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Manderson A L G   Pte   3360

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 9 years, 4 months ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918

 

Albert Leslie Godfrey "Bert" Manderson and his brother Ernie on the camel on the right,  with their

comrades in Egypt, 1915.  Courtesy of Greg Manderson.

 

Manderson A L G    Pte   3360    Albert Leslie Godfrey       6 Inf Bn    20    Engraving jeweller    Single    Meth

Address:    Essendon, Washington St, 49    

Next of Kin:    Manderson, R, father, 49 Washington St, Essendon    

Enlisted:    9 Jul 1915        

Embarked:     A71 Nestor 11 Oct 1915  

 

Included in this photograph:

In a group shot with brother Ernie Manderson, Zeitoun, 1916

 

This detail from the above photo , while faint, shows

that Bert had written 'ESSENDON' on his puggaree.

(Courtesy of Greg Manderson.)

 

 

Relatives on Active Service:

Manderson E J A Pte 3826 brother

Manderson R R B Pte 5376 brother

Manderson H Pte 5627 cousin

Manderson W Pte 5626 cousin KIA

Doig C G Pte 993 cousin DOW

Doig R G Pte 7472 cousin

Lukey A N Pte 4542 cousin

Harvey A E Pte 2261 cousin KIA

Harvey J D Pte 2160 cousin

Soutter A D Pte 3922 cousin

Wilson F T Pte 5434 cousin

 

 

Private Bert Manderson

By Greg Manderson


Bert is remembered as a small man physically with strong opinions, determination and a great sense of humour. He was compassionate towards those who had less than he enjoyed himself (which wasn’t all that much) and was a loving father and grandfather.  He engaged with people of all ages and status and never ‘stood on ceremony.’

The Great War impacted on his everyday life; in the habits he developed, his behaviour and the friends that he made and lost. Bert remained loyal to his Battalion comrades until the time of his death in November 1965 at the age of 71.

Albert Leslie Godfrey Manderson (Bert) was born on the 26th of October 1894 in Essendon, to Robert and Barbara (Cormack) Manderson.   Robert was a local political organiser in Essendon and a member of the Recruiting Committee for Essendon from January 1916.
 
Bert was raised at the family home at 49 Washington Street.  He had completed 12 months in the Senior cadets, and soon after completing his apprenticeship as an engraver Bert enlisted with the AIF on the 9th of July 1915, (service No. 3360) having been rejected on three previous occasions. His application was supported by a strongly worded letter of support and approval from his parents. (1)


His cousins, Bert Harvey, John Harvey, Gordon Doig, Arthur Soutter and his older brother Ernie all enlisted within the space of about a month. A number of other close relatives subsequently enlisted within the space of a few days in March 1916, including Bert and Ernie’s younger brother Bob and cousins Horace and Will.    How much of this determination to serve was spurred by a sense of commitment to Australia and the homeland, Robert’s influence or a spirit of adventure is difficult to quantitate. However all three aspects were sure to have played a part.

After enlistment, the Essendon Gazette, 22nd July 1915 records ‘Albert, the second eldest son of Mr. Robt. Manderson, secretary of the Political Labour Council of Essendon, has enlisted, and has gone into camp at the Show Grounds. The young fellow was three times rejected for minor causes, but being determined to get through, underwent a course of physical culture, eventually passing.’


His enlistment record shows that he was only 5 feet 2¼ inches tall, weighing 8 stone 5 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. (1)                     

 

Bert Manderson (left) with William Bramwell Manderson (right) before leaving for Egypt. 'myself and

youngest brother Bill taken before I left for World War 1.  He went to World War 2’.

 

Initially assigned to the 6th Battalion, 11th Reinforcements, the 6 weeks initial training at the Show Grounds in Ascot Vale was followed by a further 3½ weeks at Flemington.

 

On October 9th he was presented with a diary inscribed by his father … ‘to Albert L.G. Manderson from His Father on Leaving Australia to Fight for King and Country and the Cause of Right against Might’. The diary contains addresses, code to be used for letters to his family, a record of letters received and sent, drawings of range marks and trench diagrams as well as Bert’s first-hand account of his time on active  service. (3) An example of code to be used for letters : ‘good old Essendon’ was code for ‘I am a prisoner in Turkey’.

 

Two days later on the 11th of October they embarked on H.M.A.T. A71 Nestor.  Initially they anchored off Williamstown and took on some additional chaps from Tasmania, transferred from the pilot ship Nyora. They sailed at half past six and encountered rough weather soon after leaving Port Phillip Bay.  Almost everyone on board was sick as they traversed the Great Australian Bight however Bert was ‘good as gold.’

