Edward George AUSTIN

AUSTIN, Edward George

Service Number: 593
Enlisted: 21 July 1915, Liverpool, New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 30th Infantry Battalion
Born: Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia, 10 January 1889
Home Town: Corrimal, Wollongong, New South Wales
Schooling: Public School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Fromelles, France, 20 July 1916, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, Bethune, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Plot I, Row K, Grave 51 Personal Inscription IN MEMORY OF THE LOVING HUSBAND OF THERESA AUSTIN OF CORRIMAL His name is also located at panel 116 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

21 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Liverpool, New South Wales
9 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 593, 30th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
9 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 593, 30th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Beltana, Sydney
11 Dec 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 593, 30th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
6 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 593, 30th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)

Remembrance Day - tragic sacrifices of Australians (Wollongong Advertiser)

21 November 2012
Wollongong has a fascinating history and each week the Advertiser brings you a story from its rich past.

On Remembrance Day, when Australia remembers those fighting men and women of all wars who made the ultimate sacrifice, a sad story springs to mind of the "Austin" family of Railway Street, Corrimal.

Many years ago, a collection of photographs donated to the Illawarra Historical Society by two different gentlemen relates a sad tale of the Walker and Austin families.

A large framed image of Richard Walker is the start of this sad story.

Richard Walker and his wife Sarah (nee Peace) lived in the Mt Kembla area.

It was on July 31, 1902, Richard Walker and his two nephews John and William Walker lost their lives in the Mt Kembla Mine Disaster.

Theresa, the fourth child of Richard and Sarah Walker, who was born in 1889, married Edward George Austin in 1912.

They only had one child, Edward Richard.

Edward Austin, the father, only 26 years old, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915 to serve his country in World War I.

He embarked on November 9, 1915, aboard the HMAT Beltana arriving at Suez a month later.

After six months, he was sent to Alexandria and less than a week later he sailed for France where he arrived in late June 1916.

Soon after, in mid-July, Edward Austin was sent to the Western Front.

He carried in his coat pocket a studio portrait of his wife Theresa and son Edward.

Written on the back is a note to a much-loved husband and father from a devoted wife and son.

The bent and worn photograph, with much of the surface rubbed off, had been through much in the short time showing just how much the soldier treasured this image. Early in July 1916, a large allied force was positioned at the Somme.

The British officials devised an attack on the enemy at Fromelles, France, to prevent the German reserves being moved south to the Somme.

Mr Austin faced a heavily fortified German Army and was caught up in the battle.

It has been written, "the Battle of Fromelles was an unmitigated military disaster, the dismal culmination of muddled planning and reckless decision-making by both the British and Australian commanders and staff".

The Australians attacked at 6pm on July 19, 1916, and by next day more than 5500 Australian soldiers were dead, lying wounded or taken prisoner. One of those soldiers killed was 27-year-old Private Edward George Austin.

Charles Bean, an official war correspondent, wandered over the area on Armistice Day (now Remembrance Day) on November 11, 1918, two years after the guns had fallen silent on that battlefield, and recorded that "we found the old No-Man's-Land simply full of our dead".

Mr Austin died at Fleurbaix, later known as the Battle of Fromelles and was buried in Rue Petillon Military Cemetery.

Mrs Austin was informed of her husband's death by telegram, but was quoted the wrong service number.

Showing 1 of 1 story


Described on enlisting as  26 years 6 months old; married; 5’ 6 ½” tall; 140 lbs;
fair complexion; blue eyes; brown hair; Church of England  

Father  Samuel Austin and Mother  Ellen Caroline Austin

Wife Theresa Austin of  Railway Street, Corrimal, New South Wales
One child – Edward Richard Austin

Next of Kin:            James Peace (cousin, living in Corrimal NSW)

11/7/1915              Completed medical – fit for service

21/7/1915              Enlisted   at   Liverpool   rank  Private

3/8/1915                Commanding Officer appointed Edward to C Company
                              30th Infantry Battalion, Liverpool camp

9/11/1915              Embarked  from  Sydney   on  HMAT Beltana A72 
11/12/1915            Disembarked at Suez, Egypt

16/6/1916              Embarked to join British Expeditionary Forces per HMAT Hororata ex Alexandria
23/6/1916              Disembarked at Marseilles, France

                              Involved in the Battle of Fromelles.

By mid-morning on 20 July 1916 there were, by German estimates (later proved to be very accurate),  2,000 corpses on No-Man’s Land. There were also thousands of immobile wounded sheltering in shell holes, ditches, in the river or in thick grass.

Stretcher bearers, together with everybody else who could not withstand the call of broken men, worked continuously bringing the wounded off the battlefield, and in most cases were left by the Germans to do that work.  The clearance of the wounded was to Regimental Aid Posts near Petillon and Le Trou, thence to Advanced Dressing Stations at Rouge du Bout, and Croix Blanche, then back to Main Dressing Stations like the one at Bac St Maur.

The mention of these is to explain the location of cemeteries near some of these places. Around noon, opposite 8th Bde’s position, a truce was offered by the Saxon Regiment that had relieved the Bavarian Regiment overnight, to enable the dead and wounded to be evacuated.  This was rejected by the British and Australian HQs.  However, at a lower level, an arrangement was reached whereby the wounded were taken back under cover of darkness.  The dead were left where they fell.  

Later, men were sent out to take from the bodies their identity discs and personal belongings, and these were subsequently posted to the next of kin. This is one reason why there are so many unidentified Australians in the surrounding cemeteries.   Both sides then set about rebuilding their parapets and trenches, in full view of each other, later conducting raids, but little more than that. The 5th Division remained in the line till October when it moved south to the Somme region, where the great battle had now finished.

20/7/1916              Killed in action, France

                              Buried at Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, Bethune,
                                             Nord Pas de Calais, France
                                             2 ¾ miles East of Laventue, 4 miles South-West of Ammentieres
                                             Grave 79 Plot 2 Row C

3/8/1925                Advised by Imperial War Graves Commission:-
                              to conform with the uniform layout of the Rue Petillon Military Cemetery, France
                              Private Austin’s grave registration has been amended to:
                                              Plot I,  Row K,  Grave 51
                              His actual burial position did not change.

His name is located at panel 116 in the Commemorative Area (www.awm.gov.au) at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT.

WWI Star 1914-15;   British War medal (24478); Victory medal (24311)
Memorial Plaque and Memorial Scroll (314564)


Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.   9 September 2014.  Lest we forget.