Bert FRANK

FRANK, Bert

Service Numbers: 6966, V144956
Enlisted: 16 January 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: Australian Army Service Corps
Born: Metcalfe, Victoria, 15 April 1895
Home Town: White Hills, Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: House painter
Memorials: White Hills Arch of Triumph
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World War 1 Service

16 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6966, Melbourne, Victoria
10 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 6966, 1st Australian Reserve Park, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
10 Aug 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Driver, SN 6966, 1st Australian Reserve Park, RMS Persia, Melbourne
18 Aug 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal
19 Sep 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Corporal, 5th Infantry Battalion
25 Apr 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 6966, 5th Infantry Battalion, Villers-Bretonneux, GSW (right elbow)
26 Apr 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 6966, 5th Infantry Battalion

World War 2 Service

9 Jul 1940: Enlisted Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Lieutenant, SN V144956, Mount Martha, Victoria
28 Feb 1943: Discharged Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Lieutenant, SN V144956, Australian Army Service Corps

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

Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

"...6966 Driver Bert Frank, 7th Reinforcements, 1st Australian Reserve Park (10th Company, Australian Army Service Corps), of Bendigo, Victoria.Driver Frank enlisted on 16 January 1915 embarked aboard HMAT Persia in Melbourne on 10 August 1915. On 28 April 1917 he was appointed as lance corporal. On 19 September 1917 he transferred to the 5th Battalion and was promoted to corporal. He was wounded in action in France on 25 April 1918 and was admitted to Colchester Military Hospital in England on 29 April 1918. He returned to Australia on 19 September 1918." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

The Bert Frank story

Bert was born in is the farming community Metcalf in 1895, however he lived in Bendigo with his mother and was a well regarded sportsman in Football and Harriers.

It is unknown why Bert enlists at a recruitment centre in Melbourne on January 16,1915, however, he gives his NOK (Nearest of Kin) as his mother Mrs S Frank at 59 McCrae st, Bendigo. He lists his occupation as a house painter and he is twenty one years of age.

Bert is assigned to the unit known as Reserve Park, 7th reinforcements of the Australian Army Services Corp (AASC). The unit was responsible for keeping the troops supplied throughout the war. In the World War One, a total of 9,735 were AASC personnel. 

Leaving Melbourne in mid August,1915 on RMS Persia Bert would arrive in Egypt in mid September and be TOS (Taken on strength) into the Sidi Bishr camp at Zeitoun on October 2, 1915.   

Given this timing of his unit, Bert would miss service on ill-fated shores of the Gallipoli peninsula. Anzac troops were evacuated in mid December 1915 and Bert’s role as a Driver would be in the service of supplying in the number of AIF camps in Egypt.

Reported in the Bendigo Independent on January 20, 1916 is a letter to his mother –

BENDIGO HARRIER. DOINGS IN EGYPT.

Private Bert Frank, an old Y.M.CA. boy, and former Bendigo harrier, who is serving with the Army Service Corps, has forwarded the following letter to his mother;

"I have been very busy the last month, for sometimes we work from six o'clock in the morning till the same time at night, and then we I have to do picket duty when we come in. But with it all, I am in the best of health, and when I weighed myself the other day I went 12st 21b—with my clothes on. I have had a lot of letters from friends the last few days, and I am sorry to say I cannot find time to answer any of them. If any kind friend asks about me, tell them I am well. I am writing this in the pauses between the loads. We are now the orderly unit for our camp and have to do all the carting about Alexandria. We won't be going into action for some time. This morning we are carting Turkish and German prize stuff. A lot of my chums from the next camp went into action against the Bedouins last night about 170 miles from here, and I hope they come out all right. Many of these natives have risen under German officers in Tripoli, and great train loads of Egyptian forces have been sent to fight them. Their work should not prove difficult as the Bedouins are not armed like our chaps. I would send home some souvenirs from here but they will not allow anything used in warfare to be sent. I have not yet received any of the numerous gifts sent to me, but parcels are naturally slower than letters in coming across."

While most of the Australian Imperial Force went to France in 1916, the bulk of Australia’s mounted forces remained in Egypt to fight the Turks threatening the Suez Canal.

