Eric Claude MAIN

Poppy

MAIN, Eric Claude

Service Number: Commissioned Officer
Enlisted: 13 October 1915
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 52nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Brisbane,Queensland, 1890
Home Town: Magill, Campbelltown, South Australia
Schooling: Fort Street Model Public School, Queensland
Occupation: Insurance manager
Died: Machine gun fire , Mouquet farm,Pozieres,France, 3 September 1916
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: MagillM*, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)*
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World War 1 Service

13 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 12th Infantry Battalion
20 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, 12th Infantry Battalion, SS Hawkes Bay, Sydney
20 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 12th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: SS Hawkes Bay embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''
10 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 52nd Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm
3 Sep 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 52nd Infantry Battalion, Pozières

Eric Claude Main


Eric Claude Main was the eldest son of May Main of “The Nook” Tranmere Terrace, South Australia, and Mark Main of 2 Virginia Flats 77-79 McLeay Street Potts Point Sydney. He embarked from Sydney, on 20th April 1916, on the SS Hawkes Bay. He was educated at Fort Street Public School Brisbane, and attained the rank of Second Lieutenant before leaving Sydney. His occupation was listed as Insurance Manager. In September 1916 he was listed as missing at the battle of Mouquet Farm, Pozieres in France. Mouquet Farm was known as” Moo Cow” Farm to the Australian soldiers. There were conflicting reports about his disappearance. A couple of soldiers said he had been taken prisoner, when advancing too quickly, at Mouquet Farm. A stretcher bearer said he had found him badly injured, lying on the battle field, and dragged him into a shell hole. He had patched him up as best he could, but confirmed he was terribly injured from machine gun fire. As he left him two more shells fell in that same area, and when he looked again he was unable to find the 2nd Lieutenant. He was 26 years old. When he was listed as missing, the army received requests from The Bank of Adelaide, in London. Requests for information were received from a Miss Deakin and a Mrs. Harvey. His body was never found and his name is listed on the memorial at: Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France.

http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Gallery151/dist/JGalleryViewer.aspx?B=8212055&S=1&N=55
https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/people/192942
https://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1053096--1-.pdf
https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1648802/

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Biography

Eric Claude Main was born in 1890, in Brisbane, Queensland. He attended Fort Street Model Public School, along with younger brother Vivian Neville Main. Documentation on his AIF attestation papers state that his parents were Mark Main of Potts Point, Sydney and May Main, of “The Nook”, Tranmere Terrace, Magill, South Australia. Before Eric signed up for war he was unmarried and worked as an insurance manager.

Eric Claude Main was a 2nd Lieutenant who initially served in the 12th Battalion and then later served in the 52nd Battalion. Eric and his younger brother Private Vivian Neville Main signed up for war together. On 3 September 1916, Eric was killed in action. Just over a year later on 25 December 1917, his brother Vivian who served in the 27th Battalion was killed.

Eric Main enlisted for World War I on 13 October 1915. His medical records on enlistment state that he was 5 feet 10 inches and weighed 161 pounds. He had black hair and brown eyes. The AIF Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad documents his age as 25 and 5 months. He embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board SS Hawkes Bay on 20 April 1916. At that time Eric was enlisted in the 12th Battalion.

The 52nd Australian Infantry Battalion was ‘born’ at Tel el Kebir in Egypt on 1 March 1916 as a part of the process known as “doubling the AIF”, to create the 4th and 5th divisions. Approximately half its recruits were veterans from the 12th Battalion. Both Battalions share the same colours in its ‘patch’, but the 52nd Battalions ‘patch’ is circular to signify a 4th division unit. The first commanding officer of the 52nd Battalion was Lieutenant Colonel Miles Beevor. While Eric was training in Egypt, he joined the 1st Reinforcement of the 52nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Brigade. Record of Service documents show that Eric Main was transferred to the 52nd Battalion from reinforcements of the 12th Battalion ex 1st Australian Division on 14 August 1916.

The 52nd Battalion fought their first major battle at Mouquet Farm, Pozieres, France on 3 September 1916. This attack had a major assaulting role and the 52nd Battalion suffered heavy casualties. It is estimated that they lost approximately 50 per cent of their Battalion. Unfortunately, Eric Claude Main was one of those casualties.

On 2 September 1916, Eric sent a letter to his mother saying that they were ready to take part in an attack. Documentation from the 52nd Battalion war diaries confirms this. The entry from 1 September 1916 states, “This day was used to make final preparations bombs, sandbags, ammunition etc.… were issued to the men”. The AIF ‘Report on the Attack on Mouquet Farm’ states that on 2 September they received their orders for attack and arrangements for ammunition, bombs, water and ration supplies were completed that morning. By early morning on 3 September the men were in position in the front trenches. The report states, “The assault was delivered with much spirit and dash and in cases a short, but fierce and bloody hand to hand conflict…” On 3 September 1916, Eric was officially reported missing. However, on casualty list 301 he was officially reported as killed.

Other men who were present at the attach on Mouquet Farm have made statements that Eric Main was seen in a shell hole near an old German wagon in No Man’s Land. He had been shot throughout his body by machine gun fire. They all made comment that he was a very fine officer and well liked. A medical report dated 13 December 1916 stated that a doctor saw him in a wounded condition near an old German wagon. Eric was 26 years of age when he died.

Eric Claude Main’s commemoration details are found at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial in France). Eric’s name is located on Panel number / Roll of Honour 155 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial. Another memorial bearing his name can be found at the Magill Soldiers Memorial on the corner of Magill Road and Penfold Road in Magill, South Australia. He was awarded the British War Medal for entering theatres of war during a specified period of time.

 

Bibliography

Main, Eric Claude 2016, RSL Virtual War Memorial, accessed 4 March 2016, https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/people/192942

Eric Claude Main 2014, National Archives of Australia, accessed 3 March 2016, http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/NameSearch/Interface/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=8212055

52nd Battalion 1918, Photograph, Australian War Memorial, accessed 3 March 2016, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E01724/?image=1

British War Medal: World War I 2016, Department of Defense, accessed 8 March 2016, http://www.defence.gov.au/Medals/Imperial/WWI/British-War-Medal-1914-20.asp

Eric Claude Main 2015, AIF Project, accessed 3 March 2016, https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=185445

Main, Eric Claude 2015, Australian War Memorial, accessed 3 March 2016, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/1DRL/0471/

Roll of Honour: Eric Claude Main 2016, Australian War Memorial, accessed 3 March 2016, https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1648802/

2nd Lieutenant Eric Claude Main 52nd Battalion N/A, Photographs, Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing, accessed 3 March 2016, http://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1053096--1-.pdf

 

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