Garnet Wilton (Gunner) DART

DART, Garnet Wilton

Service Number: 11945
Enlisted: 18 November 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 9th Field Ambulance
Born: Newcastle New South Wales, Australia, 14 April 1893
Home Town: Newcastle, Hunter Region, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, 9 June 1962, aged 69 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Sandgate General Cemetery, Newcastle, NSW
PRESBYTERIAN-B8. 01
Memorials: Cook's Hill Superior Public School
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World War 1 Service

18 Nov 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 11945, 9th Field Ambulance
11 May 1916: Involvement Private, SN 11945, 9th Field Ambulance
11 May 1916: Embarked Private, SN 11945, 9th Field Ambulance, HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney

Help us honour Garnet Wilton Dart's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

Gary Mitchell, Sandgate Cemetery

Served in The Great War, resting at Sandgate Cemetery.

58 years ago today, on the 11th June 1962, Private Garnet Wilton Dart, also known as Gunner, father of three, 9th Australian Field Ambulance (stretcher bearer), railway clerk from 41 Queen Street, Cooks Hill, New South Wales, was laid to rest at Sandgate Cemetery, age 69. PRESBYTERIAN-B8. 01.

Born at Cooks Hill, New South Wales on the 14th April 1893 to James and Sarah Dart nee McLue; husband of Jean Annabelle Dart nee Milne (married 1925, died 1948), Mr Dart enlisted November 1915 at Casula, N.S.W.

His name has been inscribed on the Cooks Hill Superior Public School Roll of Honour. Name not on the NSW Govt Railways and Tramways Roll of Honour, 1914-1919.

AN Anzac Day speech given on the 25th April 2017 at the Cooks Hill Lifesaving and Surf Club Memorial (unveiled on the 8th June 1918, 9 names inscribed of the Fallen), paints a beautiful story of this Anzac Legend.

Garnet Wilton Dart, a founder of Cooks Hill Lifesaving and Surf Club, was known as Gunner because of his military bearing. Gunner was Cooks Hills first Chief Instructor.

Born in Cooks Hill in 1893, Garnet was the first Club member to receive the Bronze Medallion of the Royal Life Saving Society on 4 April 1911 – the year and month the Club was officially founded.

Garnet instructed club members in the art of lifesaving and first aid.

In the first Surf Club Carnival in January 1915, he coached the Rundle Cup R&R team to victory, together with its inspiring Captain, Big Jim Antcliff, a close mate. At the same carnival, he prepared the Cooks Hill marching team to win first prize against several clubs.

Between 1911 and 1915, Gunner became expert in first aid – skills he was to use on the Western Front. He saved the lives of many Australian soldiers who were wounded and caught in No Mans Land. His lifesaving training and discipline had prepared him for war psychologically. Team work was paramount and trust in close comrades essential.

In July 1915, the Club held a smoke concert to farewell Garnet and several others in uniform for service overseas. Each departing soldier received a shaving kit in a smart leather case to carry with them on their adventures.

Garnet was the only Club member to be in a field ambulance company whose mission was to save lives. He was 22 when he joined up. Convinced that he could not kill another human being, he decided to become a stretcher-bearer attached to the 3rd Division, AIF.

He was sworn in on 2 December 1915 and served throughout the war – almost without a break – frequently in dangerous situations.

His job was to remove from harm’s way, by stretcher or transport ambulance, the wounded, the dying and sometimes the dead. It meant getting them back from the front by any means possible and as quickly as he could, along dangerous roads. For Garnet, this often involved using field dressings to prevent further bleeding and death.

He performed brilliantly throughout the war, on the Ramparts of Ypres, down the bombarded Zonnebeke Road, in the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, and during the attacks on the Hindenburg Line.

The casualties Gunner had to handle were almost overwhelming, but he never faltered.

When Garnet arrived in Armentieres in January 1917, he sought out Club friends in other battalions billeted in the town. He found George Coleman and Big Jim Antcliff on separate occasions. He recorded in his diary that he had enjoyable chats with both of them. It was the last occasion the friends met.

For tragedy came – swift as an eagle in its descent and pitiless in its consequences. Private James Antcliff of the 36th Battalion was to die on 7th June 1917 in the Battle of Messines Ridge and Corporal George Coleman of the 18th Battalion was killed in the ferocious Battle of Menin Road on 20 September 1917. (Both their names appear on the Memorial here. Both were killed outright by enemy shells.)

In December 1919, Cook’s Hill Surf Club held a welcome home to nine soldiers of the Club who had survived. Garnet Gunner Dart was there to toast the Club in a fine patriotic speech.

Gunner served the Club for many years as Chief Instructor and was made a Life Member. His marching teams won Australian awards.

His most treasured memento – aside from his service awards – was a gold Welcome Home medal presented to him by a local organisation.

Lest We Forget.

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