535 Sapper Stephen Downes WIA
19th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division &
8th Field Company Engineers, 8th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division
1st Australian Imperial Force 1914-19

This file last updated 7 September, 2018 12:47

Introduction


Stephen Downes, circa 1945
[Photograph Clive Mitchell-Taylor]

The following information and chronological table are a summary of the entries from the service record of Stephen Downes. Note that some of the service record pages are duplicated - presumably when the unit and Army records were amalgamated on discharge.

Service numbers were allocated by unit, and are not unique to the individual.

While later documents indicate that discharge was due to gun shot wounds (GSW), the actual cause of injury was shrapnel from an artillery shell burst.

A further anomaly exists with the entry indicating a transfer on initial enlistment to the 7th Company Army Service Corps as there is no information to support the fact that the transfer actually occured, and no date of effect for the entry. The only conclusion is that the transfer was perhaps intended but never took place.

Details concerning the 19th Battalion taken from The Fighting Nineteenth:History of the 19th Infantry Battalion AIF 1915-1918, Wayne Mathews and David Watson, Australian Military History Publications, 2011.

Clive Mitchell-Taylor - 18 Jun 2018 - grandson of Stephen Downes.

View Stephen Downes' Service Record in PDF format.


Enlistment Details

Service Number

535

Name

Stephen Downes

Born at

Burnt Yates, Town of Harrowgate, County of Yorkshire, England

Age

24 years 11 months at time of enlistment [Born 16 Mar 1890]

Trade or Calling

Miner

Apprenticeship

No

Marital Status

Single

Next of Kin

Brother - Mr Joseph Downes, Bowbridge, Embsay, Shipton, Yorkshire, England

Previous Military Service

No

Attested at

Liverpool, NSW

Date of Enlistment

4 March 1915

Height

5 foot 5¾ inches [167cm]

Weight

148 pounds [10 stone 8 pounds or 67.3Kg]

Chest

323½ - 35½ inches [82.5 - 90cm]

Eyes

Good Blue

Hair

Brown

Religious Denomination

Church of England

Units

19th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division
8th Field Engineer Company, 5th Divisional Engineers
7th Company Army Service Corps, 4th Divisional Train [notional - transfer did not occur]


Chronological Events

Rank Description Date Remarks

Private

Enlisted, appointed to B Company, 19th Infantry Battalion, initial training at Liverpool Army Camp

4 Mar 1915

Private

Transferred to 7th Coy ASC

Undated

Never took effect

Private

Embarked on HMAT "CERAMIC" (A40) for Middle East

24 Jun 1915

Private

Disembarked Alexandria, Battalion accommodated at Aerodrome Camp near Heliopolis, Egypt

23 Jul 1915

Private

Unit embarks from Alexandria on HMAT Saturnalia for Lemnos

16 Aug 1915

Private

Admitted No 1 Stationary Hospital Lemnos with Diarrohea

21 Aug 1915

Private

Admitted No 1 Stationary Hospital Lemnos with Diarrohea from Trans Convalescence Depot

27 Aug 1915

Private

Admitted No 24 Casualty Clearing Station Mudros with Disentery

27 Aug 1915

Private

Discharged 24 CCS, rejoins 19th Battalion on Gallipoli

30 Aug 1915

18 Sep 1915

19th Battalion assigned to Pope's Post

18 Dec 1915

430 all ranks of 19th Battalion leaves Pope's Post at 1730 hrs leaving a rear-guard of 187 all ranks.

19/20 Dec 1915

1740 hrs 98 all ranks leave Pope's Post, at 2330 hr 57 men leave, 0200 ten men and the last ten at 0255 leaving the post empty.

19th Battalion casualties on Gallipoli are 69 killed in action (KIA), including 19 missing in action (MIA) or died of wounds (DOW), 185 wounded in action (WIA), 40 evacuated sick, mainly typhoid or disentery.