 

A71 Nestor on 11 Oct 1915, Port Phillip.  Photographer Barnes, Josiah, Australia,

Port Melbourne PB0607 National Collection http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/PB0607

 

Arriving at Fremantle at 11:35 am on Sunday the 17th, they weren’t allowed ashore and stopped just long enough to offload four chaps who were quite ill. There had been an outbreak of measles and other disease in the preceding days. All were given vaccinations once underway.

As they crossed the equator on the 26th, the same day as Bert’s 21st birthday, a carnival was held to welcome ‘Father Neptune’ on board ship. So disappointed; it was now Bert’s turn to be ill, something that he put down to reaction to the vaccination received a week earlier.  He was confined to bed and wasn’t able to join in the festivities. He was very thankful to Ray McNair for looking after him and nursing him through the ordeal.

The journey wasn’t all bad though and other diary entries refer to the sea being ‘as smooth as glass’; to flying fish; whales squirting water into the air and ‘porpoises playing in front of the boat.’

By October 31st they were already in the Gulf of Aden and Bert noted that ‘the Nestor travels 360 miles each day’ and ‘have 1460 miles to go.’ Anticipation was building!

They entered the Red Sea on the 1st and on the 4th of November at around 10 pm, they anchored about 3 miles off Suez. Unfortunately one of the cooks didn’t quite make it there and died just the day before and was buried at sea.  With the excitement of their arrival though, and the beauty of the bright lights on shore, everyone was in high spirits however they weren’t to disembark until the morning of the 6th. The ensuing train trip to Heliopolis took another seven long hours arriving at 5:30 pm.   Despite their arduous journey, they went into Cairo that night to be greeted by ‘a filthy place’ and ‘natives [who] try to take you down.’  

Their reception from the British wasn’t all that great either and Bert described that they weren’t given anything to eat or drink until the morning of the 8th. ‘The English government do not recognize us for 24 hours after arriving at camp. We had to buy our meals.’   Despite the lack of nourishment, they still had to endure an eight mile route march through sand and dust before breakfast.

Generally, it was hot and dusty most of the time and money was scarce.  By the end of November, bayonet drills had been common and there was talk of the possibility of an uprising against them from the locals. Conditions were terrible.

On December 3rd they moved camp from Heliopolis to Abbassia, another neighbourhood in Cairo, and formed into the 1st Australian Reserve Brigade. (4)  Bert’s feeling was that this would mean it would be some time before they are sent to the front. Their duties, mainly guard and enforcement duties rounding up drunken soldiers in Cairo, meant that often they needed to sleep at the Kasr-El-Nil barracks, situated on the banks of the Nile. (3)   Egypt so far was obviously not the most inspiring or enjoyable experience.

 

To cheer themselves up, on at least one occasion on the way to camp they had races across the desert on donkeys. ‘It was just the thing.’   The other good news was that Bert received a letter to say that his older brother Ernie had departed Australia on 23rd November and so he expected that he should arrive soon.

On Sunday 19th December he received word that his brother Ernie and the other boys from the Ceramic had finally arrived and on the 21st that they were at the Zeitoun camp. When they met on the 22nd along with his cousin Arthur Soutter and others from Essendon, it must have been a great reunion!

 

 

Bert and Ernie (on the right) on a camel on Boxing Day 1915.

Photo courtesy of Greg Manderson.

 

The two brothers enjoyed Christmas dinner together at Bert’s camp on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day 1915, ‘went out to the pyramids … and had our photos taken on the camels.’ Bert was really enjoying himself. Other entertainment included the fascination with new technology; ‘watching the aeroplanes landing and rising.’ There were about forty aeroplanes based at their camp.

 

The mood had definitely shifted with the arrival of Ernie and Artie and they spent a lot of time with each other including celebrating the New Year together. On the 5th they had their photos taken again. A photo that Bert referred to as the ‘six brothers.’

 

‘Six Brothers’  Bert Manderson (front left) Ernie  Manderson (front right). Arthur Soutter is believed

to be one of the others in the photograph. Photo courtesy of Greg Manderson.

