John (Lobie) LOBEGEIGER

Poppy

LOBEGEIGER, John

Service Number: 9623
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Driver
Last Unit: 11th Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Boonah, Queensland, Australia, 7 August 1894
Home Town: Roadvale, Scenic Rim, Queensland
Schooling: Roadvale, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Locomotive Engine Cleaner
Died: Killed in Action, near Cerisy- Gailly France, 8 August 1918, aged 24 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Villers Bretonneux National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France, Crucifix Corner Cemetery, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Boonah War Memorial, Ipswich Branch Engine Drivers, Firemen & Cleaners Association Roll of Honour, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

17 Dec 1915: Involvement Gunner, SN 9623, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade
17 Dec 1915: Embarked Gunner, SN 9623, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade , HMAT Berrima, Sydney
8 Aug 1918: Involvement Driver, SN 9623, 11th Field Artillery Brigade

Narrative

John Lobegeiger #9623 11th Field Artillery Brigade

John Lobegeiger reported he had been born in Boonah. He grew up in Roadvale, some distance out of Boonah, where he attended school. When John presented himself for enlistment in Brisbane on 14th August 1915, he stated he was 21 years old and employed as a locomotive engine cleaner by Queensland Railways. His attestation papers record his height as 5’11” and weight of 12 stone.

John was obviously a tall well built young man and it may have been his physical attributes that resulted in his being posted to the field artillery as a gunner. Comments recorded by his companions after his death mention a number of nicknames; Jack (perhaps to prevent confusion with his father also named John), Lobie and Long ‘Un.

Jack embarked as a reinforcement for the 3rd Field Artillery on the “Berrima” in Sydney on 17th December 1915. He disembarked in Egypt on 24th January 1916. Following the successful evacuation of the Australians from Gallipoli in December 1915, the AIF was to undergo a doubling of the size of the force. The camps in Egypt were full of reinforcements who had enlisted during 1915 which provided the opportunity to create three additional divisions on top of the two already in existence. This expansion also required the expansion of specialist units such as signals and artillery.

The main weapon of the artillery in 1916 was the 18 pounder field gun. This gun required a team of up to eight men, with three pairs of horses hitched to the limber and the gun itself. Jack was designated as a driver in March 1916 and when the artillery men landed in Marseilles they proceeded to Etaples where they would take delivery of their new 18 pounders. In May and June 1916, Jack was in a VD ward with a dose of gonorrhoea, for which his pay was stopped for 50 days while recovering.

Jack would have had his first taste of action at Pozieres in July and August before being transferred to the Divisional Ammunition Column; the logistical unit that was responsible for the constant supply of shells to the frontline batteries. He remained with the ammunition column until March 1917 when he was transferred to the 11th Field Artillery. Soon after joining the 11th FAB, Jack was involved in an altercation with a junior officer who had Jack charged with disobeying an order given personally. Jack’s punishment was 28 days of Filed Punishment #2.

The latter half of 1917 saw the Australians engaged in the Passchendaele campaign with the artillery heavily involved at Messines, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde and Passchendaele. When the campaign ground to a halt in the Flanders mud, the artillery were exhausted from almost six months continuous action. A serious period of rest was required through the winter of 1917/18.


The spring of 1918 saw much activity along the Western Front. German attacks on the Somme and in the Ypres salient in Belgium caused the Australian Divisions which had been in rest areas to be rushed into hastily prepared defences to meet the German advances. Four Australian divisions were deployed in the defence of Amiens on the Somme while the 1st Division remained in the front line near Strazeele and Meteren on the Belgian border. Jack was now a driver with the 111th Howitzer Battery. From April to July, the Australian artillery supported infantry brigades in defending the city of Amiens but August witnessed a change in strategy with the British and French Forces going on the offensive. On 8th August a huge orchestrated attack on the German lines on the south bank of the Somme began. It involved coordinated deployment of infantry, tanks, artillery and automatic weapon barrages, aircraft and smoke screens. The German defenders were overwhelmed and huge gains were made.

Red Cross Wounded and Missing reports describe Jack Lobegeiger on the 8th August as the lead driver of a team of six galloping towards a new firing position when a German shell landed amongst his team. Jack was killed outright along with five of the six horses in the team. He was buried by his mates who had made a temporary wooden cross to mark his grave however the advance was proceeding at such a pace that gunners did not have time to erect the cross.

Jack’s file contains notes to the effect that photos were taken of the “memorial cross” which were sent to his family at Roadvale but these photographs were probably not of his actual grave. Other notes from the Graves Registration Unit would indicate that his grave had been located but the Commonwealth War Graces Commission does not list a known grave. Instead John Lobegeiger is commemorated on the limestone tablets at the Australian National Memorial at Villers Brettoneux, in the company of another 10,000 Australians who lost their lives in France and have no known grave.

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