Private

Transferred from 19th Battalion, 5th Infantry Brigade AIF as Sapper to 8th Field Coy Engineers, 5th Infantry Brigade

29 Dec 1915

Sapper

Embarked BEF ex Alexandria on Manitou

17 Jun 1916

Sapper

Disembarked Marseilles

25 Jun 1916

Sapper

Wounded in Action - Somme River, France

9 Feb 1917

Small shrapnel wound to left buttock, deep furrowed shrapnel wound across front of left thigh

Sapper

Admitted to 15 Aust Field Ambulance, transferred to Clearing Station

9 Feb 1917

Sapper

Admitted to Casualty Clearing Station, transferred to Ambulance train

10 Feb 1917

Sapper

Admitted to 8th Stationary Hospital Neivereux

10 Feb 1917

Sapper

Transferred to England

13 Feb 1917

Sapper

Embarked on HS Cambria for England ex Bouloigne

13 Feb 1917

Sapper

Admitted Ontario Military Hospital, Orpington Kent

13 Feb 1917

Sapper

Transferred to 1st Auxilliary Hospital

16 July 1917

Sapper

Discharged for furlough - Harefield

25 July 1917

Sapper

Report to Weymouth ex furlough

8 Aug 1917

Sapper

March in from AHQ London

8 Aug 1917

Sapper

Admitted Hospital for return to Australia per NZ QSS HT 82 for change (?)

27 Aug 1917

Sapper

Discharged 2nd Military District, unfit for further service, totally incapacitated.
Pension of £3.0.0 per fortnight from 22 Nov 1917
Address given as: "Wickendon" 615 Illawarra Road, Marickville NSW

21 Nov 1917


Medals and Dress Embellishments

1914-15 Star (below, left), British War Medal 1914-1920 (below, centre), Victory Medal (below,right), one Wound Stripe for 9 Feb 1917, four Long Service Stripes and four Overseas Service Chevron. Use the hyperlinks or scroll down to see further information on the badges.


Other Accoutrements

1914-15 Star British War Medal Victory Medal

Unit Shoulder Patch
19th Infantry Battalion
19th Infantry Battalion Shoulder Patch

Entitled to wear
ANZAC 'A' on Shoulder Patch
ANZAC A

Rising Sun Badge - 1st and 2nd AIF



Unit Shoulder Patch
8th Field Company
8<sup>th</sup> Field Company Shoulder Patch


Some Government Issued Badges

Nearest Female
Relative Badge

War Widows
Guild Brooch

Silver War Badge
 

Discharged Returned
Soldier Badge

Government issued badge in enamel
and sterling silver issued to the wife,
mother or nearest female relative of
a serving soldier. Additional bars
were suspended below for further
individuals.

Membership badge of a Kookaburra
in sterling silver, issued by the
Government to the widows of men
who lost their lives due to their
service. Numbered on the reverse.

Awarded to service personnel who
sustained a wound, or contracted
sickness of disability in the course
of the war as a result of which
they were invalided out, or to
soldiers who had retired during
the course of the war.

First issued in 1916. Slight variations are indicative of a number of makers. 267,300 were issued. Numbered on the reverse but the numbers have no link with length of service or Service Number.

[Badge information collated from Australian War Memorial, "Australians Awarded" by Clive Johnson and en.wikipedia.com]


Background - Infantry Battalions

[Based on information at www.aif.adfa.edu.au]

The 1914 infantry battalion was a large unit, composed of eight rifle companies each of 3 officers and 116 other ranks armed with Short Magazine Lee-Enfield .303in rifles, a small headquarters with 4 officers and 21 other ranks and a machine gun section with two .303in Maxim machine guns, one officer and 17 other ranks, a total of 32 officers and 991 other ranks.

In December 1914, battalions were reorganised into four companies each of four platoons, but strength was unchanged.

By mid 1918, the number of officers had increased to 38 but the number of other ranks had declined to 900. At the same time, the firepower of the battalion was greatly augmented with hand and rifle grenades and Lewis Guns, of which there was 34 per battalion.

