Remembering the Past Australia

Soldier's Letter: Lieutenant K. J. Fourdrinier, 2nd Battalion, May/June 1915

First published in the Sydney Mail, Wednesday 16 June 1915.

WRITING to his sister at Darlinghurst, Sydney, Lieut. K. J. Fourdrinier, who was wounded at the Dardanelles, and is now in the Anglo-American Hospital, Gezireh, near Cairo, says that his wounds are very painful, but he hopes to be ready for the fighting line again before long, and to be present at “the final victory, which we all know must come.” Lieut. Fourdrinier was hit on both shoulders, just under the shoulder-blades. He was put under the X rays, with the result that the doctor determined not to attempt to extract the bullets; they would not do much harm, he said, while an operation might prove a very serious affair.

“It makes one wild to think that for two and a half days one should live in the midst of a perpetual hailstorm of bullets, shells (explosive bullets as well), and then when leading an attack on a splendid position to be knocked out. Still, it’s all in the game. It was a remarkable experience. I only felt one bullet. I knew it was in the back somewhere. I had just turned round to call my men. They were a mixed lot of about 400 New Zealanders and Australians. What splendid fellows they are! No hesitation — the same spirit animating everyone to get to the best place to kill the enemy. We really got callous of their shrapnel. We nearly all got hit with it, but that only caused flesh wounds, which did not count; the rifle and machine guns’ fire was murderous.

“I simply dropped — both arms and legs were paralysed. Two of my brave fellows dragged me back to a safe position, whence I was taken to the boat on a stretcher — the whole way under fire. Even from the shore to the hospital ship they would not let us alone, but kept firing machine guns and shrapnel at us; luckily, however, no one was hurt.

“I’ve seen death and suffering in every conceivable form, but the only feeling it gives me is the desire to get back and at the enemy again. Many of our brave fellows will sleep on foreign soil; but I am sure there is not one who, if he could, would not do it again. It makes one proud to be an Australian, and when the story of the war is written it will be found that the men from Australia and New Zealand have made a name second to none of the troops of the Empire.

“A sailor put it very well. He was a Cockney. ‘I’d ‘eard the Australians were no ———— good; but if they are all like you blokes I’d follow you to ‘ell!’ The Indians cannot understand us, and will not believe that many of our fellows never handled a rifle before they came on this job.

“I can’t think how any able-bodied man who is free to serve and has a spark of love for his country can keep out of doing his part.

“This ward is a very representative one — one English, two New Zealanders, two Australians. Dr. Storey, of Sydney, is our medical officer, and Sisters Scobie and Filland, of Sydney, are helping the hospital staff. Most of the English ladies in Cairo have joined the Red Cross, and are helping, voluntarily, in the hospitals. Others, again, have thrown open their homes as temporary hospitals, and minor cases are sent there.

“I am sorry to say that I’ve lost my diary. In fact, I got away only with my shirt, pants, and boots. My pack and accoutrements, etc., are somewhere on the hills of Gallipoli. My tunic shirt and undershirt were cut off by the doctor to dress my wounds.”

Soldier Identified: Lieutenant Karl Joseph Fourdrinier, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade AIF.

Lieutenant Karl Joseph Fourdrinier was invalided to Australia per HMT “Runic” November 7th, 1915, from Portland, England, unfit for Home Service with a GSW (Gun Shot Wound) and Bronchitis. He arrived in Sydney on Christmas Day 1915.

Back in Sunny New South Wales

Back in Sunny New South Wales (Sydney Mail, 5 January 1916)

These soldiers returned on Christmas Day. They are all members of the 2nd Battalion.

Back Row (Reading Left to Right) — Pte. Whitfield, Lance-Corp. Solomon, Lance-Corp. Vouse, Pte. Cameron, Pte. Horn, Pte. Dodds.
Centre Row — Pte. Ashton, Corp. Gaebel, Sister Murphy, Lieut. Fourdrinier, Corp. Thompson, Pte. Bentley.
Front Row — Pte. Mekkleson, Pte. Clark

On February 7, 1916, Lieutenant Fourdrinier was declared fit to return to duty and instructed to report to camp at Liverpool, NSW. However, on June 18, 1916, he was discharged in consequence of medical unfitness.  Six months later, Karl Fourdrinier died in Perth on January 27, 1917.

Death Notice: Karl Joseph Fourdrinier

Death Notice: Karl Joseph Fourdrinier, published The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide), January 30, 1917

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