Francis Edward CHRISTIAN MM

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CHRISTIAN, Francis Edward

Service Number: 1168
Enlisted: 1 April 1915
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 20th Infantry Battalion
Born: Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Eaglehawk, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Eaglehawk State SchoVictoria, Australiaol,
Occupation: Engine Driver
Died: Died Of Wound, Killed In Action, Belgium, 28 September 1917, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Lijssenthoek, Flanders, Belgium, Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

1 Apr 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
25 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, SN 1168, 20th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
25 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, SN 1168, 20th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Berrima, Sydney
20 Sep 1917: Honoured Military Medal, Third Ypres, 'At HANEBEKE WOOD on 20th September 1917 this N.C.O. had charge of a platoon throughout the attack. Just after the launching of the attack he showed great initiative in moving his platoon forward of the enemy barrage. Later he showed himself as a fearless leader and throughout he was moving among his men holding them together and getting them forward, showing an absolute disregard for personal safety. His cheerful manner, courage and determination was a very fine example to all who came in contact with him. After the consolidation, about 30 hours after zero, he was badly wounded.'
28 Sep 1917: Involvement Sergeant, SN 1168, 20th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Francis Edward CHRISTIAN

Military Medal

'At HANEBEKE WOOD on 20th September 1917 this N.C.O. had charge of a platoon throughout the attack. Just after the launching of the attack he showed great initiative in moving his platoon forward of the enemy barrage. Later he showed himself as a fearless leader and throughout he was moving among his men holding them together and getting them forward, showing an absolute disregard for personal safety. His cheerful manner, courage and determination was a very fine example to all who came in contact with him. After the consolidation, about 30 hours after zero, he was badly wounded.'

The Bendigoian Newspaper reported the following on December 20, 1917 –

SERGEANT FRANK E CHRISTIAN. OFFICERS' CONDOLENCES.
The officers commanding the battalion in which Sergeant F. E. Christian served have sent letters of condolence to his father, Mr. W. Christian, of California Gully. Sergeant Christian died from wounds received in France, and Major T. H. M'Donald, writing to Mr. Christian, states: "He was wounded during the attack near Ypres, and died eight days later, and was buried at the above stated clearing station. By his death I have lost one of the bravest and cleanest living men it has even been my honor to command. Had he survived, I have no hesitation in saying that he would have been promoted to commissioned rank. By his death another name has been added to the long list of gallant fellows who have died to save those whom they love." Lieutenant S. R. Stanton writes to Mr. Christian as follows: "I wonder if you know that Frank was recommended three times for a decoration, but his service did not receive recognition until his last battle, where I am told he was awarded the Military Medal."[1]

Frank Christian was 36 years of age when he enlisted on April 1, 1915. He was the still a single man and son of William and Hannah Christian who lived at Back Road, California Gully. He attended Eaglehawk State School and listed his occupation as an Engine Driver. On October 18, 1917 the Bendigoian newspaper reported: ‘Prior to leaving Eaglehawk, he was a prominent member of the Eaglehawk Rifle Club. He was an excellent rifle shot, and on numerous occasions distinguished himself as a marksman. In 1910 he won the Victorian King's Prize, and in the following year won the first two stages of the King's Prize in Western Australia’.

The same article informed - Frank had been gone from the Eaglehawk district for some years and enlisted for active service with the A.I.F. at Hill Grove, New South Wales, and became attached to the 20th Battalion. After being in camp for a few weeks, he sailed for the front and disembarked at Egypt. He subsequently spent 17 weeks on Gallipoli, and took part in the evacuation of the peninsula. He was promoted to the rank of corporal at Gallipoli, and whilst subsequently serving in France he gained a further promotion namely, that of sergeant.

The battle on September 20, 1917 where Frank Christian was recommended for the Military Medal is better known as the battle of Menin Road. The Australian 1st and 2nd divisions suffered approximately 5,000 casualties in the Battle of Menin Road and the British even four or five times that number. Despite heavy casualties the bite and hold tactic had proven effective. 

Service Number: 1168

Born: Bendigo    

Address on Enlistment: California Gully, Eaglehawk

School: Eaglehawk State School

Age at Enlistment: 36

Enlistment date: April 1, 1915

Occupation: Engine Driver

Embarkation:  From Sydney on board HMAT A35 Berrima on 26 June 1915
Served:  / Western Front

Unit: 20th Battalion, D Company

Final Rank: Private

Fate: Died of Wounds 28 September 1917 at Ypres.

Buried: Lyssenthoek Military Cementery, Poperinghe, Belgium

Medal Source: Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31

Date: 7 March 1918

'At HANEBEKE WOOD on 20th September 1917.

Australian photographer Frank Hurley had just arrived at the front with War correspondent Charles Bean described September 20: ‘It has been a glorious and frightful day. The battle is over & we have achieved our objectives. Fortune has favoured us with weather, which in very great measure attributed to our success’. [2]

[1] Bendigoian, December 20, 1917.p12 

[2] The Western Front Diaries of Charles Bean Edited by Peter Burness. P. 347

 

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