Edgar Reginald (Ted) PACKER

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PACKER, Edgar Reginald

Service Number: 353
Enlisted: 18 January 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 12 July 1889
Home Town: Waikerie, Loxton Waikerie, South Australia
Schooling: Basket Range public schools
Occupation: Fruit Grower then Teamster (Bullocky) with Govt Irrigation Trust
Died: Killed in Action, The Windmill, Messines, Belgium, 31 July 1917, aged 28 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Buried at time of death but grave "lost" due to multiple further actions.
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Basket Range WW1 Memorial, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Waikerie War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

18 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 353, 43rd Infantry Battalion
9 Jun 1916: Involvement Private, SN 353, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
9 Jun 1916: Embarked Private, SN 353, 43rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Afric, Adelaide
Date unknown: Wounded SN 353, 43rd Infantry Battalion

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Biography

Edgar Reginald PACKER was born at Adelaide on 12th July 1889, the Son of Job and Elizabeth Packer, of Basket Range.  He had a sister the family called “Nessie”. Edgar was known to family and friends as ”Ted”.  He was educated at the Basket Range Public School, after which he was employed by Mr. W. T. Cramond as a fruit grower. Later he moved to Waikerie, where he was employed at the Government irrigation works as a “teamster” (a Bullocky). He was very active in football and cricket playing for WAIKERIE.

 

In about 1911, Ted became father to a daughter, Muriel Ruth SCHENKE. She stayed with her mother, Flora SCHENKE.  By 1922 Flora had married a returned serviceman, an orchardist, Allen McLAREN and was living in WAIKERIE with Muriel being treated by Mr McLAREN as his own daughter.

 

Ted enlisted (after several unsuccessful attempts) on January 18, 1916. He may have ‘forgotten’ his previous attempts as he endorsed the paperwork saying he had never been rejected previously! He enlisted and attested at ADELAIDE.  Ted went immediately into camp, first allocated to the 9th Light Horse, but then being quickly changed to the newly formed 43rd Battalions strength.

 

The 43rd sailed from South Australia on June 9, 1916 aboard “HMAT AFRIC”. After further training on Salisbury Plain, the 43rd left for France arriving in Marseilles on 20-7-1916. The battalion moved to the dreaded Western Front in an exceptionally wet winter. Ted moved into the trenches for the first time in late December, just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916-17. The battalion was in the Ypres Sector of Belgium in mid-1917; this was where the battle of Messines was launched on 7th June.  The 43rd Battalion spent 1917 bogged in bloody trench warfare in Flanders. On the 30th June 1917, Ted was in the front line trenches at Messines when he received a gunshot wound to the head.

 

Ted was moved to a dressing station and then to the 9th Field Ambulance and to the Number 3 General Hospital at Boulogne. From there he was transferred to a convalescent camp until the 27th July 1917 when he returned the front lines with the 43rd.

 

On the night of 31st July 1917, Ted and the 43rd moved forward to attack and take a German strongpoint called “The Windmill” in front of their position at Messines.  They took the point but were very quickly heavily attacked and retreated.  Immediately preparing to charge again and retake the point, the 43rd were heavily bombarded, they charged forward and retook the position, but during these actions Ted was “Killed in Action”.

 

Although he was buried, his grave on the battlefront could not be located after the war and as such Ted’s body was never recovered. As Edgar PACKER has no known grave. He is commemorated on the MENIN GATE at YPRES.  This gate was one of only two entries into the medieval fortified city. It was through this gate that allied soldiers, including Ted and the Australians, marched to the battlefields of the Ypres salient between 1914 and 1918. After the war, the MENIN GATE was chosen as the site for a memorial to the thousands of allied soldiers who were killed in the area but had no known grave. Opened in 1927, the memorial consists of an imposing archway surmounted by a recumbent lion and it is inscribed with the names of 54,389 dead from Britain and Commonwealth countries. Every evening since 1927 the Last Post has been sounded under the memorial’s great arch by the local Fire Brigade “Last Post Association” buglers. This was stopped under the Nazi regime in WW2 but immediately recommenced on the very evening they were driven out and has continued unmissed daily ever since, sometimes twice daily on relevant occasions like Anzac or Remembrance Day. In 2015 the ceremony occurred for the 30,000 time.

 

Teds property was returned to his mother in Basket Range. His Victory Medal and Memorial Scroll were given to his daughter, Muriel. And his British War Medal & Memorial Plaque were given to his mother.

 

Ted is also commemorated at the Basket Range School Honour Board and at a marble obelisk War Memorial in Basket Range that was dedicated on January 10th 1919.   

 

Edgar Reginald PARKER is also commemorated on the Australian War Memorial on the Roll of Honour and with a tree and plaque in the WAIKERIE War Memorial Gardens.

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