April 25th is ANZAC DAY, the day Australians and New Zealanders officially remember our ANZAC Soldiers, the men and women from our countries who lost their lives in all the wars that have occurred during our short history.
ANZAC DAY was born after the First World War, The Great War, The War to End All Wars, as it was called. So many families were struck by the tragic loss of the lives of loved ones during that war. Husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and daughters who went to do their duty to God and the King and never returned.
On ANZAC DAY we remember all our ANZAC Soldiers, the men and women of our armed forces who's lives were cut short in our service and the sacrifice that they made to keep our country free from oppression. We particularly remember our own family members who did not return. We remember the suffering of those they left behind, their wives and mothers, and the children who would grow up without a father.
Among our ANZAC soldiers who lost their lives in two world wars, we remember:
GEORGE ERIC FULCHER was born at German Gardens, Townsville, Queensland, on 9th November 1890. He was the son of the Headmaster of the Townsville North Public School, James Thomas Fulcher and his wife Margaret. Eric was the youngest of the family, having two older sisters, Molly and Bess.
Eric was educated at Winton and Maryborough, Queensland, and attended the Gatton Agricultural College. In 1915 he married Charlotte Jane Johnson at Maryborough and Eric and Lottie went to live on the dairy and cane farm that Jimmy Fulcher had bought at Pialba, Harvey Bay, Queensland. On 20th February 1916 their son, Eric Harold Fulcher was born.
Eric Fulcher enlisted on 18th October 1916 and embarked for England on the “Demosthenes” on the 22nd December. After initial training in England he proceeded to France on 15th June 1917. In July 1917 he wrote this cheerie letter to his sister Bess back home in Australia.
"As you see by the address that I'm over here and am ready to go up to the line any time, in fact we are warned to be ready to go up today and the lads are packing up and talking 19 to the dozen. This is a bosca country for scenery, it's dead pretty but you never know what minute its going to rain and then the mud is that darned slippery,...dam we have to fall in.
July 6th.. Another spasm. I joined up the Battalion on Tuesday last and struck a couple of Maryborough chaps. I'm having a fairly good time and we aren't up in the front line yet but we aren't too far away. We hear the guns going most of the night and planes are just like birds and almost as common. Well old girl there's nothing to write about here, its all military stuff and that won't go through. Oh by the way you needn't put reinforcement on my letters now, put D Company signals 25th Battalion AIF France.
I'm going to have a wash in a shell hole presently, it's dead funny in this camp, it's real active service now. Well old girl I'll have to love and leave you and get fixed up for the morning. I'm writing this lying on my back with my legs cocked up for a writing desk, a plane is going over the tent and Fritz is sending a few pills over to our lads. I can hear them bursting.
Good-bye my girl, lots of love to all, love and kisses to yourself and the kids, Your affectionate Bro, Eric"
George Eric Fulcher was wounded in action, receiving gun shot wounds to his arm and back on 20th September 1917. He was taken to the Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, Belgium, but died of his wounds the same day. He was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Plot 23, Row B) near Poperinghe, Belgium. His family in Australia received notification of his death just a few days after Bess received her last letter from him.
Eric's farm at Pialba, Queensland had to be sold as Lottie was unable to manage it, and look after baby Harry, on her own. She never remarried.
ALGERNON CEDRIC FRANCIS was born at Cunnamulla, Queensland, on 13 December 1895, the son of Police Magistrate, Christopher Francis and his wife Emilie Jane, nee Everett.
After attending Brisbane Grammar School, Algy graduated from Gatton Agricultural College. Algy was working at Brisbane for A.P.Greenfield & Co., Opticians, when he enlisted in January 1916. He trained at Enoggera before embarking for the Front with 11th Reinforcements of the 25th Battalion, on the "Star of Victoria" on the 2nd April. After further training in Alexandria and England, he embarked for France in July.
