Robert James TURNER


TURNER, Robert James

Service Number: 4929
Enlisted: 31 January 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Mount Torrens, South Australia, 25 May 1889
Home Town: Edillilie, Lower Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
Schooling: Mount Torrens Public School, South Australia
Occupation: Blacksmith
Died: Pneumonia, France, 8 February 1917, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Mount Torrens Roll of Honour, Port Lincoln & District Honor Roll WW1, Port Lincoln Garden of Remembrance
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World War 1 Service

31 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 10th Infantry Battalion
9 Mar 1916: Involvement Private, SN 4929, 10th Infantry Battalion
9 Mar 1916: Embarked Private, SN 4929, 10th Infantry Battalion, RMS Mongolia, Adelaide
8 Feb 1917: Involvement Private, SN 4929, 50th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Stewart

Bob was born on 25 May1889  at Mount Forrest (near Mount Torrens in the Eastern Adelaide Hills districts of SA)  to William Turner and Maria Turner (nee Richards).  He was the youngest of 8 children in the family, 4 boys and 4 girls.  His family lived at Mount Torrens, although 2 of the older children were born at Blumberg (the original name for the town of Birdwood, SA).  His father was a blacksmith

Bob went to school at Mount Torrens Public School.  On completion of schooling he  undertook an apprenticeship as a blacksmith and apparently qualified in trade as he moved to Edillilie in 1910 and worked in that trade. He married Ellen Agnes Scanlan (nee Quinn), a widow, at Edillilie on 13 Feb 1912.  They were still living in that location at the time of his enlistment: it is not known whether they had any children

 He enlisted in the Army at Keswick (SA) on 31 Jan 1916 at the age of 26, at the time recording his occupation as "blacksmith". On enlistment Bob was sent to 2nd Depot Battalion (Bn) at Mitcham for training before being posted to 10th Bn on 16 Feb 1916. On completion of training he embarked aboard RMS "Mongolia" at Adelaide on 9 Mar 1916 bound for Alexandria (Egypt), disembarking 7 weeks later. Whilst in Alexandria his posting was changed from 10th Bn to 50th Bn on 20 May 1916.

The 50th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 26 Feb 1916 as part of the process that was known as "doubling the AIF", drawing a cadre of experienced personnel from the 10th Bn supplemented by recruits from Australia; Bob was one of these new recruits, and was taken on strength by his new unit (50th Bn) in late May 1916.

He embarked, with his unit, aboard HMS "Huntspill" at Alexandria bound for Marseilles (France), arriving on 11 Jun 1916. The Bn moved into the front line two weeks after its arrival in France.

However, Bob did not remain with his unit for long as within a month he was admitted to 26th General Hospital at Etaples (France)  with Bronchitis where he remained for almost 2 weeks before being released. He rejoined his unit on 13 Aug 1916, arriving in time for 50th Bn's first major action, being the Battle of Mouquet Farm during Aug/Sep 1916, in which the Bn suffered over 400 casualties.

Obviously his illness persisted as he was again medically evacuated on 15 Nov 1916; this time through 5th Field Ambulance to 36th Casualty Clearing Station to 12th General Hospital at Rouen (France), where he remained for over two months. He was released from hospital on 10 Jan 1917 and rejoined his Bn.

Less than a month later (8 Feb 1917) he reported ill to South Midlands 1st Casualty Clearing Station and unfortunately died the same day from Acute Lobar Pneumonia.

Over 12 months later the family were still waiting for a Death Certificate to allow probate to proceed. Again the difficulty in communication is brought to the fore. However, the support from the community of Edillilie appears to have been very strong, as a letter was written on behalf of his widow to the Army seeking more detail on Bob's death: in an unusual variance to normal procedure the Army actually responded to someone other than the Next of Kin.

Bob is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, 2 1/2 miles (approx 4 Km) South South West of Albert  (France).

After his death his wife returned to Welland,  Adelaide


Medals and Decorations

British War Medal                                                                                        

Victory Medal