Did you know that the Aussie Heroes blog is being archived in perpetuity by the Australian War Memorial. If you have missed that you can check out the details here. That means that our stories will never be lost which is a wonderful thing. It occured to me the other day that there are lots of stories that make up the fabric of what our country is today that should also not be lost and those include the stories of our war veterans. Many of you hold dear the stories of your relatives. You hopefully hand them down from generation to generation to preserve them for the family. You treasure the keepsakes that are part of them, the diaries, medals, uniforms and so on. I think we should share them. I know I love to read them and I am sure that other readers feel the same. Many of our recipients come from very proud military heritage, with wonderful stories to share. So, how about sharing some on the blog? That way everyone gets to appreciate the sacrifices and achievements of those who have gone before us and also the stories will be part of the records that are archived and therefore never lost.
Tonight we have a story of Betty’s father as written by her husband Gavin.
GILBERT ROBERT HANKS (MM)
Bert Hanks was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England in May 1891.
He apparently wanted to see the world and as best we can tell, arrived in Brisbane in about 1912. What transpired in the next year or so is unknown, but when Britain, and of course Australia, declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914, this young man wasted no time in springing into action. He enlisted in the AIF on 26th August 1914 and as his serial number,1662, indicates, he was one of the first of many to join up.
The Army wasted no time in sending these young men into the fighting. Bert and his 7th Battery, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade comrades found themselves going ashore at Gallipoli in April 1914 under extreme fire and danger.
Indeed, his citation for the Military Medal tells us his No 1 became a casualty and he took control of the gun. What is not known, but suspected, is that others were also injured, if not killed, and Bert was endeavouring to fire the gun on his own. He was wounded himself, but persisted.
Nothing is known of when or how he was removed from the action. He did however finish up in England where he spent several months recovering. They must have bred them tough in those days because when Bert was back on his feet, they shipped him to France, where the action was just as thick as Gallipoli. Sadly there are no records of exactly how long he served there, but his presence and efforts led his Commanding Officer to recommend him for the Military Medal. It was an era of protocol. If you were an Officer, you won the Military Cross. If you were an NCO, the Military Medal. Both of course are one down from the highest award, the Victoria Cross.
It is interesting to note that Bert and his comrades were paid the princely sum of 5 shillings a day (50 cents nowadays) however this was enhanced by the payment of an extra shilling per day on the completion of the soldier’s tour of duty.
Bert returned home to Brisbane where he married Leah Ingham and produced 2 lovely daughters. He worked for most of his life for the PMG in virtual obscurity.
He would march on Anzac Day, but always hid his Military Medal and ribbons under the lapel of his coat. He never asked for or received any help from the likes of Legacy or the Government itself. When he died, he still had a bullet lodged in his neck. For all those years, it was so close to his spinal column, surgeons were not game to try and remove it.
He was a great but humble soldier and citizen.
Graveyard of B Company 9th Battalion and 7th Battery. Underneath this tree is where the first gun pit was dug by Australians. Gallipoli 1915
Another view of 3 Brigade Graceyard
ANZAC Cove – note the waggons and limbers in the water. There was no room on the beach. Note the dugouts in the side of the hills.
Taken on Shell Green. The first spell they had from the trenches the Sunday after landing.
Number one gun, taken about 18th May 1915. One of this crew was killed.
Practicing disembarkation at Lemnos Island before landing.
Till next time……………..keep spreading the word and happy stitching!