In early March, 1916 Bert is transferred to the 7th AASC Corp at Cairo. He is ‘Marched out’ to the Canal Zone in mid April. Here the AASC would have been instrumental in ensuring the supply line for the Australian Light Horse brigades which had earlier withstood a major assault by Ottoman and German forces and would face and defeat them again at Romani in August 1916.   

Bert would remain in the Suez canal zone until late May which meant he missed the Romani Battle. He was transferred back to the Australian 4th Division Base camp in anticipation of the AASC sailing to France to a very different kind of front.

On June 7, 1916 he would embark on the ‘HMAT Ionian’ (photo) at Alexandria for Marseilles, Southern France. After arriving in Marseilles, it would be five weeks of lengthy train journeys through the interior of France before he is ‘Marched Out’ to join the 4th ADS unit. He would spend October in Hospital eventually being transferred back to England on HMAT Dieppe. He would recuperate in Hospital on the Perham Downs in North Wessex and would be given furlo in England over December 1916.

Bert would be transferred to a training camp at Larkhill in early 1917 and work at various training bases in the Perham Downs area. The AASC were instrumental in maintaining supplies to over 90,000 Australian troops who were in training in Great Britain in 1916/17 awaiting troop ships to take them to France or Belgium.

Bert serves in England till August 18, 1917, being promoted to Corporal the following month in September.

It is unknown whether Bert requested to leave the AASC and join the infantry; however, he would be transferred to the 5th Battalion at the Hurdcott camp to be sent back to France in mid October. 

Bert would serve the 5th battalion for the remainder of 1917, as the battalion participated in the operations that followed-up the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, and then returned to Belgium to join the great offensive launched to the east of Ypres.

In March and April 1918, the battalion helped to stop the German spring offensive near Amiens. The Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux took place during the Battle of the Lys, 24–27 April 1918, when an assault was launched against the Allied lines to the east of Amiens. It is notable for the first major use of tanks by the Germans, who deployed fourteen of their twenty A7Vs, and for the first tank-versus-tank battle in history. The famous counter-attack by two Australian battalions during the night of 24 April partly surrounded Villers-Bretonneux and on 25 April the town was recaptured. (Wikipedia)

Bert is ‘wounded in action’ on Anzac day April 25, receiving a GSW (Gun shot wound) to the elbow. He is admitted to the 14th General Hospital the next day and two days later he is transferred back to England on board the HMAT Pieter de Connick. He is admitted to hospital in Colchester on the east coast for one month and then sent to the further recuperate in at the 3rd Auxiliary hospital at  Dartford.(photo) In May,His mother would be informed by telegram her son has been wounded, GSW to elbow. No more details provided.

Bert’s war would be over. He is deemed unfit to return to the front with his casualty record stating Rtn to Australia, Right arm Invlng, (spell ?)  muscle spinal nerve’

In August 28, 1918 as the tide of the war was turning favourably for the Commonwealth and British forces, Bert would embark for Australia arriving home September 19,1918.

He would be discharged from the Army on April 26, 1919. 

The Bendigo Independent Newspaper reported on November 19,1918 the following -  

Corporal Bert Frank, son of Mrs Frank, of 59 McCrae Street, arrived in Melbourne yesterday morning, and returned to Bendigo by the express last night. He was met at the station by many relatives and friends and conveyed to his home by the White Hills Welcome Home Committee. Corporal Frank was three years and three months abroad, and saw service in Egypt on the Canal, and in France, where he was wounded in the elbow. Before enlisting he was well-known in local sporting circles, particularly football and harriers.

Corporal Bert Frank is remembered by the people of White Hills. The names of the local lads who sacrificed their lives and those that were fortunate to return from the Great War are shown on the embossed copper plaques on the White Hills Arch of Triumph, at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens.

Postscript to Bert Frank's WW1 service.

Bert's military record indicates that after the war, Bert moved to live in Birchip in Northern Victoria. His new occupation recorded was a Motor Engineer / Garage Inspector and he would marry Clare.     After serving over four and half years in the army during WW1, Bert would again enlist in the Australian Army, this time in the 17th Light Horse Regiment as a Lieutenant in 1924/25.

Possibly even more surprising, Bert in his fifties, again enlists as 'Lieutenant Provost' in the 26th Light Horse Regiment in 1939 till 1941 for two years service escorting troops overseas in WW2. 

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