Edward Alexander (Ted) KEID

Poppy

KEID, Edward Alexander

Service Number: 1153
Enlisted: 5 October 1914, Townsville, Queensland
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 9th Infantry Battalion
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, 18 April 1889
Home Town: Graceville, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Junction Park State School
Occupation: Farmer/Selector
Died: Died of wounds, Passchendaele, Belgium, 2 November 1917, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Lijssenthoek, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Corinda Sherwood Shire Roll of Honor, Evelyn Scrub War Memorial, Graceville War Memorial, Herberton War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

5 Oct 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 1153, Townsville, Queensland
22 Dec 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1153, 9th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
22 Dec 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1153, 9th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Melbourne
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1153, 9th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
2 Nov 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 1153, 9th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Passchendaele

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

The Brothers Keid

Charles and Mary Keid were the parents of nine children, six of them boys. By 1914 the family had moved to “Chewton”, Molonga Terrace, Graceville. All six of the Keid boys enlisted in the First World War; and four of them would lose their lives. Three of the deceased brothers are commemorated on the Sherwood Shire memorial. The story of the Keid family’s sacrifice has been recorded in a number of media reports recently as well as in a book by Cedric Hampson; “The Brothers Keid.” Since the stories of all six boys are so interwoven, I have grouped their narratives together, and in the interests of completion, I will include Leonard Keid. Leonard, the only brother to be married with a family, is not listed on the Sherwood Memorial but is instead commemorated on the Coorparoo Shire Memorial at Langlands Park.

All six brothers are listed on the Sherwood Methodist Church Roll of Honour.

Edward Alexander Keid                                           #1153  T/Sergeant 9th Battalion

Edward Keid had been born in Brisbane and as a boy attended Junction Park State School like his brothers. He enlisted in Townsville on 9th October 1914 and gave his age as 25 years and occupation as selector. Edward was single and apparently had no family in North Queensland at the time as he named his mother Mary Keid of “Chewton” Molonga Terrace Graceville as his next of kin.  In spite of Edward’s early enlistment date, two of his brothers had already joined up; William and Harold (known as Guy).

Edward was drafted into the 9th Battalion, part of the 3rd Brigade 1st Division AIF. The 9th was the first infantry battalion to be raised in Queensland when war was declared. The first contingent of the 9th had already departed for overseas when Edward joined and he was drafted into the 1st reinforcements which left Melbourne on the 22nd December 1914. Upon arrival in Egypt, Edward was taken on strength by the 9th and proceeded to go through extensive desert training in preparation for the landing at Anzac.

The 9th Battalion was one of three battalions which first hit the beach at dawn on the 25th April. Edward would remain on Gallipoli for the remainder of the campaign, being promoted to corporal as the evacuations took place in December 1915. A period of retraining and reorganisation followed in Egypt and the 9th Battalion arrived in Marseilles on the 3rd April enroute to the Western Front.

 Haig; Supreme British Commander in France and Belgium; launched the Battle of the Somme on the 1st July 1916. As the situation on the Somme called for increasing manpower, Haig brought three Australian Divisions (1st, 2nd and 4th) to the staging areas around Albert to use in the assault on Pozieres.

The 1st Divisions was thrust into the struggle for Pozieres during late July and early August, and had secured the village and the important blockhouse on the site of a windmill above the village. During this action, Edward would have been subjected to some of the most intense artillery barrages of the war. The 1st Division were withdrawn for rest recuperation while the 2nd Division continued the assaults.

 With Pozieres secured, it was now the turn of the 4th Division; which included the 49th Battalion (to which his brothers Leonard and Bennett belonged), to continue the offensive towards a ruined farm a few hundred metres along the ridgeline from Pozieres; 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.”

The assault on the farm began at midnight on the 3rd/4th September 1916. It was conducted on an ever narrowing front that was enfiladed by German artillery and machine guns on three sides. During the assault by the 49th, both Leonard and Bennet were killed, their bodies not recovered. When the 1st Division was thrown back into the line at Mouquet Farm, it was reported that Edward scoured the battlefield looking for his two brothers.

