Edward Burt HEM

HEM, Edward Burt

Service Number: 3821
Enlisted: 5 May 1916, Sydney, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 30th Infantry Battalion
Born: Bendigo, Victoria, 28 March 1891
Home Town: White Hills, Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Memorials: Bendigo East Bendigo School, Bendigo White Hills Arch of Triumph
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World War 1 Service

5 May 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3821, Sydney, New South Wales
24 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3821, 30th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
24 Aug 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3821, 30th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Anchises, Sydney
8 Aug 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 3821, 30th Infantry Battalion, The Battle of Amiens, GSW (face)
19 May 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 3821, 30th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Edward Burt HEM  SN 3821

Edward enlisted at the Sydney Show grounds on May 5, 1916. Prior to that he had earlier completed a Medical examination at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne.

He was twenty five years of age, a Labourer and single. He was born in Bendigo, and he listed his mother as NOK (Nearest of Kin). Her address was care of the White Hills Post Office. This was not uncommon for 1915.

Edward was allocated to the 8th reinforcements of the 30th battalion. He would commence training at the Barroul camp in Kiama, on the south coast of NSW.  He would be located there till the unit embarked for Europe on August 24, 1916.

Edward’s ship was HMAT A11 Anchisis. It was owned by the Ocean SS Co Ltd, Liverpool, and leased by the Commonwealth until 30 July 1917. (see photo) 

After arriving in England, Edward would be hospitalised and be in recuperation until early February 1917 when he and other reinforcements ‘Proceeded Overseas’ for France via the port of Folkestone. He would have a further bout of illness at the Australian Base Camp in France and fianlly in May join his unit with the 30th Battalion.

In early 1917, the German Army withdrew to the Hindenburg Line. During the general advance that followed, the 30th Battalion had the honour of occupying Bapaume, one of the original objectives for the Somme Offensive of 1916. The 30th missed much of the heavy fighting of 1917, being employed in flank protection and reserve roles at the second battle of Bullecourt and the battle of Polygon Wood. (Source AWM web site)

Apart from the short bouts of illness, Edward would spend the rest of the 1917 year and the early part of 1918 with his battalion in the field.

Unlike many AIF battalions, the 30th also had a relatively quiet time during the German Spring Offensive of 1918 as the 5th Division was in reserve for much of the time. When the Allies took to the offensive again, the 30th fought in a minor attack at Morlancourt on 29 July, after having conducted several large raids in the area in June. The 30th was heavily engaged when it lead the 5th Division's advance down the Morcourt Valley, during the battle of Amiens on 8 and 9 August. (Source AWM web site)

Unfortunately Edward is ‘Wounded in Action’ on August 8 in this crucial battle of Amiens. Edward’s casualty record indicates he received a GSW (Gun Shot Wound) to the face / neck and is invalided to England for treatment.  

The Battle of Amiens was an Allied victory that helped bring an end to World War I. Following the Second Battle of the Marne, the Allies launched an attack in August 1918 with a force of 75,000 men, more than 500 tanks and nearly 2,000 planes. The offensive achieved huge gains on the first day, with Allied troops and tanks advancing eight miles and causing 27,000 casualties. Although the German resistance stiffened and the fighting was over after a few days, the battle convinced many in the German high command that victory in the war was unattainable. The 30th was heavily engaged when it lead the 5th Division's advance down the Morcourt Valley, during the battle of Amiens on 8 and 9 August. The Amiens offensive finally ended Erich Ludendorff’s hopes for further attacks and indeed persuaded the German high command that the war must be ended. For Ludendorff, “August 8th was the black day of the German Army in the history of the war.” (Source AWM website) 

Edward was admitted to the Bulford Hospital for the remainder of August and part of September, 1918. On September 5, he would be discharged to the AIF camp at Parkhouse. He would spend Christmas and New Year in the camp and ‘Return to Australia’  on the HT A38 Ulysis January 18, arriving home March 4, 1919.

He would be discharged from the AIF on May 19, 1919.

Private Edward Burt Hem is remembered by the people of White Hills. The names of the local lads who sacrificed their lives and those that were fortunate to return from the Great War are shown on the embossed copper plaques on the White Hills Arch of Triumph, at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens.