Joseph Edward PAYNTER

PAYNTER, Joseph Edward

Service Numbers: 153, 1493
Enlisted: 21 August 1915, Bendigo, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: Australian Flying Corps (AFC)
Born: Bendigo, Victoria, 17 September 1994
Home Town: White Hills, Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Proof reader
Memorials: Bendigo White Hills Arch of Triumph
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World War 1 Service

21 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 153, Bendigo, Victoria
16 Mar 1916: Involvement Private, SN 153, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
16 Mar 1916: Embarked Private, SN 153, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, HMAT Orsova, Melbourne
11 Sep 1916: Discharged Private, SN 153, Australian Flying Corps (AFC)
27 Jan 1917: Enlisted Private, SN 1493, Bendigo, Victoria
18 May 1917: Discharged Private, SN 1493, Australian Flying Corps (AFC)

Help us honour Joseph Edward Paynter's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Joseph Edward Paynter   SN 153 / 1493

Joseph Paynter enlisted twice during World War One. Sickness would cut short both attempts to serve his country.

Joseph fronted at the Recruiting depot at the Bendigo Town Hall on August 21, 1915. A large number of men had already left from the Bendigo district for the front. Initial reports of the glorious endeavours and victories against the Turks on the Gallipoli peninsula were starting to dissipate in the press. As the 1915 year wore on, reading the long lists of men either Wounded or ‘Killed in Action’ became a daily ritual on on the homefront and the worsening situation meant reinforcements and new recruits were now desperately needed more than ever.

Joseph worked as a ‘Proof Reader’ at the Bendigo Advertiser which no doubt was the hub of all war related news entering the city. He had just turned 20 years of age which meant that he no longer needed his parent’s consent to sign up for the army.

His attestation paper reveals that he was single, lived with his parents on Buller street, quite near Lake Weeroona, close to White Hills. He listed his ‘Nearest of Kin’ (NOK) as his father, also a Joseph Edward Paynter, who was the newly appointed Health Inspector for the City of Bendigo. Joseph’s mother was Mary (Nee Trengrove) and both were long standing and well respected Bendigo residents having recently celebrated their Silver wedding anniversary on May 1st , 1914. The Paynter family were heavily involved in Civic life with Joseph’s sister a regular performer at each  Soldier's Farewell in the local White Hills community.   

The timing of his enlistment in August,1915 had a specific purpose. We read why he and friends waited till this time to enlist in the Bendigo Independent of August 26-

- At yesterday’s enlistment proceedings – Joseph Edward Paynter and three other Bendigo lads (Bertram, Posnonby, and Little) are to be members of the 17th Australian Army medical Corp and intended to accompany Major Williams to the front. On learning that the Major was to proceed to New South Wales, however, and that it is impossible for them to be attached to his contingent, they decided to volunteer and go away with the AAMC or the Infantry’

Joseph would be attached to the Australian Medical Corp (AMC) No.5 General Hospital at Ascot Vale for initial training from October till Mid December. He then is selected out a large number of recruits to report to the No.6 Base Hospital on St.Kilda Road, Melbourne, one of the main treating hospitals in the city.

On March 3, 1916, Joseph is attached to the Number 1, Flying squadron in the Australian Flying Corp, a new addition to the army and a totally new type of warfare.  

No. 1 Squadron Flying Squadron was established as a unit of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) at Point Cook, Victoria, in January 1916 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel E.H. Reynolds. With a complement of 28 officers, 195 airmen, no aircraft and little training.                                                                                      (Source - )

Joseph and the Squadron recruits and officers would embark March 16, on board the HMAT Orsova. The journeys first stop would be Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for refueling and replenishment of food stuffs and water.   

Joseph would write colourfully home to his parents of this stopover which is then reported in the 'Bendigoian Newspaper' published on June 8, 1916 - NEWS FROM PRIVATE PAYNTER.                                          

By the last mail Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Paynter received quite a budget of correspondence from their son, Private J. E. Paynter, of the A.A.M.C. unit attached to the Australian Flying Corps, which at the latest advice was stationed in Egypt. On the way they called at Colombo, and the Australians had a grand look round, going to Kandy by special train. All the harbor sights were interesting, yet amusing. Private Paynter didn't know whether the natives at the stations en route to Kandy were out to see the soldiers going to the front, but the crowds were great, and some natives could converse in English. At Kandy they had a look round, enjoyed a two miles rickshaw ride round Kandy Lake, in the centre of which is a small island with the ruins of the king's harem, and a walk into the hills with some educated native boys. An amusing incident occurred in the native quarter.                                                                                   Private Paynter, who had his camera with him, soon had a large concourse of natives clambering to have their photos taken. Before he could realise what happened there were natives flying in all directions before a native policeman who was belting them. An interesting place was the temple of Buddha's tooth, which cost 15' cent (2 shillings) to go through with their boots on. The wife of the Governor's agent was very kind, and gave them morning tea. Then she directed them to the Governor's palace a beautiful white building close by. They left Kandy amid much cheering and hand shaking, after an enjoyable time. The return journey was just as enjoyable. Every stream along the line had natives bathing, sometimes a whole family, cattle and all. After leaving Ceylon Private Paynter was on night duty in the hospital; and afterwards in charge of the infectious diseases quarters'. (Source - The Bendigoian Newspaper June 8, 1916- see attached)