In a letter home Algy wrote:
"The article we are fighting is made of Steel and Explosives, not human beings, so you guess what the odds are against us. It is a common sight to see large bodies of Huns marching behind one or two men. Nothing gives them greater pleasure than to be caught prisoners. Numbers of them can speak English rather well and can hardly believe their ears when told they will probably go over to England. They reply that England is in German hands and that London is a mass of ruins and the English Channel is patrolled by German Destroyers."
As a Lewis Gunner, Algy went to the Line in Poziers and Ypres before being sent to Flers, where he was killed in action shortly before his 21st birthday, on Tuesday, 14th November 1916. He was first buried in an isolated grave one mile east of Le Sars, two and one half miles south-west of Bapaume. His body was removed to the Warlencourt British Cemetery, 5 Kilometers south-west of Bapaume, France.
In a letter of sympathy to his Mother, one of Algy’s companions, J. Carleton, wrote:
"Your son and I enlisted together and obtained transfers to the 11th reinforcements of the 25th Battalion. We were together in Egypt and England, in both places we were on leave together. We were great pals, in fact our friendship was so close that in our unit we were known as "the Twins". Eventually we went to France and joined our Battalion. On volunteering for the Lewis Gun, we were lucky to be put together on the one gun. After going in the line at Pozieres and Ypres we went to Flers.
On the fifth November we attacked the enemy, hopped over as we call it, but were repulsed owing to the mud and other obstacles. We came out of the line for a couple of days. Going in again at the same place, Flers, on the 12th November.
On the morning of the 14th, about 7 o’clock, we hopped over again, your boy with me on the Lewis Gun. We advanced about one hundred yards when we were held up by Fritzs barb-wire entanglements. During this time we were walking over ground that was knee deep in thick mud which caused us to become separated, both of us taking shelter in shell holes. During this time there was a hail of Machine Gun Snipers bullets and Shrapnel. "A perfect Hell" if you will excuse the expression. Seeing that we could not reach our objective, there was nothing to do but try to regain our own line. Algy stood up and started on his way. He had hardly gone two yards when he was sniped through the forehead. He dropped down and remained motionless, so it will be seen that his death was instantaneous. I remained in my position for about an hour and during that time I watched him, but there was no movement. I had to leave my shell hole owing to bombs from Fritz and after a picnic in "No man’s land", reached our lines about ten that night. You will realise that it was impossible for me to examine him and get his effects owing to his exposed position. On being relieved we left Flers for another sector, Le Sars.
On the fifth April, 1917, while the Battalion was resting in billets at Contalmaison, I walked over to Flers, which was about six miles away, here I found the partly buried bodies of our pals who went under on the fifth and fourteenth of November. I found your boy and after securing his watch and other articles, I buried him.
Owing to the extreme cold he was in a really wonderful state of preservation and looked as if he had died only a week previous. His grave, if not interfered with since, was a pannier of a Lewis Gun Magazines at each corner and a Lewis Gun on top. At the head I put his rifle upright, with a wooden crosspiece. On the crosspiece I put his reg. number, name, battalion and date of his death.
I had his watch sent to you by registered post. Enclosed you will find a receipt from the Commonwealth Bank, which I found in his paybook."
I.W.Ormiston wrote on the death of Algy:
"I should like to assure you that your boy was a brave and fearless Soldier and was sadly missed by his many friends in the Battalion."
Private R.M. Knowles wrote:
"Your boy was a great favourite with all, especially in the machine gun section to which he belonged, and was up to the time of his death in the best of health and spirits; in fact he really did not know what fear was."
FRANCIS LEOFRIC ARMSTRONG was born at Mt Perry, Queensland on 25th October 1880. He was the son of Police Magistrate Octavius Armstrong and his wife Jessie Augusta, nee Francis.
Frank was educated at the Brisbane Grammar School and worked at the Queensland National Bank in Brisbane. He joined the Queensland Volunteer Rifles and was on Active Service with the Field Force in the South African War.
Frank Armstrong enlisted with the AIF on 20th October 1914. He was one of the original ANZACs who landed at Gallipoli on the 25th April, 1915. Serving with the 15th Battalion, he landed on the afternoon of that fateful day.
