John Thomas (Jack) MALONE

MALONE, John Thomas

Service Number: 2731
Enlisted: 19 August 1915, Holsworthy, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 20th Infantry Battalion
Born: Liverpool, England, February 1879
Home Town: Paddington, Woollahra, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Natural causes, Darwin, Northern Territory, 9 April 1941
Cemetery: Gardens Road Cemetery, Darwin, NT
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

19 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Holsworthy, New South Wales
2 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Euripides, Sydney
2 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
30 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Pozières
4 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Flers/Gueudecourt
5 Apr 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
3 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second)
28 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
7 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, The Battle of Amiens
29 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Mont St Quentin / Peronne
5 Oct 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion, Montbrehain
18 Jul 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2731, 20th Infantry Battalion

Finding Private Malone

I never knew my paternal grandparents, my father said that he was orphaned around WWI, and subsequently reared by a myriad of relatives. His childhood was a “no go” area and never discussed.

In 2012, my cousin Robin and I decided to check the war record and burial place of our shared grandfather JOHN (Jack) THOMAS MALONE, SERVICE No. 2731. 6TH Reinforcement, 20th Battalion, B company, 5th brigade.

We logged onto the Australian War Memorial website and found our grandfather’s service record, which not only told us that he had returned from the war, but included a brief mention of a letter to the Army from my father Terence (Ted) Malone in February, 1933, written 15 years after war’s end. Puzzled, we asked National Archives Australia to obtain a copy of the letter, and so the search began.

Family marriage and birth certificates stated that the Irish/American (*England born but possible USA migrant) John Malone married Australian Grace Parnell in Sydney, in 1909. * Relatives tell us John may have had an American accent and my father always thought his dad was American, even though Dad was 8 the last time he saw his father in 1920, and John had been away in WW1 between 1915-1919.

Four children were born in their eastern suburbs home, Grace, Terence, David and Hazel. Baby David died in August, 1915, with John enlisting two weeks later, leaving Australia on November 2, 1915, and based in France. John’s wife Grace Parnell died in late April, 1919 in the Spanish influenza epidemic, with the AWM website showing that John arrived home from Europe just weeks later. The trail ended there, with no records of his remarriage or death, nor anything else.

The Police Gazette showed that on December 29, 1920, extended family reported him as missing, John had seemingly abandoned his family and disappeared.
We checked burial records in Australia and found a John Malone in Darwin in an unmarked plot in Gardens Road Cemetery. Not imagining that this was our grandfather, we checked all of the John Malones in digitalised newspaper website Trove and found 21 articles in national newspapers about a John Malone “victim of one of the most brutal assaults in NT history” in November, 1935.

Wanting to rule this John Malone out, we approached Northern Territory Library for any records of a John Malone, and noted a number of charges for drunkenness in the NT in 1929, 1931 and 1935. The electoral roll listed him as being camped at Vestey’s Hill (Darwin) from 1931-1940. We contacted NT genealogical groups, Darwin Council, Police, the Territory Administration, museums, unions, etc. There was some difficulty in obtaining documentation, as an example Darwin RSL advised that their records were destroyed in the 1942 Darwin bombing, and to add to that was Cyclone Tracey’s devastation. Nonetheless, we obtained this man’s death certificate (April 9, 1941), which did not mention his second name, marital status, children, nor DOB, but the place of birth (Liverpool, England) reflected that written on our known “real” grandfather’s marriage certificate.

The mortuary report from Northern Territory Archives Service outlined his tragic last days, he was “emaciated”, his meagre possessions being listed as “1 hat, shirt and trousers, pair of old tan shoes and a singlet”, and their destruction by incineration. Surprisingly there was an alleged mystery son mentioned, a John Malone in NSW (who we have been unable to trace). We hoped that this man who lived and died so tragically was not our grandfather.

