Loudon Bain MCNEIL

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MCNEIL, Loudon Bain

Service Number: 4027
Enlisted: 3 February 1915, Bundaberg, Queensland
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 3rd Field Ambulance
Born: Glasgow, Scotland, 21 June 1891
Home Town: Fairymead, Bundaberg, Queensland
Schooling: Shawlands Academy, Glasgow
Occupation: Clerk/Accountant
Died: Died of wounds (GSW right thigh), France, 11 November 1916, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Heilly Station Cemetery
Plot V, Row E, Grave 7, Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L'Abbe, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

3 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4027, Bundaberg, Queensland
12 Jun 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4027, 3rd Field Ambulance, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
12 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4027, 3rd Field Ambulance, HMAT Karoola, Brisbane
9 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4027, 3rd Field Ambulance, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
8 Aug 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 3rd Field Ambulance
18 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 4027, 3rd Field Ambulance, Flers/Gueudecourt
11 Nov 1916: Wounded Lance Corporal, SN 4027, 3rd Field Ambulance, Flers/Gueudecourt, GSW (right thigh)

Help us honour Loudon Bain McNeil's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by John Edwards

"Many sincere friends in this district will regret to hear that Lance Corporal L. B. McNeil died of wounds in France on the 11th November. This gallant young soldier, who was about 25 years of age, was, previous to enlisting, chief accountant at Fairymead. Early in the war, he, and three other of his brothers, offered their services, and were accepted for active service abroad. One brother lost his life on the battlefield some time ago. Lance Corporal McNeil was possessed of many excellent qualities and enjoyed the friendship of quite a host of families, with whom he kept up a fairly constant correspondent since going abroad. He belonged to a Scottish family but had been many years in Queensland." - from the Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser 29 Nov 1916 (nla.gov.au)

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Biography contributed by Sue Smith

Embarkation Roll (www.awm.gov.au) incorrectly records Christian name as LONDON instead of LOUDON

Loudon Bain McNeil was born on the 21st June 1891 in Glasgow, Scotland, the 5th son and child of William and Mary McNeil.  Loudon had 4 older brothers, Gordon, William, Douglas and Charles and his younger brother was Lex.

After completing his schooling Loudon became a clerk and on the 4th November 1911, aged 21, he embarked from London aboard the ship “Waipara” and travelled to Australia, arriving in Brisbane on New Year’s Day 1912.  The 1913 Australian electoral roll shows Loudon and his brother William living at 43 Gripps Street, Brisbane QLD.  William was not listed on the same ship with Loudon so it appears that he may have come to Australia before Loudon.

The 1915 Australia electoral roll has Loudon living at “Fairymead” which was a small town north of Bundaberg in Queensland.  Newspaper articles record that he was the chief accountant at Fairymead and that he played cricket for the local team.  He was also a member of the IOGT lodge. (International Organisation of Good Templars)

On the 3rd February 1915 Loudon enlisted for WW1 at Bundaberg, Queensland, aged 23 years and 7 months.  His service records describe him at the time of enlistment as being 5ft 5inches tall, 130lbs with a fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair.  His service number was 4027 and his initial rank was a Private with the 3rd Field Ambulance, 6th Reinforcements.  He trained at the Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane, embarking for Egypt from Brisbane, Queensland on the 12th June on the ship “HMAT Karoola”.  Loudon’s brother William had enlisted a few months prior to him in August 1914 and was also with the 3rd Field Ambulance.  Another brother Charles enlisted in Scotland and served with the Scottish Highland Light Infantry Corps.

Upon arrival in Egypt Loudon was attached for duty briefly to the 1st Australian General Hospital in Cairo before proceeding to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli, arriving there on the 9th August 1915.  In early September Loudon was admitted to the 3rd Field Ambulance hospital for 5 days with an unspecified illness.  It was while he was serving at Gallipoli that he would have first met my grandfather, Cyril Morsley SN 1707, who was also serving with the 3rd Field Ambulance.  Cyril arrived at Anzac Cove on the 7th December just in time to help with the evacuation and was one of the last to leave in the early hours of the 20th.  After being evacuated from Gallipoli Loudon disembarked at Alexandria on the 27th December from the hospital ship “Caledonia”.  He proceeded with his Unit to the camp at Tel-el-kebir where they remained for the next 3 months.

On the 27th March 1916 the 3rd Field Ambulance proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Force in France, embarking from Alexandria on the ship “Kingstonian”.  An entry in my grandfather’s 1916 war diary records that during the journey, on the night of the 30th, they lost overboard one of the men from their Unit, Private Percy Fennell SN 2252.  He was seen to be sleep walking then fall overboard.  The alarm was raised, the ship was stopped and a search was made for him but no trace was found.  The ship continued on and Cyril’s diary records that their Unit disembarked at Marseilles on the 3rd April.

