No.3310 – Private Ivor Bevan Rhys – 5th Pioneer Battalion AIF
Ivor Bevan Rhys was born in 1897 in Ballarat, Victoria to Theodore Tudor Rhys and Annie Rhys. In 1911 the family relocated from the Goldfields to 162 Ellen Street, Fremantle, not far from Samson House.
Ivor was one of the first students to be accepted into Perth Modern School, a new and scholarship-only institution at the time. He excelled at school and in 1915 was both School Captain and Dux. He won an Exhibition (scholarship) to the University of Western Australia (UWA) and in 1916 was a science student there.
Ivor’s nickname was "Mac”. The origins of this nickname are unknown but Ivor is known to have been a very talented artist, and some of his works were signed "Mac”.
Midway through 1916 he decided to enlist (possibly because his two best mates were killed in the Gallipoli campaign). In fact, it was on 14 June 1916 in Fremantle that Ivor Bevan Rhys enlisted into the 8th reinforcement of the 5th Pioneers. At 19 years and 3 months (ie. under 21 years of age at the time that he enlisted), Ivor had to seek the consent of his parents to be permitted to serve.
Ivor’s enlistment records show that he was 5ft 10¼in, described as having a "fresh complexion” and dark brown eyes, and belonged to the Church of England.
His rank changed a number of times. Upon enlistment, he was a Private. On 22 November 1916, he is shown as Corporal. On 18 February 1917, he is once again a Private, by the following day his records show that he is a Lance Corporal. On 11 September 1917 his rank reverts to private, and then on 18 September he is recorded as Corporal (Temporary) before reverting to Private again on 31 December 1917.
Ivor’s enlistment paperwork shows that he was admitted to the No. 8 Base Hospital in Fremantle from 1 October to 9 October 1916 "For Observation. Headaches Influenza.” He is recorded as having returned for duty at Blackboy Hill on 10 October 1916.
Ivor embarked in Fremantle on HMAT Berrima on 23 December 1916. During 1917 he was a gunnery instructor in England. He is pictured in uniform here:
He sent this photograph home in the form of a postcard. Inscribed on the back was the following message:
In 1918 he was sent to France with the 5th Pioneers AIF. His Battalion was involved in the Villers-Bretonneux battles and it was close to this town that he was killed in action on 17 April 1918 (ironically, this was his sisters 13th birthday).
He rests at the Blangy Tronville Communal Cemetery. According to his records, "Pte I.B. Rhys was killed instantaneously when in camp at Blangy Tronville by shell fire and was buried by the Padre (Chaplain B. Ormes) the same evening 17-4-18 in civil cemetery at Blangy Tronville near Amiens."
Following his sons death, Theo Rhys received the following:
Ivor's father also received his sons medals, including this one:
Ivor Bevan Rhys’ death was felt very keenly by his family. His father, mother, and sisters Doris and Gladys missed him terribly. While Theo and Annie had had another son, he had died very young; now both of their sons were gone. Twenty-one years after his death, Ivor’s sister Gladys Gray (nee Rhys) had a son and named him Rhys Ivor Gray in honour of her late brother.
In 1997, Rhys Ivor Gray visited his uncles gravesite and placed some red poppies from a nearby field by his tombstone. He also photographed the area for his mother.
Many thanks to Rhys Ivor Gray for sharing the story of his uncle, Ivor Bevan Rhys, with us.