Soldier’s Letters: Written by Signaller/Sergeant W. H. Pethard, 7th Battalion, between 1914 and 1917

Signaller W. H. Pethard, 7th Infantry Battalion, 10 May 1915

Soldier Identified: Signaller William Henry Pethard, Service No: 811, 7th Battalion, 1st Australian Overseas Expeditionary Force, A.I.F. Returned to Australia, 19 December 1918.

Originally published: Bendigo Advertiser (Vic.) 29 June 1915

Mrs. G. A. Pethard has received the following letters from her son Signaller W. H. Pethard, dated 10th May, and written from Cairo:—

“Just a line to let you know I am still getting on nicely. I went under the X-Rays last Saturday. The bullet was located near the lower jaw. At about 6 o’clock they operated on me and extracted the bullet from the inside of my mouth. I think they have made a first class job of it. The wound just below the temple is healing up nicely, and will leave a very small scar.

I am sending home a knife, which is not much use to me; certainly every ounce of weight when one is moving about soon appears to develop into a lb. It has gone through the first day of our attack at the Dardanelles, it is now over nine months since I joined the forces, and have seen active service at last, and will probably have plenty in the future.

The Turks are cowards, and are driven on by their German officers, but the Australian boys shrink at nothing. Bloodshed is bound to be enormous. Our boys fight without any officers if it so happens and willingly, and with a firm resolve not to give in until our purpose is accomplished, and the enemy is defeated and crushed. Many of our lads will be maimed for life, and many will lose their lives, but we do not murmur, for we are fighting, we believe, for a righteous cause, and are willing to pay the price whatever it be.

I will give you a list of what I carried when leaving the boat:—

Clothes, what I stand in,
full equipment,
rifle,
one extra hat,
flannel and pair of socks,
200 rounds of ammunition,
2 1/2 lb. of beef,
two small tins of groceries,
20 dozen biscuits,
one bottle of water,
one canvas water bag,
three tins of jam,
one tin of milk,
mess tin and cover,
knife, spoon, fork,
jersey,
housewife [sewing kit],
razor outfit,
tooth brush and powder,
towel and soap,
waterproof sheet,
overcoat,
camera,
nine small books,
seven spools of film,
two pocket knives,
one field dressing,
brush for rifle,
telescope stand,
semaphore flags,
and large morse flag,
in all nearly 100 lbs.”

Writing on 24th May Signaller Pethard said:—

“I am still here. Had rather an exciting few minutes when I visited the 4th Light Horse to say good-bye to a few Bendigo boys before they left for the Dardanelles. They been informed definitely of my death on the battlefield, so you can just imagine the looks of astonishment which greeted me when I went up to them. Why! they, could hardly believe their own eyes. There I was in the best of health, and these lads believing me to have been killed in action. The news was given to them on such good authority that several had written to Bendigo confirming my death. Well, thank God, it is not true, for I am still as good as ever, and hope to be back in the firing line soon.”

Portrait of 312 Acting Corporal (A/Cpl) Victor James Jolly, 24th Battalion, with full kit and kitbag outside a barracks building. An ironmonger from Ballarat, Victoria prior to enlistment A/Cpl Jolly embarked with the rank of Private with A Company from Melbourne on HMAT Euripides on 10 May 1915. Later serving at Gallipoli he was promoted to Corporal. Subsequently transferring to the Anzac Provost Corps he was promoted to Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS). Later transferring to the 66th Battalion, he then rejoined the 24th Battalion. On 31 August 1918, aged 24, he was killed in action at Mont St Quentin and buried nearby. His remains were later exhumed and re-buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (Australian War Memorial)

Sources: 

  1. Letters from the Front. Signaller W. H. Pethard (1915, June 29). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 8. 
  2. Portrait of 312 Acting Corporal (A/Cpl) Victor James Jolly, 24th Battalion, with full kit and kitbag outside a barracks building. Australian War Memorial

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