Courtesy of Beatrice Garner
Lieutenant Albert Edward Wisewould MC
Pakenham State School Roll of Honour
Born: 16 December 1885 - Numurkah, Victoria
Enlisted: 22 February 1916 aged 30
Unit: 7th Battalion, 20th Reinforcements (SERN: 6371)
Served: Western Front
Died: 18 February 1976, Cheltenham, Victoria
The Pakenham State School Honour Board also lists “Wisewould A” as having served during WWI. There were two Wisewould brothers with that initial: Albert who was born in 1885 and Andrew born in 1893. Although Andrew tried to enlist, he did not pass the medical examination (1). Albert however, had a distinguished war record. Known as “Bert”, he was the eldest son of Edward Wisewould and Elizabeth Goudie. Bert spent the early part of his childhood on the family property “Riverdale” at Tocumwal NSW, where his father ran the local Cobb and Co coach service (2). Around 1899, Albert and his brother Percy moved to Melbourne to attend preparatory school. During this time, they lived with their uncle Frank, who was a prominent Melbourne solicitor and later President of the Royal Society of Victoria (3). After Bert’s mother died in 1902, his father moved to Pakenham. Bert played football for Pakenham and was regarded as one of the team’s best players in 1904 (4). The family later moved to Jindivick, near Drouin. There, Bert became captain of the local football team. Eventually, he moved to Ultima in the Mallee District. There he became a wheat farmer. His brother James was also farming in that district. After James was killed in the War, Bert had to harvest James‘ crop as well as his own (5). Bert married Mary Jane Dagge and in June 1912 they had a son, Edward. Tragically Mary died later the same year (6).
When he enlisted for service at Swan Hill on 22 February 1916, Bert was 30 years old. He enlisted just days after his brother Frank. The loss of his two brothers apparently did not dampen Bert’s “ardour” to “fight for the honour of the Australian flag as well as the allied nations” (7). His and Frank’s enlistment attracted attention in the press since the family had only recently lost James and Harold, who had both served at Gallipoli: “For one family to lose two sons in action is indeed sad; but proud must the parents be, although somewhat anxious, at the knowledge that two more sons are brave enough to enlist and show a determination to avenge their late brothers’ fate. Such is the record of the Wisewould family, of Ultima ... it is patriotism like this that tends to stimulate recruiting generally, and prove that the hearts in the country districts compare very favourably with the more thickly populated areas” (8). It was also reported that Bert was selling up to enlist - he had a clearing sale and let his 670 acre property on shares (9). After enlisting, Bert was assigned as a private to the 7th Battalion, 20th Reinforcement. He subsequently married Annie Carland of Neerim South. At the wedding, both Bert and his best man wore their military uniforms (10). Before leaving for overseas, he was also farewelled from Jindivick, being presented with a watch to remember his friends “when he was far away taking a share of the fighting” (11). Bert embarked for England in September 1916.
On 24 December 1916, Bert was taken on strength with the 7th Battalion in France, spending his first Christmas away from home at the Front. In August 1917, he was appointed as Lance Corporal, and on 29 September 1917 commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. This followed the loss of several officers at the Battle of Menin Road (12). Less than a month later, Bert was wounded in action in Belgium, sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg. Although the wound was reported as being “mild”, it was later described as being “through and through” the left thigh (13). He was hospitalised in England and only returned to France in April 1918. The following month, on 25 May 1918, Bert was commissioned as a Lieutenant. He was later sent to the XV Corps Infantry School.
