John COHEN

Poppy

COHEN, John

Service Number: 3500
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 24th Infantry Battalion
Born: East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, May 1894
Home Town: Not yet discovered
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Diamond cutter and setter
Died: Killed in action, France, 4 March 1917
Cemetery: Warlencourt British Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

5 Jan 1916: Involvement Private, SN 3500, 23rd Infantry Battalion
5 Jan 1916: Embarked Private, SN 3500, 23rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Afric, Melbourne
4 Mar 1917: Involvement Lance Corporal, SN 3500, 24th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Terry Cook

Jack’s story... He enlisted in the Army on 9th September 1915 at Melbourne. He was no stranger to military life having served in the militia with 60th Infantry Brigade for five years and having obtained the rank of Colour Sargent. At the time of his enlistment, Jack was working as a Diamond Cutter & Setter at Webster & Cohen in Melbourne. He was described as 5 feet 4 ½ inches tall, weighed 10 stone, with brown eyes, dark brown hair & a fresh complexion. Jack listed his religion as Jewish. With his background in the military, Jack was immediately posted to 23rd Battalion depot at Royal Park & was promoted to Corporal on 23rd September & then to Sargent on 23rd October 1915. On 9th November 1915 he was sent to join 5th Battalion at Seymour where he undertook further training before being transferred to Broadmeadows Camp on 2nd December & was assigned to 23rd Battalion’s 8 reinforcements as Acting Sargent. Just over a month later, Jack & his unit embarked on board A19 HMTS “Afric” leaving Port Melbourne on 5th January 1916. The A19 arrived in Egypt berthing in Alexandria. After disembarking, Jack & his unit took the train to Cairo & then on to the AIF camp at Mena, where they joined 6th Training Battalion & underwent intensive training in preparation for their move to France to join the war in Europe. On 14th March, Jack was allotted to 24th Battalion which he joined four days later at their camp at Moascar. On 18th March, the Battalion was inspected by the Prince of Wales, the Brigade marched pass the Prince & later the Prince inspected troops lines. Two days later on 20th March 1916, 24th Battalion caught the troop train to Alexandria where they boarded the troopships “Lake Michigan”, “Magdalena” & “City of Edinburgh.” With the serious threat of submarines likely to attack the troopships, officers & other ranks were required to wear lifebelts for the duration of the voyage to France. Two days into the voyage, HMTS “Minneapolis” was torpedoed and was reported sinking. Jack disembarked at Marseilles at 7pm on 26th March 1916. At 11.45 that night, they boarded a train heading north towards the fighting on the western front. On 10th April 1916, they eventually arrived at their billets near Fleurbaix, France. The Battalion moved around “nursery area” near Armentières, France throughout April & May 1916 undertaking further training. In June 1916, the troops moved into the trenches but it remained very quiet. On 9th July, they marched to Hazelbrouk, France before entraining at Arques for Amiens, they later marched to Albert, Somme, France. On 26th July the Battalion moved to  Pozières where they took up positions in “K” & “Cemetery” trenches. They were immediately under machine gun fire & shelling by heavy German artillery. The German attack was relentless, the shelling continued day & night & anyone showing above the trench parapet was killed instantly by machine gun fire. The Battalion was relieved on 30th March & moved to a reserve area in Sausage Valley. The Battalion suffered heavy casualties 53 dead, 156 wounded. Jack was amongst the wounded. On 28th July 1916, Jack was evacuated to 1st Field Ambulance and then to 3rd Causality Clearing Station & then 22nd General Hospital suffering from gunshot wound to the leg that was classed as severe. Two days later he embarked for England on board HS “Dieppe” via Calais, France. Jack was admitted to the Northern General Hospital in Leeds on 29th July where he underwent treatment for the wound to his leg. He was transferred on 5th August to 2nd Northern General Hospital to continue his recovery. As Jack was no longer on the strength of 24th Battalion, his rank reverted to Lance Corporal. Jack recovered from his wounds & after he had fully convalesced, Jack reported back on 30th October, to No 4 Command Depot to recommence his training & rebuild his strength before returning to his unit at the front. Two months later on 11th December 1916, Jack travelled to Folkestone, England where he boarded the SS “Golden Eagle” bound for France. Jack marched in to 2nd Australian Depot at Étaples, France before he rejoined his unit who were now in Adelaide Camp near Montauban, France on 30th December 1916. Throughout January & February 1917, the Battalion was in & out of the line on rotation around Ribemont; the weather had turned bitterly cold & many men were suffering from the effects. Towards the end of February 1917, the Battalion moved to “C” Camp near Fricourt. On 3rd March 1917, Jack & the Battalion moved back into the front line relieving 21st Battalion. The next day, 4th March, A & B companies under the command of Major James, were involved in vigorous patrolling & probing the enemy lines. They sustained 1 killed and 1 wounded. Jack Cohen was the soldier killed that day during this patrol. Jack was buried in an isolated grave ¾ miles north west of Ligny-Thilloy, France and 2 miles west of Bapaume. In 1921 his body was exhumed by the Graves Registration Unit & he was reinterred in the Warlencourt British War Cemetery, France. He now lies in Section VI Row J Grave number 24. The epitaph on his grave reads “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. God rest his soul”. For his service in World War I, Jack Cohen was awarded the British War Medal & Victory Medal.

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