Breakthrough … April, 2013
National Archives discovered a file relating to our known grandfather John Thomas Malone (service 2731). The file included a letter to the Army from his Newcastle-based daughter Grace (my Aunty) and her sister Hazel in 1932, seeking his whereabouts, and a reply that Defence had had no information nor contact from him since July 31, 1919. The file showed that before he “abandoned” his children in 1920, John had attained a few months’ work in Barraba on a government-funded scheme and as a Sydney builder’s labourer in 1919. It included proof that Darwin John was service number 2731, an invoice for the burial of a destitute man named John Malone in Darwin on April 10, 1941, including a letter from the Northern Territory Administration mentioning that John had been certified as “permanently incapacitated for work”.

Our conclusion is that John Malone may have returned from WWI with shell shock (post traumatic stress disorder). We cannot grasp why else he would leave NSW for Australia’s then most remote area, abandoning his children, family and friends. He lived a hermit-like existence in a shack with a sand floor in Darwin until his death, a lifestyle fuelled by alcohol.

We visited John Thomas Malone’s unmarked grave in Darwin in May, 2013, as we separately searched Gardens Road Cemetery, a yellow butterfly appeared near my cousin Robin, 100 metres away, then flew to where I was standing next to his grave, circling me and the grave several times, before disappearing.

We submitted a successful application for an Office of War Graves memorial, and in late January, 2015, 100 years after war’s end, his new grave was finalised. We suspect it may well be the last WWI war grave initiated and are grateful indeed to the Office of War Graves and the Australia Government for honouring a commitment to veterans made so very long ago … it is proof that Australia means the words “Lest We Forget”.

We continue to search for this man’s birth family in the US and UK and his alleged NSW second son John. - Maree Callaghan (nee Malone) mareecc@bigpond.net.au

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

John Malone's story , by Maree Callaghan

 

Private John Thomas Malone, service no. 2731, emerged visually unscathed from World War One, apart from needing a set of dentures, possibly a result of trench mouth which was common in the trenches.[1]  The war alone did not decimate John’s life, however its repercussions did, as he lost everything of importance to him in its aftermath.

It is doubtful that, unlike many of his fellow 18% British-born volunteers, John enlisted out of patriotism for the mother country, as he was of proud Irish heritage, more likely he was driven by the prospect of regular good pay, as the cost of living had increased dramatically in 1915.[2]

John had a wife and two children under five, with another due in January, 2016.  He enlisted at Holsworthy, NSW, on 19 August, 1915, the second largest month for Australian World War One enlistments, three weeks after the death of his infant son with meningitis.[3]

Thirty-six years old and five foot five inches in height, John would have been ineligible to enlist until a few months before.[4]  Weighing 119lbs, or less than 54 kgs., and as Australian soldiers went to war weighed down by almost 30 kgs. of clothes, weapons, tools and kit, more than half his total weight, John was not among the Infantry’s finest specimens.[5]

Leaving Australia on HMAT Euripedes on 2 November, 1915, John was admitted to Heliopolis hospital with gastritis on 7 December, 1916, shortly after his arrival in Egypt.[6] On the home front, wife Grace gave birth to daughter Hazel on 24 January.[7]

John was taken on strength on 5 February, 1916, to the 6th Reinforcement, 20th Battalion, and sailed on HMAT Haverford, disembarking at Marseilles before marching to Thiennes.[8]

He dug trenches in France’s Bois Grenier, experiencing “gas alarm signals heard” and some shelling and fighting before entering the front line trenches 24 April.[9]

On 16 July, 1916, wife Grace, who had changed her address since John’s enlistment, notified the Department of Defence of another address change, the first of seven additional address changes between then and January, 1919.[10] Grace was seemingly not coping, albeit she continued to receive three-fifths of John’s allotment paid weekly by postal drafts at Paddington Post Office.[11]

John went AWL three times, and albeit he was docked a total of 53 days’ pay, Grace’s allotment was not similarly reduced, so his pay forfeiture did not contribute to Grace’s peripatetic ways.[12]

