John (Jack) FITZGERALD

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FITZGERALD, John

Service Number: 21218
Enlisted: 4 October 1915, Townsville, Queensland
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 8th Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Allora, Queensland, 1892
Home Town: Allora, Southern Downs, Queensland
Schooling: Allora State School
Occupation: Police constable
Died: Killed in Action, France, 30 March 1918
Cemetery: Heilly Station Cemetery
Memorials: Allora Shire Soldiers Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Cambooya War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

4 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 21218, Townsville, Queensland
11 May 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 21218, 9th Field Artillery Brigade , Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
11 May 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 21218, 9th Field Artillery Brigade , HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney
30 Mar 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 21218, 8th Field Artillery Brigade , Dernancourt/Ancre

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"Constable John Fitzgerald, who preferred to be known as Jack, joined the Queensland Police in April of 1915. A proficient horseman he was stationed in Selwyn, a frontier mining town south of Cloncurry, and then at Duchess until he enlisted in early 1916. Gunner Fitzgerald embarked from Sydney aboard the HMAT Argyllshire A8 on the 11 of May 1916. He was initially posted to the 7th Depot Battalion but was then reposted to the 36th Battery, 9th Field Artillery Brigade and later to the 108th Battery. Fitzgerald and his Battalion were posted to the front on New Year’s Eve in 1916/17. Fitzgerald’s unit was heavily involved in the combats of Messines Ridge and the 3rd Battle of Ypres. In 1918 Fitzgerald was promoted to Sergeant. Sergeant Fitzgerald, of the 108th Battery, aged 25 years was killed at dawn on the 30 of March 1918, at Sailly-le Sec when an enemy shell landed a few yards away of his position- he was killed instantly." - SOURCE (www.police.qld.gov.au)

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Before the war

John Fitzgerald (nicknamed Jack) was born in August 1892, in Allora, Southern Downs - Queensland, Australia, where he grew up and attended Allora State School. John Fitzgerald was a natural born British subject; he was single and around 5 ft 10. On April 1915 John Fitzgerald joined Queensland police, he was stationed at Selwyn which was a frontier mining town located south of Cloncurry and later at the Duchess.

At age 23 2/12 on October 4th, 1915 John Fitzgerald joined the Australian imperial force, his regimental number was 21218 and was placed as a gunner into the 36th battery in the 9th field artillery brigade. John Fitzgerald’s next of kin was his father, Mr Edward Fitzgerald and his will went to his mother, Mrs Mary Fitzgerald. He embarked at Sydney abord the HMAT Argyllshire A8 on the 11th of May 1916, and disembarked to Devonport on the 10th of July 1916. On the 30th of December 1916 he proceeded overseas to France, Southampton with the 9th field artillery brigade.

During the war

On the 6th of January 1917 Gunner Fitzgerald was transferred from the 36th  battery of the 9th field artillery brigade to the 108th Howitzer battery of the 8th field artillery brigade, along with soldiers from the 29th, 30th and the 31st brigades (some of these brigades were also made up of other late brigades such as the old 29th and the right section of the late 30th brigade and old 32nd and the left section of the late 28th brigade, and finally the old 108th and the left section of the old 109th).

On the 25th June 1917 Gunner Fitzgerald was wounded in action, this was caused by gas and took place in a field in France. On the same day gunner Fitzgerald was admitted to a hospital as gassed. On the 28th of June 1917 Gunner Fitzgerald was taken to his unit and re-joined his brigade from the hospital.

On the same day Gunner Fitzgerald was take back to his brigade (The 28th of June 1917) he was also temporarily promoted to bombardier. This was confirmed on 30th July.

Bombardier Fitzgerald was promoted to corporal to complete establishment on the 16th of October 1917. On the 31st of December 1917 Corporal Fitzgerald was promoted to Sergeant as the vice Sergeant was placed on the super-numeracy list. Sergeant Fitzgerald left for England on the 17th of January 1918 and returned to his Brigade on the 2nd of February 1918.

On the 30th of March 1918, at the age of 25, Sergeant Fitzgerald was killed in action in Sailly-le Sec, Somme, France. On this date there were two attacks late at night: at 12.15 the Germans attacked in seven waves, but were thrown back without being able to penetrate the prequal line. At 3pm the second attack developed, no success, each battery fired 100 rounds. Sargent Fitzgerald was killed by an enemy shell landing near his position.

John Fitzgerald was buried in Heilly Station Cemetery France, Mericourt-L’abbe, Plot VII, Row A, Grave No. 5. John Fitzgerald’s headstone was inscribed with ‘In Memory of the Dearly Loved Son of E. and Mrs. Fitzgerald of Felton. Around 115 other Australian soldiers died on the 30th of March 1918. John Fitzgerald’s name is on memorials in, Allora Shire Soldiers Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour and Cambooya War Memorial

Role of the 108th Howitzer battery

John Fitzgerald was apart of the 108th Battery, 8th field artillery brigade; this battery had another name, the Howitzer Battery. The 108th battery manned the Howitzer guns these guns were named under the heavy artillery. Howitzer guns were similar to Mortar guns except that the Howitzer guns used a high curving trajectory to get more distance. Howitzer guns were transports in three different parts due to their large size, and would have to be constructed on sight, it would take around 3 hours to do so.

 

 

 

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