John Joseph (Old Mul) MULQUEENEY


Service Number: 4572
Enlisted: 10 October 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 4th Infantry Battalion
Born: Tumut, New South Wales, Australia, January 1890
Home Town: Tumut, Tumut Shire, New South Wales
Schooling: Catholic School,New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 17 August 1916
Cemetery: Courcelette British Cemetery
Plot V, Row G, Grave No. 9
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

10 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4572, 4th Infantry Battalion
3 Feb 1916: Involvement Private, 4572, 4th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '8' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Wandilla embarkation_ship_number: A62 public_note: ''
3 Feb 1916: Embarked Private, 4572, 4th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Wandilla, Sydney
10 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 4572, 4th Infantry Battalion, 'The Winter Offensive' - Flers/Gueudecourt winter of 1916/17, Killed in Action, Mouquet Farm, Pozieres, France

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Pte 4572 John Joseph Mulqueeney
4th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company,
1st Brigade, 1st Australian Division

Through the red fields of poppies of the Somme, more than a hundred years ago, flowed the blood of a whole generation of men who for their country and for France, with courage and determination answered the call of duty and held admirable bravery under fire alongside their brothers in arms who in the trenches and the barbed wire, taken too soon, too young, gave their lives for the freedom and peace in which we are united thanks to their sacrifices on the battlefields which was for them their only youth, the only vision of a world which they protected at the cost of their lives to preserve humanity and with conviction, under the bullets and the shells, in tight lines charged bayonets forward to give us the chance to have a tomorrow, a world at peace that they fought and fell for, a world that they never had the chance to know but today,united forever in peace and in camaraderie they rest in silence behind their white graves that forever carry the memory and history of these young men over whom I will always watch over with respect to honor their memory, so that they are remembered, so that their names live forever.

Today, it is with the utmost respect and with the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 4572 John Joseph Mulqueeney who fought in the 4th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, 1st Brigade, 1st Australian Division, and who was killed in action 106 years ago, on August 17, 1916 at the age of 25 during the Battle of the Somme.

John Joseph Mulqueeney, who was very affectionately called "Old Mul" by his comrades, was born in 1891 in Tumut, Snowy Valleys Council, New South Wales, and was the son of Timothy Mulqueeney (1844-1921) and Sarah Mulqueeney (née Hartnett,1856-1934), of Clarke Street,Tumut. He had four sisters, Josephine,Margaret (1876-1942), Bridget (1878-1954), Hanora (1880-1882),and one brother, Joseph Michael (1885- 1886). John was educated at Catholic School, New South Wales and after graduation worked as a labourer.

John enlisted on October 9, 1915 at Cootamundra, New South Wales, in the 4th Australian Infantry Battalion, 14th Reinforcement, which was raised at Liverpool, New South Wales, had as motto "Nomine Quartus" (The Name Of The Fourth), and under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Astley Thompson who was later killed in action at Gallipoli on April 26, 1915. After a three month training period at the Randwick Racecourse, John embarked with his unit from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A62 Wandilla on February 3, 1916 and sailed for Egypt.

On March 7, 1916, John arrived in Egypt and was disembarked at Alexandria where the AIF was "doubled", the 4th and 5th Divisions were added to the 1st and 2nd Divisions, which already existed. The sixteen battalions which had fought on Gallipoli were each split, with half the personnel in each going to form a "pup" or "daughter" battalion; the gaps were filled with new recruits from Australia. The 4th Battalion's "pup"unit was the 56th Battalion, which was part of the 14th Brigade.After a period of reorganization, John and the 4th Battalion joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in Alexandria on March 29 and proceeded overseas to France on board "Transylvania".

On April 4, 1916, John arrived in France and was disembarked at Marseilles then he marched to Etaples where he joined the 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot on June 10 and joined the 4th Battalion on June 13 at Fleurbaix where the previous evening, a raid full of success was led by the 6th Australian Infantry Battalion which captured six German prisoners, killed between 12 and 18 men in the enemy trenches, captured a machine gun and destroyed several trench mortars. In the Fleurbaix trenches, the 4th Battalion suffered very heavy fire artillery shells, including numerous gas shells and high explosive shells which caused heavy casualties but the battalion regularly received new reinforcements and then on 24 June moved into a line of support near a position known as "Well Farm" which was also heavily shelled. The 4th Battalion's war diary indicates that the position was very well protected by 15 Lewis Guns and by effective rifles fire and covered by the 6th and 23rd Batteries of the Australian Field Artillery.

On June 28, 1916, 189 gas cylinders were installed in the trenches, spaced from each other by a distance of 20 meters in anticipation of a large gas attack which would be followed by a raid on the enemy trenches planned for the 30 June but due to unfavorable winds the attack was postponed and on July 6 the 4th Battalion was relieved by the 46th Australian Infantry Battalion and marched into Billets at Sailly-Sur-La-Lys the following day.

