Harold Gordon JOSEY

JOSEY, Harold Gordon

Service Number: 2842
Enlisted: 8 June 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 49th Infantry Battalion
Born: Goodna, Queensland, 11 July 1890
Home Town: Esk, Somerset, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Stockman
Died: Died of wounds, Mouquet Farm, France, 6 September 1916, aged 26 years
Cemetery: Boulogne Eastern Cemetery
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Boulogne, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Colinton War Memorial, Redbank Plains State School Honour Roll, Springsure Shire of Bauhinia Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

8 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2842, Brisbane, Queensland
1 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2842, 9th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
1 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2842, 9th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ayrshire, Sydney
27 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 49th Infantry Battalion
3 Sep 1916: Wounded Private, 2842, 49th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm, GSW (right thigh)
6 Sep 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2842, 49th Infantry Battalion

Narrative

JOSEY Harold Gordon #2842 9th / 49th Battalion

Harry Josey was born in the Goodna Redbank area and probably attended school there before his parents, James and Lucy, moved to the Harlin district where they had a property named “Iraniston”.

When Harry presented himself for enlistment in 2nd June 1915, he was working in the Springsure area as a stockman. Springsure had no facilities to process recruitment so the local shire clerk arranged for Harry to be examined by a doctor who passed him fit, before Harry was given a note to report to the recruiting officer at Victoria Barracks, Brisbane. Harry was attested and accepted into the AIF 6 days later.

Harry was allocated as part of the 9th reinforcements of the 9th Battalion at Enoggera Camp. On 1st September 1915, the reinforcements boarded the “Ayrshire” in Sydney and on arrival in Egypt went into camp at Tel el Kabir. The original plan was to reinforce the battalions that were then on Gallipoli but by the time Harry and his cohort arrived in Egypt there was every likelihood that the campaign would be abandoned.

After heavy lobbying by the Australian journalist Keith Murdoch and the visit to Gallipoli by Lord Kitchener, Minister for War; the decision was made to evacuate the peninsula. The returning battalions of the 1st and 2nd Divisions of the AIF were in most cases split to form the nucleus of two new battalions, with numbers being made up from the large number of reinforcements then in Egypt. The 9th Battalion was split to create the 9th and the 49th and Harry Josey was assigned to the 49th Battalion; part of the 13th Brigade of the 4th Division AIF, in February 1916.

The newly formed battalion spent the next three months training in Egypt before crossing the Mediterranean to arrive in Marseilles on 12th June. The 13th Brigade journeyed north by train to the relatively quiet sector around Armentieres to become accustomed to trench warfare.

On 1st July, General Haig launched his great offensive on the Somme. Things did not go well as his troops suffered nearly 60,000 casualties on the first day; of whom 23,000 were killed. The Germans had the advantage of defence whilst for the British Forces to advance required infantry to charge rifle and machine gun fire. Towards the end of July, with the frontline extended only a short distance, Haig called on three of the four AIF Divisions; the 1st, 2nd and 4th, to assemble in the support areas behind Albert with the aim of capturing the village of Pozieres, located on a ridge astride the Albert /Bapaume Road. By early August two Australian Divisions had taken their objectives but at great cost.
On 13th August, the 4th Division, moved up from the support trenches to occupy the newly won front line where the troops were subjected to what many veterans described as the heaviest artillery bombardment of the entire war. The men were called on to simply hold the line and endure the onslaught. Many men broke down with shell shock.

The 49th were eventually withdrawn from the front for a brief rest at Tara Hill Camp. With the capture of the trenches on the ridge above Pozieres, attention then moved to a farm on the same ridge less than a kilometre away. The farm which the Germans had heavily fortified by extending the cellars and creating a line of three defensive trenches was depicted on the maps as “La Ferme du Mouquet” but the Australians referred to it as “Moo Cow Farm” or “Mucky Farm.”

The assault of the farm had to be conducted on an ever decreasing front that was enfiladed by German artillery and machine guns, so that only one company at a time could be deployed. The ground was so churned up that advancing troops could not recognise a trench line when they reached it. Attempts to dig new trenches were unsuccessful due to the loose ground caving in. When the 49th moved up to the front line, the battalion war diary records that the commander of “A “company, Captain Walker was arrested. There is no further information provided but it most likely that Captain Walker, like many men who were at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm, simply broke down under the strain of battle. As an officer and company commander, the Captain was expected to provide an example to his men. In an attack beginning at 5:10am on 3rd September 1916, A Company with Lt. Keid as company commander advanced on the farm under an intense artillery barrage.

Harold Josey received a gunshot wound to his left thigh during the attack of the 3rd September and was evacuated by stretcher to the 49th Casualty Clearing Station. He was taken to the 13th General Hospital at Boulogne on the French coast for eventual evacuation by hospital ship but his condition deteriorated and he died of wounds on 6th September 1916. Harry was buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

The 49th Battalion suffered enormous casualties at Mouquet Farm with 14 officers and 375 other ranks wounded or killed. Among the officers killed was Lieutenant Keid, who was one of six brothers from the one family to enlist. Only two of them survived the war.

Harold Josey’s mother received his personal effects and his father accepted Harold’s war medals, 14/15 Star, Victory medal and Empire Medal. His family chose as the inscription on his headstone:
A BRAVE LIFE GIVEN FOR HIS COUNTRY.

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