Felix Gordon (Farmer) GILES DSO, VD, MiD

Badge Number: S22162, Sub Branch: Walkerville
S22162

GILES, Felix Gordon

Service Numbers: Officer, S212002
Enlisted: 19 August 1914, Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Last Unit: 4th Garrison Battalion
Born: Darwin, Northern Territory , 23 November 1885
Home Town: Maylands, Norwood Payneham St Peters, South Australia
Schooling: Pine Creek Public School, St Peter's College, Adelaide School of Mines (electrical engineer)
Occupation: Electrical Engineer
Died: Blackwood, South Australia, 22 June 1950, aged 64 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: St. Peter's College Honour Board
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Peacetime

19 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Morphettville, South Australia

World War 1 Service

20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Officer, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Adelaide
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Officer, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, SN Officer, 10th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC Gallipoli
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, SN Officer, 10th Infantry Battalion, Pozières
11 Nov 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, 10th Infantry Battalion

Peacetime

21 Feb 1919: Discharged AIF WW1

World War 2 Service

28 Sep 1939: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, SN S212002, 4th Garrison Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW2
1 Sep 1942: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, SN S212002, 4th Garrison Battalion, Homeland Defence - Militia and non deployed forces

Letter Home - 20 August 1915

"Still in Turkey, and still in the fighting line. Over four months continuous service - record for any regiment almost, in these days of trench warfare. I often think of you all at Bonrook, and by your last letter I am apparently not the only son to go from the house of Giles to the front, as I see Leslie could not contain himself any longer and collected a few others and hurried off. He must be in Egypt. I heard his regiment was. I have not heard from him at all. I am at a loss to know what he is – a private or a ''General." Some of your letters hinted he was an orderly-room Sergt. The latter is a capital job and being such an excellent clerical man would probably fulfil all conditions. However, I am afraid he will want to "chuck" it up when he finds out that the orderly room. Sergt. remains at the base when his regiment goes into action. There is no doubt the further you are away from the battlefield, the better your chance of keeping alive. But he wouldn't be satisfied unless he was in the thick of it where the shooting is done. I am hoping one son is sticking to you. However, a Gracious God and a righteous cause will, I trust, bring us both safely back to Australia. Jock Hamilton, who used to be assaying in the Cosmo Battery is with me (2nd in command) and wishes to be remembered to you, also Dr. Goldsmith (Capt. in Medical corps) wishes to be remembered to you. I am feeling pretty well. The weather has been very good the last four months, getting cooler night snow. Apparently there are no mosquitoes in Turkey - haven't seen any. Fine specimens pf .6 inch centipedes are common in our underground dwellings, and a few half-witted snakes have been shot. Oh well, with fondest love, and hoping, the Ki-ser will soon die."
FELIX,
Captain 10th Infantry

Gallipoli, August 20 1915, letter to home.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3275416

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Letter Home - 30 July 1916

"Just a line or so to tell you I am still ploughing along in the land of the living. Imagine being in England! I cannot realise it. I have seen nothing of it but a glimpse of the Thames from the ambulance train, and a glance at "Big Ben" in Trafalgar Square as I whisked along to here in a motor ambulance from one of the railway stations (Clapham, I think it was). This is a fine comfortable hospital. I had never been confined in one before, and had rather a dread of them. There is nothing serious or dangerous about me. I merely got knocked over by the concussion of a large high ex-plosive shell in the fighting at Pozieres, in which, as n0 doubt you have heard, some of the Australians have taken part. I sustained a bruised leg and shell shock as they call it. The bruise part of it is healing up, as it is a week since it happened, but I am, naturally, generally un-hinged, unsettled, nervy, and suchlike you know. However, I am quite cheerful about things, and there's no question the Germans are well bluffed all round. I feel more or less like a fish out of water, so to speak, having been continuously with a unit for two years less one month, in all its travels and fighting; it is one's home, and one's friends are one's men! I always believe that "things happen for the best," so, as I said before, I am quite cheerful about everything. I had a postcard from Leslie the day before we attacked Pozieres, and it was dated 16th July. His division was following ours, and it may, or may not, have got into action yet. I trust he is O.K., anyway. The weather seems good here; in fact the sun as it shines on my bed is quite on the warm side. . . I have not had many letters for some time; preparations and results of big attacks disorganize matters to a certain extent; but I have no doubt letters are following me up. The war is going very well, but there's more hard fighting yet, and plenty more to be casualties!”

