John Albert MCINTYRE

MCINTYRE, John Albert

Service Number: 200
Enlisted: 6 February 1915
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 22nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Clementston, Victoria, Australia, October 1894
Home Town: Wonthaggi, Victoria
Schooling: Clementston State School Creswick, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Grocer
Died: Killed In Action, Broodseinde Ridge, Belgium , 4 October 1917
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium
Memorials: Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient)
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World War 1 Service

6 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 200, 22nd Infantry Battalion
1 May 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Involvement Sergeant, 200, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '14' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Ulysses embarkation_ship_number: A38 public_note: ''
10 May 1915: Embarked Sergeant, 200, 22nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne
23 Jan 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Company Sergeant Major, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Also temp RSQM
5 Jun 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion
4 Oct 1917: Involvement Second Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: 22 Battalion awm_rank: Second Lieutenant awm_died_date: 1917-10-04

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Ballarat & District in the Great War

2nd Lt John Albert (Jack) McIntyre, 22nd Battalion
The cultural landscape of Ballarat and district changed in a relatively short space of time. Following the discovery of gold, people settled and towns flourished. When alluvial gold ran out, it was the deep lead gold mines that secured prosperity. In the 1870’s one of the world’s richest reefs of this type was found immediately north of Creswick. As a result, a dense belt of towns sprang up – these included Broomfield, Allendale, Kingston, Lawrence, Smeaton, Jerusalem and Clementston. Creswick’s population swelled by nearly 20 per cent when other gold-based communities were on the decline.

It was on the opposite side of Ballarat, and another rich gold-mining area, that this particular story begins. Sago Hill, or Haddon as it became known, was the birthplace of Archibald Kneale McIntyre and Mary Jane Becker. Clan McIntyre hails from the Argyll district of Scotland, and Archie’s family came from the village of Skipness on the east coast of Kintyre. Whereas, Mary Becker was the daughter of German immigrant, Charles Becker, and his Irish wife, Elizabeth Daly. Archie McIntyre was 28 when he married 19-year-old Mary in early 1894. The Becker family had already moved to Clementston by this time, where Charles Becker had run the local boarding house. The small town then became home for the newly married couple.

Their first child, John Albert (Jack) McIntyre, was born at Clementston in October 1894. He was to be the eldest of their eleven children; but, like so many large families of this era, they saw more than their fair share of loss.

For young Jack McIntyre, Clementston was a happy hub of activity that is impossible to imagine now. Set on the south bank of Birch Creek, the town was linked by a railway through to Allendale two and half miles away, and the town had a Methodist Church, a Mechanics’ Institute and free library, where a travelling priest would hold Catholic services. There was a police station, hotel and a variety of the necessary stores. Archie McIntyre worked as a miner in the West Berry Consols group of mines that provided extensive employment opportunities for the men and boys of the district.

Clementston also boasted its own State School (No2872) and it was there that Jack received his education.

Archie McIntyre had a reputation as one of the leading players with the old Ballarat South Football Club, but long years working in the gold mines guaranteed an early decline in health. The family moved into Ballarat and a new home at 305 Urquhart Street. They left behind them two baby girls, Doris and Daisy, who had died from ‘natural causes’ and convulsions. Their last child, Theresa, was born in late September 1911, but died barely three days later.

Then, on 10 April 1912, Archie McIntyre also died. He was 45 years-old. His eldest sons, Jack and Alex, were amongst the coffin-bearers. Mary was left to care for their eight children, who ranged in age from the eldest, Jack at 18 and the youngest, Hilda, who was just 6 years-old.

The family immediately moved to Wonthaggi, where Mary’s sister, Theresa and her husband, Michael Martin were living, and where work was opening up in the new State Coal Mine. However, tragedy followed them soon after with the death of 9-year-old Donald, the sixth of Archie and Mary’s children. It was not an auspicious beginning.

At this point, Jack McIntyre was very much the main support to his widowed mother. They lived at 5 Baillieu Street in the centre of Wonthaggi, and Jack began work at the State Coal Mine. He had the companionship of his uncle, Michael, and young cousin, Fred, who worked as a coal trimmer. But it was a tough, rough life.

A more lucrative position became available in the Co-operative Stores, which had been established in 1912 by the employees of the State Coal Mine, and Jack was soon working as a grocer. He also joined the local citizen forces.

