forces may take the place of the regular death certificate.  This notification was sometimes replaced with a affadavit from other soldiers who witnessed the death of the soldier concerned.NRS 13600 4-77046 This handwritten will by "Jack" Riley is on a piece of paper from a notebook that was issued to all soldiers.  Private Lawrence acted as a witness.  Jack left any money owing to him to his mother, Mary Riley, and all civilian clothing to the Boy's Home at Westmead.NRS 13660 4-77046

Other Railway personal history cards

This personal history card for rail employee Walter George Emmett notes that he was an assembler at Eveleigh and that he died on 29 November 1915.  It does not state he was granted leave to join the AIF or died while on service. NRS 12922 [11/16603] This personal history card for Frederick George Thomas shows a long career with the Railways, broken only by military service in World War I.  Thomas enlisted when he was 18 and served as a Private with the 18th Battalion (#3231).  He resumed his career as a wagon and carriage builder in December 1919 and continued working at Eveleigh until he retired in 1958.NRS 12922 [11/16723] Edmund Osburn Milne volunteered for military service in both World War I and World War II.  He was in charge of the First Railway Supply Detachment (RSD), part of the 11th Australian Army Service Corps (AASC).  Milne's military service in noted at the bottom of this card.  He returned to work with the Railways in 1919 until he retired in 1951.NRS 12922 [11/16674 card 3 of 4]

Other sources

WWI Service records

Australian War Memorial - Search for a person

The AWM allows you to name search for people in a variety of conflicts, including WWI.

National Archives of Australia - Search the collection

War service records are digitised and available to name search.

From the trenches of Gallipoli

To commemorate Anzac Day in 2011 two probate packets of soldiers who died at Gallipoli - Thomas Bann and Jacob Allan were selected to show some of the more personal and interesting record items that can be found.  These probate packets are the exception rather than the norm and many soldiers died without leaving a will or probate.

Jacob Allan: #869, 15th Battalion (Infantry), died 1915 at Gallipoli

AIF death notice for Jacob Allan - killed in action at Gallipoli. Postcard written by Jacob Allan and included in his probate packet Jacob Allan postcard picture Jacob Allan will

Thomas Bann: #678, 4th Battalion (Infantry), died 1915 at Gallipoli

This is a typed copy of the first page of two of a letter that Thomas Bann wrote to his aunt from Cairo, Egypt. Describes camp life and training in the desert. Thomas Bann letter page 2. He ends the letter by telling his aunt that his will is made out in her favour. Thomas Bann single page Thomas Bann will

Herbert Moran: Royal Army Medical Corps

Herbert Moran

For more details about Herbert Moran's life see Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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