Letter sent home by Major Felix Giles, dated 30 July 1916. Sent from No. 4 London General Hospital, King's
College, Denmark Hill, London.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3281853

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Biography

Born  23 November 1885 at Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Son of the late Alfred GILES and  Mother Mary Augusta (nee SPRIGG),  Pastoralist and Explorer of fifty years’ residence in the Northern Territory, and author of “Exploring in the ‘Seventies”, his note-books compiled whilst on his several exploratory trips now being deposited in the State Archives Department.

He was educated at St Peters College, and showing a distinct aptitude for engineering, took up an electrical engineering course at the SA School of Mines and Industries, subsequently completing same at the University of Adelaide.

In 1902 he commenced as a Cadet in the electrical branch of the General Post Office, but in 1904 desirous of entering into a wider field of experience, commenced duties with the Adelaide Electric Lighting and Traction Co.

On 24 July 1909 he married Elsie Kilpack, daughter of Arthur Kilpack Marshall, who for many years was GSM at Keswick Headquarters.  There being 5 children of the union (two sons and one daughter surviving).  At the outbreak of the Great War was residing at Dulwich.

In May 1908 he joined the SA Scottish Infantry as a Private and on 8 March 1910 was promoted to rank of Corporal, and on 3 September 1910 was promoted to Sergeant.

He received his first commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the same regiment on 21 August 1911 and on 1 July 1912, upon the introduction of universal training, transferred to the 79th (Torrens) Infantry, and was posted to the command of ‘A’ Company.  He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 31 January 1913 and held this commission at the time of joining the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

At the outbreak of the Great War he offered his services for overseas, and was appointed a Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion at Morphettville on 19 August 1914, and posted to the Command of original ‘G’ Company.

He was promoted to the rank of Captain on 19 September 1914 and embarked with the original Battalion on HMAT A11 Ascanius on 20 October 1914.

At Mena, Egypt, his company merged with original ‘D’ Company and became the new ‘D’ Company, of which he was appointed 2nd in Command.  

He participated in the historic landing at ANZAC on 25 April 1915, and landed with his company from the destroyer Scourge.

That day he distinguished himself by leading 1560 men along Wire Gully and through Monash Valley in a determined but futile attempt to bridge the gap existing between the latter and Bay 700, which was the key position.    He and his men who had been fighting since the dawn of the landing, were one of the last parties to be relieved when the Royal Marine Light Infantry arrived, and the 10th bivouacked at Shell Green.   After Captain M J Herbert evacuated wounded on the day of the landing, he was appointed OC of ‘D’ Company.  For his splendid work at the landing he was mentioned in Army Corps Routine Orders.

During the Turkish attack on 19 May 1915 he was slightly wounded, but not forced to evacuate.

He was promoted to rank of Temporary Major on 8 August 1915 and was 2nd in Command of the Battalion from 25 August to 21 October 1915, when he resumed the Command of ‘D’ Company. 

On 8 November 1915, the return of a senior Officer necessitated his reversion to his substantive rank of Captain.

He was one of two original Officers of the Battalion who remained continuously on the Peninsula from the landing to the withdrawal of the Battalion on 21 November 1915.  He was also one of the four original 3rd Brigade Officers who could claim the same distinction.

Whilst at ANZAC he was recommended for honours, including a foreign decoration. 

He accompanied the Battalion to Lemnos and then to Egypt, and at Gebel Habieta Lieutenant-Colonel M F Beevor allocated to him a key position in the Suez Canal Defences, ‘D’ Company eventually being detailed to assist ‘A’ Company under Captain W F J McCann.  It was during this engagement that his Platoon Commander Lieutenant A S Blackburn won the first 10th Battalion VC.

On 23 July 1916 he was wounded and gassed, and proceeding to England, was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth.  He subsequently returned to France and rejoined the 10th in the line at Gueudecourt on 3 November 1916 and was then appointed 2nd in Command of the 10th Battalion, and from 19 November to 6 December 1916 he temporarily assumed Command during the absence of Temp Lieutenant-Colonel George Ernest Redburg.  During the rigours of Flers he contracted trench fever and was forced to evacuate on 22 December 1916, being admitted to the Becordel Rest Station in immediate rear of the line.  There he spent two weeks, and then temporarily Commanded the 12th Battalion, returning to the 10th as 2nd in Command, just prior to the attack on Le Barque on 25 February 1917.  His good work in the capture of Le Barque, including his harassing of the enemy rear-guards during the German withdrawal, earned for him further recommendations for honours.