When Jack approached his mother for permission to enlist, Mary must have felt some sense of unease, but she nevertheless willingly signed her consent on 6 February 1915. Jack immediately reported to the Recruitment Depot in Wonthaggi, where a medical officer conducted the required examination. Physically, Jack McIntyre was a prime example as to why Australian soldiers were regarded as “giants” – he was half an inch over 6-feet tall, weighed a strapping 161-pounds, with a 36-inch chest expansion. His tanned complexion gave an overall appearance of well-being. And he was a handsome lad, with dark brown hair and blue eyes – with a scar over the inner side of his left eye that hinted at an altercation at some point in his young life. The religious denomination of new recruits was also recorded and Jack stated he was Roman Catholic, indicating that the family had followed the faith of his Irish grandmother.

In signing the paperwork, Jack showed great flourish and a significant confidence.

Things moved rapidly from that point. Jack immediately went into camp and on 1 May he was assigned to A Company of the newly raised 22nd Infantry Battalion, with the regimental number of 200.

His leadership qualities were identified early, and he was promoted to the rank of sergeant prior to embarkation, although no actual date was recorded. The 22nd Battalion sailed from Melbourne on 10 May onboard HMAT Ulysses.

The 30 August was a noteworthy day for Jack McIntyre: he was on his way to Gallipoli. A train had carried the men from Heliopolis to Alexandria where the troopship Scotian was waiting to transport them to Lemnos. Different levels of adrenaline affected the men as they slipped into a daily routine of arms examination, sharpening bayonets and boat station drills. On 2 September, just out from Lemnos, the quiet the voyage was shattered by an explosion when the Southland was torpedoed. The drama of the moment was something that resonated through the entire AIF and around the world.

Jack landed safely at Mudros soon after. They sailed from Lemnos onboard the Osmanieh at 7pm on 4 September. It was a short trip, with the 22nd reaching ANZAC in the early hours of the following day. Five large barges conveyed the men to the beach and, by 6:30am Jack was safely in the Rest Gully. He spent much of the next three months in and out of the trenches at Lone Pine and was amongst the last to leave ANZAC on 19 December.

After just three months back in Egypt, Jack was soon on his way to the Western Front. He crossed from Alexandria to Marseilles onboard the Llandovery Castle, arriving in France on 26 March.
Those early months on the Western Front were spent in the breastwork trenches forward of Fleurbaix. On 6 May, Jack had his pay docked 5.70 francs to pay for the loss of his entrenching tool and carrier, towel and water bottle. Then three days later, he was promoted to temporary company sergeant major and with a permanent grade of warrant officer II.

When men of Australia’s 5th Division attacked the heavily fortified German line at Fromelles on 19 July 1916, Jack’s young cousin, Fred Martin, was there with the 60th Battalion. He was killed in No Man’s Land and his body was never recovered.

There was no time for grief in the trenches, however, and the war ground on for Jack McIntyre. He fought through two tough tours of Pozières before heading north to the Ypres Salient.

Back on the Somme, Jack again received a provisional promotion, this time, on 1 November, he was raised to temporary regimental sergeant major (RSM).

An inconvenient bout of gonorrhoea landed Jack in hospital on Boxing Day 1916, but it effectively saved him from the misery of an extended winter in the frozen trenches. He returned to his unit on 19 February 1917; the 22nd was by then in Villa Camp near Le Sars.

At Bullecourt on 8 May, Jack was once again temporarily promoted to RSM. However, on this occasion, it was soon followed by a well-earned commission in the Field – he was appointed second-lieutenant on 28 May.

The 22nd Battalion’s next major engagement came at Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October 1917. It was to be Jack McIntyre’s last. Shortly after the jump-off, the 22nd Battalion was confronted by a simultaneous advance by German troops. Jack, who was directing the 22nd with a compass, used his revolver to shoot several of the enemy before (according to C. E. W. Bean) he was shot through the head and killed.
Soon after receiving news of her son’s death, Mary McIntyre received a number of letters of condolence from men in Jack’s battalion. Lieutenant-Colonel A. R. L. Wiltshire, Commanding Officer of the 22nd Battalion, wrote –
‘…Lieutenant McIntyre died on the morning of the 4th October in an attack against strong German positions, and very bravely led his men until killed. He was a good officer, a brave man and a fine leader. His work on Gallipoli and in France was always good, and we shall miss him very much indeed. I shall find it hard to fill his place in the regiment, and I do hope the knowledge of his splendid work and gallantry will be of comfort to you…’

Mary also heard from Jack’s immediate superior.
‘…It is with great regret that I have to inform you of the death in action of your son Jack. When we left Australia, he was my platoon sergeant. Later, when I was officer commanding A Company, he was Sergeant-Major with me, and even later he was a platoon commander in my Company, so that since leaving Australia I have had many opportunities of knowing him, and a more gallant comrade I never wish to have.

On the Peninsula he always had the welfare of the platoon at heart, and in any dangerous work he was always in the forefront. Since our arrival in France, he has done excellent work, which earned for him his commission.

