vendredi 3 février 2017

Quand Charleroi regorgeait de soldats australiens

Quand Charleroi regorgeait de soldats australiens
D'après le carnet de route du Lieutenant Colonel Aubrey Wiltshire -
de décembre 1918 à mai 1919 

A découvrir sur le site :

11 novembre 1918, l'Armistice est signé. Les troupes allemandes évacuent aussitôt notre territoire. L'armée britannique entre triomphalement en ville dans les jours qui suivent ; elle ne fera que passer, poursuivant sa marche libératrice vers le Rhin. A la mi-décembre, arrivent des milliers de soldats australiens. Dans l'attente de leur rapatriement, l'état-major a décidé qu'ils établiront leurs quartiers d'hiver en Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse. Leur séjour se prolongera jusqu' à la mi-mai 1919. Pour tous, attirés par les lumières de la ville, Charleroi devient un but de sortie, un lieu de découverte et l'assurance d'y connaitre d' agréables moments de divertissement. Le Lt.-Col. Aubrey Wiltshire, commandant du 22e bataillon A.I.F., est l'un d'eux ; son Journal personnel en porte témoignage. D'abord à Gourdinne et ensuite à Marcinelle, revivons avec lui, à travers le regard qu'il jette sur la population et la situation économique, ce qu'il est convenu d'appeler l'immédiat après-guerre au Pays noir.

The Mayor of Charleroi, Emile Devreux, thanking, on behalf of the people of the municipality, Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Sir J J Talbot Hobbs KCB VD, General Officer Commanding, Australian Corps Commander, for the part the Australians had played in the liberation of Belgium. Identified, left to right (foreground): Lieutenant (Lt) J E Murray, Aide-de-Camp to Corps Commander; Major General E Tivey; Colonel Richard Dowse; Lt Gen Sir Talbot Hobbs; Lt De Backer, Belgian Liaison Officer; M Giunotte, Burgomaster (mayor) of Chatelet; two unidentified members of the Charleroi Town Council.

Qui est ce LtCol Wiltshire ?

Aubrey Roy Liddon Wiltshire (1891-1969), banker and soldier, was born on 28 May 1891 at Longwood, Victoria, son of Rev. Albert Arthur Wiltshire and his wife Sara, née Hodgson, both Victorian born. Educated at Euroa High School, he matriculated and became a clerk with the local branch of the Bank of Australasia in March 1907; he was transferred to Sale in 1911 and to the bank's principal office in Collins Street, Melbourne, in 1912.

He served three years in the senior cadets, joined the militia and in 1913 was commissioned in the 56th Infantry (Yarra Borderers). Promoted lieutenant in February 1915, Wiltshire transferred next month to the 22nd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force: his family had agreed that he could enlist and that his brother John was to take care of their mother. According to family accounts, Aubrey soon afterwards met John in an army camp and found that he had joined the 23rd Battalion; he never spoke to him again. John was commissioned on active service and won the Military Cross and Bar.

Aubrey was promoted captain in May and, on reaching Gallipoli in August, was appointed unit adjutant. In the evacuation of the peninsula in December he had charge of the battalion's last party. He remained adjutant until April 1916 when he was given command of a company in France. Placed in charge of training a 200-strong brigade raiding-party, he had overall command of an attack on German lines at Armentières on the night of 29-30 June for which he was complimented in Army Corps orders. While in charge of 'C' Company at Pozières, he was wounded on 27 July. During his convalescence recommendations went forward citing his good work in commanding his company and his personal gallantry in reconnaissance; he was awarded the Military Cross. Returning to his unit, he was promoted major in October and made second-in-command; between October 1916 and February 1917 he temporarily commanded the battalion.

At the 2nd battle of Bullecourt in May 1917 Major General (Sir) John Gellibrand who regarded Wiltshire as 'a specially trusted assistant' employed him on crucial liaison duties with a British division on the left of the 6th Australian Brigade. On 10 June Wiltshire was promoted lieutenant-colonel and appointed to command the 22nd Battalion; aged 26, he was one of the youngest Australian battalion commanders. He was 'cool and resolute in a crisis; a careful planner who was prepared to push his men, ruthlessly if necessary, to reach his objectives'. For his work at Broodseinde, Belgium, in October he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He took temporary command of the 6th Brigade for several short periods in 1918; he was thrice mentioned in dispatches and appointed C.M.G. His A.I.F. appointment ended in November 1919.

