Courtesy of Doug Lloyd

Private Herbert William Wade (aka John William Wade)

Pakenham Upper Roll of Honour 

Born 4 January 1890 - Mount Duneed, Victoria 

Enlisted: 6 October 1914 aged 25* 

Unit: 1st Battalion, 1st Reinforcement (SERN 1128) 

Served: Egypt & Gallipoli

Died: 12 August 1951 - Heidelberg, Victoria

 

Also known as “Bert”, Herbert was the younger son of Richard Wade and Alice Seymour. Richard had the general store and post office at Gembrook West (Mt Burnett) as early as 1885 (1). Later he lived at Romsey near Seymour and Mt Duneed near Geelong (2) before returning to Mt Burnett (3). Bert was a locomotive fireman in Sydney when he enlisted in October 1914. For reasons unknown, he enlisted as “John William Wade”, born in England and aged 25 (4). He was assigned as a private to the 1st Battalion, and left Australia in October 1914 (5). After a period in Egypt, the 1st Battalion took part in the second and third wave landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Within days, Bert was severely wounded. The circumstances, as Bert later recounted to his mother, were truly horrific:“I had a bullet through the left arm near the shoulder and four bayonet wounds in the chest, the latter I received after I was shot. We were out in an advance position and got cut off from our own lines. Most of the men I was with were killed, a few were wounded, including myself. Then the Turks came on us & took us as prisoners but after a while they got hard pressed & evidently decided to dispose of us, so they bayonetted the lot of us and I believe I am the only one who got away alive. I think all of the others died as they were bayonetted, but by some chance I did not, and managed to crawl back to our own trenches , how I did it I do not know  ...  I lost an awful lot of blood, still I have much to be thankful for, in the fact that I am alive today” (6). Bert was evacuated to Alexandria, then to hospital in Birmingham. Informed that Bert was wounded, his relatives were naturally anxious about him, and wrote to the Army seeking further information about his progress (7). They were subsequently advised that Bert was being returned to Australia: in addition to his severe wounds, he had also contracted tuberculosis. (8). Bert wrote his mother: “I hope you will not worry about me now, Mum my lungs are bad but I am very much alive yet, although I suppose I will never be much good for anything now”. He also expressed his views about the War: “I hope this war will soon be over (for it is not war, it is murder), but am afraid it will last a long time yet” (9). Herbert was medically discharged in November 1916 (10). His service was subsequently honoured at Pakenham Upper, Cockatoo and Gembrook (11).

 

Sadly, Bert suffered from significant ill-health for the rest of his life. He was listed on the electoral roll in the 1920s and 1930s as a “war pensioner” (12). He died in August 1951 aged just 61, after which his siblings Ethel, Les and Eva movingly described him as a “patient sufferer at rest” (13). Bert’s service record also that his death was war related (14). Bert, who never married, was cremated with his ashes interred in Fawkner Cemetery.

 

The assistance of Bert’s relatives Ann McKenzie and Doug Lloyd;  Jan Shaw & Wally Nye is gratefully acknowledged. 

 

Sources:

(1) SBMJ 6//5/1885 p. 2                                                                          

(2) Information sourced from Ancestry.com.au                         

(3) Ancestry.com.au - ER - Flinders - Pakenham 1903 p. 2

(4) (5) (8) & (14) NAA B2455 WADE JOHN HERBERT 

(6) (7) (9) & (10) Letter from Bert Wade to Alice Wade dated 8th Sept 1914 [actually 1915]

(11) PG 10/10/1919 p. 3

(12) E.g. Ancestry.com.au - ER - Flinders - Pakenham 1937 p.59  

(13) The Argus 13/8/1951 p. 15

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