Lt. Francis Leofric Armstrong, mentioned in dispatches, was killed in action at Quinn's Post, Gallipoli, May 10th 1915.
He was killed whilst attempting to rescue wounded soldiers after being driven out of a captured enemy trench opposite Quinn's Post:
'In 'C' Company's sector, Frank Armstrong and his retiring men had passed right through the front line, whose sole occupant at the moment was Sergeant Hunter. As they passed to the back of the post Armstrong learnt that the line was not guarded and immediately turned his men face about and marched back into it. After his arrival, while gazing over the parapet, he saw some of his wounded men out in front, and endeavouring to scramble over the parapet to their aid, fell back riddled with bullets.' (Chataway p.46).
'The stream of fire which swept the crest of Quinn's during the withdrawal in daylight was very different from the ill-directed shooting in the night. A machine-gun somewhere on Baby 700 was firing short bursts down the trench which the Australians were quitting, and bombs were bursting in it continuously. Numbers of men were hit; ...A moment later, H.P. Armstrong, looking to see if all his men had entered the right communication trench, was shot through the head. Frank Armstrong, last of his party to reach Quinn's, was acutely distressed for his men. 'All my boys are killed or wounded out there,' he said, and at once endeavoured to climb out and see if any wounded remained. The men with him tried to pull him down, but he struggled to the parapet and was killed.' (Bean V1 p581, V2 p91, 101, 103, machine-gun seq., 112, [killed 113 quoted]).
The H. P. Armstrong mentioned above, was Lieutenant Hutton Perkins ARMSTRONG, 15th Battalion, AIF. Born Townsville, Qld. Single; Shipping Clerk, of Care of Howard Smith and Co., Townsville, Queensland. Next of kin: Father; George Armstrong. Mother; Elizabeth Jane Armstrong (nee Crocker), of Denham Street, Townsville, Queensland. Killed in action at Quinn's Post, central Anzac, on 10 May 1915, aged 25. No Known Grave.
Francis Leofric (Frank) Armstrong married Annie Munro Mackay, the daughter of John Mackay, who first explored the Pioneer River district in Queensland, and after whom the town of Mackay was named. They had one son, Francis Mackay Armstrong, who was an infant when his father was killed in action at Quinn’s Post, Gallipoli, on 10th May 1915.
Frank's last letter to Annie was written on the night before his final engagement with the enemy.
Turkey May 9th 1915
My dearest wife,
I am in an assaulting party against the Turkish Trenches tonight & have no time to write at any length. I am entrusting this message to Graham Wareham so if I do fall dear you will know my last thoughts are with you & our son. I hope you are spared for many years to come & that our son will turn out a good man. Forgive me for anything I have done in the past to hurt your feelings. Fondest love to dear Mrs Mackay & the boys & all our friends. Goodbye my dearest wife
Frank L Armstrong
His letter to Annie was recovered from the body of Lt. Graham Wareham, who also killed in action on May 10th 1915.
The tragic loss of life and tremendous courage of our ANZAC Soldiers has been revealed over and over again but none more graphically than in the letters and diaries of those who were there. For a first hand account of events at that time, you might like to read this extract from the diary of Ellis Silas.
MARSHALL TREGGELLIS FOX was born 16 February 1896 at Cue, Western Australia. He was the son of Perth, Surveyor, Marshall Fox and his wife Mary Gertrude, nee Garrard. Trig Fox was a student aged eighteen when he joined the AIF on 29 January 1915 and was taken on strength by 11th Battalion at Dardanelles on 7 May 1915.
Marshall Treggellis Fox was one of our ANZAC Soldiers who was killed in action at Shell Green, Gallipoli on 1 August 1915 and was buried at Shell Green, Gallipoli.
HATSELL GLENN GARRARD was born at Perth, Western Australia on 4 January 1918, the son of Hatsell Mellersh Albert Garrard and his wife Emilie Alexandra Glenn. His father was a bank officer with the Commonwealth Bank. Glenn attended the State School at Yeronga, Queensland from 1931 to 1934 before attending the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. After school he entered the furniture trade and became a furniture designer.
