Posted 28 February 2012 - 01:57 pm
It is strange at times as how things come back to haunt one. Back in around 2009 a friend of mine related a family story, and it now appears that my friend is the son of Brian Cavalier's sister. This episode of "In Their Footseps" has been most enlightening and has given aspects to the story that back then elluded us.
The following is what I was able to establish back then in 2009, but this does not contain the many photographs of 4 Battery that were found from the Australian War Memorial photographic collection, a search that is easily undertaken.
No 854, Sgt Cavalier, Ronald Ernest
2nd Australian Field Artillery Brigade
1914 – 1918
Bob, I am confident this is your Grandfather. Three Cavalier’s enlisted in the 1st AIF, two were in the artillery, but one I have eliminated, as he was not at Gallipoli and would appear not to be related. The other Cavalier turns out to be your Great Grandfather, Private Ernest Sidney Cavalier, No 581 “C” Company, 22nd Infantry Battalion. He served on Gallipoli and in France. It is not very common to find father and son enlisting in the First World War and both spending such a lengthy period of time away on active service. I shall outline what I have managed to uncover of their war service later in the text.
I would have liked to have given you are a far more comprehensive history, but there is way too much research needed to uncover more. A search of the National Australian Archives, Australian War Memorial, National Library of Australia, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914 – 18, C.E.W.Bean, Vol’s 1,2,3&4 and other sources, have revealed a great deal of information, but sadly no photographs of either of them. That is too say except for the photocopy of the your grandfathers photo on his enlistment papers for WW2.
If you are interested there are digital copies of service records for both Ronald and Ernest on the Australian Archives web site. Go too www.naa.gov.au and search the service records. At search type in Cavalier, then Christian names for each. I found the letter written by your great Aunt, Olive M Cavalier to the army on the 4-7-1917 most interesting. These digital copies can be printed out.
I have not gone into the movements of the 22nd Infantry Battalion, which would outline dates and places your great grandfather would have served, at this stage.
From what I have uncovered I am obviously not the first person to carry out research into their war service. It would appear most likely that some other member of your family has accessed the National Australian Archives, for the information there to be available on line. This is always a great help in researching when someone has already accessed the information, saves waiting months to receive copies from the archives.
The Australian War Memorial web site also has some interesting photographs of the 4th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery, particularly of Gallipoli and Egypt. To access these go to www.awm.gov.au and search Database for photographs. At Keyword/Phrase type in 2nd field artillery brigade. At Conflict select First World War, 1914 –1918.
When you started me on this exercise, with the story you told me at dinner that night at your place, “thanks Chris, it was a most enjoyable evening, great food, wonderful company and always the best of hospitality”. Sorry Bob, got side tracked by that fond memory, your Mother’s story of your Grandfather firing the first cannon at Gallipoli is absolutely correct. You have every reason to be immensely proud of him. It was one Gun of 4 battery, 18 pound field gun, that was landed at Anzac Beach on the 25th April. This gun was landed on the beach at about 5.30pm and went into action at around 6.00pm, firing on the Turkish positions at Gaba Tepe and silencing their gun which had been firing on the Australians at Anzac Cove. I shall go into more detail as I outline your Grandfathers war service.
It is interesting that the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade turns out to be the same unit my father joined in 1939 2nd/2nd Artillery Regiment, he being in the 5th Australian Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery, 2nd AIF.
With this history are your Grandfathers service records from WW1 and WW2. You will find these are the same records that are on the National Archives web site. I sent away for them before I was aware that they had been available in digital form, which if had I checked first would have saved me weeks of waiting for them. I hope you find all this interesting, for my part I have found it more than interesting and a great challenge with what were the barest of details that I started out with. My many thanks for allowing me to pry into your family’s history, it has been a most enlightening exercise.
And by the way, that other story of your mother's about them meeting on Anzac beach, is also most probable, Sidney Ernest Cavalier, your Great Grandfather,served on Gallipoli, “C” Company, 22nd Infantry Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade, but unable to find exact date the 22nd Battalion landed. It would have been between the 3rd and 5th of September, 1915 as part of the 2nd Australian Division. Moved into the trenches at Johnston’s Jolly where they remained until the evacuation of Gallipoli.
Ronald Ernest Cavalier
Born, 20th October 1895, Armadale, Victoria.
Parents- Father, Ernest Sidney Cavalier, Mother, Annie Cavalier (Maiden name unknown)
Joined the 19th Field Artillery, Militia, 1913, depot, Chapel Street. East St.Kilda. Served one year of his three years compulsory citizen force training at the outbreak of the First World War.
