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Mollie Smith (nee Houghton) 2008
Brothers In Arms

THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918

On 3rd July 1915 Thomas Frederick and two days later his younger brother Frank Short enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force. They had emigrated with their parents George Frederick and Mary Short to Melbourne, Victoria in 1911. The boys were born at Wollaston and when the family to Rushden in 1902, Frederick attended Alfred Street School and Frank, Newton Road. They both entered the printing trade and although Frank's trade was given as a printer on later documents he was a farm labourer when he enlisted. Thomas was a litho stone polisher when he enlisted.

Thomas Frederick's enlistment paper Frank's enlistment paper

On the 27th September 1915 they embarked for active service abroad.

Thomas, left & Frank right
They were sent to England for their training and as soon as they were able they visited their eldest sister, Annie and her family at 88 Crabb Street, Rushden. The photograph (right) was taken in Rushden.

On the 8th January 1916 they were taken on the strength of the 14th Battalion at Moascar Camp, Ismalia, Egypt.

In March 1916 Frank was sent to hospital in Cairo. He was there only for a few days.

On the 7th June 1916 they sailed on the "Ionian" and disembarked at Marseilles.

On the 20th July 1916 they joined their unit on the Somme.

On the 8th August 1916 Thomas was wounded and admitted to the 13th Stat. Hospital, Boulogne.

His injuries were quite severe and on the 12th August 1916 he was sent to England in the "St. Denis".

Thomas remained in hospital until 18th September 1916.

He was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth.

All this time Thomas had no news of his brother, Frank.

Thomas was sent to No. 1 Com. Depot Perham Downs on 5th October 1916.

The 5th November 1916 he joined No. 4 Com. Depot at Wareham.

On the 29th April 1917 he proceeded overseas to France from Folkestone.

The 4th May 1917 he rejoined his unit.

On the 10th October 1917 he was admitted to 54th General Hospital, France.

The 26th October 1917 he was sent from France to Guildford War Hospital.

From hospital on the 13th December 1917 he was sent to Con. Depot, Sutton Veny.

From May 1918 he was hospitalised for the next three months with various complaints, including influenza and tonsillitis.

On the 10th October 1918 he returned to France.

For the return to Australia the company were sent to England on 23rd January 1919.

On the 28th March 1919 he returned to Melbourne in the "Port Macquarie".

He was discharged from the army on the 18th July 1919.

Back in Australia in late 1916 my great grandmother, Mary Short received her last letter from Frank, posted in Egypt. She went to the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne for news. There was no information so she decided to come to England and approach the British Authorities. She returned accompanied by her daughter, Eugenie.

In June 1917 she visited the Horseferry Road Army Headquarters in London.

They had no record of Frank and suggested that he was still fighting in France.

From 151 Ormond Road, Elwood, Mary wrote to the authorities for news of Frank:

Dear Sir,

We have had no news from my son since the end of 1916. We made every inquiry possible during 1916 but was told there was no news since he was in hospital in Egypt. Having occasion to go to England, enquired at Horseferry Road Headquarters about him in January 1917 but they knew nothing about him so we concluded he was amongst the missing. The last inquiry at Victoria Barracks Melbourne was to the effect that he was still fighting in France. We also notified the change of address this year. That's all I have to say, hoping to hear further from you.

Mrs Mary Short - August 8th.

Eddie Church (my uncle), Annie Church (my grandmother), Edie Church (my mother), Charles Church (my grandfather), Mary Short (my great grandmother) and Eugenie Short (my great aunt).

On her return to Melbourne alone (Eugenie had decided to remain in England) Mary again went to the Victoria Barracks and Frank's name was put on a list for investigation. By September 1918 the Horseferry Road Army Headquarters in London were trying to trace him.

Not until January 1919 was my great grandmother told that he had been killed on the 28th August 1916 at Mouquet Farm on the Somme.

Frank's army records state that on the 3rd September 1916 he had been "killed in action" on 28th August 1916.

Poor communications caused the family so much anguish.

The Australians fought a heroic battle at Mouquet Farm, a German stronghold.
Frank is commemorated on the National Australian Memorial at Villers-Brettoneux on the Somme,
the Memorial War Museum, Canberra, Australia
and on Rushden War Memorial.

Written by Mollie Smith 2008

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