Friday, March 15, 2013

Ernest Gordon Prentice

Ernest Gordon Prentice is the grandson of William Prentice and Elizabeth Woodland and the son of Henry Charles and Margaret Alice Prentice (nee Bowe).  He was born in 1891 in Rushworth, Victoria, Australia.

The First World War was declared between England and Germany on the 4th Aug 1914 and aged 22, Ernest Gordon Prentice enlisted on the 17th Aug 1914 at Richmond, Victoria as a Private, in C Company, the 6th Infantry Battalion of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Australian Imperial Force (AIF).  His service number was 377.

The 6th Battalion was recruited from the state of Victoria within two months of the outbreak of the First World War and saw action at Gallipoli and the Western Front.  His cousin John James Bowe Prentice also saw action in Gallipoli.

The Battalion embarked for action overseas on Her Majesties Australian Troop Ship  (HMAT) Suffolk, although it is recorded that Ernest traveled on the HMAT Honorata which embarked Melbourne on 21st Oct 1914.

The Battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on the 2nd Dec 1914 and after a period of training it took part in the Landings at Anzac Cove on the 25 Apr 1915, going ashore as part of the second wave. Shortly after the landing the 2nd Brigade was transferred from Anzac Cove to Cape Helles to assist in the attack on Krithia. During the unsuccessful attack, the 6th Battalion suffered heavy casualties, losing 133 men killed or died of wounds.

They then returned to Anzac Cove, arriving on 17 May to take part in defending the beachhead that had been established. In August, the battalion took part in the attack on Lone Pine.  In September they were withdrawn for a period of rest until December when the Allies carried out a successful evacuation.  During this campaign they lost 22 officers and 398 other rank.

On the 11th Jan 1916 Ernest joined his Battalion in Alexandria and on the 26th Mar 1916 he proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), embarking Alexandria on the 'Empress of Britain' and arriving in Marseilles, France on the 2nd April.

Ernest was awarded the Military Medal on the 4th Oct (this was gazetted in the London Gazette on the 14th Nov 1916 and the Australian Gazette on the 19th Apr 1917).

On the 11th Sep 1916 Ernest was admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance with severe appendicitis and on the 16th Sep he was transferred to the 17th Casualty Clearing Station before being transferred to England on the 19th Sep from Boulogne on the Hospital Ship St Patrick.  He was then transferred, probably by rail, to the Northampton War Hospital in Northamptonshire.

On the 9th Oct 1916 he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford Kent.  He was discharged four days later and granted furlough and told to report to No 1 Command depot at Perham Down on the 28th Oct.

On the 23rd Jun 1917, he was taken on strength of the Australian Provost Corps at Tidworth and in London, a few weeks later, on the 22nd Sep he was in trouble for failing to salute an officer of 'His Magesty's Forces', the penalty for this is not known.

On the 11th Feb 1918, Ernest, aged 27, married Eileen Griffin at the Our Lady of Christians St Aloysius Church, Folkestone in Kent.  At the time of his marriage, his occupation was listed as Private, Australian Military Police

On the 12th Nov 1918, Ernest was awarded 75 days leave with pay in England, returning on the 27th Jan 1919.

On the 9th Feb 1919 Ernest was admitted to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford with Sinovitis of the right foot and on the 14th Feb he was discharged

On the 18th Jun 1919 Ernest embarked England with his wife to return to Australia and disembarked on the 18th Aug at Melbourne, Victoria before being discharged from the AIF in Melbourne, Australia on the 1st Sep 1919

Three of Ernest's cousins also saw service during the First World War, they were George Henry and Albert Charles Prentice who both died in France and John James Bowe Prentice who survived, all were the sons of William David and Elizabeth Prentice (nee Bowe)

Ernest Gordon Prentice died in 1970 at Kew, Victoria, Australia

Sources: Australian National Archives

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