Glenn enlisted with the Second AIF in 1940 and was posted to the 2/22nd Battalion prior to it's being posted, in March 1941, to form a garrison at Rabaul on the Island of New Britain, New Guinea. The Unit, named Lark Force, had orders to protect the airfield and seaplane anchorage at Rabaul.
Japanese forces commenced bombing raids on Rabaul in January 1942, followed by a full scale invasion. Lark Force was unable to withstand the Japanese invasion which commenced on 23 January, and Rabaul fell to the Japanese soon after.
Lt. Hatsell Glenn Garrard was taken prisoner of war. He was executed by the Japanese on 4 February 1942.
ERIC FULLERTON TAIT was the son of John Tait and his wife Mary, nee Fullerton. Eric was a grandson of Revd. James Fullerton of Sydney and his wife Mary, nee Jenkins.
Eric was serving as a Lieutenant with the 37th Battery, 10th Field Artillery Brigade. He was acting as Forward Observing Officer for the Battery on 20th September 1917, during operations near Bellevarde Ridge.
While making a reconnaissance for a Forward Observing Post he was killed. He was buried on the Eastern side of the Bellevarde Ridge, Ypres Sector. His grave was subsequently lost, so he has no known grave.
His name is inscribed on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Panel 7, Belgium, with the names of 56,000 men of the British Empire, including 6,178 Australians who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave. (A.W.M. information.)
Lieutenant PETER HANCOX was Gunnery Officer on H.M.A.S. Perth, which was sunk with the U.S.S. Houston in Sunda Strait, by a superior Japanese Naval Force, on the 1st March 1942.
Peter Samuel Fullerton Hancox was born in Ipswich, Qld in March 1913. He was the son of Samuel Hancox and his wife Julia, nee Tait, who was the granddaughter of Revd. James Fullerton of Sydney and his wife Mary, nee Jenkins.
His father, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Hancox, was a First World War veteran who had led the Anzac Light Railway. After the war he moved to Tasmania to become Chief Engineer and Manager of the Hobart tramways and his son Peter was educated at the Hutchins School, becoming Dux of his year in 1923.
Peter joined the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay in NSW in 1927, graduating in 1930 with the King's Medal and winning the Open Skiffs rowing competition that same year. On graduation he was promoted to Midshipman and completed an initial tour with HMAS Australia. In 1932 he underwent further training at the Royal Naval College in the United Kingdom, specialising in gunnery, and was promoted Sub Lieutenant in 1934.
He was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1936 and during the war served in HMAS Stuart from 10 December 1939 until 2 February 1941, participating in the Battle of Matapan and the evacuation of Greece and Crete. On 18 November 1941 he transferred to HMAS Perth as her gunnery officer and was lost when she was sunk by the Japanese on 1 March 1942, in Sunda Strait. (A.W.M. information.)
FRANK THOMAS BRENT DCM
Company Sergeant Major Frank Thomas Brent was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his part in an action that took place at Glencorse Wood, Mennin Road, France, on 20 September 1917. It was his 29th Birthday. It was also the day his cousin George Eric Fulcher (26) was wounded and died of the injuries he sustained in Belgium. Frank Brent's story is unusual and inspirational.
Frank Brent, born 20 September 1888 at Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England, was the second son of the late Thomas John Brent and his wife Margaret. His father, Thomas, was a Colour Sergeant serving with The Lincolnshire Regiment when he died in 1897, leaving his wife Margaret with six young children. The 1901 Census found Margaret and Frank at The Duke of York Royal Military Asylum for Children and Soldiers, Chelingham Terrace, Chelsea, where Frank was a student.
On turning 14 in 1902, Frank joined the British Army Service Corp as a Musician and was appointed Trumpeter in 1903. He was awarded a 1st class Certificate of Education in 1905.
