Service Numbers: 3845, 3845A
Enlisted: 15 September 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 49th Infantry Battalion
Born: Not yet discovered
Home Town: South Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Hotel Barman
Died: Suicide, United Kingdom, Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 24 August 1919, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Tidworth Military Cemetery, England
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Coorparoo Roll of Honor, Coorparoo Shire Memorial Gates (Greenslopes), Maryborough State High School Roll of Honour
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

15 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 3845, 49th Infantry Battalion
30 Dec 1915: Involvement Private, 3845, 9th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '9' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Itonus embarkation_ship_number: A50 public_note: ''
30 Dec 1915: Embarked Private, 3845, 9th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Itonus, Brisbane
24 Aug 1919: Involvement Private, 3845A, 49th Infantry Battalion, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 3845A awm_unit: 49th Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1919-08-24


John Moran #3845 9th/ 49th Battalion`

John Moran was 22 years old when he enlisted in September of 1915. He gave his occupation as barman (perhaps at the Holland Park Hotel) and the address of his father as next of kin was Harold Street, Holland Park. The embarkation roll indicates that John allotted four shillings from his five shillings daily pay to his father. Soon after John’s enlistment, records show that John’s father (also named John) moved to Shire Street Coorparoo to live with his married daughter, Mrs Francis Gilbert.

John was drafted as a reinforcement for the 9th Battalion and departed Brisbane on the “Itonus” in December 1915. On arrival in Egypt on 17 March 1916, he was transferred into the 4th Division, 49th Battalion as part of the doubling of the AIF. After arrival in France and a short stint in quieter sectors of the front, the 49th Battalion was called into the action at Pozieres, part of Haig’s great Somme offensive.

The 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions were first thrust into the struggle for Pozieres during late July and early August 1916, and had secured the village and the important blockhouse on the site of a windmill above the village. It was now the turn of the 4th Division to continue the offensive towards a ruined farm which the Germans had heavily fortified by extending the cellars and creating a line of three defensive trenches. The farm was depicted on the maps as “La Ferme du Mouquet” but the Australians referred to it as “Moo Cow Farm” or “Mucky Farm.”

During the assault on Mouquet Farm, John Moran suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and right arm. He was evacuated to England on 10th September 1916 and spent some months recuperating from his wounds before rejoining the battalion on 17 January 1917. John’s records have no entries for the remainder of 1917 and first half of 1918 from which it can be assumed he remained with the 49th for those 18 months as the battalion was engaged in heavy action at Noreuil in April 1917, Messines in June 1917, Polygon Wood in September 1917, Dernacourt in March 1918, Villers Bretonneux in April 1918 and Amiens in August 1918.

It can be imagined the toll that such an extended period of combat must have had on John and it is not surprising that he was granted two weeks leave in Paris from 1st September 1918. By this time, the entire Australian Corps was almost finished as a fighting force. Entire brigades were now down to battalion strength. In an effort to make up the appalling losses, all brigades were to be reduced from 4 battalions to 3 in order to make up the numbers. By October 1918 the Australians had fought their last battle. John Moran was granted a second period of leave on 28th October 1918, this time in England. After his leave was up, John appears to have been hospitalised at Sutton Veney in Wiltshire. The records are unclear as to the actual cause but as later events would reveal, it may well have been due to a psychiatric condition brought on by almost 2 and a half years of continuous front line service. John’s situation also begs the question as to why he had not been repatriated back to Australia sooner after the armistice.

It is well recorded that the job of transporting almost 200,000 Australian servicemen back to Australia was a truly daunting task and if not for the particular planning abilities of General John Monash who was in charge of the repatriation, the job would have taken a lot longer. Nevertheless, by June 1919, John Moran was still in England and apparently discharged from hospital and awaiting transport back to Australia when he went absent without leave.

When John eventually returned to his billet, his records indicate he was questioned about his absence by the military authorities but no further action was taken. Those same records reveal that the reason for his absence was that he had been charged with common assault on 12 June by the civil authorities and had then served two months hard labour in H.M. Prison Shepton Mallet. Discovering that John has been in prison, the Army wisely considered that his incarceration was sufficient punishment for his AWOL offense.

Whether it was the shame of having to face his family with a prison record or more likely the accumulated impact of what we would call today post traumatic stress, just one week after returning to his barracks, John Moran took his own life.

A court of inquiry was held and the verdict was that on 24th September 1919, John Moran committed suicide whilst being temporarily of unsound mind. A note addressed to his sister of Shire Street, Coorparoo was found in his coat pocket. Perhaps to protect the family, the record of the inquiry has been expunged from John’s file.

John Moran was buried with full military honours at Tidworth Military Cemetery in Wiltshire. His coffin was covered with the Australian flag, a volley of shots was fired over the casket and a bugler played the last post. His father received John’s medals and photographs of his grave. His personal belongings were also returned; an electric torch and a pair of light horse issue spurs.

Perhaps out of shame, a Roll of Honour circular which was sent to John’s father in 1920 was not completed. Nevertheless, John Moran is listed on the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour.

John Moran was a young man who had served his nation and empire well. He had given as much as he could until he could not give any more.

Showing 1 of 1 story