My husbands Grandfather, Cyrus Clarence Allsopp, was just 19 years old when he joined the Australian Imperial Forces.
Handsome and young, he headed off on an adventure to help save our country from untold evil, arriving at the Military Training Camp in Maitland, New South Wales on 23 March 1916. Cyrus trained hard with other recruits making friends with some along the way until 5 May 1916, finally embarking on HMAT A68 Anchises, out of Sydney, on 24 August 1916.
The men, including Cyrus, arrived in the United Kingdom on 26 October 1916 as part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, 34th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Reinforcements – his Service Number was 2029. They underwent more training in England and finally departed for France on 22 November 1916, joining the trenches on the Western Front on 27 November 1916, just in time for one of the worst European winters on record.
This picture shows how life looked for soldiers within the trenches in France during World War 1.
Information on Trench Warfare can be found here.
Cyrus’s military record does not mention where in France and Belgium he fought however on 1st June 1917 he was wounded in action with gunshot wounds to his left thigh and left side. After a short time in a field hospital he was transferred to a military hospital in Boulogne, France. This took place 6 days before the 34th Battalions’ engagement in their first major battle at Messines in Belgium, so I believe he was near Messines at the time he was wounded. On 4 June 1917 he was transferred to Colchester Military Hospital in England.
Cyrus’s mother and father – Michael and Ada Allsopp were notified of his injuries and the following report appeared in the local paper – The Singleton Argus.
After 7 months of recuperating Cyrus was sent back to his Battalion, joining them on 9 February 1918. Just 2 months later on 16 April 1918 Cyrus was promoted to Lance Corporal, a position between Private and Corporal. His records do not state why this took place, which I find very sad, and his daughter Lola Gwen Preston nee: Allsopp does not know.
Unfortunately only weeks after his promotion on 30 April 1918 Cyrus became ill and was once again transferred to the Colchester Military Hospital. His record does not state whether this was a result of his previous injury, or something else entirely, but he didn’t re-join his Battalion until 20 July 1918 so whatever illness it was – it was considerable.
Cyrus was wounded just five weeks later for the second time on 29 August, 1918 with a gunshot wound to his left wrist and hand this time being invalided to the Cheltenham Military Hospital on 3 September 1918.
Cyrus had spent a good part of the war wounded or sick in hospitals in Belgium, France and England. He was finally discharged from hospital on 18 January 1919 and sent home via the “Ulysses” arriving 15 March 1919.
He was discharged from the Australian Imperial Forces as medically unfit on 18 July 1919.
Just six months later on 31 January 1920 Cyrus married his fiancé Florence May McGrath in Singleton, New South Wales. In the wedding portrait there is no evidence of injury to his left hand although it looks as though his left arm is purposely hidden from view.
His daughter Lola doesn’t believe his injuries caused long term disability though, as after some recuperation Cyrus again worked as a station Overseer on Bective Station , working with stock and riding horses in the Tamworth area where he and Florence settled . Lola told how she never once heard her father talk about his war memories in all the time until his death on 9 September 1974 – 50 odd years later. Cyrus never took part in an ANZAC march either, nor would he listen to a radio description of an ANZAC march. My husband Terry however, once saw the scarring on his grandfathers left side and Cyrus simply mumbled “still got a piece in there”.
- Australian War Memorial -https://www.awm.gov.au/unit/U51474/
- Qaranc – http://www.qaranc.co.uk/colchestermilitaryhospital.php
- TROVE -http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?q=cyrus+allsopp&exactPhrase=&anyWords=¬Words=&requestHandler=&dateFrom=1917-06-01&dateTo=1917-06-30&l-advstate=New+South+Wales&l-advcategory=Article&sortby=
- Author of French Trench in Northeastern France – “French trench battle” by Bain News Service – Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/index.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:French_trench_battle.jpg#/media/File:French_trench_battle.jpg