Francis Patrick (Frank) LARACY MC

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LARACY, Francis Patrick

Service Number: 121
Enlisted: 24 August 1914
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 1st Infantry Battalion
Born: Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, 5 March 1891
Home Town: Toowoomba, Toowoomba, Queensland
Schooling: St Stanislaus College Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Chemist's Assistant
Died: Drowned at sea, At Sea, 10 October 1918, aged 27 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
His name is inscribed on the Hollybank Memorial in Southampton, England.
Memorials: Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton, Toowoomba Roll of Honour WW1, Toowoomba War Memorial (Mothers' Memorial)
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World War 1 Service

24 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 121, 1st Field Ambulance
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 121, 1st Field Ambulance
20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 121, 1st Field Ambulance, HMAT Euripides, Sydney
10 Oct 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Infantry Battalion
15 Oct 1918: Honoured Military Cross

WW1

The details provided are taken from the book "Stealth Raiders - a few daring men in 1918" written by Lucas Jordan, published 2017, refer to pages 158 to 161 and 269. Prior to the war he was a Chemists assistant of Toowoomba Qld. He enlisted 24th Aug 1914 aged 23 years. He served with the 1st Infantry Battalion, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. During his service as a Lieutenant he was awarded the Military Cross for his activities. Unfortunately, while on leave, he was on board the ship SS Leinster which was torpedoed in the Irish Sea 10th Oct 1918. Rest in Peace Lest We Forget

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Biography contributed by Peter Benson

Frank Laracy was born on 5 March 1891 in Toowoomba, Queensland, a town west of Brisbane. He was the only son, along with four daughters, born to Michael Laracy and Johanna Brennan, both of whom had been born in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. They held the license for the Horse and Jockey Hotel in Toowoomba, and later, the Harp of Erin Hotel, and Michael was a member and Chairman of the Gowrie Divisional Board. Michael died in 1900 at the age of forty-four and Johanna carried on the business for many years.

Educated at St Stanislaus College, Bathurst N.S.W., their only son, Frank, was in Sydney working as a ‘Chemist’s Assistant’ when he enlisted in the Australian Army in August 1914. He was among the first groups to sail to Europe, posted with the 1st Field Ambulance. He was at the landing and evacuation of Gallipoli where he was severely wounded. Writing to his sister from hospital in Alexandria in May 1915, in a letter published in the Maitland Daily Mercury, he described his experience of being on the battlefield for fourteen days: “Actual warfare is awful” was his stark comment.

In another letter to his mother published in the Brisbane Courier, he told her he was progressing favourably and would “soon be back fighting the Turk”.

He was in France in 1916 when he was promoted to Sergeant and in August of that year he transferred to the regular army, to the 1st Infantry Battalion, receiving his commission as 2nd Lieutenant. He was wounded again in November 1916 and was sent to hospital in England. Throughout 1917 he was held in a supernumerary role in England but he was back in France in June 1918. Again wounded in action, he was transferred to hospital in England and was to be sent back to Australia. His military records show that he was awarded the Military Cross on 15 October for “conspicuous bravery and leadership”.

It is not known why he was on board RMS Leinster on 10 October, though it has been suggested that he was visiting his Irish relatives. In a report to authorities after the sinking, an Australian survivor, L/Corporal Michael Roche, reported seeing on the 7.30 mail train from Dublin “an Australian officer who had his left arm in a sling and carrying a gentleman’s suitcase in the right and wearing good conduct stripes”.

Frank Laracy was the only Australian officer on board, so this must have been him. In January 1919 Frank’s sister declared to the authorities in Melbourne that she had “received authentic information that my brother embarked, and was seen to jump into the water from the “Leinster” after she had been torpedoed”. She also enclosed two post cards from Dublin, dated 7 October.

Johanna Laracy was officially advised on 26 October that Frank was “Missing, supposed drowned”. His personal effects eventually reached Toowoomba, a green valise and a cabin trunk, containing as well as his clothing, letters, photos etc, a Smith and Wesson revolver and a German pistol, presumably souvenirs of his four years in Europe. In a presentation in Toowoomba in May 1920, Mrs Laracy received the Military Cross won by her only son. His name is inscribed on the Hollybank Memorial in Southampton and on the Roll of Honour on the Australian War Memorial.

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