Edward Randolph CLEAVER


CLEAVER, Edward Randolph

Service Number: 91
Enlisted: 19 August 1914, Broadmeadows, Victoria
Last Rank: Trooper
Last Unit: 4th Light Horse Regiment
Born: Ferntree Gully, Victoria, 19 February 1885
Home Town: Sale, Gippsland, Victoria
Schooling: Sale State School & Private Tutor
Occupation: Master butcher
Died: Killed in Action, Beersheba, Palestine, 31 October 1917, aged 32 years
Cemetery: Beersheba Military Cemetery
Plot D, Grave 38, Beersheba War Cemetery, Beersheba, Israel
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Sale Cenotaph
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World War 1 Service

19 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 91, Broadmeadows, Victoria
19 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 91, 4th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
19 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 91, 4th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Wiltshire, Melbourne
27 Jul 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 91, 4th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
31 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Trooper, SN 91, 4th Light Horse Regiment, Battle of Beersheba

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"...91 Private Edward Randolph Cleaver, 4th Light Horse Regiment. A butcher of Sale, Victoria, he enlisted on 19 August 1914 and was described by his sister as the first man in Sale to enlist. He embarked on HMAT Wiltshire on 19 October 1914. Trooper Cleaver with the 4LHR saw service at Gallipoli; the unit left the peninsula on the 15th December 1915. They returned to Egypt and the unit was reduced to two squadrons. One squadron was sent to France and those who remained in Egypt were attached for some time to an Imperial Service Brigade, patrolling against Turkish spies on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal. In April 1917 they moved out into the Sinai desert and continued to undertake security duties. On 31 October 1917, Cleaver died of wounds received in the charge of Beersheba. Cleaver was in the first squadron that charged; Major James Lawson who led the charge was riding alongside him when Cleaver was hit by machine gun fire. Cleaver was aged 31 years at the time of his death."SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au) 

Edward Randolph Cleaver was born at Ferntree Gully in Victoria in 1886.

Father  Edmond Cleaver (d. 9-11-1917) Raymond Street, Sale, VIC  and Mother Mary Cleaver.
Sisters   Millicent Daphne Cleaver and Marion Adeline Cleaver, Thompson Street, Sale, VIC.

11/10/1918 - Adeline wrote noting that she was the only surviving family member.
11/6/1920   -  Adeline wrote again noting that she was the only surviving family member, but
                      their mother is alive, and had been for many years in the care of Master-in-Lunacy.

Previous service:   10th Australian Light Horse 1910, 1911 and 1912.

Described on enlisting as 29 years 6 months old; single; 5’ 8” tall; 10 stone 6 lbs;
dark complexion;  greyish eyes; dark brown hair; Church of England.

19/8/1914          Enlisted at Broadmeadows

According to his sister Adeline, Cleaver was the first man in the town of Sale to have enlisted.

27/8/1914          Completed medical at Broadmeadows – fit for service
                          Commanding Officer appointed Edward to ‘A’ Squadron, Broadmeadows Camp

19/10/1914        Embarked Melbourne with the 4th Light Horse Regiment aboard HMAT Wiltshire

The light horse were considered unsuitable for the initial operations at Gallipoli, but were subsequently deployed without their horses to reinforce the infantry. The 4th Light Horse Regiment landed on 22 and 24 May 1915 and its squadrons were initially scattered to reinforce the infantry battalions already ashore. The regiment was not reunited until 11 June 1915.

27/7/1915          Reported to unit British Expeditionary Forces, Anzac

Much of the regiment’s time at Gallipoli was spent defending the precarious ANZAC position, most frequently around Ryrie’s Post, but its squadrons were involved in several minor attacks. It left the peninsula on 11 December 1915.

______              Disembarked into Alexandria – ex Caledonia

7/2/1916            sick with Laryngitis, admitted to 1st Australian General Hospital,  Heliopolis

28/2/1916          Discharged to overseas base Ghezireh, ex hospital
21/3/1916          Rejoined regiment ‘A’ Squadron

He spent 1916 patrolling with his squadron around the Suez Canal in Egypt.

Like many of the troops he wrote home regularly, sending photos of himself and his mates in their small canvas shelters in the desert. "The desert", he wrote, "was better than Gallipoli where they were being fired at day and night. In the desert we can get on our horses and ride into the distance to get away from the noise of war."

In April 1917 the battalion moved up into the Sinai desert in the wake of the main British and dominion advance, but continued to undertake security duties

The regiment’s first major battle would also become that which made it legendary. On 31 October 1917 an attack was launched to outflank the Turkish bastion of Gaza, against which two previous attacks had failed, by capturing another heavily defended town to the east - Beersheba. A deteriorating tactical situation late on the first day of the operation caused the 4th and its sister regiment, the 12th, to be unleashed on Beersheba at the gallop - an action which has gone down in history as the Charge of Beersheba.

31/10/1917       Cleaver took part in one of the most famous actions of the First World War:
                         "the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba."

He was part of the first squadron to reach the enemy lines; his horse leapt over the first two trenches and then, as he dismounted to fight the Turks in the third trench, he was cut down by machine-gun fire.

31/10/1917       It was noted by Major Jas Lawtown that Trooper Cleaver died almost instanteously,
                         he was very courageous and a well respected member of his regiment.

1/11/1917         Buried by Chaplain Dunbar – Group No. 2, Grave No. 6 from right

15/2/1918         It was noted that there were 5 groups of graves that were located 2 miles
                         south-east of Beersheba 400 yards south of road. From site to mosque 310o,
                         from site to Ras Ghannam 175o. Bodies are number from the right of each
                         separate group.

4/8/1924           Reburied at:  Plot D, Grave 38
                                               Beersheba War Cemetery, Palestine.

Sadly, his father died just nine days later  (9/11/1917).

17/3/1967         Marion still writing requesting medals to be forwarded to her (as next of kin)
                         37 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn VIC

WWI Star 1914-15; British War medal (1994); Victory medal (9641);
Memorial Plaque and Memorial Scroll (337937).

Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.   22 September 2014.  Lest we forget.