“The 20th Battalion entered the trenches of the Western Front for the first time in April 1916 and in the following month had the dubious honour of being the first Australian battalion to be raided by the Germans. The 20th took part in its first major offensive around Pozieres between late July and the end of August 1916. After a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium, the 2nd Division, which included the 5th Brigade, came south again in October. The 20th Battalion provided reinforcements for the attack near Flers between 14 and 16 November, launched in conditions that Charles Bean described as the worst ever encountered by the AIF.”[13]

The men were “in poor state” by 24 November, and whilst John and his battalion were resting at  Ribemont (the Somme), John went AWL for 11 hours, forfeiting 29 days’ pay and  receiving 28 days’ F.P. (Field Punishment) no 2.[14]

Field punishment in the AIF often differed from what is set out in the manuals, it was more likely to be detention and loss of privileges such as tobacco and alcohol.[15]

 

“In 1917, the 20th was involved in the follow-up of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and was one of four battalions to defeat a counter-stroke by a German force, almost five times as strong, at Lagnicourt.”[16]

 

John’s battalion was in position by 3.20 am for the second Bullecourt battle on 3-4 May in France, experiencing “very heavy M.G. fire”.[17]  On 22 May, at Rubempre (the Somme), with training “hindered by continuous rain”, John went AWL for 43 hours.[18]

 

On 8 August, 1917, at Boulogne, John was admitted to hospital with laryngitis, followed soon after by a prolonged stay due to Olecranon Bursitis, probably the result of field training involving crawling without protective gear, and repetitive trauma to elbows.[19]

Returning to his unit on September 28, John fought in the First Battle of Passchendaele, where 1,250 Australian casualties were sustained in the quagmire.[20]   

On 1 January, 2018, two men were sent to hospital with “sickness”, with many more ill that month, including John, who rejoined the battalion from the hospital in the field on 5 January, one of his numerous short hospitalisations.[21]      

“The 20th  was one of many Australian battalions rushed to stop the German Spring Offensive (March-May 1918), and it encountered some particularly severe fighting when ordered to attack at Hangard Wood on 7 April,” where on the battle’s first day, 150 of its battalion were casualties.[22]

Training near Tronville, John sprained his ankle in late June, was diagnosed with the flu, and admitted to hospital until mid July.[23]

On 8 August at Amiens, John was on the front line, with “six men killed and 17 wounded by lunchtime”, heavy artillery was used, with “enemy planes very active,” and by 16 August, John’s battalion listed 30 killed, 115 wounded, seven hospitalised and 15 unaccounted for.[24]

The battalion was relieved and moved to Fouilloy (the Somme) billets on 17 August and seven days later, seven men were declared illegal absentees.[25] On 25 August, John was caught “in town without a pass” for four hours, forfeiting 14 days’ pay.[26]  The 20th was then involved in the attack on Mont St Quentin on 31 August, with the unit “being heavily shelled, inflicting heavy casualties” with 22 killed and 106 wounded.[27] 

John’s battalion then participated in breaking through the Beaurevoir Line around Montbrehain on 3-5 October, where there were 430 Australian casualties.[28] The 20th Battalion itself suffered “nine killed, 107 wounded”.[29]  On 12 October, John rejoined the battalion from hospital, being one of the injured.[30]

Three days’ later, the unit was billeted at the small French village of Vignacourt behind the front lines, where it remained until the Armistice was signed.[31]

Disembarking in NSW on the Tras Os Montes in NSW on 25 May, 1919, John missed the funeral of his wife Grace, who had passed away with Spanish Influenza on 27 April, one of its 15,000 Australian deaths.[32] His three children had been dispersed among his wife’s relatives, never to live with their father again.[33]

John was one of the 133,000 veterans found jobs by the Department of Repatriation, three months’ work 500 kms away from his children in July, 1919.[34]  The Repatriation grant was “exhausted” in November and John made an application for assistance, receiving fourteen days’ sustenance on 20 November.[35] He disappeared shortly after with no warning, his family never saw or heard from him again.[36]

