Dr. John Wellesley FLOOD

FLOOD, John Wellesley

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 11 November 1914
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
Born: Yorketown, South Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Brinkworth, Wakefield, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter’s College, Trinity College, Dublin
Occupation: Medical Practioner
Died: Heart Disease, East New Britain (Papua New Guinea), 23 March 1929, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea
Memorials: Adelaide Grand Masonic Lodge WW1 Honour Board (1), Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, Hackney St Peter's College Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

11 Nov 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Major, SN Officer, Army Medical Corps (AIF)
14 May 1919: Involvement Major, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
14 May 1919: Embarked Major, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, SS Melusia, Sydney

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Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

Excerpt from Blood Sweat and Fears: Medical Practitioners and Medical Students of South Australian who Served in World War 1. Courtesy of the Authors

John Wellesley Flood was born at Yorketown, South Australia. He was the second son of Dr John W Flood and his wife Annie, nee Cammell. He was educated at St Peter’s College and studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. Whilst overseas, aged 23 years, he married Rose Elise Coombs in a Registry Office, London on the 17th July 1907. Flood returned to Australia after graduation and set up practice first at Blyth, SA and then at Brinkworth.

Flood served in the Citizens Force in 4 MD, where he was on the Reserve of Officers. He enlisted in the AN & MEF in November 1914 and served in New Guinea. He travelled to Madang with a group of seven doctors under the command of Cecil Strangman. He was sent to Herbertshöhe (present day Kokopo) on arrival, where there was a large Native Hospital to run. Flood remained there until March 1915, when he was moved to Rabaul. Malaria control and the securing of clean drinking water were the primary objectives. Flood was made temporary major in March 1916, and in April 1917 he went on furlough to Australia, returning in August on the Matunga’with Lieutenant Colonel Strangman and several other officers of the administration in New Guinea. The ship failed to arrive in Rabaul on time, and after a general search was posted missing, presumed lost. It was seized by a German auxiliary cruiser, the Wolf, which had lain in wait for her after intercepting her wireless transmissions.  The Officers, passengers and crew were taken on-board as prisoners of war and, in unusual circumstances, they were released among 467 prisoners from other captured ships, in Denmark in February 1918. The Matunga was eventually sunk by the Wolf after her cargo and coal were removed. The Officers and some American prisoners from the SS Matunga were given special privileges whilst POW’s and were referred as the Wolf’s “top deck Prisoners”. After release from Denmark, Flood, his wife Rose and other prisoners went to London for rehabilitation.  He was given a commission as major in the AIF and was posted to the 2 AAH in Southall England. He was posted to 2 ACCS in October 1918, which was at that time in the Armentières-Bethune area in support of General Birdwood’s Fifth Army.

 Flood was among the first to be repatriated as a former prisoner of war after the Armistice, and he left England for Australia in January 1919. After his arrival he was re-appointed to the AIF as PMO, and once again set sail for Rabaul from Sydney. This time he arrived safely, and took up his new position at the end of May. He was promoted lieutenant colonel in June 1919.  Flood held this appointment until May 1921. Flood took up an appointment as GMO at Kokopo in East New Britain, and practised there until 1928. He then set up in private practice. He died of heart problems on 23rd March 1929 and is buried in the C of E portion of the Rabaul Cemetery leaving substantial debts.  The Rabaul Times records that “he took a lively interest in athletics and sports generally, being a cricketer of no mean ability; an excellent tennis player and a swimmer above the average.  He was a keen judge of horses and an enthusiastic race goer.  His loss seems irreparable professionally.  There can be few that can surpass him in his knowledge of all tropical complaints, particularly malaria.” His wife Rose returned to England after his death; they had no children.