[Based on information at www.aif.adfa.edu.au and Redcoats to Cams, Ian Kuring]


19th Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]

The 19th Battalion was raised at Liverpool in New South Wales in March 1915 as part of the 5th Brigade. A large number of the 19th's original recruits had already served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) in the operations to capture German New Guinea in 1914. The 19th left Australia in late June, trained in Egypt from late July until mid-August, and on 19 August landed at ANZAC Cove.

At Gallipoli the Battalion participated in the last action of the August Offensive ' the attack on Hill 60 ' before settling into defensive routine in the trenches. From mid-September, until its withdrawal from the peninsula on the night of 19 December, the 19th Battalion was responsible for the defence of Pope's Hill.

After further training in Egypt, the 19th Battalion proceeded to France. It took part in its first major offensive around Pozieres between late July and the end of August 1916. After a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium, the 2nd Division, which included the 5th Brigade, came south again in October. The 19th Battalion attacked near Flers between 14 and 16 November, in conditions that Charles Bean described as the worst ever encountered by the AIF.

In 1917, the 19th was involved in the follow-up of German forces after their retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and was one of four battalions to defeat a counter- stroke by a German force, almost five times as strong, at Lagincourt. The Battalion took part in three major battles before the year was out, second Bullecourt (3-4 May) in France, and Menin Road (20-22 September) and Poelcappelle (9-10 October) in Belgium.

The spring of 1918 brought a major German offensive that the 19th Battalion helped to stop. For his actions during the fighting around Hangard Wood on 7 April, Lieutenant Percy Storkey was awarded the Victoria Cross. With this last desperate offensive defeated, the 19th participated in the battles that pushed the German Army ever closer to defeat: Amiens on 8 August, the legendary attack on Mont St Quentin on 31 August, and the forcing of the Beaurevoir Line around Montbrehain on 3 October. Montbrehain was the battalion's last battle. The casualties of 1918, combined with long-term leave for 1914 enlistees, and dwindling new enlistments had sapped the strength of the AIF. On 10 October 1918 the 19th Battalion was disbanded to reinforce other battalions in the brigade.


Battle Honours:

Somme 1916-18, Pozieres, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodeseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916-18, Suvla, Gallipoli, Egypt 1915-16


Background - Engineer Field Companies

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]

Each Division had three Field Engineer Companies under command, numbered the same as the Brigades of the Division. The 5th Division thus had the 8th 14th and 15th Field Company of Engineers on strength.

During WW 1 the Engineers undertook a raft of tasks broadly divided into mobility, counter mobility and construction as well as survey and mapping, and specialised tunnelling and mining operations. The Field Companies' scope of works concentrated on the former rather than the latter.

They undertook a broad range of tasks including preparation and supervision of the construction of defensive and gun positions, excavation of trenches and dugouts, erection of wire and other obstacles, preparation of command posts, signalling and water supply, field engineering, road and bridge construction and route maintenance. They also undertook obstacle breaching and crossing. For example in the lead up to the attack at Mont St Quentin the Engineers were required to carry out two river crossing / bridging operations.

Engineers also had responsibility for signalling although this function became more specialised as the war progressed, eventually leading to the creation of a separate Signals Corps.


8th Field Company Engineers

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]

Formed Egypt August 1915 from 6th Brigade and reinforcements for 2nd Division as 5th Field Company. Renumbered 8th Field Company 18 January 1916 and reassigned to Fifth Division, February 1916. Battle Honours are Gallipoli, Egypt, Western Front


Battle Honours

Gallipoli, Egypt, Western Front


Memorial Plaque - Melbourne

A plaque commemorates those who servied with the 8th Field Company Engineers during World War One. The plaque was at the base of tree which was planted on the 4th of August 1934 and was No 34 in the ballot.
Location:  &emsp"; Birdwood Avenue, Shrine Reserve, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=-37.830139+144.973276


The ANZAC 'A'

The brass letter 'A' to represent service related to Gallipoli (ANZAC) was authorised to be worn 'over unit colour patches on both sleeves of the service dress jacket and greatcoat" by Military Order 354 of 18 Aug 17 and AIF Order 937 of 6 Nov 17, as amended in terms of qualification by Military Order 20 of 19 Jan 18 and by AIF Order 1084 of 25 Jan 18.

