Service Number: 1615
Enlisted: 6 September 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 9th Light Horse Regiment
Born: Goodwood, South Australia, 23 September 1893
Home Town: Goodwood, Unley, South Australia
Schooling: Goodwood Primary School
Occupation: Carter
Died: Stroke, Goodwood, South Australia, 20 July 1964, aged 70 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Goodwood Public School WW1 Roll of Honor, Unley Town Hall WW1 Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

6 Sep 1915: Enlisted
18 Nov 1915: Involvement Private, SN 1615, 9th Light Horse Regiment
18 Nov 1915: Embarked Private, SN 1615, 9th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide

Edmund Wakefield - A Real Gentleman

Edmund Wakefield (“Ed”) was born on 22 September 1893 at Goodwood, South Australia. His parents were John Wakefield and Emma Gray. He was the 8th of 9 children and their 3rd son. At the time of his birth, the family was living at Rosa Street Goodwood. Ed’s father John had a delivery business.

Ed went to school at Goodwood Primary School from the ages of 5 to 12. He learnt to ride horses at an early age and on leaving school he probably joined his father’s delivery business and drove a horse and cart.

Universal conscription and military service was introduced into Australia in 1909 by the passing of the Defence Act, 1909. This Act come into operation on 1 January 1911 and required that all medically fit boys aged 12-14 had to undertake physical training, followed by compulsory service in the Commonwealth Cadets between the ages of 14-18 and then compulsory service in the part-time CMF between 18 and 26. On 1 January 1911, Ed was 17 1/2 years old and firstly joined the Commonwealth Cadets in Adelaide on 1 January 1911. On his 18th birthday in September 1911, Ed moved to the Senior Cadets and would then have been attached to a militia. He was part of the Senior Cadets before he voluntarily resigned and enlisted in the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, 9th Light Horse Regiment, 12th Reinforcements (specifically D Company, 3rd Depot E) on 6 September 1915 just before his 22nd birthday. Ed’s enlistment number was 1615. One of the reasons that Ed did not enlist in the AIF immediately in August 1914, was that he was not tall enough for the AIF. The initial height requirement for enlistment was 5ft 5ins. This height restriction was subsequently reduced in 1915 as the AIF needed to enlist more men after the losses at Gallipolli and France.

Ed was 5ft and 3 ½ inches high, 129 lbs with grey eyes and dark brown hair. His religion was listed as Church of England and his occupation was a horse-driver.

When Ed enlisted in September 1915, he was one of 16,571 Australian men who enlisted in that month. This was the 5th highest number of monthly enlistments during the war. Ed would have gone to a tailor in Adelaide to be fitted for his uniform.Ed entered the training camp at Mitcham in Adelaide and did his riding training at Morphetville Race Track Training Camp.

Ed left Adelaide on 18 November 1915 on the “HMAT A2 Geelong.” This ship was a converted passenger liner and had an interesting history. It was part of the first convoy of ships to take the first group of the Australian and New Zealand Imperial Expeditionary Forces to war leaving King Georges Sound, Albany, Western Australia on 1 November 1914.

Ed arrived on Suez on 18 December 1915. Shortly after the troops were unloaded, the HMAT A2 Geelong was sunk in the Mediterranean Sea on 1 January 1916 after it collided with the ship SS Bonvilston.

Ed was transferred to the 3rd Light Horse Reserve Regiment on 6 March 1916.
Ed was transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps (“ICC”) on 9 September 1916 and became part of the 3rd ANZAC Camel Battalion, 11th Company . He would have volunteered to become part of the ICC. Ed’s first commanding officer in the 11th Company was Captain Randolph William Creswell who was killed in action on 6 November 2011 in the aftermath of the charge on Beersheba.

The operations of the ICC in the Western Desert in 1916 included long patrols and brief skirmishes with the Senussi. The Camels carried the water and provisions for the ANZAC Mounted Division and usually travelled at the rear of the Mounted Division. In late 1916, the ICC was transferred to the Sinai desert to take part in operations against the Turkish army. Here the ICC fought alongside Australian light horse units at Romani, Magdhaba and Rafa. Ed was part of these operations.
The ICC remained an integral part of the British and dominion force that advanced north through Palestine in 1917 and 1918 and was involved in the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917, and in the operations conducted in November to destroy the Turkish defensive line between Gaza and Beersheba. The bulk of the ICC was disbanded in June 1918 and the Australians were used to form the 14th and 15th Light Horse Regiments. As a result of the disbanding of the ICC, on 25 July 1918, Ed was transferred to the 15th Light Horse Regiment. This regiment was formed in 1918 in Palestine from members of the Australian divisions of the ICC. The 15th Light Horse Regiment formed part of the 5th Light Horse Brigade which was part of the Australian Mounted Division.