The Australian divisions were withdrawn from the Somme late in September 1916 for much needed reinforcements and re-equipment. While resting behind the lines, Edward was posted to the 3rd Training Battalion in England. It would be heartening to think that this posting was an attempt to provide Edward with a period of recovery after the tragedy he had experienced in France.

While in England, Edward was promoted to temporary sergeant. He was to fall foul of the authorities twice while in England; once for being absent without leave and once for refusing to provide a leave pass to the sergeant of the guard. On both occasions he was simply reprimanded which perhaps implies that the commanding officers were still concerned about the state of his mental health.

Edward returned to his unit on 6th June 1917, just as the Battle of Messines was launched. The 9th Battalion continued to be thrust into the line in a series of engagements in the Ypres salient during the remainder of that summer and into autumn.

By November of 1917, the British forces had advanced some 15 kilometres from Ypres and Haig was insistent that the line push on towards the village of Passchendaele, despite soaking rain that turned the battlefield into quagmire. On 1st November, during an attack near Zonnebeke, Edward received a shell wound to the head. He was transported back behind the lines to a casualty clearing station near Poperinghe, just west of Ypres. Edward succumbed to his wounds the following day and he was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

Edward was the fourth son of Mary and Charles Keid to die in the war. His death would spark the family into action to save their remaining two sons (see postscript below).

Postscript

When Edward Keid was killed at Passchendaele in November 1917, the Keid Family had lost four sons. Harry Keid, the youngest of the six brothers, had already returned to Australia for “family reasons” and representations began to have the last surviving brother, Henry Keid returned to Australia also.

On 27th November 1917, the Chief Secretary to the Queensland Premier T.J.Ryan sent a cable to the Australian Agent General in London; Andrew Fisher:

“Relatives of Private H.C.Keid strongly desire his return to Queensland (stop) Five of his brothers have been on active service 4 killed(stop) Keid now on furlough in London where I understand General Birdwood is at present(stop) Good opportunity to represent matters.   Chief Secretary Brisbane”

The interesting aspect of this communication is that it came from the Queensland Premier and not the Prime Minister. The cable requests Keid’s return to Queensland, not Australia. This is perhaps an indication of a political aspect to the matter. Ryan’s Labor government was strongly anti conscription, unlike Prime Minister Hughes who had been expelled from the Labor Party for his pro conscription policy. The second conscription referendum had just been defeated.

In invoking the assistance of Andrew Fisher; a former Labor Prime Minister who had close connections to Queensland (Fisher had been the member for Gympie in the Federal Parliament), Ryan’s representations may be seen as an attempt to circumvent the Prime Minister and deprive Hughes of a political opportunity.

In due course, Henry Keid was repatriated back to Queensland on the orders of General Officer Commanding Australian Imperial Forces, Lt General Birdwood.

Of the four Keid brothers killed in action, only one has a known grave. William who died of wounds off Gallipoli was buried at sea. The bodies of Leonard and Walter were never recovered from Mouquet Farm. They are instead commemorated on the tablets at the Australian National Memorial at Villers Bretonneux.

It was reported that when Mary Keid, mother of the boys, was approached for a donation to erect a war memorial at Graceville Memorial Park, she told the collector “I have already given four sons.”

The story of the Keid family is certainly one which even today evokes a profound sense of loss. Perhaps other families made similar sacrifices, but the contribution of the Keid family is one which deserves to be remembered.

Courtesy of Ian Lang

Mango Hill

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Biography

"...1153 Sergeant Edward Alexander (Ted) Keid, of Graceville, Qld. Sgt Keid, a farmer in civilian life, enlisted on 5 October 1914 along with his brother 1154 Private (Pte) Henry Charles Keid, both serving with the 9th Battalion. Sgt Keid died on 2 November 1917 from wounds received at the battle of Passchendaele. He was one of six brothers who enlisted, four of whom were killed in action and one was wounded." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

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