On July 8, 1916, John and the 4th Battalion embarked by train at Bailleul for Outtersteene where they arrived on July 10 and were billeted near "La Maison De La Charite". Two days later they marched to St Ouen and the following day, on July 13, arrived in the Somme, in the village of Vignacourt then marched through Flesselles, Bertangles, Coisy, and reached their billets at Allonville the same day with a force of 950 men led by 26 officers. On July 17, they left Allonville for Warloy-Baillon where the men followed a new period of training then moved to Ovillers-La-Boisselle on July 20 where they relieved the 13th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers then on July 23 attacked the village of Pozieres which was the first major engagement for the 4th Battalion and for the entire Australian Imperial Force on the Somme front.
at Pozieres, the AIF Divisions engaged (1st 2nd and 4th) formed the right flank of the British front. The 1st Division was committed to the attack on Pozieres village from 23 July, involving the reduction of the "Gibraltar" blockhouse among other tasks. The enemy shelling was relentless and casualties mounted at a horrifying rate. Once the ‘Windmill’ was captured by the 2nd Division on 4th August and consolidated by the 4th Division, the direction of the Australian assault switched to Mouquet Farm, with the 1st Division leading once again. The aim was to outflank Thiepval, the main impediment and key objective of the British advance. The AIF Divisions had fought themselves to a standstill over five weeks; 23,000 casualties of whom 5,0000 were killed.

On July 26, 1916, after the first horrible fights in Pozieres, John and the men of the 4th Battalion were relieved and marched for the town of Albert, in three days on the front line, the battalion lost 434 men. On July 28, they moved to receive reinforcements and for reorganization at Vadencourt Wood and bivouacked the following day at La Vicogne then at Bonneville on July 30.

On August 1, 1916, the 4th Battalion marched to Halloy-Les-Pernois where the men alternated between periods of rest, training and reorganization then moved back to Herissart on August 11 and five days later, on August 16, joined the front line in the trenches standing in front of Mouquet Farm where they relieved the exhausted and nearly annihilated 51st Australian Infantry Battalion and were supported by the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion on their right in what is noted to be a "vulnerable position" which was under artillery fire and where unfortunately John met his fate the next day.

On August 17, 1916, John was looking out over the parapet when a shell landed in front of his trench, and he was hit in the head by a piece of shrapnel and was killed instantly, he was 25 years old.

After John's death, Private number 3736 Arthur Dickman, 4th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, declared:
"I saw John killed at Pozieres. He was observing at the time. A shell dropped right in front of him and killed him instantly. He fell on the parapet and was buried just outside. He was in my platoon."

Another report from Private number 3125 Hutchinson, 4th Australian Infantry Battalion, reports as follows:
"Informant states that on August 17,1916, at the Pozieres Sector, a friend, Private McBride asked him to go with him into the next bay to see if "old Mul" was alright as he did not think he had moved for a little time. Informant went, they found Mulqueeney dead, shot through the head, death must have been instantaneous. This was during the big bombardment. They buried him just beyond the bay, and informed the Sergeant. Informant took some letters which he is sending to the Mother with details and also has pay book which he will forward to the right quarter as soon as he can do so."

Today, John Joseph Mulqueeney rests in peace with his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Courcelette British Cemetery, Somme.

John, proud and determined to do what was right in the name of your country and your convictions, it is with honor that you answered the call of duty and that alongside your comrades you volunteered to fight in the name of freedom and democracy, for peace, to preserve humanity that war tried to make disappear in the madness and fury of the battlefields that a whole generation of men joined with faith and courage despite a horizon full of uncertain but resolute days, driven forward by the ardor of their youth and their innocence they entered the trenches, rifles on their shoulders they were greeted through the darkness by the explosions and the flames of the falling shells a few meters behind the parapets in shrill whistles bringing with them destruction and death under the bite of steel which, tirelessly, during four years of an unnamed hell, pounded, plowed and bruised valleys and once peaceful fields into fields of death, into sordid slaughterhouses in which so many men lived and died who did their duty without asking why they had to go through the fires of hell that the machine guns spat on them and for them, the answer was in their hearts, they fought for this war to put an end to all wars, they fought because for them it was was the right thing to do in these dark times and knew they were unlikely to come back from the next attack but nonetheless, it was with the greatest bravery that they carried the weight and burden of war on their shoulders and the suffering it engendered like a monster made of inhumanity and brutality which sought to push men to kill each other in the prime of their lives then alongside their brothers, their fathers, of their best friends they came out of their trenches and charged like lions through shrapnel which exploded above them and riddled them with lead but in this atmosphere charged with rage and bravery, they did not back down and bayonet ahead they ran through no man's land and saw around the faces and bodies of their comrades who fell in the mud in pools of blood, their burnt uniforms, torn by the bullets which fell on them like relentless rains, they saw around them, in gigantic sheaves of earth, disarticulated bodies being lifted by the blasts of the shells which fell at an infernal pace but once again, despite this nightmare, despite these horrors, they pushed forward but had to face the poisonous gases in which they suffocated, they faced the grenades and lines of barbed wire in which they were caught without any chance of escaping and were decimated.This apocalypse, this hell on earth was for many men the last vision they had of the world, they had as only youth a war which changed the face of the world and left families bruised in sorrow but in the trenches, Through the poppies, they found camaraderie, friendship, a strong bond that gave them the courage and strength to fight and gave their lives to save those of the men who bravely stood by their side and with whom they were deeply proud to serve, they were not afraid to die because they knew that their deeds and their sacrifices would make it possible to see a better world rising under the light of peace and hope, a world in which we stand united today and for all that they did for us, for all that we owe them so much, I am and will always be proud and honored to watch over them who rest in peace in the serene and silent cemeteries of the Somme. I will always watch over them and always see in them my heroes, my sons, my boys of the Somme whose memory I will always keep strong and alive so that they are never forgotten, so that their names live forever.Thank you so much John,f or everything. At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.