The 5th Light Horse Brigade fought in the battle of Megiddo on 19 September 1918. “On this morning, British infantry opened a gap in the Turkish front to the north of Jaffa, allowing mounted forces to penetrate deep into their rear areas, severing roads, railways and communications links. In ensuing days the Turkish front collapsed and as the Turks retreated into Syria they were harried by mounted troops, supported by aircraft, in close pursuit. In ten days from 19 September, the 5th Light Horse Brigade advanced over 650 kilometers. The Brigade entered Damascus on 1 October 1918, and carried out mopping-up and garrison tasks in the vicinity of Damascus for most of October. The Brigade was moving forward to join the drive on Aleppo when Turkey surrendered on 30 October 1918.

Ed was hospitalized in Cairo on 13 November 1918 with malignant malaria and pneumonia and placed on the dangerously ill list. His parents were advised on 21 November 2013 that he was dangerously ill. He was released from hospital on 4 January 1919. Ed returned to duty after a month of convalescence on 15 February 1919.

While waiting to embark for home, the 15th Light Horse were called back to operational duty to quell the Egyptian revolt that erupted in March 1919. It took about a month to restore order. The 15th Light Horse were the last of the AIF to leave the Middle East in July 1919. The members of the 15th Light Horse Regiment sailed for Australia without their horses, which were either shot or transferred to Indian cavalry units. Ed had to leave his horse behind in Egypt. He was sad about this for the rest of his life.

Ed sailed for Australia on the "HMT Dongola" and left Cairo on 25 July 1919. The ship stopped at Columbo, Ceylon on 8 August 1919 before crossing the Indian Ocean to next land at Fremantle on 17 August 1919.

Ed’s parents were notified by letter or telegram of the details of Ed’s return to Australia on 10 August 1919. They inserted a notice in the Adelaide Advertiser on Saturday 16 August 1919 as follows:


Mr & Mrs J Wakefield of Westbourne Park have been notified that their son Trooper E Wakefield, 15 Light Horse Regiment is returning by transport Dongola due at Melbourne about August 24.”

Ed disembarked in Adelaide on 23 August 1919. The Adelaide Register printed a list of returning soldiers on its front page on 23 August 1919, including Ed’s name “Pte E Wakefield, 15th LHR.” Saturday 23 August 1919 was a busy day at the port of Adelaide as 3 troopships arrived at the same time. This event was widely reported in the newspapers. A number of members of Ed’s family travelled by train to the Outer Harbour to welcome Ed home.

The Adelaide Daily Herald on Saturday 23 August 1919, reported that:

“About 300 South Australians will arrive in Adelaide by the Dunluce Castle, Morvada and the Dongola. To meet each troopship special trains will leave Adelaide for the Outer Harbour and in each instance the men will be taken direct to Keswick by train. The Dongola will berth at Outer Harbour at 2.50pm this afternoon. A special train leaves Adelaide at 12.55pm and arrives at Keswick at 3.47 this afternoon.”

The Adelaide Register on Monday 25 August 1919 reported that:


Altogether 243 men wore landed at the Outer Harbour from the three troopships —Dunluce Castle, Morvada, aud Dongola on Saturday. The vessels arrived in the order named. Large numbers of relatives and friends assembled on the wharf, and here were many affectionate reunions. The Y.M.C.A. and the V.A.D. were kept busy all day providing the South Australian troops with fruit and smokes as they landed and with refreshments on the station. The interstate men on the Dunluce Castle were given refreshments in the hut, and those on the Dongola and Morvada, who were in port only a couple of hours, and refreshments passed on board to them. The Semaphore Cheer-up Society distributed the usual tokens to the men as they left the ship. The State Commandant was represented on the wharf by Lieut.Col. Logan, D.A.A.G., for the first vessel, and Major J. J. Hughes welcomed the men on the succeeding boats. The Mayor of Port Adelaide (Mr. R. H. Smith) and Col. Chapter Kendrew, for the Y.M.C.A., spoke words of welcome to the men. The disembarkation from the Dunluce Castle and Dongola was in the hands of Lieut A. B. Mortimer. Capt. Nat Campbell and S.-Sgt. A. N. Gardiner represented
the S.O.I, and RS. For the Morvada, T. Lieut. F Heithersay in charge of the disembarkation, and Lieut. A. Mitchell, M M and Sgt. J. R. Murray represented the S.O.I, and R.S. Sgt. Stephens visited the boats and lectured the men on repatriation and other matters. Lieut. R. L Buller represented the Naval Commander (Commander L. S. Brace girdle. D.S. O and Mr. R. C. Smith arranged concert parties to amuse the men. One of them entertained the Dongola’s men on the wharf and the other the Dunluce Castle's men at the Y.M.C.A. Hut.”

Ed then went to Keswick Barracks to be debriefed prior to being discharged from the AIF on 15 October 1919.

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