 

The 46th Battalion had been raised in Egypt in late February (5) and on the 6th March Bert, Ernie and Arthur moved together to Tel-El-Kebir as part of that unit. Soon after Ern was transferred to the motor despatch riders and Artie to the machine guns. On the 15th March, Bert’s brother had been transferred yet again, this time to the 4th Pioneer Battalion as part of the Fourth Division, newly formed in Egypt in March 1916. (5) Major General A.J. Godley, had put forward a proposal that Australian reinforcements training in Egypt form two new Divisions and Major General H.V. Cox was installed as the Commander. (6)

 

On the 29th having arrived at the train at 3 pm, Bert left Tel-el-Kabir for Serapaeum at 10:30 pm riding in the luggage compartment. At 3 am they put into a siding at Abu Soueir and remained there until the next day under fixed bayonets. Despite only being a 65 km journey, they didn’t arrive at Serapaeum until Friday the 31st when they took a very welcome swim in the Canal in the afternoon. ‘It was bonza.’ Swimming in the canal became a regular occurrence and was likened to being at the beach. Bert was also reunited with Ernie at Serapaeum but said their ‘goodbyes’ to each other on April 5th in anticipation of being separated.

By the 7th Bert was in the trenches about 8 mile from the Canal, guarding it against the Turks although it wasn’t until the 15th that there was any action. It was on this day that 30 Turks, 2 German officers and an Arabian officer were taken prisoner after being captured by the Light Horse. While they were initially given a tough time, they were later given a ‘good feed’ and cigarettes.

Duty in the trenches continued and while Bert and Ernie had been concerned that they might be separated, they continued to see each other from time-to-time.  Then on the 23rd, Bert was ‘transferred to Ernie’ (4th Pioneers) who hadn’t been ‘travelling too well’ as well as being in and out of trouble. Perhaps they thought that Bert might be a stabilising influence?  Bert left the  trenches and was to make his own way to the 4th Pioneers via the 46th Battalion Headquarters. He arrived at the new Battalion before noon the following day after spending the night with his cousin Arthur near the rail head. ‘Ern was pleased to see me again.’ The next day, ANZAC Day was commemorated with sports on the canal with the Prince of Wales in attendance.

Working on the trenches, patrols and drills continued for a number of weeks. The sighting of a Turkish aeroplane put them on alert and they were expecting an attack however this never eventuated.

On May 15th their money was changed to English currency so Bert figured there must be something doing. It was just the next day when they were taken to Serapeum to be equipped for France. This included a new rifle.  There was considerable anticipation but it wasn’t until a fortnight later on June 3rd when they left camp by train and arrived at the side of the troopships in Alexandria in the early hours of the next morning. Six ships in total including Bert and Ernie’s ship, H.M.S. Scotian got underway early on Monday the 5th with one of the crew dying on the first day out. Apart from that, the trip to Marseilles was relatively uneventful and they disembarked on the morning of the 11th.

Marseilles was a stark contrast to the desert of Egypt. The French people gave them a 'good welcome' and Bert described it as ‘simply glorious here’ and as being similar to Manly, NSW.  

With forty men packed ‘like sardines’ in their cattle truck, their train made its way through the beautiful, green French countryside and then through the mountains arriving in Strazeel on the 14th. On their arrival they could hear the cannons ‘roaring’ even though they were about 10 mile from the firing line. This area had been occupied by the Germans just a few weeks back. Camped in a barn Bert commented: ‘the rats crawl all over us during the night.’

On the day of the 17th Bert recounted, ‘we were watching the German Aeroplanes fighting our aeroplanes all day today. We brought one of their planes down to earth. We could see the shells bursting all around them.’ For a few days, despite fighting occurring quite close by, they didn’t seem to be under too much pressure.

 

It was on June 22nd though that they endured a long march on to Armentières with full packs.  While the area is referred to as the ‘nursery sector’ when they arrived there just behind the trenches at 2 a.m. on Friday morning, they had their first major taste of the German aggression, arriving ‘amid shot and shell.’ They were under heavy artillery fire all day with ‘shrapnel flying all around’ them as they worked to repair the trenches. No sooner had the bombardment finished and the gas alarm sounded. The bombardment continued for the ensuing days as they worked in the 3rd line of trenches and on the 28th they caught a German spy dressed as a French officer. The heavy shelling continued and on the 1st of July, they were very lucky to not receive shrapnel from a series of shells that landed just at their side.

 

A page from Bert’s Diary: Bert’s writing in his diary continued through

the campaign right up until Pozières.  Photo courtesy of Greg

Manderson.

 

They had some respite the next day when Bert, Ernie and Bill Joyner went into Armentières for a bath and a feed however it was that night they ‘received a terrific bombardment.’ The next day Bert wrote; ‘there is not one good house standing in Armentières today, they are all blown up.’ It was soon after, that he and Art Burns ‘nearly stopped a high explosive shell.’

