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Thursday 23 July 2015

John Stapleton Weatherburn (1883 -1915) - part 2

This is a continuation of John Stapleton Weatherburn (1883 -1915) - part 1, alternatively you can see the whole family story of John Stapleton Weatherburn.

From Margaret Rogers of Wagga Wagga, Australia:

Once in Australia, John Stapleton Weatherburn (of Berwick) visited his sister, Margaret, who at the time was living at Wattamondara near Cowra in New South Wales.

At the outbreak of World War I, John Stapleton Weatherburn, labourer, enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Randwick in Sydney on 29 August 1914. He gave his address “Care of Mrs Burns, Wattamondara” on his enlistment papers.

When he enlisted he was described as 30 years and three months old, 5 feet 7 inches (1.7m) tall, fair complexion, blue grey eyes and light brown hair and a Baptist.

The 1st Battalion had only been formed on 17 August 1914. General Bridges, GOC 1st Division, inspected the battalion on 14 September and on 17 September the men completed a route march to South Head and back.

After marching through the streets of Sydney in the rain the battalion embarked on HMT Afric on 18 October 1914 bound for Albany, Western Australia to join a convoy assembling to sail to Europe. John Stapleton Weatherburn embarked with H Company according to the embarkation rolls. He then became part of C Company as his other records refer to C. On 1 November the fleet, totalling 36 ships carrying 29,500 men, departed for Cairo, Egypt. The 1st Battalion’s strength was 1013 including officers.

The diary of Archie Barwick who was also in this company has a vivid account of the enlistment, embarkation, training, the Gallipoli landing and battles. It is held at the State Library, New South Wales and is available at Archie Barwick diary, 22 August 1914-September 1915.

After training in Egypt the First Battalion left Alexandria on 5th April on the Minnewaska. The ship carried about 1900 men and 500 horses plus a large quantity of timber to construct a wharf. The ships arrived in Lemnos, an island off Greece in the northern part of the Aegean Sea, on the 12th April where the battalion practised small craft landings. More provisions were taken on board and some days later the ship moved out to sea ready to join the allied attack planned to capture the Dardanelles in Turkey.

1st Battalion at Lemnos
John Stapleton Weatherburn got into trouble and was given 162 hours of field service as punishment, in Mudros on the island of Lemnos for leaving a fatigue party while on shore and not returning to the ship. However he embarked for Turkey with his battalion.

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