In early August 1918, Bert led his platoon into action at Lihons. He was subsequently awarded the prestigious Military Cross (MC) by King George V for his actions. The recommendation from his commanding officer read: “On 9/8/1919 during the attach on enemy positions between Vauvillers and Lihons, Lieut. Wisewould displayed courage and initiative of a very high standard. He led his platoon with skill and judgement through very heavy enemy fire to the objective, and fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire in his efforts. Immediately on reaching the objective Lieut. Wisewould consolidated the position and made a personal reconnaissance of the enemy front, again at great risk to himself. This reconnaissance was of the greatest value to his Company Commander and enabled a sound disposition to be made protecting the flank until the whole line had reached the objective. The coolness and sound judgement of Lieut. Wisewould were of the utmost value, and an important factor in the success of the BN. [Battalion] in a very hard fight for the objective” (14). The official citation also read: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the attack on Lihons on 11th August 1918. He led his platoon forward through very heavy fire and gained his objective. On reaching the brigade sector he consolidated and assisted in bombing along the trench to gain touch with the company on the left. Later, when attacked by some 80 of the enemy with bombs, supported by heavy machine gun fire, he successfully held his position with small force. He did fine work” (14a). Later, on 23 August 1918, Bert was part of the attack at Herleville Woods when the Australians “took many prisoners as well as inflicting heavy casualties. There was a deep gully just behind the new line we established, a support position on which the enemy put down a very heavy barrage of gas shells. Consequently, many of our support troops were badly gassed, lost their voice and had to go to hospital” (15). In late September 1918, as most of the the Australian Corps was being relieved for a spell, Bert was granted leave in Nice in the south of France and later in England. When he rejoined his unit on 28 October 1918, the War was almost over (16). In March 1919, he proceeded to England for the investiture at Buckingham Palace, where he received his military cross from King George V (17). Bert returned to Australia on 29 August 1919, and his commission terminated on 13 October 1919.
Bert was now able to resume civilian life with Annie. whom he left behind more than three years before. They eventually had five children, including sons named Harold and James in honour of Bert’s dead brothers (18). Bert returned to the Mallee, where he was granted a soldier settler block near Manangatang. At first, Bert and Annie had to live in a tent on the land until they built a home (19). In addition to wheat farming and his family, Bert took a very active interest in local civic affairs including soldier settler issues and the local RSL. He served on the Swan Hill Shire Council from 1929 to 1941, including a year as Shire President in 1934 (20). The Mallee though, proved at best marginal for farming, and Bert found himself in significant financial trouble by 1930. This he attributed to a series of bad seasons, the onset of the Great Depression and low prices during what was essentially the “pioneering stage of new country” (21). Because of the marginal nature of the land (it was valued at only £1.2.0 per acre), Bert eventually agreed to relinquish his farm in exchange for compensation in 1942, By which time, he had enlisted to serve in the Army again as a Lieutenant during WWII (SERN: V5036). At one stage, Bert was attached to the Engineers’ Depot in the Alexandra Gardens in Melbourne, and also with the No 4 Guard at Seymour Army camp (22). Bert’s two sons also served in WWII. After Bert was discharged from the Army, he and Annie moved to Thornbury and later Bendigo, before moving to Parkdale. Annie died in 1969, while Albert passed away in February 1976 at the age of 90 (23).
The assistance of Bert’s relatives Patricia Wisewould and Beatrice Garner is gratefully acknowledged.
(2) (2) (3) (17) & (18) B. Garner (2014) pp. 9-16
(4) SBMJ 10/8/1904, p. 2
(5) The Argus 16/12/1915, p. 7
(6) B. Garner (2014), p.10; The Argus 10/8/1912, p. 13
(7) Ultima and Chillingollah Star 10/3/1916, p. 2
(8) Kyneton Guardian 14/3/1916 p. 2
(9) Ultima and Chillingollah Star 10/3/1916, p. 2; The Age 11/3/1916, p. 2
(10) Gippsland Independent 28/4/1916 p. 2
(11) Gippsland Independent 2/6/1916, p. 2
(12) R. Austin (2004) p. 192
(13) (14) & (16) NAA B2455 WISEWOULD, ALBERT EDWARD
(15) R. Austin (2004) p.. 249
(19) Information provided by Patricia Wisewould
(20) Garner (2014) p. 13
(21) & (22) PROV VPRS 10192/P/0000 36 2262 WISEWOULD A E
(23) NAA B73 M79832