THERE are 78 interesting biographies in “We Will Remember Them”.
These are the stories behind two of them.
WILLIAM JAMES MOLONEY
SOME soldiers seem to have spent more time in hospital than on active service.
William Moloney was one of these, spending less than four of the 22 months he was in the army on active service with his Battalion in France.
And it seems he was none-too-keen to be treated for his illnesses and injuries in hospital, because medical notes in his service records include comments such as “I thought at first this man was quite mental” and “this man refuses to have any operation. Therefore useless to keep him in hospital. He is in my opinion a little odd in his ways.”
He was even offloaded because he had contracted mumps in Fremantle from the ship that was taking his unit to England.
Almost as soon as he arrived in England he was in hospital in isolation, then several days later was in a different hospital with bronchitis.
Nine months after leaving Australia he finally joined his Battalion in the field.
However, six weeks later he spent 12 days at the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance hospital “sick”!
Two months later he was wounded in action with a slight gunshot wound to the head, which resulted in him being put on an ambulance train, then being admitted to the 1st South African General Hospital at Abeyville in France, then transported to England by hospital ship, then admitted to the Devon Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in Exeter, and finally to the 3rd Auxillary Hospital in Dartford.
A couple of weeks leave followed, after which he was admitted to Fovant Military Hospital with a gunshot wound to the scalp – with a note on his medical record reading “Wounded in England”.
About six weeks later he rejoined his Battalion in France, only to be one of four soldiers killed near Cambrai a couple of weeks later when “No 5 Post was blown away by enemy early in the morning”.
His father thought – erroneously – that William had been awarded a Military Medal, so his service records include some correspondence relating to this.
An official memorial plaque, sent to William’s father after the war, is now on display in the Bega Museum.
AMBROSE CAMPBELL JAGGERS
MOST service records are quite brief, providing just a few snapshots about the soldier during his time serving with the army.
Ambrose Jaggers’ record, in contrast, runs to an astonishing 125 pages and is intriguing reading.
He joined the army in 1915, but was soon discharged for medical reasons – and 1/5d was deducted from his final pay because he failed to return a fork and a spoon to the army.
He rejoined the army and was sent to Egypt, where he went absent without leave (AWL) for a time, then served at Gallipoli and later France.
In France he went AWL again, then received a shrapnel wound to his left ear and arm, which resulted in him being sent to hospital in England.
The army then received a letter (which is reproduced in We Will Remember Them) from one of his sisters indicating someone was pretending to be Ambrose and was trying to get money, under false pretences, from the family.
Ambrose Jaggers’ records show he was in hospitals again several times, including for alcoholism.
He went AWL again, during which time he married a local prostitute, a Rose Withers.
Eventually returning to his unit, he was sentenced to 90 days detention and he forfeited 105 days’ pay, before being sent to the front in Belgium.
Soon after he was in hospital again, this time with trench fever, and again he was repatriated to England…where again he went AWL!
He eventually rejoined his Battalion and was killed near Villers-Bretonneux in France.
However, that’s not the end of his story.
The army discovered his wife was a bigamist, so his marriage was considered void.
As a result, there is a lot of interesting correspondence in Ambrose Jaggers’ file and in We Will Remember Them, as the army tried to stop payments like a pension to his “wife”, and then tried to retrieve his service medals that had been despatched to her so they could be sent to his lawful next-of-kin, his father.