In 1906, Frank was discharged under the Kings Regulations 392, Subclause (iii) not likely to become an effective Soldier, and (f) Boy, who, on reaching 18 years of age, is considered physically unfit for the ranks. Frank's conduct may have contributed to his discharge somewhat, as his Good Conduct Badge had been forfeited for twelve months before being restored to him. Never-the-less, his discharge must have been a great disappointment to him, and his Mother, as his elder brother, Arthur, was already serving with his Father's old Regiment, the Lincolnshire Regiment.
Four years later, Frank Brent left London on the ship "Omrah", bound for Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, where he arrived on 22 December 1910. Frank might have visited his Fulcher relations who were residing in Queensland at the time, and he may have intended remaining in Queensland, but the 1914 Australian Electoral Register found him working as a labourer at Nar Nar Goon, Gippsland, Victoria, a small town about 60 klms southeast of Melbourne.
Frank joined the Australian Army at the outbreak of the First World War. He signed up at Melbourne, Victoria, on 20th August 1914. At that time he was 25 years and 11 months old, almost 6 feet tall, dark complexion with brown eyes and black and wavy hair.
Private Frank Brent was with B Company of 6th Battalion A.I.F. when they embarked on board HMAT Hororata at Melbourne on 19th October 1914, bound for Alexandria, Egypt, in preparation for the Gallipoli Campaign. The ANZAC forces landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.
In 1960, the Imperial War Museum set up an oral archive of peoples stories from World War One. Frank Brent took part in this project and his story is in the archive. A book "Forgotten Voices of the Great War" was written by Max Arthur in association with the Imperial War Museum in 2002. Frank Brent's story is listed on pages 112, 113, 117, 118. Private Frank Brent, 2nd Australian Brigade, 1st Australian Division recorded his Gallipoli experience thus :-
"There was no co-ordinated effort about it. Just a crowd of Diggers working with each other. Trust each other blind. After we'd been digging a little while, the "Queen Elizabeth" let go two or three of her shells and the sound of those shells was a real tonic. One bloke shouted out 'Share that amongst you, you bastards,' and the bloke next to me was Robbie Robinson, a corporal in my battalion. I can see him now, grinning all over his face and the next thing his head fell on my shoulder. A sniper had got him through the jugular vein. I really think that was my baptism because Robbie's blood spent all over my tunic. After he was laying dead I thought 'Well, I'd better let his people know about it,' and I took his paybook out and wrote his mother's address on a bit of paper. It was somewhere in Fitzroy that she lived but I never wrote to her, but I do remember looking at that piece of paper afterwards."
"Well, having dug in, there was only one thing to do, was to stop where we'd dug in. If he'd come at us and been successful, he could have got us back into the sea. All during the night, there was plenty of shrapnel and machine guns and snipers as busy as they could be but we lived through. At 9 0'clock the next day, we could see he was bringing up plenty of stuff to have a go, and I think he'd made up his mind to dump us. Half an hour later we could hear him shouting 'Allah' and blowing trumpets. There was quite a lot of heavy firing and plenty from us. They brought up some Indian Mountain batteries. Well, they could only dig in about twenty yards behind where we were, because any further down they'd have been shooting into the hillside. They joined in the general shelling and bombardment and they were firing what they call 'grapeshot.' Well, this was shrapnel that burst the moment it left the gun muzzle and, blimey, we had to scatter each time those batteries went."
"Then on the 28th, the Royal Naval Division came and we were evacuated from the line into those little humpies just in the sand hills and it was then for the first time since the landing that we'd been able to look round for our cobbers. On the first day, we were just mixed up and running about like a lot of rabbits - nobody could see who was who or what was what. And it was then for the first time we realised what the taking of Anzac Ridge had cost, because hardly any of our mates were left."
Private Frank Brent telling his story of the Battle of Krithia in Turkey on 6th May 1915.
"There were dead and wounded of the 3rd Brigade all around and we scampered as hard as we could to a little bit of shelter, dumped our packs and dumped our shovels and the picks - we'd had enough of those - and then somebody said, 'Well, up you go' and away we went up the slope. It wasn't too bad but just half way up somebody shouted out to me 'Alan Cordoner's stopped one.' Well, Alan was one of my best pals and that made me feel a bit better because if they'd got him, I felt 'I'm gonna get them.'"