During April 1917, in the operations in the vicinity of Boursies and Beugny, he was further recommended. On 8 April 1917 he was seconded to the Senior Officers’ School at Aldershot, and on 13 April 1917, proceeded to England.   He received an excellent report from this school, and completed his course on 16 June 1917 and returning to France rejoined the 10th at Ribemont on 6 July 1917, taking over the Command of the Battalion from Major M Wilder-Neligan DSO, DCM.  He retained the Command of the 10th until 15 July 1917 when it was confidently anticipated by Officers and men of the Battalion that he would be permanently appoint to the Command.  It was decreed otherwise, for Major M Wilder-Neligan DSO, DCM, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and appointed CO of the 10th. 

Major Giles was then seconded for duty with the 1st Anzac Corps School, and on 19 July 1917 was transferred to same as Assistant Commandant.  That was his last appearance with the 10th, much to the regret of Officers and men.  The school to which he proceeded was established on the heights of Theipval, overlooking the Ancre, at D’Eveloy, near Albert, and later was removed to Merkinhem near Volcringhem, and finally to Rue, near the French aerial base of Le Crotmer on the coast. 

He was later appointed Acting-Commandant of this school, and gained a reputation for efficiency and executive ability.  Before relinquishing Command of same he was requested to consign available official documents, orders, and reports appertaining the working of the school to the Royal Military College at Duntroon, where they are now housed.

He was Mentioned In Despatches (MID), vide London Gazette, 1 June 1917 and for his services in the prosecution of the war was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) which was included in the King’s Birthday Honours and promulgated in the London Gazette n 4 June 1917, and was the fourth 10th Battalion Officer to receive this coveted distinction.    He had previously been recommended for honours five times, and his final mention for good work at Boursies and Beugny in April 1917 probably secured for him the award.

On 5 October 1918 he became due for ANZAC 1914 leave, and relinquishing Command of the Australian Corps School proceeded to England, where he embarked at Tilbury for Plymouth, and there re-embarked for Montreal in Canada, proceeding to Vancouver via the Canadian Pacific Railway.  At the Pacific port he embarked on the Makura via Auckland for Sydney, and with Major G D Shaw of the 10th Battalion, arrived back in Adelaide on Christmas Eve 1918, his services with the AIF terminating on 21 February 1919.

During his absence from Australia he was promoted to the rank of Captain in his pre-war unit on 18 October 1914 (79th Infantry), gazette an honorary Major on 12 March 1916 and was appointed Captain in the 2/32nd Infantry on 1 October 1918.

Upon his return he was promoted to the rank of Major in the 2/32nd Infantry on 1 August 1920, and was promoted to rank of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel from 1 October 1920 to 29 March 1921.   He was placed on the Unattached List on 30 March 1921 and listed on Reserve of Officers as Major on 31 March 1926.

He has been awarded the Volunteer Decoration.

During his sojourn on the Peninsula he secured a remarkable set of photographs of various positions etc, and these he kindly placed at the disposal of the National War Museum at Canberra.  One very fine view shows the raid on Gabe Tepe on 4 May 1915 by Captain R L Leane, of the 11th Battalion, when Captain C Rumball and a party of 12 men from the 10th were detailed to cut the wire defences and assist them to get through.  This unique view shows the destroyers covering the embarkation with gun-fire, and the same picture, with his permission, has been used by Dr C E W Bean in his “Story of Anzac”, Vol 1, p570. 

He also secured a remarkable view of Walker’s Ridge, and both negative and print show a well defined cross projecting above the skyline.  This inexplicable cross, which did not exist, is both distinct and geometrical in outline.  It would be interesting to know if the Imperial War Graves Commission has erected a memorial anywhere in the vicinity of the spot where this phenomenon occurred.

Upon his return to Australia he recommenced duties with the Adelaide Electric Supply Co. Ltd and in 1935 was meter superintendent at the Hilto Depot of that company.

He was residing at No. 35 Winchester Street, East Adelaide.

Always slow in speech and gait, he was the acme of solidity and reliability, and was affectionately known to all men of the 10th as “Farmer”.

He also possessed a very fine collection of battle-field souvenirs, including shell cases, helmets etc.  His recreations consist of shooting and motoring.

Extract from “The Fighting 10th”, Adelaide, Webb & Son, 1936 by C.B.L. Lock; kindly supplied courtesy of the 10th Bn AIF Association Committee, April 2015. 

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