Richard Samuel BIRCH

BIRCH, Richard Samuel

Service Number: 1511
Enlisted: 1 February 1915, Keswick South Australia Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Auburn, South Australia, 31 March 1880
Home Town: Black Forest, Unley, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Butcher
Died: Adelaide, South Australia, 23 February 1974, aged 93 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Enfield Memorial Park, South Australia
East Niche Wall No. 1
Memorials: Auburn Primary School WW1 Honor Roll
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World War 1 Service

1 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Keswick South Australia Australia
1 Feb 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1511, 27th Infantry Battalion
1 Feb 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1511, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1,

embarkation_roll: roll_number: 15 embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Geelong embarkation_ship_number: A2 public_note:

31 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, HMAT Geelong (A2)
15 Jun 1918: Discharged AIF WW1
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
Date unknown: Wounded 1511, 27th Infantry Battalion

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Son of Richard BIRCH and Hannah nee HEARD

Surname: BIRCH; Given Names: Richard Samuel; Date of Birth: 31 March 1880; Date of Enlistment: 1 February 1915; Trade or Calling: Butcher; Birth Location: Auburn; Address prior to enlistment: Black Forest; Photograph sent by: Miss E G Birch
Source: State Records SA.

Birch Richard Samuel : SERN 1511 : POB Auburn SA : POE Adelaide SA : NOK F Birch Richard James

Richard Samuel Birch was born in Auburn, in SA's Clare and Gilbert Valley region, in 1880.  Auburn is notable as the home of C.J. Dennis, author of the Australian folk classic, "The Sentimental Bloke".

Almost 35 years old, and at 6 feet (180cm) tall, much taller than the average man of the time,  he was a qualified butcher by the time he enlisted for service in early 1915.  His NoK was given as his father, their address at that time as Pyap West on the Murray River.  Later the address of his family had changed to Orchard Avenue, Blackforest in Adelaide's then southern suburbs.

His records indicate service at ANZAC (Gallipoli), noting his disembarkation ex Mudros afterr the withdrawal on 6 January 1916.  His records the denote contact with meningitis whilst in Egypt treatment for which he received at 5 Field Ambulance..

He then proceeded to France via Alexandria and Marseilles in March 1916.

In the absence of entries in his record to suggest otherwise, it is presumed that he served throughout 1916 with the Battalion through the Armentieres and Messines sector in June  / July  and then the Pozieres / Mouquet Farm campaign in August September, and Flers in November 1916.

He received a period of leave to England in late 1916 shortly after the fighting at Flers in early November.

Then in March 1917 he was hospitalised and shortly afterwards it became apparent that he was suffering 'mental exhaustion'. These days this would be decribed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and it can be assured that he had experienced plenty of stress and trauma during the preceeding 9 months given what the 27th Battalion had experienced.

The situation deteriorated and in July 1917 he was returned to Australia, initially to Melbourne.  He was transferred to Adelaide on condition he be institutionalised, noting that "he is certainly not a suitable case for any institution other than one for the insane".  His discharge documentation notes 'mania' as the reason for discharge.

Richard Birch thus appears to have been one of the psychological casualties of the AIF.


1914/15 Star 4656

British War Medal 14031

Victory Medal 13933