In our last attack, on October 4, 1917, Jack was in charge of the leading assaulting platoon at [Broodseinde Ridge]. After crossing our trenches, we met with severe opposition in the shape of Germans attacking our position. Lieutenant McIntyre, with great coolness and courage, attacked the Huns, killing four, but unfortunately a bullet penetrated his heart, causing instant death. Next day we sent out a party, recovered his body and buried him outside Zonnebeke, and thus ends the life of as gallant a soldier as I wish to meet.

All his men speak well of him, and it is a sad Company now at our losses. Kindly accept from all his fellow officers our deepest sympathy at your loss, which is our loss as well as the country’s…’

(It was interesting to note the variations between the accounts and we will never know for certain whether Jack was actually hit in the head or the heart – or whether Jack’s captain was mindful of such an image and the impact it would have on the young officer’s mother).

Another letter came from one of Jack’s friends, Mat Mitchell, who had served alongside him in the 22nd.
‘…I write to express my sincere sympathy with you in the loss of your dear son Jack. In him I too have lost a great friend, and, together with hundreds of my comrades in the same battalion, mourn for him.
You will be pleased to know that Jack (or as I used to always call him, Joe) was one of the most popular men in the battalion, and time and time again proved himself to be one of the finest and bravest soldiers that ever left the shores of Australia. He was a natural-born soldier, and when he received his commission as an officer, no one here was prouder than I was. For I remember a few years ago, in making a speech in Smith’s Hall, Wonthaggi, I was directing some reproof against the wheelers, of whom at the time Joe was the representative, and the wheelers were disinclined to take his advice, I was urging them to do so, and said Joe McIntyre’s advice was sound and sensible, and if not accepted they would regret it, and the day would come when they would recognise his ability and be pleased to follow him. Little did I think at the time that those words were to come true on the battlefield of Europe, but they did.

His acute knowledge of his work, and his outstanding courage under the most awful circumstances, inspired everyone about him with confidence. I was engaged on special duty a short distance away from where Jack fell, but from his sergeant and his men I gathered these particulars: We attacked just at daybreak, Lieut McIntyre with his usual dash, got his men well ahead, when they met a party of Germans, in front of one of their pill-boxes; hand to hand fighting took place, Lieut McIntyre, drawing his revolver, accounted for four of the enemy, when a foul shot from the pill-box got Lieut McIntyre through the chest and he passed away almost immediately.

His men continued to fight, storming the pill-box they took an awful revenge for the loss of their gallant officer, as they slaughtered the whole of the garrison and held the post.

These are the brief facts which I have obtained by careful inquiry, as I thought you would be pleased to receive a few lines from some of his Wonthaggi friends. Unfortunately, you are now enrolled amongst the sorrowing mothers of Australia, who are playing one of the hardest parts in this dreadful war. My dear wife at home, and I, have the same sorrow to bear, as we lost our eldest boy in the Battle of Bullecourt. We can only pray that God will lighten the burden of your grief, and that you will bear it bravely, as I know Jack would wish you to, and in the consolation that your noble son died game, bravely, fighting for King, country and his loved ones at home…’
(The son Mat Mitchell mentioned was his stepson, Private Laurence David “Jim” Cummins, who died of wounds 4 May 1917).

It was originally reported that Jack McIntyre had been buried approximately 200-yards south of Zonnebeke Lake, although ‘the exact location of the grave is not known to us.’ Despite exhaustive efforts on behalf of his mother, nothing further could be discovered as to Jack’s final resting place. Initially, a memorial cross was erected in the Memorial Plot of Aeroplane Military Cemetery; his name was finally added to the Menin Gate – one of 53,395 Commonwealth soldiers who remain missing the Ypres Salient.

Eventually, Jack’s personal belongings were returned to his mother – a valise containing studs, stars and badges, two damaged wristlet watches, letters, note book, photos, fountain pen, two matchbox covers, pipe, lanyard, two electric torches, cap, a Sam Browne belt, his trench coat, along with sundry other items. trench coat. A separate parcel held some postcards, a wallet, photos, letters and cards. It was such a small return to count for the loss of her eldest son.

Mary McIntyre suffered further grief when her third born son, Fred, died on 1 June 1918. The 20-year-old had been sick for some time and his death appears to have not been unexpected. It is difficult to not feel an overwhelming sadness on Mary’s behalf.

After her death at Coburg on 5 December 1945, Mary was taken to Wonthaggi for burial. The family then had a simple epitaph added to her headstone as a memorial to her much-loved soldier son, Jack.

If you chance to drive out past Allendale, you may pause and wonder at how the once bustling little town of Clementston could disappear into nothingness. And remember the families who mined the gold and gave their sons in the "war to end all wars."