Enlisted in 1st AIF- Attestation Paper signed at East St.Kilda on the 15th August 1914 and certified by 2nd Lt A. W. Dodd.
Personal details given on Attestation Paper- Age, 18 Years and 10 months. Single. Trade, Motor Mechanic. Militia Service, as above, still serving.
Address- 46 Munster Avenue, East Caulfield. (other documents put suburb as Carnegie)
Date entered Broadmeadows Camp unknown, but would have started basic training there at the Artillery Depot. Appointed to 4th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, Friday 18-9-1914, Bombardier No 854. The Commanding Officer of 4th Battery was Major O. T. Phillips.
The 2nd Field Artillery Brigade was made up of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Batteries, under the command of Col G. J. Johnston. Each brigade had four 18 pound Field Guns.
The men were put threw training by the regular army Staff Sergeant Majors at Broadmeadows Camp. Instruction in basic drill, physical exercises, working of guns and horse teams, as well as artillery tactics, were given. The men were housed in Bell tents, with ten men per tent, sleeping on straw palliasses in a circle around the tent.
The 2nd Field Artillery Brigade embarked for Egypt from Town Pier, Port Melbourne on board HMAT, A 9, “Shropshire”, the morning of Wednesday 20-10-1914.
Ship sailed to join the fleet of the 1st Contingent AIF forming up at King George Sound, Albany, WA. The Shropshire arrived at Albany on Monday 26th October and the first contingent fleet of 28 Australian and 12 New Zealand transports, escorted by four Warships set sail at 8.55am on Saturday the 31st October.
The fleet called at Colombo during the second week of November to take on coal and proceeded for Aden, arriving there on the 25th November.
The first ships began to arrive at Suez from the 30th November and proceeded the 99 miles up the Suez Canal and began arriving at Port Said from the 2nd December. From Port Said the fleet sailed on to Alexandria arriving there on the 3rd December.
The exact date the 4th Battery disembarked at Alexandria to date has not been determined, but it took over twelve days to get all the infantry, ambulance, artillery, engineers, other units, with all their equipment, guns and horses off their ships and on to the special trains to take them to Cairo.
After the train journey up the Nile delta and arrival at Cairo Station they marched the ten miles, walking the horses, out to Mena Camp on the edge of the Sahara Desert at the foot of the Pyramids. The guns and equipment followed later via the specially built tramline out to the camp. After the long sea journey the horses could not be used for training until after they had two weeks of rest.
The 2nd Field artillery Brigade (2nd FAB) began training in the desert around Mena Camp and on the 8th July 1915 they were incorporated into the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) of the newly formed Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, in preparation for the proposed landing at the Dardanelles.
The 2nd FAB embarked for Gallipoli, the compliment was made up of Headquarters, 4th, 5th, and 6th Batteries and the 2nd Brigade Ammunition Column. They left Mena Camp to march to Cairo on the afternoon of 3rd April, where the men, horses and guns were loaded onto trains for the journey to Alexandria. Arrived at the docks at Alexandria at 4.45am 4th April and started loading guns and horses on board the transport HMAT A 10 “Karroo” and sailed for the Island of Lemnos were the fleet was assembling in Mundros Harbour.
During the voyage to Gallipoli the 4th Battery lashed two its field guns to the decks of the “Karroo” as a protection against submarines.
The 4th Battery, 2nd FAB, according to C. E. W, Bean landed two guns on the beach at Anzac Cove on the afternoon of 25th April, around 5.30pm, but were subsequently ordered to re-embark back to the transport ship, as no suitable positions could be found for the guns.
Colonel Johnston was evidently determined to have his artillery present at the landing, for one of Major Phillip’s 4th Battery 18-pounder’s, was run up the beach and set up on a knoll at the southern end of Anzac Cove near the entrance to Shrapnel Gully on Brighton Beach. ‘Your Grandfathers gun’, which opened fire on the Turkish gun emplacements at Gaba Tepe at about 6.00pm, silencing them.
C. E. W. Bean has left a description of this incident: “At 5.30pm the wounded, lying in hundreds at the southern end of the beach, on stretchers and off stretchers, doctors hurrying through them, naval officers giving orders, boats pulling alongside; heard a sudden bustle and clatter and a shout: “Look out, make way!” Stretchers were hurriedly pulled aside, and between them came a team of gun horses, the drivers urging them; and after them, deep in the sand of the beach, a single gun of the 4th Battery, Australian Field artillery. The wounded, and even the dying, cheered as it passed through them. Willing hands undid its chains and dragged it up a steep path made by beach party and engineers to the southern knoll of the beach. At 6.00pm this gun opened upon Gaba Tepe, and its second round of shrapnel appeared to silence for the night the last persistent gun in the Gaba Tepe battery.”
