Henry Sullivan (1894-1969) was my husband’s great uncle.
Henry Sullivan enlisted at Broadmeadows on 15 December 1914 aged 20. He gave his age as 22 on the attestation form, men under the age of 21 needed their parents’ permission to enlist. His occupation was labourer. He was five feet eleven inches tall, had hazel eyes and dark brown hair.
Henry sailed on HMAT Runic A54 from Australia in February 1915 with the 3rd reinforcements for the 6th Battalion.
Henry landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 7 May 1915 with the 6th Battalion. While in the Dardanelles he was in hospital several times and on 3 October 1915 was disciplined for hesitating to obey an order.He was awarded 7 days F.P. [Field Punishment] – forfeits pay.
|folio 19 of NAA: B2455, SULLIVAN Henry : Service Number – 1587 : Place of Birth – Bentleigh VIC : Place of Enlistment – Broadmeadows VIC : Next of Kin – (Father) SULLIVAN Henry|
In June 1916 Henry transferred to the 58th Battalion and relocated to France. He was appointed Lance Corporal on 2 June.
Henry was wounded in action on 23 November 1916. He was admitted to Rouen hospital with a gun shot wound to the head. The 58th Battalion was at Montauban, about 42 kilometers east of Amiens, on the Somme battlefield. The battalion was digging a communication trench on the 23rd.
|War diaries/AWM4/Class 23/Sub class 75/AWM4 23/75/10 – November 1916. Page 7.|
On 23 February 1917 at his own request he reverted to the ranks.
In June 1917 Henry was assigned to the 5th Pioneer Battalion.
Henry’s brother Arthur also served with the 5th Pioneers and mentions in his war diary that they met briefly in July 1916, a year earlier. In his diary Arthur does not mention his brother serving with in the same unit or meeting his brother again. However for Christmas 1918 Henry sent his brother Arthur a card decorated with the words A.I.F Greetings from D. Company 5th Pioneer Battn France. It included a poem, transcribed below.
|entry for 30 July 1916: transcription of diary kept by Arthur Sullivan during World War 1|
In June 1917 Henry was disciplined for talking on parade.
On 22 August 1917 there was again a misdemeanour and he was awarded 3 days F.P. No 2 [Field punishment].
On 29 September 1918 he was wounded in action with a gun shot wound to his right leg. This was during the Battle of St Quentin Canal, France, 29 September – 1 October 1918. Six men from the 5th Pioneers were killed in that battle. The 5th pioneers were at Templeux but the work on 29 September was at Bellicourt fourteen kilometers north of Saint Quentin.
|War diaries/AWM4/Class 14/Sub class 17/AWM4 14/17/31 – September 1918 page 8|
|page 35 of September War Diary for 5th Pioneers – orders dated 28 September 1918|
|Work report relevant to 29 September from page 45 of September War Diary|
|Appendix 18 page 48 of September 1918 War Diary of the 5th Pioneers|
|folio 22 of NAA: B2455, Sullivan Henry|
Henry was invalided to England and was discharged in October 1918. He returned to Australia in January 1919.
As mentioned above, Henry sent his brother Arthur a Christmas card in 1918 with greetings from D. Company 5th Pioneer Battn. The card included a poem:
They wanted a crowd who could work all night, and carry a camel’s load,
And find their way to the same old line, with never a trace of a road,
To do the wiring, and dig the saps, and toil where the big shells fall,
And lay the railways, and make the roads, or fight if they got the call.
So they culled from Australia a thousand men, and later a thousand more;
Men from the cities, and men from the Bush, they rallied from shore to shore;
And some of them guided an office pen, and some of them wielded shears;
But they issued the lot with a soldiers kit, and they christened them Pioneers.
We don’t loom large in the paper yap, but talk to the men who know,
From the front line back to the heavy guns, they see when we come and go;
They meet us crowded in half-dug saps, to let the infantry by,
They pass us nightly on duck board tracks, and they know where our dead mates lie.
We’ve had good times, but they’re mostly rough, but its all part of the game,
And no matter which way the cards are dealt, the Pioneers stay the same;
And this Christmas greeting they send along, to show they remember you —
Here’s hoping that long ere the year runs out we’ll have shovelled the last sap through.