Edward John (Ted) SWEENEY

SWEENEY, Edward John

Service Number: 2564
Enlisted: 5 December 1914
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 14th Field Ambulance
Born: Launceston Tasmania, June 1887
Home Town: Zeehan, West Coast, Tasmania
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Miner
Died: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 3 April 1955, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Cornelian Bay Cemetery and Crematorium, Tasmania
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World War 1 Service

5 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2564, 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station
25 Feb 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2564, 1st Australian Clearing Hospital
25 Feb 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2564, 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, HMAT Runic, Melbourne
25 Feb 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2564, 1st Australian Clearing Hospital, HMAT Runic, Melbourne
25 Feb 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2564, 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station
17 Nov 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 14th Field Ambulance
1 Sep 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2564, 14th Field Ambulance, GSW to right thigh
20 Jul 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2564, 14th Field Ambulance, 6th MD

Pte Ted Sweeney

From Tasmania Military Museum

Ted Sweeney survived serious wounds to his leg received during the Battle of Menin Road in 1917 and later married the English nurse who helped him during his recovery, returning home to Tasmania with her after the war). Hello. Today I would like to share the remarkable story of a Tasmanian family who sent three beloved sons off to fight during the First World War, one of whom would fall in battle, never to return. The Sweeney’s originated from Launceston but settled on Tasmania’s rugged West Coast in the early 1900s where several generations worked as builders, farmers, miners, publicans and bushmen. When war came in 1914 brothers Edward John Sweeney (Ted), Daniel Bernard Sweeney (Dan) and Sydney Francis Sweeney (Syd) all enlisted in the Army. Ted with the 14th Field Ambulance, Dan with the 26th Infantry Battalion and Syd with the 12th Infantry Battalion.
Ted and Dan were first to leave Zeehan in 1915, but younger brother Syd was encouraged to remain at home by his mother Sarah who felt that already giving up two of her boys was enough. Syd respected his mother’s wishes, but in 1916 the urge to join his brothers at the front was too much and he enlisted. While conducting his recruit training at the Claremont camp in October 1916 Syd received news that his mother had passed away and he was granted special leave to return home to Zeehan for her funeral. At the time of Sarah’s death her other two boys, Ted and Dan, had already fought their way through the Gallipoli campaign and were now serving on the Western Front, and unfortunately they were unable to attend their mother’s funeral.
During the mud sodden battle to capture the French village of Flers in November 1916 Dan Sweeney was shot in the stomach and subsequently died from his wounds. The news must have been devastating for his father so soon after losing Sarah, coupled with the uncertainty of whether his two remaining boys would make it through the bloody fighting in France. On 20 September 1917 during the Battle of Menin Road Syd was seriously wounded in the chest. The very next day Ted was also wounded with either a bullet or a piece of shrapnel tearing open his thigh and shattering his right femur. Syd and Ted survived their wounds and incredibly they ended up convalescing in the same hospital together in England. This particular hospital was being run out of the Buckland family home in Harefield with the family’s two daughters serving as nurses for the injured soldiers. As fate would have it, the two English sisters fell in love with the two Tassie brothers and accepted their proposals of marriage. While Syds relationship did not last, Ted married Louisa Buckland and the pair returned home to Tasmania after the war. After his recovery Syd was returned to the fighting and thankfully survived to also return home to Tasmania after the war.
Like so many veterans, the two brothers rarely spoke of their war time experiences or the battles in which they had been wounded. It is likely that both young men also suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress, but this was a condition little understood at the time. It is such a shame that Sarah Sweeney did not survive to see her two boys return home from the fighting or to meet her new daughter in law Louisa.
My sincere thanks to Mr Tony Sweeney for visiting the Tasmania Military Museum recently and sharing this remarkable story of his father Syd and his uncles Ted and Dan. Tony spent many years researching their tale and retracing their steps through France

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