Arthur John (Brockie) BENNETT MM

BENNETT, Arthur John

Service Number: 955
Enlisted: 2 December 1914, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Regimental Sergeant Major
Last Unit: 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance
Born: East Kew, Victoria, 1891
Home Town: Hawthorn, Boroondara, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Traveller
Died: Accidental (hit by truck), Melbourne, Victoria, 11 November 1948
Cemetery: Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

2 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 955, Melbourne, Victoria
8 Feb 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 955, 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
8 Feb 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 955, 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance, HMAT Pera, Melbourne
30 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 955, 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance, ANZAC / Gallipoli
30 Aug 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Regimental Sergeant Major, 955, 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance

Kind and Brave

Arthur John Bennett was born in 1891 in Kew, Victoria to Sidney Herbert Bennett and his wife, Bruce (nee Reid).

Little is known of his early life, apart from his joining the Victorian Scottish Regiment (for a period of 2 years and 6 months) at some point prior to enlistment with the AIF on 19 November 1914. He listed his occupation as "Commercial Traveller" on his attestation paper and nominated his father, then living at Burwood Road, Upper Hawthorn, as his next of kin. Arthur was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed in at 10 stone 11 pounds and had a dark complexion. He had grey eyes and dark brown hair and identified as Baptist.

He embarked aboard HMAT "Pera", leaving Melbourne on 8th February 1915. (His Casualty Form notes he embarked 25 February 1915). Proceeded to reinforce MEF Gallipoli on 8 October 1915. A few weeks after this he was sent to Egypt, aboard the "Caledonia", disembarking at Alexandria on Christmas Even 1915. His unit must have been in Egypt for some time, perhaps with not much to occupy themselves with on furlough, as by 15 June 1916 he was charged with being absent without leave and for drunkenness. The AWOL charge was dismissed but he was admonished for drunkenness.

The unit moved into the Palestine arena in around September 1916.

As part of the Light Horse, he was charged with looking after his horse. He must have really cared for his mount (or perhaps had noticed another hungry animal?), as on 15 October 1916 his records show he got himself into trouble ("Conduct prejudice of good order of military discipline") by taking more than his ration of horse fodder previously issued, without permission of the Transport Sergeant.

Initially in the 3rd Light Horse F.A. Reinforcements, he was transferred 5 August 1917 to the 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance.

Arthur was awarded a Military Medal for conspicuous bravery in the field at Khu Weilfe" on 3 November 1917 (Tel el Khuweilfe, Palestine). The Military Medal was awarded for "acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire". Not long after this he was appointed Lance Corporal, then Corporal. A 1918 photograph held by the Australian War Memorial shows "Corporal A J Bennett MM, 1 ALH Regiment" at Mejdel, Jaffa, Rishon, with fellow Military Medal recipient, Lance Corporal James Pitceathly (from Pechey, near Crows Nest, Toowoomba).

Arthur was also quite good at writing vivid descriptions of his war time experiences. In a letter to his parents, published by the Bendigo Advertiser (Monday 20 may 1918 on page 2), he describes what the editor calls a "thrilling story of rescue work under fire in Palestine". Arthur explains how the Turks had fired upon them deliberately, ignoring the large Red Cross flag [Field Ambulance], as they tried to rescue wounded soldiers.

His compassion for both soldiers and animals is evident in the letter, with his vivid and heartfelt description of how the poor horses suffered. The empathy and sadness he felt, particularly for "his pony" that was shot in the neck but did not die instantly. He had to take cover behind her and was deeply saddened that he was unable to put her out of her misery (as he did not carry a weapon as part of the field ambulance). His parting lines were about the horses, conveying: "The horses played a great part in the victory for us. The poor brutes were without water for as long as 10 hours at a time, and had very little feed, but still they did their work. The Australian horse has proved itself good stuff in this war. Sometimes I feel very weary of the war, but I am going to stick it out to the end."

Arthur, whilst brave and undoubtedly caring, was like many of his fellow troopers of the time, a bit resistant to strict military discipline at certain moments and a bit partial to the local 'highlights'. Extracts from proceedings of FGCM (Field General Court Martial) at Wadi Hanein on 17th August 1918 have him up before Major General Harris (MC) 1st LH. Arthur was charged with 3 items:

1st Charge (Section 15 11A) AA. When on active service absenting himself without leave in that he at the Jaffa on 7th August 1918 was absent from his bivouac area until apprehended by Military Police at about 2130 on 7th August 1918.

2nd Charge (Section 2 AA) when on active service neglecting to obey a G R O in that he at Jaffa on August 7th 1918 when asked to produce his identity disc by No. 1269 Sgt. J. P. Jennings MP, failed to do so stating that he was not in possession of one (contrart to GRO 1790 dated 16.10.17 directing that all troops must be in possession of discs).

3rd Charge (Section 9 (2) AA) when on active service disobeying a lawful command given by his superior officer in that he at Jaffa on 7th August 1918 did not leave a native house (a brothel) when ordered to do so by No. 34309 L/Cpl Robinson T MP a representative of the Assistant Provost Marshall.

Arthur pleaded not guilty to all charges. The FGCM found him guilty of the first charge, but not guilty of the 2nd and 3rd charge. He was sentenced to loss of 12 months seniority in the AAMC. Total forfeiture of pay was 21 days.

He was scheduled to embarke aboard HT "Orari" for Australia from Kantara, Egypt on 16 May 1919. Handwritten notes on his service record note he embarked "2/2/15" and disembarked "30/8/19".

Returning home from active duty, Arthur was working as a Grocer and living at 26 Walpole Street, Kew by 1931. He later went on to marry Johanna Amelia Stewart in North Fitzroy in 1932. By 1937 both are living at 369 Flemington Rd and Arthur is still working as a Grocer.

According to a death notice from The Argus (Melbourne) 12 November 1948 (p10; Col.1), Arthur's death was a result of an accident.

Showing 1 of 1 story