While, the shelling in the ‘nursery sector’ near Armentières seemed almost incessant, it was when they reached their next position not far from Ypres that Bert remarked, ‘the guns on this front seem much larger than the ones at Armentières.’  

Then on July 10th something occurred that Bert wasn’t expecting…. ‘I was having my dinner with Ern when the sergeant told me to pack up my kit and report to headquarters. We did not know where we were off to. It turned out that we were put into the 48th Battn. They marched us about 2 mile to a broken down shanty where we had to sleep. I do not know anyone in this new Battalion, so you can imagine how I feel tonight. (like a dog without a home). I feel weary, tired and downhearted. The town where I am now billeted is called Fleurbaix.’ This time, the ‘we’ did not include Ernie.

Bert’s new Battalion consisted mainly of men from Western Australia and South Australia (5) and had a strong-minded leader in Lieutenant-Colonel Ray ‘The Bull’ Leane, a South Australian, as commander who had also spent considerable time in the Western-Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie before the war.  There were so many members of the Leane family in the 48th Battalion it became known as the ‘Joan of Arc Battalion’ – ‘Made of all Leanes’. (7)

The next day they marched to Sailly where they slept in a dirty stable. It was here that Bert was reflecting on the fact that he and Ern were ‘taken away from one another at a minutes notice.’  Despite his concerns, Bert had already begun to get to know his new friends and then commented ‘The boys in this Company treat me well.’  Surprisingly, the next morning while on guard he ran into Arthur Soutter who was in the same billet. Bert was granted some leave and he walked 6 mile to see Ernie.   After spending so much time with each other, it was at this time they decided that they needed to stay apart.

 

On the 14th July they marched about 6 mile to Bailleul station for the 100 mile train trip to Doullens and from there marched 'on a hard road,' (4) South-west to Berteaucourt-les-Dames which was to be home to the Battalion until such time as they were required to move to the Front. ‘The French people where we stay treat us real well. Our bed is something lovely. Just like home.’ While there they undertook more intense training and practised bomb throwing, bayonet fighting and marched much more than Bert cared for. The highlight for Bert apart from being shown how to use a Lewis gun ‘under the shade of some lovely trees’ was the relationship that developed with Madam David and her daughter Julienne.

On the 27th July when they left for the trenches ‘Mrs David cried and kissed me when I said goodbye to her at Berteaucourt. She was sorry to lose me. Should I not return, do not forget to thank her for her kindness towards me. Their photos are in my wallet.’

 

The David house in Berteaucourt-les-Dames where Bert was made to feel at

home (May 2011) Photo: G.Manderson.

 

Now there was a long march of more than 30 mile ahead of them to the front. They stopped three times on the way and at Toutencourt on the 27th/28th (4), Bert ran into the ubiquitous Arthur Soutter yet again! It was then they were told that they would be relieving the 2nd Division and the next day marched another 3 miles closer to the firing line to Harponville where they went into billets. On the 1st August they moved on and bivouacked for three days at Brickfields near the shelled town of Albert and then, on the night of the 4th moved to Tara Hill on the East side of the town, less than 5 mile from Pozières (4)…well and truly in reach of an aggressive German Artillery.

The village of Pozières had been captured from the Germans by the Australian 2nd Division on July 23rd and they then mounted another attack to take the Old German lines that ran along the strategically important ridge to the North-East of the village on August 4th.  They were exhausted and the Germans retaliated on the 5th with their howitzers systematically working the line up and down the OG trenches, ‘churning up everything in their path’. (8) 

 

Amid the horrific bombardment on this day, it was the 4th Division’s role to relieve the exhausted 2nd Division and it was on this day, the 5th that Bert’s Battalion; the 48th (12th Brigade) was to relieve the 27th (7th Brigade) that had held the OG lines from 'The Windmill' to 'The Elbow.' (8)

Starting out from Sausage Valley, A and B Companies moved forward first via Sunken Road, Pioneer Trench, Copse Avenue to Tramway Trench. The' Jumping Off Trench' was just in front of Tramway Trench. (4)

 

Bean, C.E.W., Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Vol.3, Ch 20.

 

They moved forward in the dark under shell-fire so dense that men were falling everywhere. (8) About 400 yards of open ground needed to be covered under a heavy barrage of enemy artillery (4 ),  when they arrived near the newly held ground of the Old German lines, most of the few remaining men of 27th Battalion had already left their positions in OG2 and had headed back to Sausage Valley. As a result, the men of the 48th couldn’t find the line and overshot the position having to retrace their steps. (9) The 48th Battalion unit diary reports that they were determined to hold OG2 (which was more open to view to the enemy) as well as securing OG1.