After a month at sea the Orsova would reach its destination of Egypt on April 14. The journey fairly quick, just over a month. Men would be eager to see this ancient land however, Joseph’s view of his new world was quite different from his impression of Colombo.

In the Bendigo Independent was printed the following -                 On the 17th of April, somewhere in Egypt, he writes - 'They disembarked at Suez. They had a good trip overland, about 40 miles along the canal, and then west to Tel-el Kebir. He considered the Egyptians were filthy-worse than the Congolese. The soldiers have a good canteen.

Pte. Paynter says:-"My opinion is that Cairo is rotten, but Heliopolis is beautiful, being a new, well built place, with a network of tramways leading to Cairo. There is an electric tramway in Cairo and a great affair it is, too. One can get a "seven mile run for a 1/. You can't beat that for cheapness. The electric car to the pyramids is about one hour's run. This costs 2/. There is plenty of life in 'Cairo, but one visit a week is quite enough for me. At present I am in hospital, but not very bad.- I got inoculated one day last week,That same night obtained a high temperature, and have been here since. Kindest regards to all."

As we read in Joseph's letter home, The No.1 Flying Squadron had it’s headquarters in Heliopolis and finally received it’s first aircraft on June 12, 1916. Flying primitive and poorly armed Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 two-seat biplanes, its primary roles during this period of the Sinai Campaign were reconnaissance—including aerial photography—and artillery spotting for the British Army. The relationship between airmen and ground crew was less formal than in British units; squadron members recalled that "The CO is the only one who is ever called 'sir'" and that officers did not demand "saluting and standing to attention and all that rot".                  (Source – )

Unfortunately after just two and half months in the service of the Squadron and a week after the palnes arrive, Joseph is admitted to the Number 3 General Hospital at Abbassia near Cairo suffering from fever (Pyrexia) , a reaction to the inoculation.  Six weeks later his condition has not improved and it is decided that he is medically unfit for service and must return to Australia. His condition is now listed as Haematuria (red blood cells in one’s urine) This must have come as a bitter blow for Jospeh.

On July 5, 1916, he is taken on board H.S Karoola for a month long journey back to Australia disembarking on August 2nd, nearly a two month return journey.

Joseph requests to be discharged from the AIF in late August and is granted a discharge on September 11, 1916, completing 495 days of service in the AIF.

Returning to the home town of Bendigo, the family has moved house from White Hills to Shamrock st, in an area known as Golden Square. He takes on a new role as a clerk although we do not know whether he has returned to his former employer the Bendigo Advertiser. With health recovered, Joseph seeks re-engagement and re-enlists on February 1, 1917, just 4 and half months after being discharged. He completes the Attestation process and passes the medical on January 27, and is formally back in the AIF.

Reporting to the new Australian Flying Corp headquarters and camp at Laverton on February 7, 1917, he is back training with the Flying trainees. Not explained is Joseph’s next move. Six weeks later, on March 28 he is transferred to the No. 1 Depot Battalion at the main AIF Camp at Broadmeadows.  A potential move to the Infantry may have meant a better chance of getting to the front, we do not know.

However, Edward’s health takes another turn for the worse, and he is admitted to the No.5 Australian General Hospital on St.Kilda Rd, on April 17, 1917 the hospital where he once worked. His condition is described as ‘Debility’, a general weakened state, muscle weakness and weight loss. He is granted leave at the end of the month for Easter. Three weeks later on May 18, 1917 he is medically discharged from the AIF. It is clearly stamped that Discharge is not due to misconduct and his conduct is rated as ‘Good’ by his Commanding Officer. 

Joseph’s second attempt to be a soldier is over. We read in the Bendigoian newspaper the following January 28, 1918 that Joseph has a new career.

Mr. J. Paynter, of Bendigo, has been appointed to take charge of the Mystic Park State School. Mr Paynter, who is a son of Mr J Paynter, city health inspector, was on active service abroad, and was invalided home from Egypt early last year.

(Mystic Park is a rural village in the Goulburn-Murray (Torrumbarry) irrigation area. It is about midway on the railway line between Kerang and Swan Hill.)

Private Joseph Edward Paynter 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 White Hills Botanic Gardens.