Matthew Walsh

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Matthew Walsh
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Personal Information
Date of Birth 6 Jul 1898
Place of Birth Geraldton, Western Australia
Death 6 Aug 1980, aged 82
Place of Death North Beach, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 18 years old (3 days short off)
Description 5'4" (1.63m) tall ; 107lbs
48.534 kg
; fresh complexion ; grey eyes ; brown hair
Occupation Labourer
Religion Roman Catholic
Address East Cannington, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr Matthew Walsh
Military Information
Reg Number 6851
Date of Enlistment 3 Jul 1916
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 16th Battalion, 22nd Reinforcement transferred to C Company 32nd Battalion
Date of Embarkation 9 Nov 1916 ‒ 10 Jan 1917
Ship Embarked On HMAT A8 Argyllshire
Date of Return 23 Sep 1918 ‒ 7 Nov 1918
Ship Returned On HMAT A54 Runic
Monument none at present
Medals British War Medal
Victory Medal



Pre War

War Service

Entered Blackboy Hill camp on 3 Jul 1916 and on 28 Jul 1916 he was allocated to the 23rd reinforcement draft for the 16th Battalion. On 4 Sep 1917 he was up-squadded to the 22nd reinforcement draft, embarking with it for England. On arrival he was sent to the 4th Training Battalion at Codford to prepare for France.

There, on 3 Feb 1917 he was charged with overstaying his leave from midnight 2 Feb till 11:00am 3 Feb 1917. Award was 1 day confined to camp and forfeiture of 1 day's pay. He was hospitalised on 26 Feb 1917 with the mumps. His date of returning to duty is not noted in his records, but on 13 May 1917 he was charged with disobeying an order given to him by an NCO on 12 May 1917. Awarded 4 days confined to camp. Then, on 28 May 1917 he was charged with being AWOL from midnight 24 May 1917 until 8:00ppm on 28 May 1917. Awarded 6 days Field Punishment No. 2, and the forfeiture of 9 days pay. (see notes.)

Matthew proceed overseas to France via Southampton on 9 Jul 1917 and spent until 25 Jul 1917 in the 4th Division's base Depot at Le Havre. On 27 Jul 1917 he was taken on strength by the 16th Battalion who were in billets at Bien Tour where they were training. In early August they spent a spell in the lines in front of Messines, taking casualties from constant artillery bombardment. Due to heavy rain and mud, the trenches offered little cover. Another stint in the front line late in the month saw only light casualties before they were withdrawn to Crepy. It was while they were in Crepy that Matthew on 16 Sep 1917 joined the 32nd Battalion who were in training near Racquinhem prior to moving into the front lines near Polygon Wood.

On 26 Sep 1917 while the 16th Battalion was engaged in the attack on Polygon Wood, the 32nd Battalion was in reserve. In early Oct 1917 the battalion was in the front line opposite Celtic Wood near Zonnebeke. A number of enemy attempts to counterattack them were defeated with the aid of artillery, before they were rotated out of the line. On 29 Oct 1917 Matthew was charged with being absent from a Commanding Officer's Parade at 11:00am. Awarded 7 day's Field Punishment No. 1 (see notes) and forfeited £1/15/- ($3.50).

On 17 Apr 1918 Matthew sustained a "negligently self sustained bullet wound to his left wrist". Seen by the 2/3 HG Field Ambulance he was passed back to the 12th Casualty Clearing Station the same day, and loaded on to Ambulance Train No. 25 for Rouen where he entered the 10th General Hospital. On 18 Jun 1918 he boarded HMHS Guildford Castle for England where he was admitted to the Southwark Military Hospital on 19 Jun 1918. Transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 11 Jul 1918 he was released to No 2 Command Depot in Weymouth on 18 Jul 1918.

On 9 May 1918 at HQS 4th Army Matthew paid the price when he faced a Field General Court Martial, charged with "Conduct to the Prejudice of good order and Military Discipline in that he caused a self inflicted wound." Awarded 14 Days Field Punishment No. 1. His records are not clear on when the punishment was carried out, although they do include the report on the Accidental of Self-Inflicted Wound.

"Pte Walsh leaned over the parapet to pick up his rifle which was standing in the trench against the parapet. The safety catch was forward. As he picked the rifle up the cartridge exploded and Walsh was hit. An examination was made and it was found that a cord from a bag had cxaught on the trigger. As soon as he was hit, he exclaimed 'I'm hit'."

Matthew was discharged by the 5th Military District on 12 Apr 1919.

Post War

In 1924 Matthew married Constance Mabel B Cahill in Perth. Constance died on 24 Feb 1978 in Victoria Park, aged 72.

Electoral Roll entries:

Served as a Lance Corporal in the 2nd Fremantle Battalion of the Volunteer Defence Corps from 26 Mar 1942 until ? with regimental number W63789. Their son Matthew Robert served in the 2nd/ 48th Battalion as WX22757 Private Walsh, enlisting on 1 Feb 1944 and being discharged on 22 Jul 1946.

Notes

Field Punishment Field punishment could be awarded by a court martial or a commanding officer for any offence committed on active service.

There were two categories of field punishment. Field punishment No. 2 was the lesser punishment, and therefore more common. It consisted of heavy labouring duties. All offenders awarded field punishment would march with their unit, carry their arms and accoutrements, perform all their military duties as well as extra fatigue duties, and be treated as defaulters.

Field Punishment No. 1 was more severe in that the 'convict' could be tethered to a stake or similar while having to carry out their heavy labour.


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