Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC Day Blog Challenge 2014: Part 1 - The First of Three sons to embark

Melville Geyer was a handsome young man with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion, when he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on Monday 5th July 1915. Service Number: 2370.

Melville, also known as Mel or Mick, was 21 years old and would have been very strong, being a Blacksmith's striker. My grandmother always referred to him as "Uncle Mick" so I will call him Mick also.

He was the first of Edith Geyer's boys to leave the shores of Australia, bound for the War, firstly in Egypt then in France.

The Horsham Times, Friday 9th July 1915, page 4

Within days, Mick had left Horsham, where he lived with his mother and siblings, Soph, Lloyd, Ern and Lily, to commence training at Seymour.

Melville Geyer was born at his parents home at Rockley Street, in nearby Nhill on 8th February 1895.  He was the 5th of 7 children of Edith Geyer and Edward Ernest Edmund Geyer.  He was four years old when his father died from typhoid in 1899.

On the 29th September 1915, Mick was one of 1106^ young men to board the RMS Osterley at Melbourne.   Another young man on the same voyage was my paternal Grand Uncle, Robert John Jones, who I have written about previously.   Mick was my Great Grand Uncle on my mothers side of the family.  I can't help but wonder if these two young men crossed paths while on the journey?  They would have had no idea that in about 100 years time,  their grand niece would be writing about them!

RMS Osterley
My maternal Great Grand Uncle, Melville Geyer, and my paternal Grand Uncle,
Robert Jones, both left Melbourne on the 29th September 1915, arriving in Egypt.

Mick and two of his three sisters, Soph & Lily Geyer

Within 12 months of leaving Australia, Mick sustained injuries on 23rd August 1916 in France, "Gun shot wounds to his right arm and right knee severe".  He was immediately moved to a "Gas Clearance Station" for the initial operation^^^ and then transferred to England (several different hospitals).   

His defense records show that Mick was arrested 31st July 1917, fined "forfeiture of 70 days pay" and sentenced to "undergo detention for 60 days".  His crime was "Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline" as he falsified leave records (and then denied it).  I believe that there is more to this story than is written in the records.   Mick's younger brother, Ernest, was "gassed" in Belgium in June 1917 and it seems that Mick may have exaggerated (or maybe he was unaware of) the seriousness of his brother's injuries, as he wanted to go and check up on him.   Or did he know what was about to happen to his younger brother?

Mick was enlisted to the 23rd Battalion, 5th Reinforcement. The 23rd Battalion lost 686 soldiers and 2317 were injured^^.  The Battalion lost 90% of the original members at the battle of Mouqet Farm (maybe this is where Mick was injured?).  However, Mick was one of the lucky ones.  Private Melville Geyer returned to Australia on the 17th February 1919 aboard the HMAT A35 Berrima and was discharged as medically unfit (bad knee) on 11th April 1919.

Mick Geyer
HMAT A35 Berrima

He was the first of Edith's boys to leave for war and the first to return.  Perhaps the pioneering overland journey that he and his family took when he was a child, and he wrote about years later,assisted to prepare him for survival?  

You can read more about the family by clicking on the links;

^ According to Embarkation rolls on Australian War Memorial website
^^  Source: Australian War Memorial website
^^^ Source: www. - "It was found that the sepsis and gas gangrene of wounds could be avoided if effective operation was performed within thirty-six hours of their infliction and all dead an injured tissue removed, in spite of the extensive mutilation incurred."

You can read more Anzac Day blogs here

1 comment:

  1. I find the service records quite difficult to read and understand and wish that the men were here today to tell us what it all meant.