575 Pte Edwin Coster

Edwin Coster was born in 1895 in Geelong, Victoria, and was one of seven children. Edwin enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 10th February 1915 at the age of 21 and was assigned to C Company of the 22nd Battalion upon its formation in March 1915. After a period of training at Broadmeadows Pte Coster sailed with the battalion on HMAT Ulysses on 8th May 1915, bound for Egypt and further training prior to their deployment to Gallipoli. As part of the Australian 2nd Division within the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, the 22nd Battalion embarked from Egypt to relieve the Australian 1st Division, arriving at Anzac Cove on 30th August 1915.

Within a couple of weeks of arrival Pte Coster contracted tonsilitis and was evacuated to hospital and convalescence in Mudros on the Island of Lemnos. Pte Coster returned to the 22nd Battalion on 22nd October 1915 and remained with the battalion at Johnston’s Jolly, enduring the inhospitable front-line conditions of harsh weather conditions, sickness, plus the constant threat of enemy shelling and sniping. On the 19th December 1915, the 22nd Battalion was one of the last units to hold and leave the front line in the successful evacuation and withdrawal from Gallipoli.

After a welcome period in Lemnos over Christmas and the New Year the 22nd Battalion re-joined the rest of the AIF now reinforcing and training in the Egyptian desert. Pte Coster’s tonsilitis returned and he was admitted to hospital, but after a brief period back with his unit his condition worsened with the onset of heart troubles caused by a previous rheumatic fever. The 22nd Battalion departed Egypt on 19th March 1916 for the Western Front, but Pte Coster’s poor health required him to stay for a medical assessment held a month later. The Medical Board concluded that Pte Coster was medically unfit as he became progressively short of breath and developed a systolic murmur (likely to have been mitral regurgitation secondary to rheumatic fever). As a result, Pte Coster returned to Australia on 11th May 1916 on the Hospital Ship Kanowna, arriving in Melbourne on 15th June. Pte Coster was subsequently discharged from the AIF on 23rd July 1916.

Edwin married in 1919 and fathered five children and worked as a wool classer both in Geelong and Williamstown for the next three to four decades. Both of Edwin’s sons, Alan and Lawrence Coster, served in WW2. Edwin died in 1966, aged 71 years.

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