Sunday, October 26, 2014

Alexander Duncan - Part Two

On 27th August 1917 Alex Duncan rejoined the 42nd Battalion.  The weather according to the War Diary was dull and showery and the Battalion was engaged in training at Remilly-Wirquin for the Ypres offensive. On 25th September they started to march. By 3 October they had reached Ypres.  Extracts from the War Diary read as follows:

During this period the weather was extremely bad and both men and animals suffered severely.  During the first 4 days 64 men were evacuated to hospital suffering from trench feet, exhuastion and shell-shock.....Never since the Battalion has landed in France has it been called upon to face such abnormal conditions.  Never have the men had to face such hardships or to show such endurance and never have the Officers and men risen so well to the occasion and upheld so well the honour of the Battalion and the best traditions of the Australian Forces.
Ypres 18 October 1917 courtesy of AWM

Alex Duncan was wounded for the 2nd time in action on 11 October. Concussion is all that I can deduce from his medical record.  He was back with the Battalion five days later but by this stage they were the Brigade in Reserve, having been relieved by the 36th Battalion.  On 27 October he was promoted to Lance Corporal.  

To quote from the AWM's potted history of the 42nd Battalion again:

Belgium remained the scene of the 42nd Battalion’s activities for the next five months as it was rotated between service in the rear areas and the front line. When the German Army launched its last great offensive in March 1918, the battalion was rushed south to France and played a role in blunting the drive towards the vital railway junction of Amiens.
Unfortunately Alex overstayed his furlough leave in February 1918 which meant he was deprived of his Lance Stripe and forfeited 3 days' pay.  He was wounded in action for the third time on 24 April with a gun shot wound to the head and left arm.  

I won't go into much more detail about his service record apart from saying that the remainder of his service was spent in England suffering from various ailments including a severe case of broncho. pneumonia in January 1919 when he was dangerously ill.

Group of diggers at entrance to Greenhill House, Australian YMCA military camp at Sutton Veny courtesy of AWM

He spent time at Sutton Veny and then Weymouth recovering from Pleurisy. 


Alex Duncan  finally got to go home in May on the "Leicestershire" arriving Melbourne 21 June 1919 and was discharged from the AIF in Brisbane on 7 August.

For Part Three go here.

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