Letters & diary of Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT

Date of enlistment 27th March 1915
Age at enlistment 36
Profession Priest
Town Warrnambool
Status Married
Rank at enlistment Captain Chaplain
Unit 22nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade
Significant events while with the AIF Left Australia on A38 Ulysses, 8th May 1915

Served in Gallipoli

Returned to Australia with invalids on HS Kanowna, 28th January 1916

Appointment terminated 24th March 1916

Chap Bennett - DA08944.JPGCaptain Chaplain Bennett’s full WW1 service record can be located in the National Archives of Australia. Full details are available online, NAA Series B2455

The following extracts are taken from the letters and diary from Chaplain Bennett while serving in Gallipoli. The originals are stored in the Australian War Memorial research centre in Canberra, and acknowledgement goes to the family of Chaplain Bennett and the AWM for enabling the subsequent publishing within this commemorative project.

 

At Sea

2nd September 1915: Just received news of the Southland being sunk – left an hour after us. How near we have been to home. Have just heard that the Brigadier is dead. Southland has not been sunk – two boatloads of men lost.

Gallipoli

4th September 1915: First sound of guns – shells from ships – 2 tugs, man in our barge hit with bullet – first time under fire

5th September 1915: Saw the trenches for the first time – & understood what the Australians did – ‘the impossible’ wonderful fighters they are, spirits of men wonderful

6th September 1915: Asiatic Annie firing on beach – shrapnel sending us all into our dug out every now and again

7th September 1915: Visited all our Btn trenches with Major Smith. Bullets, shells, snipers – 2 shots. Wonderful network of trenches saw whole position with periscope

15th September 1915: Buried 1106 Pte WS Samways. Father Frank W, Gt Wishford, near Salisbury, Wilts. Bomb at night; buried 1690 Pte AT Hotham

18th September 1915: Buried 1217 Pte WH Watkins, D Coy; 151 Pte AJ Elliot A Coy

24th September 1915: Terrific artillery bombardment. Buried 501 Pte Fraser DD, B Coy, bullet wound died today [Service record shows Pte Fraser seriously wounded, bullet wound to head, 24th September, died of wounds 10th October]

28th September 1915: Bombarded our position – 127 shells near us. Parachute with explosive on it -new idea

1st October 1915: Buried in Shrapnel Gully cemetery: 1558 Pte Albert Johnson; 65 Pte GA Newbound; 889 Pte FH Randall. Piece of shrapnel fell by our dugout

4th October 1915: Turks giving us beaut – biggest bombardment to date. Man hit in front of me – bullets and bits of shrapnel flying

8th October 1915: 608 Pte P. Gaunt C Coy, buried in Beach Cemetery

9th October 1915: Fleas, mud and dirt everywhere. Lot of shrapnel fell at door of dugout

27th October 1915: Heavy shelling by Turks; 3 men buried in dugout

29th October 1915: The saddest day that I have spent on the peninsula. Brown – a gentleman in every sense of the word

12th November 1915: The truth of the matter is that the realities of war have melted away the surface shyness of men about religion. As a censor I can testify to the real part of religion bears in a soldier’s life – it was shown in the innumerable letters home I have read in which the writers ask for the prayers of the relatives or express their trust in God.

16th December 1915: Wonderful feeling of relief and freedom after I had a few minutes on board ship

Lemnos

17th December 1915: Arrived in Lemnos harbour 8am. Harbour just crowded with shipping

 

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