On the morning of Sunday the 6th August it was found that shelling had wiped out the two forward Companies of the 48th. There were masses of dead and wounded everywhere, recalled Leane. In one day and two nights, the 48th Battalion had lost over half its strength; 20 officers and 578 men. (9) Ben Leane, Adjutant, wrote that he saw men weeping like children and cowering at every explosion. (7)  Long afterwards ‘Bull’ Leane described the night of August 5-6 as the worst in his whole experience time of the war. (8)   

So many died here or were severely wounded. Shell shock was no longer considered to be an excuse; it was now a reality of a war where technology was beginning to overcome the effect of manpower alone. Not only a case of reaction to the constant pounding from the guns, it’s also from seeing your mates being blown to pieces in front of your eyes or having yourself  buried alive by the earth that was thrown up from an adjacent impact; not being able to breathe and needing to dig your way to the surface.  It was a real shock to the soul of so many men.

 

 

The 2nd Division Memorial at the Windmill site, Pozières (May 2011)   Photo: G.Manderson

       
Unfortunately after the two days of constant shelling, shell-shock affected Bert to such an extent that on the 6th of August he was classified as ‘wounded’. By the 7th he was admitted to the military hospital in Boulogne and on the 15th embarked via the Hospital Ship Cambria for England. (1)

In England, Bert spent some months in and out of various hospitals. First, at the 4th London General Hospital, Denmark Hill, then Perham Downs and Wareham Military Hospital. While recovering he continued to suffer from ‘fits.’  It was during his time in hospital that he met Chris MacDonough, a veteran of Gallipoli and France. Bert and Chris became great mates.

On 17th March 1917 after 7 months recovering in England, Bert was repatriated to Australia from Devonport, Plymouth on board A72 Beltana and arrived in Melbourne on 12th May.  He was  discharged from the A.I.F. on 25th June 1917 (medically unfit) after 722 days since enlistment of which 580 were spent abroad. (1)

After the war, Bert stayed in touch with many of his mates, even the newer friendships that had developed with the chaps of the 48th Battalion from the other states.

 

Bert Manderson (left) ‘myself and two pals who returned to Australia with me.

Picture taken in Adelaide S.A. in 1918’

 

Chris MacDonough also came to visit Bert in Essendon and stayed. He fell in love with Bert’s sister and married her. He later went on to become Town Clerk of Essendon.  Bert and Chris continued as great mates for the rest of their lives and from the 1940’s lived next to each other in Aberdeen Street, Essendon.

 

Bert Manderson (left) with Chris MacDonough Photo: N.Manderson

 

Of Pozières, John Masefield wrote, ‘thousands of men were killed on that plateau, and buried and unburied, and buried and unburied again until no bit of dust was without a man in it.’ (10)

At the end of the two days of intense fighting at Pozières, Bert was very lucky to survive!

Bert died at the Repatriation Hospital, Heidelberg on 14th November 1965 at the age of 71 years.

Bibliography:
1.    National Archives of Australia  http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au
2.    Essendon Gazette, 22nd July 1915
3.    Manderson, A.L.G., Diary 1915/1916
4.    Australian War Memorial AIF diaries https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm4/
5.    Australian War Memorial  http://www.awm.gov.au
6.    http://www.aif.adfa.edu.au
7.    Carlyon, L., The Great War (2006) ISBN 978-0-330-42496-7
8.    Bean, C.E.W., Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Vol.3, Ch 20.
9.    Bennett, S., Pozières, The ANZAC Story (2011) ISBN 978-1-921640-35-3
10.  Masefield, J., The Battle of the Somme (1919)

 

Mr. Robert Manderson. J.P., has been notified by the Defence Department that his son, Albert (Bert.), is returning to Australia about the middle of May, and, from inquiries made, the troopship is expected to arrive on May 12 (next Saturday). Private Manderson has served in Egypt and France, and was in the battle of Pozieres, where he was wounded, and ever since has been in hospital in England. Two other sons, Ernest and Robert, are still in France.

 

ROLL OF HONOR. (1917, May 10). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: Morning. Retrieved May 12, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74602486

 

 

 

War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall L-R

Aberfeldie Bowls Club Great War Honour Board

Essendon State School

Moonee Ponds West State School

North Essendon Methodist Church

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour Wounded

Regimental Register

Welcome Home 7 Nov 1918

 

 

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