Wiltshire resumed work with the Bank of Australasia. He transferred as an accountant to Ballarat where, on 29 August 1922, he married Jean Alice Margaret Craig Morrison with Presbyterian forms. He was appointed manager of a Melbourne branch in 1923; returning to head office as acting accountant in 1925, he became sub-manager in 1931. Meanwhile, he also continued his militia career: in 1920-21 he was temporary commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment; in 1921-24 he commanded the 8th Battalion and in 1924-28 the 24th.


Charleroi, Belgium. 1 January 1919. Group portrait of the band of the 6th Battalion.
 Left to right, back row: 4337 Lance Corporal C. W. Young; 6499 Drum Major W. G. Guest; 2357 Private (Pte) J. Donald; 5805 Pte J. Cummings. Third row: 7036 Pte F. E. Larkins; 2664 Pte R. A. Osborne; 3838 Pte L. R. Guenther; 2267 Pte J. Wilcox. Second row: 2468 Pte F. Winsor; 3287 Pte H. T. P. Davis; 6868 Pte J. H. Smith; 5120 Pte A. R. Thomas; 3408 Pte T. O'Shannessy. Front row: 2450 Pte B. G. Walker; 5777 Pte A. Holtkamp; 6950 Sergeant J. P. B. Geary; 5379 Pte E. J. Murphy; 6569 Pte A. C. Todd. Note the bass drum and snare drum in the foreground.

Charleroi, Belgium. AIF soldiers and some Belgian civilians outside the Australian YMCA Club with an Army ambulance standing by.



Charleroi, Belgium. 1 January 1919.
Group portrait of C Company of the 6th Battalion.
 Identified: 3983 Private (Pte) H. C. Wilson (1); 3102 Sergeant (Sgt) W. H. Neate (2); 3892 Sgt W. Parker (3); Lieutenant (Lt) A. Aubrey (4); Captain G. Stobie MC (5); Lt Edward Henry Horwill MM DCM (6); Lt R. Potter (7); 51292 Sgt A. C. Blore (8); 4601 Sgt G. Spreadborough MM (9); 4451 Pte G. Bunting (10); 7513 Pte W. J. Kelly (11); 2839 Pte A. Mitchell (12); 6390 Lance Corporal (L Cpl) R. A. Kemp DCM (13); 5088 L Cpl R. Fleming (14); 6968 Pte A. G. Brown (15); 5426 Pte T. Lahiff (16); 5726 Pte J. M. Lowe (17); 3227 Pte A. Albert (18); 2533 Pte N. G. Tuck (19); 5198 Pte R. E. Pohlner (20); 4495 Corporal (Cpl) J. Fly MM (21); 5421 L Cpl Henry John Kohn (22); 2922 Pte S. Young (23); 5057 L Cpl J. H. Brownbia (24); 3751 Pte F. Gelder (25); 2841 L Cpl G. A. Patten (26); 4300 Cpl A. E. Anderson (27); unidentified (28); 7059 Pte W. McNicol (29); 2641 Cpl B. King (30); 4529 Cpl T. Jones (31); 5214 Pte H. R. Turner (32); 6641 Pte M. Tracey (33); 5454 Pte W. J. Perdon (34); 6818 Pte B. McVeigh (35); 6636 Pte J. Penzig (36); 6776 Pte A. Gray (37); 4304 L Cpl W. J. Seagreaves (38); 4038 Pte F. Smart (39); 5346 Pte E. G. Cree (40); 5179 Pte L. J. Russell (41); 1426 Pte Whiffen (42); 6493 Pte A. Fyans (43); 6133 L Cpl Whiffen (43); 6468 Cpl E. W. Bourke (45); 7461 Pte T. Clack (46); 1554 Pte E. C. Harris (47); unidentified (48); unidentified (49); 3670 Pte L. Gray (50).


