Max Johann GERLACH

Badge Number: S58044, Sub Branch: Education

GERLACH , Max Johann

Service Number: 2117
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 14th Machine Gun Company
Born: Not yet discovered
Home Town: Not yet discovered
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Teacher
Memorials: Adelaide University of Adelaide WW1 Honour Roll, Norwood Primary School Honour Board, Peterborough Public School Honour Board WW1, South Australian Education Department Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

26 Nov 1917: Involvement Private, 2117, Machine Gun Companies and Battalions, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '21' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: SS Indarra embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''
26 Nov 1917: Embarked Private, 2117, Machine Gun Companies and Battalions, SS Indarra, Melbourne
11 Nov 1918: Involvement Private, 2117, 14th Machine Gun Company
Date unknown: Wounded 2117, 5th Machine Gun Battalion

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Biography contributed by Adelaide Botanic High School

Max Johann Gerlach was born in Frewville South Australia in November of 1893 to Franz Wilhelm Martin Gerlach and Anna Amanda Henrietta Pauline Schach. His two younger sisters Margaret Henrietta, Selma Helene Christine were born in 1896 and 1905 respectively. Prior to enlisting he worked as a primary school teacher. 8 months before his longest service record he had served 51 days in the A.I.F. but was considered unfit and discharged based on what has only been referred to as "comandants special reasons".  He enlisted for the second time on the 26th of July 1917 at 23 years and 9 months of age. He lived in his family home when enlisting (both times) and appointed his father as his next of kin. 

During the first 51 days of his service, he never left Australia and it primarily consisted of training. All of his recorded training periods in Australia took place at the Mitcham army camp in Adelaide. He was discharged for the first time on the 12th of December 1916 by his commander (an unknown man from the 2nd depot Battalion) because of recorded  "commandant's special reasons" which could either be tied to minor acts of insubordination or other minor offenses but all evidence indicates that it was because of his German heritage (his father). He recommenced his service in July of the next year and re-training commenced in the months after.       

After training Max Gerlach boarded the HMAT Indarra on the 26th of November 1917 in Melbourne as part of the 178 Australian A.I.F soldiers enrolled in Machine Gun Companies. On his four-week journey to South England He stayed in a British colony along the Suez Canal called Port Said which is situated in modern-day Egypt. During this time period, he temporarily boarded the HMT Kashgar, a passenger/cargo liner that operated from 1914 to 1932 but his service record indicates that he never left Port Said until he re-boarded the HMAT Indarra.    

Max Gerlach disembarked from the HMAT Indarra in Southampton (England) on the  2nd of February 1918. He then traveled to the Camiers  (France) with the 5th machine gun battalion whilst the majority of the existing machine gun battalions traveled to Gallipoli. The Camiers was an English/French base in France that consisted primarily of a hospital and Its wards but had living quarters and recreational space. He stayed there uninjured in June and July of 1918. He was injured in action on the 2nd of September 1918 and was admitted on the same day. He spent the rest of 1918 migrating between France and England. He was discharged for the last time in late 1918 or very early 1919 (Almost directly after the war) with a fractured hip and returned to Australia on the 18th of January 1919. Max Johann Gerlach's final rank in the A.I.F was private.  He was later married in 1922 to Maude Emma Medcraft whose family and life for the most part remains a mystery. His father, role model, and the person he would have left everything to died in early 1927 and is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery in Adelaide, South Australia. And in the 73 years that Max Johann was alive, he never had kids.

Max Johann Gerlach died on 17th April 1967 only thirteen years after his mother (who was buried next to her husband) and mere months before his wife, leaving behind his sisters, nieces, and nephews. His legacy is remembered with the South Australian Garden of Remembrance, Pasadena, Mitcham City, South Australia.