The size of the letter 'A', introduced as one inch in height (AIF Order 994 of 30 Nov 17), was reduced to three-quarters of an inch by AIF Order 1012 of 11 Dec 17.

Provision for wearing the brass letter 'A' was also included in General Routine Order 0.815 of 17 Dec 43 and GRO 310 of 7 Dec 45.

ANZAC 'A'


Wound Stripe

Army Order No.204 Headquarters, 1st A.N.Z.A.C., 9th August, 1916. (slightly amended for layout)
DISTINCTIONS FOR OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS WHO HAVE BEEN WOUNDED

Wound Stripes

The following distinction in dress will be worn on the service dress jacket by all officers and soldiers who have been wounded in any of the campaigns since 4th August 1914 :

  • Stripes of gold Russia braid No.1, two inches [2.5cm] in length sewn perpendicularly on the left forearm sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion on which wounded.

  • In the case of officers, the lower end of the first strip of gold braid will be immediately above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men will wear the gold braid on the left forearm sleeve, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the bottom of the sleeve.

  • Subsequent occasions on which wounded, will be placed on either side of the original one at half inch interval.

  • Gold braid and sews will be obtained free on indent from the Army Ordnance Department; the sewing on will be carried out regimentally without expense to the public.


Long Service Badges

A.I.F. ORDER No.470, 24 January 1917 (slightly amended for layout)

The question of the issue of a badge to members of the AIF who have completed a certain period of service has received consideration, and approval has been given for the issue of a badge for long service combined with good conduct, subject to the following conditions.

  • The badge will consist of an inverted single chevron of service braid to be worn on the left forearm - the point of the chevron to be 3 inches [7.6cm] above the edge of the cuff.

  • Warrant and non-commissioned officers and men, will be eligible for the badge, which will not carry an increased pay or allowance.

  • One chevron will be worn for each complete year's service in the Australian Imperial Force from the date of embarkation in Australia.

  • No badge will be issued to any man who, during the 12 months, has incurred a regimental entry (i.e. an entry involving forfeiture of pay) in his sheet.

  • Time absent from the unit in hospital or elsewhere on account of wounds or sickness, not the result of misconduct, will count as service towards earning the badge.

  • A man in possession of a badge will forfeit same on being convicted of any offence involving a forfeiture of pay , but will be eligible to regain the badge after 6 months good conduct, from the date of forfeiture.

  • The illegal wearing of this badge will be a crime under A.A. Section 40.


Overseas Service Chevrons

[Image from http://www.diggerhistory.info]

Australian Imperial Force Order No.1053, January 1918 (Slightly amended for layout)

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of chevrons to denote service overseas since the 4th August 1914.

  • Chevrons of two colours have been approved.

    • The first chevron if earned on or before 31st December 1914, will be red.

    • If earned on or after 1st January 1915, it will be blue.

    • All additional chevrons after the first will be blue.

  • The chevrons will be worsted embroidery, 1/4 inch [0.63cm] in width, the arms 4 inches [10.2cm] long. They will be worn inverted on the right forearm:

  • In the case of officers, the apex of the lowest chevron will be 1 inch [2.5cm] above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • In the case of warrant-officers, non-commissioned officers and men, the apex of the lowest chevron will be midway between the seams and four inches [10.2cm] above the bottom edge of the sleeve.

  • The red chevron will be worn below the blue one. They will not be worn on greatcoats.

  • In the case of Australians, the first chevron was earned the date the individual left Australia. Additional chevrons were awarded for each successive aggregate period of 12 months service outside Australia.

[http://au.geocities.com/fortysecondbattalion/level2/reference/01nos-standards.htm]