49 quota leaving Charleroi Station, Belgium, for Le Havre, France.
 Identified are: Lieut Hamilton VC, Capt Steen, Lieut Jarvis, Padre Pittendrich, Lt Montague, Lieut Buckley, Lieut Berry, Lieut Andrews. Note the German prisoner of war standing at right." Image from a large album of 86 pages containing 1858 photographs associated with the service of Lieutenant Robert Otto Boese, 2nd Battalion, during the First World War, and, as VX9912 Warrant Officer (WO) with 2/1 Casualty Clearing Station during the Second World War. Private Boese originally served six months in a Depot battalion in Australia. He later enlisted in the AIF and went to officer training at Duntroon then embarked as a Second Lieutenant with the 24th Reinforcements to the 2nd Battalion on 10 February 1917. in July 1917, following further training in England, he joined his unit in France. He received a severe wound to the chest in September 1917 requiring hospitalisation in England. He was promoted to Lieutenant in November 1917 prior to rejoining his unit. In February 1918 he was back in hospital with a fractured jaw, then spent further time at the School of Instruction before rejoining the 2nd Battalion. In March 1919 Lt Boese was a member of the 1st Division Football Team. He returned to Australia on 6 July 1919. On 27 December 1939 he enlisted in the Second AIF and served in the Middle East. VX9912 WO Boese returned with wounded soldiers aboard the Dutch ship Oranje in December 1941. He was discharged from the 2nd AIF on 9 February 1942, but resumed service with the Army in Australia. A keen photographer, he comprehensively recorded and documented (often humorously) his experience in both wars in this album providing a wonderful record of activities, personalities and locations.

Charleroi, Belgium. 1 January 1919.
Group portrait of the Warrant Officers and Sergeants of the 6th Battalion.
Left to right, back row: 6590 Sergeant (Sgt) J. B. Geary; 3898 Sgt A. Pattinson MM; 6866 Sgt C. Schmidt; 5808 Sgt Albert Lindsay Deane; 6354 Sgt R. E. A. Snibson. Third row: 3908 Sgt H. J. Robinson DCM; 51292 Sgt A. H. Blore; 4601 Sgt G. Spreadborough MM; 3102 Sgt N. H. Neate. Second row: 1949 Sgt William Fern; 4160 Sgt W. Crouch; 6499 Drum Major W. G. Guest; 3533 Sgt A. T. Wilson. Front Row: 3416 Sgt W. Parker; 4935 Company Sergeant Major (CSM) R. H. Wheeler; 6865 Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) C. Oliver; 3709A CSM H. Burrows; 2845 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS) J. Reid MM.

The Australian 24th Battalion Band playing in the Rue de Beaumont, Marcinelle.

Marcinelle, Belgium 12th May 1919.
Seven unidentified Australian soldiers gathered around three German timber dummy tanks salvaged by the Australian War Records Section. These tanks were used by both sides and were designed to mislead the other as to the point of concentration for tanks and draw fire. Note the soldier on the far left has a wound stripe on his left sleeve.

In February and March the companies were amalgamated and plans made to move out to Gougnies on the west side of Charleroi, Belgium. On the 1st of February John Coyle was officially “taken on strength” (joined) to the 4th Machine Gun Battalion

Henry Charles Jasper EDWARDS
Mont-sur-Marchienne Dec 1918

My Grandpa, Charley Edwards

4486 Private
Charles William Mercer
13th Bn. Australian Infantry, A. I. F.
8th February 1919
Row S. 13.

From Sydney, N.S.W.  A butcher prior to enlistment, he embarked with the 11th Reinforcements aboard HMAT Nestor (A71) on 9 April 1916. Pte Mercer died of wounds in Belgium on 8 February 1919.


TitreQuand Charleroi regorgeait de soldats australiens
Sous-titreD'après le carnet de route du Lieutenant Colonel Aubrey Wiltshire - De décembre 1918 à mai 1919
AuteurLejeune Bernard
FormatGrand format
Date de parution23 novembre 2015

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