"It just went on all day. The older battleships in the bay were letting go as hard as they could, and the harder they fired the more confident you felt. So, while it was about the most precarious position a bloke could find himself in, you sort of made up your mind that, 'Well, we're here, and the only way the enemy can get us off is by carrying us off feet first.'
The dust and the noise - it was so loud you could not hear each other speak - went on for a quarter of an hour, then, suddenly everything was as quiet as a grave. And that was when we had to hop it. The barrage had been so heavy that in the quiet we thought, 'Well, this is going to be a cakewalk, there's nothing to stop us.' But the mistake we made was that after we got out of our 'hop out' trenches our own artillery began to put down a barrage just in front of us and some of it was falling short. You could see your mates falling, going down right and left, and were face to face with the stark realisation that this was the end."
"And that was the thought that was with you the whole time because despite the fact that you couldn't see the Turk, he was pelting us with everything he had got from all sides - the marvel to me was how the Dickens he was able to do it after the barrage that had fallen on him. And sure enough we got within a mile of Krithia village when I copped my packet - as I laid there I said, 'Thank Christ for that.'"
Frank was seriously wounded. He received a gunshot wound to his left thigh and a scald to his left foot. Mustard gas could cause scalds. The ANZAC forces landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. He was wounded on 8th May 1915.
The seriousness of Frank's wounds necessitated his treatment at Gallipoli, Malta, Gibraltar, and finally London, where he was admitted to the King George Hospital at Stamford on 30th August 1915. He was eventually well enough to report for active service at the Australian Base Depot at Weymouth, England in January 1916 and to re-join his Battalion in France in June.
Frank was promoted to Corporal in July 1916. Successive promotions saw him promoted in the field to Company Sergeant Major on 1st May 1917.
While serving with Sixth Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, Company Sergeant Major Frank Thomas Brent was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his action during the attack on Glencorse Wood, France, on 20th September 1917.
The Citation recorded :-
No 168 Company Sergeant Major F T Brent 6th Battalion
"For conspicious gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. He took command of a party and attacked an enemy strong point and captured 20 prisoners and two machine guns. He also rendered valuable assistance in consolidating the captured position and set a splendid example to his men."
Recipients are entitled to post the nominal letters DCM.
Frank was on leave in England from the 26th September to the 12th October 1917. Whilst on leave he married Agnes Lucy Nellie Etherington on 4th October at the Parish Church, Beckenham Road, Kent. Agnes was 21, the daughter of William George Etherington, a Postman, of 128 Blandford Road Beckenham Road, Kent. Frank's sister Ethel Brent married William Fleming, an Australian soldier, at the same ceremony. Ethel immigrated to Australia after the war in 1919.
Frank marched in from France (London) on 15th May 1918. He served as CSM at the Overseas Training Battalion at Tedworth before reappointment as CSM 6th Battalion AIF.
In May 1919, Frank boarded the Troop Carrier "Wahele" for Australia, accompanied by his wife, Agnes, and their infant son Alan Brent. He received his Army Discharge at Melbourne on 12th July 1919.
Agnes Brent and young Alan returned home to England in 1923 and Frank followed some months later. Their contact address was her old home at 128 Blandford Road, Beckingham, Kent. The British Postal Services Appointment Book records that Frank Brent was appointed as a Certified Wireless Operator at Bromley, Kent in 1935.
Frank and Agnes Brent had four children, Alan, Enid, Joyce and John, all born in England. The Brents were residing at Ashcroft Court, Addiscombe Road, Croyden, at the time of Frank's death in 1966. He was 78. Agnes was residing at Ringwood and Fordingbridge, Hampshire, when she died in 1990. She was 94.
On 25th April 1953, Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Year, Frank Brent had the honour of carrying the Australian Flag at the annual ANZAC Day Parade in London.
This history of Frank Brent has been researched and edited by Paul Brent. (firstname.lastname@example.org). We have been unable to obtain a photograph of Frank Brent for this article. If anyone has one to share, we would appreciate a copy.