It was not until 2013 that John’s grandchildren identified his unmarked grave in Darwin, NT, where he died of chronic nephritis in April, 1941.[37] John’s death was “accepted as being related to his war service” in December, 2013, and the family’s application for a Commemorative War Grave was successful, probably due to the “trench nephritis” so common in World War One, where it accounted for 35,000 casualties in British forces.[38]

Electoral rolls and police records show that John had lived alone in a beach shack in remote Darwin, with a number of drunkenness convictions, the first in February, 1929.[39]

John’s war did not end in November, 1918, the war-related Spanish Influenza epidemic, post-war unemployment conditions, John’s inability to cope, possibly due to the shell shock which afflicted 41,800 of his comrades, and his health issues ensured that his war lasted forever.[40]



[1] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone,  pp. 1, 32, B2455, National Archives of Australia;  Trench Mouth, Medically reviewed by Christine Frank, DDS on November 15, 2017,  written by Brian Krans and Kristeen Cherne, https://www.healthline.com/health/trench-mouth, Accessed 17 March, 2018.
[2] K. H. Jobson, AM, First AIF Enlistment Patterns and Reasons For Their Variation, p. 62,  HAA107 Families at War, Module 2, Chapter 2; Bart Ziino (2010) Enlistment and Non-enlistment in Wartime Australia: Responses to the Call to Arms Appeal, p. 7, Australian Historical Studies, 41:2, 217-232, DOI: 10.1080/10314611003713603, HAA107, Families at War, Module 2, Chapter 2.
[3] Service record of Private John Thomas Malone,  p. 1;   K. H. Jobson, AM, First AIF Enlistment Patterns and Reasons For Their Variation, p. 64, HAA107 Families at War, Module 2, Chapter 2; Death Certificate of David Malone, died 27 July, 1915, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages NSW, 11910/1915.
[4] Service record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 4;  K. H. Jobson, AM, First AIF Enlistment Patterns and Reasons For Their Variation, p. 2,  HAA107 Families at War, Module 2, Chapter 2.
[5] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 4; Anzac uniforms functional but heavy, SBS News, 17 April 2014, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/anzac-uniforms-functional-but-heavy, Accessed 28 February, 2018.
[6] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 5.
[7] Death certificate of Hazel Malone, died 10 October, 2006, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, NZ, 19742/2006.
[8] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone,  p. 9, p. 37; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries,  “20th Battalion”,  March, 1916,  AWM4 23/37/8, p. 4,  Australian War Memorial.
[9] Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion”, April, 1916, AWM4 23/37/9, p. 4.
[10] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, pp. 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 22.
[11] Pay card, Private John T. Malone paybook no. 20199, National Archives Accession Series ST1910/4 Pay allotment cards (enlisted members Australian Army – World War I), A-Z, National Archives of Australia, Chester Hill, NSW; Regulations for the issue of separation allowance and allotments of pay during the present war / War Office https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/LIB5329, Accessed  9 March, 2018.
[12] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 9; personal phone call Max Harrison, President Cessnock RSL (on behalf of author), to Historian (name withheld by request), Australian Government  Department of  Defence,  2 February, 2018. 
[13]  20th Australian Infantry Battalion, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51460, Accessed 10 March, 2018.
[14] Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” November, 1916, AWM4 23/37/16, p. 4; Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 9.    
[15] Field punishment ... rules for field punishment, extract from Manual of military law, HMSO, London, 1914,

https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/field _punishment, Accessed 18 March, 2018; Peter Stanley, Bad Characters: Sex, crime, mutiny, murder and the Australian Imperial Force, Sydney, published 2010 by Pier 9, printed by Griffin Press, pp. 101-105.