Loudon took leave to Scotland for a week at the end of June rejoining his Unit on the 1st July 1916.  That very same day his brother Charles was killed in action during the battle of Somme.

On the 8th August Loudon was promoted to Lance Corporal.  In early November 1916, during the battle of Gueudecourt, the 3rd Field Ambulance was in the thick of the bombardment.  Entries made in my grandfather’s diary over several days records they had been inundated with wounded, some very severe and some whose suffering was only brought to an end through death.  On the 9th November Cyril records in his diary that the previous night their Unit had had the heaviest night that he’d ever known with over 650 casualties having been brought in.  Then in the very early hours of the morning on the 11th November, their camp was bombed.  Sergeant (Percy) Roy Elliott was killed instantly and Staff Sergeant William Bannister SN 131 and several others of their Unit were critically wounded, including Loudon.  They were brought into the 38th Casualty Clearing Station but later that day, sadly, Loudon and Bannister both succumbed to their injuries later which were horrific as recorded by my grandfather in his diary.  Cyril was on duty and present when Bannister died.  Loudon was buried the same day at the Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe, France, plot V, row E, grave number 7.  He was 25 years old.  Not far away in the same cemetery lies Staff Sergeant William Bannister in plot V, row A, grave number 16.  He was 22 years old.

This is the entry my grandfather made in his diary describing what happened when the air raid happened:

“Was in full swing with Medicals - Taubes overhead and shrapnel bursting all around.  Bombed our camp and at 2 o/c poor McNeil was brought in nearly dead - grasped on my arm.  Later, Staff Sergeant Bannister - fractured femur and buttock blown off.  Sergeant R. Elliott was killed and 8 other.  Patients many, 36 wounded, I dressed most, some very serious - Corporal Grieves and Baxter.”

The following extract from the 3rd Field Ambulance Unit war diary records the events of the air raid:

“At 00.40 this morning an enemy aeroplane flying low, dropped 6 bombs on the 1st Anzac Rest Station.  Five patients were killed outright, 33 wounded seriously & 3 slightly.  Of the personnel at this station, 1 was killed, 4 seriously wounded & 1 slightly wounded.  All of these belonged to the 3rd Field Ambulance.  One bomb was dropped on the Orderly Room, destroying a number of the records of the station and of the Unit.  Damage was done to 4 marquee tents and 8 bell tents.”

The 3rd Field Ambulance suffered a great loss with the deaths of these 3 men on the 11th November, the date on which 2 years later was the day the guns fell silent on the Western Front after 4 years of continuous warfare.  This date, from then on, became a day of remembrance for all those who gave their lives in the war.

Louden’s mother received 2 parcels of his personal effects in January and April 1917 as well as a Memorial Scroll, a Memorial Plaque and his war medals.

Loudon’s brother William returned to Australia after the war, however, on the 11th November 1918 while still serving, he married Anne Adam at the McNeil family home at 239 Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow, where he and Loudon grew up.  This day marked the 2nd anniversary of Loudon’s death but it was also the day that WW1 ended.

The following article appeared in the “Bundaberg Mail” newspaper on the 10th November 1920:

“ROLL OF HONOR.      LARSEN, - In loving memory of our dear son and brother Pte. H. L. Larsen, M.M., who was killed in action at Zonnebeke, November 9th, 1917; interred at Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, November 11th.  Also his comrade (who enlisted with him) L.Cpl. L. B. McNeil, died of wounds, November 11th, 1916. - Inserted by his father, mother, sisters and brothers.”

Harold Leslie Larsen was also a resident of Fairymead and a member of the 3rd Field Ambulance having enlisted on the same day with Louden. He and Loudon may be gone….but they are never forgotten.

Memorials: Loudon’s name appears on the following Memorials:

1.        Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour

2.        Glasgow Roll of Honour  

Loudon Bain McNeil was awarded:

1914/1915 Star      26627

British War Medal   14117

Victory Medal         14060

The Anzac Commemorative Medallion was instituted in 1967 by Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.  It was awarded to surviving members of the Australian forces who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula, or in direct support of the operations from close off shore, at any time during the period from the first Anzac Day in April 1915 to the date of final evacuation in January 1916.  Next of kin, or other entitled persons, are entitled to receive the medallion on behalf of their relatives if the medallion has not been issued.

The medallion is cast in bronze and is approximately 75 millimetres high and 50 millimetres wide.  The obverse of the medallion depicts Simpson and his donkey carrying a wounded soldier to safety.  It is bordered on the lower half by a laurel wreath above the word ANZAC.  The reverse shows a map in relief of Australia and New Zealand superimposed by the Southern Cross.  The lower half is bordered by New Zealand fern leaves.  The name and initials of the recipient is engraved on the reverse.  The medallion is issued in a presentation box.

(Australian Government - Department of Defence)

Sue Smith November 2016

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