Two more of the 4th battery guns were landed on the 26th and moved into position on the knoll with the other gun. A fifth gun was landed a few days later and moved up with the others. They directed their fire onto the Turkish batteries on Baby 500, the Chessboard, and sought out snipers firing down Monash Gully from the Nek. The horses were sent back out to the transport ships on the 26th and returned to Egypt, as they could not be effectively used or protected on Gallipoli.
On 5th May, Maj Phillip’s 4th Battery was man-handled up onto the western end of 400 Plateau, at the end of the gully between M’Cay’s Hill, in order to fire north-eastwards onto the Turkish positions from Baby 500 to Battleship Hill and Lone Pine. Their fire was to protect the N.Z. & A. forces on Walker’s Ridge and Russell’s Top, as well as easing the pressure on positions on the southern slopes of Monash Gully of Steele’s, Quinn’s and Pope’s. The four guns began to bombard the Turks as soon as they were in position. The Turks replied with high explosive shell from somewhere in the south, which was subsequently discovered to be east of Gaba Tepe.
The Turkish batteries behind Gaba Tepe shelled the 4th batteries position in the morning of the 6th, with high explosive shell, and in the afternoon fired onto Brighton beach, ranging onto the stacks of artillery ammunition which was quickly moved to safety by the men of the Ammunition column and beach parties.
The Turks again fired on the 4th batteries guns on the 8th, this time fire coming from both north (5.9-in. howitzers) and south (4.2-in. guns), with one of Major Phillip’s guns being hit and put out of action.
These Turkish guns fired on the 2nd FAB batteries up to the 10th May.
For their whole time at Gallipoli the guns were inevitably in exposed positions to Turkish artillery fire, and towards the end of May, artillery ammunition began to be become short in supply. On the 23rd May all the artillery were ordered to cut down expenditure to two rounds per day.
As the Turkish batteries were always on higher ground and able to range down onto the Australian positions at Anzac there was no effective way of firing directly up at them with field guns. This meant that the Australian guns had to be placed so that they could fire across diagonally onto the Turks guns that were above other batteries in another sector.
The only effective method of protecting the guns from enemy fire, was a system of having a second battery at another position to watch for signs of the Turkish guns begin to engage the other position, then to open up a bombardment on them, and visa versa.
The 4th Battery remained in this position until the evacuation of Gallipoli.
Having been on Gallpoli for nearly two and a half months and all that time continually in action, Bombardier R. E. Cavalier was evacuated ill to the Beach Hospital, Anzac Cove on the 13-7-1915. Disease began to break out at around this time due to the number of rotting corpses out in no mans land that could not be buried, which attracted scores of flies and vermin. Along with this was the unhealthy conditions and strain imposed on the men forced to live continually in trenches and dugouts, and many began to be sent away ill.
He was evacuated from Gallipoli on board the Hospital Ship, HT “Gloucester Castle” and disembarked at Malta on the 29-7-1915. His casualty report states, Sick & wounded. He was admitted to St.Andrews Military Hospital at Malta the same day. Next of kin advised that he had disembarked at Malta, 11-8-1915 and on the 2-10-1915, that he was admitted to St. Andrews Hospital.
He was discharged from Hospital and embarked on board HT “Karoa” for Egypt on 8-9-1915 and rejoined the brigade at Cairo on 22-9-1915, proceeded to Mena Camp.
On the 18-10-1915 he sailed again for Gallipoli Peninsula on board HMAT A 30 “Borda” from Alexandria, and rejoined the battery there on 7-11-1915. He possibly landed prior to this date, but cannot accurately confirm this.
The 2nd FAB was evacuated from Gallipoli during the withdrawal of the Anzac forces. From the 22nd November some of the guns were gradually removed and on the 14th & 15-12-1915, the remainder were taken off. The 4th battery embarked from Anzac Beach, the guns being towed out on lighters and loaded on board the transport ship HMT “Caledonia” the night of 15-12-1915 and sailed for Egypt, arriving at Alexandria on 27-12-1915.
The 2nd FAB moved into camp at Tel el Kebir, and resumed training.
R. E. Cavalier promoted to Corporal at Tel el Kebir on the 13-1-1916.
He was transferred to the 4th Division Artillery on 27-2-1916. Taken on strength of the 21st Howitzer Battery and on the 6-3-1916 posted to the 102nd Battery, 2nd FAB, 1st Australian Division Artillery. One howitzer battery (4.5 inch howitzer) was attached to each of the 18 pounder brigades.
Promoted to Temporary Sergeant at Tel el Kabir on 10-3-1916 before embarking for France on the 25-3-1916.