[16] 20th Australian Infantry Battalion, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51460, Accessed 12 March, 2018.
[17] Australian Imperial Force War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” May, 1917, AWM4 23/37/22, pp. 2, 6.
[18] Australian Imperial Force War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” May, 1917, AWM4 23/37/22, p. 6; Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 9.
[19] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 38; Olecranon Bursitis in a Military Population: Epidemiology and Evidence for Prolonged Morbidity in Combat Recruits.  Oxford Academic Journals. Haggai Schermann, MC IDF Isabella Karakis, MD PhD Oleg Dolkart, PhDEran Maman, MD Assaf Kadar, MD Ofir Chechik, MD. Military Medicine, Volume 182, Issue 9-10, 1 September 2017, Pages e1976–e1980, https://doi.org/10.7205/MILMED-D-16-00402. Published 01 September 2017, https://academic.oup.com, Accessed 12 March, 2018.                                                                                                                                                                                   
[20] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 38; 20th Australian Infantry Battalion,  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E123, Accessed  20 March, 2018.
[21] Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” January, 1918, AWM4 23/37/30, p. 2; Service Record of  Private John Thomas Malone,  p. 38.
[22] 20th Australian Infantry Battalion, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51460, Accessed 10 March, 2018; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” April, 1918, AWM4 23/37/33, p. 4.  
[23] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, pp. 38, 9.
[24] Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” August, 1918, AWM4 23/37/37 Part 1, pp. 5, 6, 10.
[25] Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” August, 1918, AWM4 23/37/37/Part 1, p. 10, 12.
[26] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 9.
[27]Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” August, 1918, AWM4 23/37/37, p.18.
[28] 20th Australian Infantry Battalion, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51460, Accessed 10 March, 2018.
[29]Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” October, 1918, AWM4 23/37/39, p. 5.  
[30] Service Record of Private John Thomas Malone, p. 39.
[31]Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” October, 1918, AWM4 23/37/39, p. 7; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, “20th Battalion,” November, 1918, AWM4 23/37/40, p. 4.
[32] Service Record of Private  John Thomas Malone, p. 40;  Death Certificate of Grace Malone, died 27 April, 1919, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages NSW, 012906/1919; Influenza pandemic, Defining Moments in Australian History, National Museum Australia, http://www.nma.gov.au, Accessed 17 March, 2018.
[33] Family story conveyed to author by John Thomas Malone’s son, daughter and other family members. 
[34] Stephen Garton, The Cost of War, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1996, pp. 83-84, www.ryebuck.com.au. Accessed 13 March, 2018; Repatriation case file R31779 Commonwealth Record Series D363/50 Personal case files (1914-1918 war), National Archives of Australia, Chester Hill, NSW.
[35] Repatriation case file R31779, John Malone, Commonwealth Record Series D363/50 Personal case files (1914-1918 war), National Archives of Australia, Chester Hill, NSW.
[36] Family story conveyed to author by John Thomas Malone’s son, daughter and other family members.
[37] John Malone, Mortuary Return, Commissioner of Police, F77 Correspondence files, annual single number ca1935-ca1959, 179/41, Northern Territory Archives Service.
[38] John Norris, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Government, to Maree Callaghan, letter (in  author’s possession), 20 December, 2013; Trench Warfare, Hell on Earth, https://www.awm.gov.au/visit/exhibitions/1918/battles/trenchwarfare, Accessed 18  March, 2018; R. L. Atenstaedt,  The medical response to trench nephritis in World War One, Kidney International, August, 2006. 70(4):635-40, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16820794, Accessed 18 March, 2018.
[39] Alex Kersemakers, Librarian, Northern Territory Library, response to Maree Callaghan email (general question no. NT5805),  13 May, 2013, original held in author’s possession; John Malone, Mortuary Return, Commissioner of Police, F77 Correspondence files, annual single number ca1935-ca1959, 179/41, Northern Territory Archives Service; Darwin Police Court, Northern Standard (Darwin, NT, 1921-1955), Tues 5 Feb 1929, p. 2, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/48032673, Accessed 16 March, 2018.
[40] Peter Leese, Problems Returning Home: the British Psychological Casualties of the Great War,  HAA107, Families at War, pp. 5-13, Module 6, Chapter 1; Stefan Petrow, Going to the Source: The Australian Service Records, p. 4, HAA107 Families at War, Module 1, Chapter 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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