Lieutenant Walter Bentley Jackson – 28th Battalion AIF


Walter spent the first two and a half months of 1916 in the Egyptian desert. Most of the time here was taken up with training and holding portions of the Suez Canal defence line.   

 

Walter Bentley Jackson was born in Moonta South Australia in 1893 to Charles and Elizabeth Jackson. The family soon moved to WA, initially taking up residence in Bunbury and then Fremantle.

Walter was educated in the State Schools in both localities and after leaving school he took up work as a Grocer.

During this time he resided in Victoria Avenue North Fremantle. On the 21st June 1915 Walter went to the Perth Drill Hall and enlisted into the AIF.

He was given a medical examination and passed as fit for service. The doctor found Walter to be 5 feet 5 ½ inches tall; weight of 141 lbs; chest measurement of 33-35 inches; fair complexion; brown eyes and dark brown hair.

His religious denomination was Wesleyan. After a short time in the depot training camp, Wally was assigned to the 3rd Reinforcements to the 28th Battalion AIF. He trained with this group in WA until they embarked from Fremantle on the 2nd September 1915 aboard the H.M.A.T. "Anchises”.

The journey to Egypt took around 4 weeks and after arriving at Suez the men were disembarked and sent on to Alexandria. Once in Alexandria they boarded a troopship which took them on to Gallipoli, with Wally being taken on strength of the 28th Battalion on the 12th October 1915. He served with the 28th Battalion for the remainder of the Gallipoli campaign and when Gallipoli was evacuated in late December 1915, he returned to Egypt with his unit.Walter spent the first two and a half months of 1916 in the Egyptian desert.

Most of the time here was taken up with training and holding portions of the Suez Canal defence line. On the 16th March 1916 the 28th boarded a troopship in Alexandria which took them to France, arriving at Marseilles on the 21st March 1916. After their arrival the men were disembarked and put on to trains which took them to the north of France.

They had their first taste of life on the Western Front in the vicinity of Fleurbaix. The 28th Battalion remained in this sector till June 1916 after which they proceeded to the Somme battlefield.The 1st Australian Division captured Pozieres on the 23rd July 1916. A few days later they were relieved by the 2nd Division who attempted to further the gains already made.

On July 29th the 28th Battalion attacked the German positions and were repelled with heavy casualties due to the heavy German machine gun fire and barbed wire entanglements. On August 4th they took part in another assault which was more successful and resulted in the capture of the windmill position.

Walter came through these two stunts unscathed and on the 13th August 1916 was promoted to Temporary Corporal. The 28th Battalion were involved in further operations against Mouquet Farm, but in early September they were moved to a quieter part of the front line in Belgium.On the 6th September Walter was made a full Corporal and a week later to Temporary Company Quarter Master Sergeant.

He was confirmed in this rank on the 29th October 1916. The 28th Battalion had now returned to the Somme battlefield which was now a shell hole strewn muddy wasteland. Walter’s unit were involved in actions from November 3-6th and November 16th which resulted in casualties for the Battalion, but again Walter was unhurt.

They spent the winter of 1916/17 in the vicinity of Flers.From the 6th to the 30th April 1917 Walter was sent to the Divisional School for a course. During this time he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Three days after returning to his unit, the 28th Battalion were involved in the 2nd Battle of Bullecourt.

As they were moving up to the line a shell exploded among a group of 28th Battalion men, wounding several including Walter. He was evacuated to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station where it was found that he was suffering from a compound fracture of the leg. The shrapnel must have struck an artery as men who were wounded the same time as Walter stated that he bled to death.Walter was buried in Grevillers British Cemetery in plot II.C.17. He initially had a fine big cross put over his grave with the battalion colours, but this was later replaced with the standard CWGC stone.

 


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The City of Fremantle will be participating in, supporting, and hosting a number of events over the commemorative period. The people of Fremantle (including the greater Fremantle area) are proud to be part of the ANZAC Centenary commemorations and to have the opportunity to honour and pay respect to those who have and are serving our nation as part of the Armed Forces. ANZAC Centenary events will embrace the themes: 'Commemorate, Contemplate and Educate'.
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